10 Tips To Enjoy Your Music Festival Experience

10 Tips That Will Help You Actually Enjoy Your Music Festival Experience

Preparation for a music festival doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Let's go over the essentials and the important tips and tricks to make your music festival experience the best yet.

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My name is Hannah, and I'm one of LuminAID's summer interns! Music festivals are one of my favorite parts of living in Chicago during the summer. All types of artists and fans come to the city to experience the food, Chicago summer weather, and all around good atmosphere. This past weekend I went to Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park, which is known for exhibiting emerging music acts and an inclusive experience that goes beyond just the music. Although I had been looking forward to it all week, a nation-wide heat wave was scheduled to peak right when I would be there! So I had to be prepared.

Hannah at PitchFork Festival

Beyond the high temperatures at my music festival, there are a number of other factors that can make music festivals and concerts stressful. Large crowds, long lines, and over-priced food and water can  be overwhelming. But if you show up knowing what to expect and with a plan in place, you can make the most out of your experience!

Preparation for a music festival doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and it certainly shouldn’t add extra stress in your life. It’s actually as easy as having a rough plan for transportation, meals, and concert schedule. It also includes bringing essential items like a water bottle, sun and rain protection, and sturdy shoes. And of course, you always need to check over the festival rules to make sure you’re planning for any restrictions you may encounter.

Next, I’ll go over the most important ways you can prepare to make your music festival experience the best yet!

Here are my 10 tips for music festivals: 

1. BYO water bottle

Because of the heat last weekend, we were thirsty ALL the time and didn’t want to wait in line or pay for water bottles. Bringing an empty water bottle of our own meant we could stay super hydrated at no cost, and stay eco-friendly!

If you’re getting your water from an unfiltered source or just want to make sure your water is as clean as can be, I recommend a RapidPure water bottle. All you have to do is fill it up, and it will keep you protected by filtering out all bacteria and impurities!

Rapid Pure Steel Bottle next to a man zipping up his bag

2. Plan your meals

I knew that there would be some really yummy food trucks at Pitchfork, so I planned to eat there and ended up getting a really good burger. But sometimes I don’t want to pay the high music festival prices for food, so I eat a big meal before I get there so I won’t be hungry.

3. Bring sun protection

It was HOT. And outside. Sometimes I’m really bad about remembering to apply sunscreen, but luckily this time I did. I also brought sunglasses and a hat to stay cool. In general, it’s a good idea to set a reminder for yourself to bring sun protection to a music festival. Getting burned will make your experience a lot more painful, and trust me, it’s not worth it. Whether or not your skin burns super easily, always stay protected!

Woman with sunglasses and hat in the sun! Source: Rubbenstein MD

4. Be prepared for weather

So... it was really hot until the thunderstorm rolled in. Yes, we got caught in a thunderstorm with no raincoats and no umbrellas at a music festival! We checked the weather and it said that it wasn’t going to rain, but it happened anyway. If there’s even a slight chance the weather could turn, bring the proper supplies. Raincoats are super easy to fold up and take almost no space in your bag. I wish I had one, because I was miserable until the sun came back out and started to dry off my clothes. 

5. Use public transportation (if you can)

Lucky for us, Pitchfork was held right next to a train stop. It was easy, cheap, and stress-free. If it’s available, I highly recommend getting to your music festival venue by public transit. Sometimes cars and ride-shares just aren’t worth the headache or price. But remember to always check the transit schedule so you aren’t waiting for too long! 

6. Don’t pack too much and guard your belongings.

I’m a big fan of traveling light - carrying around a lot of stuff for a long period of time can get annoying! We chose to bring one small backpack that we fit our wallets, phones, tickets, water bottle, blanket, and lights into. We also avoided keeping anything in our pockets and kept valuables stowed away when we weren’t using them. Make sure you check the festival’s rules around bags–it’s the worst to be told that you can’t bring in a backpack! Clear bags and fanny packs are becoming a staple for many festivals and concerts these days, so it might be a good idea to pick one up.

Man traveling with backpack at a festival in daylight

7. Wear sturdy shoes

I love looking at all the festival fashion inspiration out there. But I always remember that practicality is just as important as style. Going to a music festival means lots of walking, standing, and people stepping on your toes. (Also, it could rain just like it did for us and close-toed shoes kept our feet at least partially dry). Happy feet means you can enjoy the festival for longer.

8. Have a designated meeting spot and time

I think that this is a music festival must. If you're meeting friends at the venue, have a dedicated place and time that you're meeting up. If you get separated, have a place that you know to go to find each other. (Pro tip: Bring a portable phone charger. I used a PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger so that I could charge my phone in case I needed to contact anyone AND have fun with the lantern once the sun went down).

9. Have a plan and know when your favorite artists are!

All of the artists we wanted to see were in the late afternoon and early evening, so I had a relaxing morning before getting ready to go. Although I love concerts, I don’t necessarily want to be there all day. Also, Pitchfork had a great poster festival and arts and crafts fair and I desperately wanted to try that, so we went to check those out before our favorite acts began.

10. Read the rules

I like taking pictures with my mirrorless camera, and was excited to take pictures at the festival. But right before I left, I checked the festival rules and realized that my type of camera wasn’t allowed in! I was bummed out, but also glad that I didn’t find that out after I was already at the festival. In general, if there’s anything you don’t want to get confiscated at the festival entrance, check the rules to make sure it’s allowed in before you bring it.

Music Festival Essentials

Let’s sum it all up into this music festival checklist:

  • Water bottle
  • Meal plan
  • Sun protection
  • Rain/wind protection if necessary
  • Transportation plan
  • Bag or other way to secure belongings
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Portable phone charger - save 10% here with code FESTIVAL
  • Planned meeting place and time
  • Planned schedule of events
  • Consult the festival rules

Music Festival Camping Tips

Many music festivals last a few days, and if they’re in more rural areas, camping is a great idea! Not only is it super fun, it’s cost-effective and easy to plan. Here are a few tips I recommend to make your festival camping experience the best it can be.

Pack light

The last thing you want to do at a festival is carry around a bunch of heavy camping gear. Pack minimally, and make sure everything can be set up and taken down quickly. Though air mattresses are super comfy, sleeping pads are just as nice and a lot easier to deal with in a tent. Backpacking tents are much lighter than regular tents, and pack down very small so you can transport them easily.

Choose a smart camping spot

Music festivals are super fun, but they’re also exhausting. You’ll need a good night’s sleep if you want to keep making the most of your festival experience. That’s why you should choose a sweet spot to set up your tent–not too close to the stage or other tents, but not far enough away that it’ll be a hike back to the festival in the morning. Also be sure to check out any camping guidelines posted by the festival.

Bring a water source

As I mentioned before, music festivals can get VERY HOT! If you’re camping, make sure to bring more than enough water to get you through the weekend. Staying well-hydrated is super important for your health, and I recommend that you bring at least one 5-gallon water jug to keep in your car or tent. Make sure you know where water refill stations are too.

Don’t forget the camping essentials

No matter where you go, make sure you bring your camping essentials. I always make sure that I have a first aid kit, extra clothes, a water filter, and a solar powered lantern. With these necessities, you’re ready to take on whatever the weekend throws your way!  FESTIVAL DEAL: Save 10% on LuminAID solar lanterns and phone chargers with code FESTIVAL!

Man with luminaid lantern on his backpack in crowd.

All in all, do your research, know what to expect, be prepared, and I guarantee you will get the most out of your experience! Music festivals are a ton of fun and a great way to try new things over the summer.