Music Festival Guide



The sun sets on another day of the Coachella Music and Arts Festival on Sunday, April 14, 2013, in Indio, California. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

With the arrival of the warmer weather comes the time of the year when music festivals begin their spring and summer season. For new festival goers, creating a plan and preparing for the weekend may be difficult. Every festival is different, but they all have the same general guidelines. Based on my three year experience at Boston Calling, I have acquired a love for the festival that brings me back every year.

Here are some tips I have learned from my experiences at festivals and concerts.

1. Be prepared for weather changes. My first year at Boston Calling I experienced heavy winds and a short rain that caused the venue to be evacuated. Thankfully, we had a car to return to, because I did not pack a rain jacket. I assumed the September weather would be slightly chilly, but the humidity brought by the warm weather resulting in my stopping along the way and buy a t-shirt. The following years, I arrived more prepared, wearing a short sleeve shirt but bringing a longer one just in case. Therefore, I would recommend wearing light layers that can be easily taken off and slipped into a bag. However, Boston Calling is during September and May, when the weather is colder than the summer months. Especially with the thousands of people attending music festivals, it can get very hot.

Since Firefly is during the month of June, is in Baltimore, and has one of the largest crowds, the weather can be very hot and sticky. Festival-goers should be prepared, wearing clothes that are comfortable for the hot and sweaty environment.

While the Frendly Gathering is also during the month of June, its location on a mountain in Vermont and small crowds leave room for the weather to become colder. Every festival is different, so you should be prepared for the difference in temperature and research the weather before you attend.

The Bigger the Better. Traveling to festivals with a group of friends is always better than being stuck with just one person. You always have a buddy for when you need to stop by the bathroom or get food, and if the group disagrees on which concert to watch, you can go separate ways without ending up alone. With that being said, another tip is to make sure you have a designated meeting spot that is visible. With thousands of festival-goers, it can be hard to spot your friends in a crowd.

For example, for the Frendly Gathering music festival, my friends and I have designated our meeting spot as being the large F in the Frendly stand-up sign. A popular place to meet is usually the merchandise stand, so try and find a unique meeting place for you and your friends.

Go in with a general plan. Before every festival, a timeline is released of when and where the artists are performing. Therefore, fans can plan their day around these concerts, when they want to arrive and where they want to go. At the same time, try and not plan every second of your day. Every year, new vendors and activities come to the festivals, and you will want to walk around and experience the new things. You are not going to be able to see every artist you want to at larger festivals such as Firefly, because of the size and timing. Don’t stress yourself out with a perfect plan, but instead enjoy your time while your there. Four days at a festival can be tiring, so if you need some time to relax allow your body to get the rest it needs.

Food is your Friend. Last year during Boston Calling, my friend and I made one of the poorest decisions, not packing any food for the day. Since it was our last day and we were on a tight budget, we had only enough money to buy tickets for the train and one meal. However, getting there early in the morning and not leaving until night, we quickly became hungry. Thankfully, many festivals host many big company vendors that give out free samples, including bags, sunglasses, sunscreen, and food. So thanks to SouthWest Airlines and Kind Granola bars, we filled grabbed free bags and filled them with snacks that kept us satisfied throughout the day.  Therefore, take your parents advice and pack snacks, because food can be very expensive at festivals.

Finally, festivals can seem expensive but it is worth the money for the amount of artists you are seeing. They can be an incredible experience, so make sure you stay safe and have a good time!