Guide to Festival Going: From Basics to Pro Tips

Going to a festival is serious business.

JK! Going to a festival is about making memories and having your favorite music guide you from sunrise to sunset, and deep into the night. But just because festival-life is all about feeling free, doesn’t mean you’re exempt from planning. Use this guide to ensure this season is a summer to remember. From optimizing your itinerary to cleaning up your camp—this guide will cover it all.

Selecting the Festivals you Want to See this Summer

There are loads of North American music festivals for you to choose from, so take some time to check out the lineups, get to know the vibes, and create your ultimate list of not-to-be-missed festivals. Maybe you’re looking to visit Montreal for Osheaga (the ultimate destination for festival fashionistas). Maybe you’re more of a Boots and Hearts, country music lover. Maybe you want to go big and follow the Breakaway circuit, with stops in Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Whatever your festival style, make your choice early and book your transportation ASAP.

Guide to Festival Going

Festival Transportation

Festivals are often in remote places with no public transportation. It’s not a good idea to drive, as you’ll likely be exhausted after the festival. And parking is a real pain in the festival-goin’ derriere.

So skip the headache and book a seat on a rideshare bus! partners with event planners across North America to provide shuttle service to the very best music festivals. If you’re traveling with a big group, consider chartering your own school bus with a driver. Otherwise, stick to the rideshare option. And check out our tips on how to make the ride a comfortable one.

Book your Accommodations

Even if you’re camping, know where you’ll sleep. Seriously! This is the number one thing that festival-goers neglect. Yes, you want to go with the flow, but there’s nothing worse than wandering around looking for a place to rest your weary head. So pitch that tent, roll out that sleeping bag, book that room, or set up that cot – and do it as soon as you arrive.

Pack like a Pro

The first rule of festival packing: Get everything into a single backpack. You can be a diva at every other event, but, trust, there is no room for wheeled luggage on festival grounds. Once you’ve selected the perfect backpack, fill it with snacks, a few cute outfits, and the essentials. Don’t forget to bring a light waterproof jacket or poncho, a small first aid kit, sunscreen, and a reusable bottle.

Need extra packing tips? Check out our Carry-On Packing Guide. The same rules apply when packing your festival backpack – yours will just come without the wheels.

How to pack for a music festival.

Festival Fashion Tips

Festival fashion comes down to two things: practicality and expressing yourself. No matter how wild your style, make sure everything you wear can stand up to the kind of hardcore partying you’re about to endure. Start with the hat. Choose something wide brimmed. They’re chic and they keep the sun off your face. Add a pair of out-of-the-box sunglasses in a cute shape and color. Choose closed-toed but breathable shoes or boots. Strappy sandals are great for the beach, not for the festival. Finally, layer for different weather. Oh! And have fun. Don’t be afraid to rock some face paint and fringe.

Plan your Itinerary

Thinking ahead doesn’t make you a Debby-downer. Rather, it’s a way of maximizing your fun. Don’t miss out on your favorite artists because you were at the wrong stage. Check out the lineup ahead of time and plan out your concert schedule. This is a fun activity to do with friends on a bus. Start by writing out a master list of the acts you want to see. Divvy them up into two categories: ‘Must See’ and ‘Want to See’. Start by fitting your Must-Sees into your schedule, then fill in the blanks with Want-to-Sees. You may have to make some tough choices, but you’ll thank yourself for creating the schedule. And don’t forget to leave room to let yourself discover new favorites.

Communication is Key!

Close your eyes and picture a festival. What do you see? Is it a crowd? You bet it’s a crowd. That crowd is part of what makes festivals so special. You get to be part of a big mass of music-lovers, experiencing the same epic thrill all together. It’s also a challenge to navigate, so make sure you communicate with your friends and the staff. Put in place a buddy system. It’s perfect for bonding, and if one of your phones runs out of juice, the other can pick up the slack. We also recommend following the festival’s official hashtags on Insta, Snap, or Twitter, and downloading the festival’s app. This will keep you up-to-date with schedule changes, weather warnings, and other surprises.

How to prepare for a music festival.

Stay Safe

Festivals are ripe with temptations but it’s important to remember that you do have to return to real life with the same body you took to the festival. Have fun, but take care of yourself. Make good choices. And if you find yourself in trouble, do not hesitate to go to a medical tent.

Clean up when you’re done!

Festivals might feel like they take place on a different planet, but they don’t. So clean up after yourself! Try and reduce the amount of disposable containers you use throughout the event, and make sure that any waste is recycled or composted correctly. Remember, if other people see you cleaning up, they’ll do the same.

Final tips:

Stay Connected

Bring a wireless phone charger. Outlets, if there are any, are few and far between. Stay connected to your friends (and Instagram) by making sure your batteries are charged.

Remember Where You Parked

No one likes hunting for their lost ride. Take a picture of your rideshare loading zone so you can find it later.

Festival going tips.

Embrace the fanny pack

The fanny trend may not be everyone’s thing, but you can’t deny their handiness. Fill your fanny pack with your essential documents and your phone, and pick one in a cute color.

Be polite

No one likes a Fyre Island bro. That’s not what festivals are about. They’re about making friends and building community around music. So be nice.