Tips For Camping at a Music Festival

If you love music but are lukewarm on camping and are considering your first outdoor music festival, get some advice from the experienced, the trod upon and the sunburned.

Friends for life, or at least until the festival is over -- these friends have made the Chinook Fest in Washington State a yearly occurrence.

Photo by: Cody Beebe

Cody Beebe

Friends for life, or at least until the festival is over -- these friends have made the Chinook Fest in Washington State a yearly occurrence.

Seeing live music with 30,000 thousand of your best friends has a world of challenges. Throw camping into the mix and depending on the type of person you are, it can be a dream come true or a total nightmare. With the right amount of planning and some common sense, you too can be a festival person.

Know Before You Go

Read the festival’s policies carefully. You might be surprised at the lists of prohibited items such as water, alcohol and pets. Naturally, you can purchase these items on site (save the pet) but you don’t want to leash up the dog, load up the cooler only to be turned away at the gate. If you’re on medication or require a special diet, most have policies in place to accommodate you. The Backwoods Music Festival in Tulsa is offering free water this year and we salute you.

The Trans Pecos Music Festival is held on the grounds of El Cosmico in Marfa, TX.

Photo by: Stevan Alcala

Stevan Alcala

The Trans Pecos Music Festival is held on the grounds of El Cosmico in Marfa, TX.

Pack Smart

Remember that you’re going to be sleeping on the ground for at least two nights and it is camping. Sunscreen, extra water, a first aid kit, a rain poncho and bug spray are never bad ideas.

The fringe bag by Hipster for Sisters is perfect for carrying festival essentials. 

The fringe bag by Hipster for Sisters is perfect for carrying festival essentials. 

Take Back the Pack

Let’s face it; fanny packs are awesome for functionality and are the perfect accouterment for your festival outing. Scarce ATMS that are bound to run of money mean you’ll need to have cash on hand. Thankfully there are several out there that won’t add twenty pounds to your waist. We like Hipster for Sisters, Belt Bags by Rocks & Salt, Ruth Kraus and for the dudes Clava.

Consider Going Big

Rent the Jucy Champ RV, which is already set up for everything you’ll need for camping at festivals such as Coachella. 

Photo by: Shaun Jeffers

Shaun Jeffers

Rent the Jucy Champ RV, which is already set up for everything you’ll need for camping at festivals such as Coachella. 

If you can afford it, many festivals offer air-conditioned tents, gourmet food spreads, private toilets and special viewing stands. These packages are expensive and they sell out first. Finding restrooms will always be a problem. If they’re worth it is a matter of personal preference. Consider renting a proper vehicle like the ones from Jucy, which are outfitted with the festivalgoer in mind.

Let’s Get Small

Mountain Music Festival attendees enjoy plenty of different ways to cool off. 

Photo by: Roger Gupta

Roger Gupta

Mountain Music Festival attendees enjoy plenty of different ways to cool off. 

Before you go big, go small. A lot of the lesser-known acts playing the Mondo Mega Fest might be hitting your local music club. We encourage checking them out first to see if you’re a new fan. Impress your friends by knowing all about the Next Big Thing first, buy their CD and keep the music industry alive. You might be surprised to know that a lot of festivals don’t allow acts to hock their wares on site.

Hitch a Ride

Photo by: Vito Valentinetti Positivus

Vito Valentinetti Positivus

Festival parking is the number two nightmare right behind bathrooms. Ride with friends, call an Uber, Lyft or call a cab. Then hurry up and wait. Patience, Grasshopper.

Remember the Little Fella

There are so many smaller festivals for a more personal experience. Some fans even make it their yearly vacation. The Great Blue Heron Festival is a medium-sized fest that’s been happening since 1992. The ALT rock/country darlings of the 90s, Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, started hosting their own yearly Campout at Pappy & Harriet’s, Pioneer Town over 11 years ago.

Get Out of Town

Always carry sunscreen or something that provides shade like this Mountain Music Festival attendee. 

Photo by: Roger Gupta

Roger Gupta

Always carry sunscreen or something that provides shade like this Mountain Music Festival attendee. 

Consider going abroad for a festival, perhaps just for one day. Who can be disappointed in seeing Iggy Pop and Band of Horses on the same bill in France? Ticket prices for many festivals are surprisingly reasonable and if you don’t have fun, at least you went to Europe. Check out the Main Square Festival’s web page or a list of overseas festivals at Music Festival Wizard

Be Realistic

Campers lounge in hammocks at the 2015 Backwoods Pondfest in Peru, New York.

Photo by: Backwoods Pondfest

Backwoods Pondfest

Campers lounge in hammocks at the 2015 Backwoods Pondfest in Peru, New York.

5 More Quick Tips From a Festival Pro

1) stay hydrated
2) bring sunscreen
3) be openminded to discover new music, comedians and films
4) be open to making new lifelong friends
5) break away from the rulebook that governs your every day life

-- Ken Weinstein, president of Big Hassle Media, PR for Bonnaroo

You’d think that outdoor music festivals would be a great way to get your fix of live music all in one weekend. It’s not a practice we recommend, as there’s a propensity to put all your eggs in a basket filled with 100,000 other people. Drunk people. And oftentimes the big national acts like Wilco, Beck, Toby Keith and Rihanna play at the same time and far away from one another. If you try catching Ryan Adams for a few songs and then hightailing it over to Social Distortion, chances are you’ll be disappointed. 

Keep Reading

Next Up

Car Camping Tips For The Newbie

Know what to pack and how to prep to make sure your camping trip is full of fun and worry-free.

Our Editors' Favorite Camping Equipment

Our staff share their list of must-have hiking and backpacking gear, plus their favorite places to camp and explore.

Tips and Tricks For Cooking on a Camping Trip

They say that food is love, and just because you're sleeping under the stars doesn't mean you can't eat well. Here are some of the things you'll need to be master chef without even being in the kitchen.

6 Tips For Camping and Traveling With Your Dog

Taking a road trip with your pet can be a wonderful experience. Before you set out, make sure you know what to pack and how to be prepared.

8 Tips For a Newbie Backpacker

If you've never gone back-country camping, before heading out into the great wide open, educate yourself on the basics.

Camping and Hiking Gear: Where to Splurge and Where to Save

Outdoor gear can cost a fortune. Learn what’s worth the extra cost and what you can spend a little less on.

Games and Activities to Keep Kids Busy on a Camping Trip

Camping with kids can create lifelong memories, but if you let them sit idle for too long, you'll soon hear "I'm bored". Don't let that happen. Check out these fun ideas to keep your little ones occupied and enthralled.

How to Find Free Campsites and Keep Costs Down on a Road Trip

Don’t let a tight budget hold you back from traveling. Learn the secrets for finding free places to camp and tips for saving money on the road.

Easy Backpacking Meals: Turkey Tacos

All the ingredients for this recipe can be carried in a small soft-sided cooler bag. The only thing that needs to be cooked is the taco meat, which means you can easily cook it on a small packing stove.

How to Make Seafood Cioppino

This one-pot (Dutch oven recommended) seafood stew can be made at home, but tastes even better when made over an open flame at a campsite.

On TV

Music Videos

10am | 9c

Music Videos

11am | 10c

Time Capsule

1pm | 12c

Big Time RV

6pm | 5c

Big Time RV

6:30pm | 5:30c

Big Time RV

7pm | 6c

Big Time RV

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Big Time RV

8pm | 7c

Big Time RV

8:30pm | 7:30c

Big Time RV

9pm | 8c

Big Time RV

9:30pm | 8:30c

Big Time RV

10pm | 9c

Big Time RV

10:30pm | 9:30c

Big Time RV

11pm | 10c

Big Time RV

11:30pm | 10:30c

Big Time RV

12am | 11c

Big Time RV

12:30am | 11:30c

Big Time RV

1am | 12c

Big Time RV

1:30am | 12:30c

Big Time RV

2am | 1c

Big Time RV

2:30am | 1:30c

Big Time RV

3am | 2c

Big Time RV

3:30am | 2:30c

Top GAC Shows

Flea Market Flip

Sundays 8pm | 7c

Living Alaska

Tuesdays 9pm | 8c

Top 20 Countdown

Consult Program Guide

Flippin' RVs

Wednesdays 9|8c

Get Social With Us

Let's explore this country together.