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. 

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