I hope you enjoyed last week’s Q&A with music festival newbie JR. This week I’m back with more tips – but this time from festival veteran (and fellow Stubber) Michael Pingel. He’s got so much great info to share that I’ve broken this up into two posts: today’s will include tips for non-camping festivals like Lollapalooza and Outside Lands, and tomorrow’s will include tips for camping festivals like Bonnaroo. No matter which type you’re heading to, you just might find some tips below that will help you have an even better experience this year.
JF: So, you say you’re a festival veteran – how many would you say you’ve been to over the years, and what was your first?
MP: I’d say I’ve been to about 20 festivals. My first camping festival was Moondance Jam in Walker, MN in the summer of 1998.
JF: I’d say that qualifies you as a veteran. So, what’s the No. 1 tip you have for folks heading out to festivals this year?
MP: It’s a music lover’s paradise as festival season approaches. From national affairs such as Bonnaroo and Coachella to regional staples like Summercamp and High Sierra, the most important aspect of enjoying these epic music filled events is being prepared. Ensuring you have all you need will enhance the experience.
JF: What’s the most important thing to keep in mind?
MP: First and foremost, take care of your feet. Your feet will be your greatest ally or your arch enemy by the end of the festival. Ditch the flip flops for comfortable shoes and socks as you’ll be walking, if not running, from stage to stage to catch all the artists you’ve highlighted on your festival guide. Fashion rules do not apply while on the farm in Manchester, TN, or on the mountain top in Quincy, CA. As a band “phrom” Vermont with a “phunny” spelled name says, “Whatever you do, take care of your shoes.”
JF: I know there are different types of music festivals out there. I would imagine there is a different packing list for each, correct?
MP: Generally there are two types of festivals: one you camp at and one you don’t. For camping festivals, the list of essentials will be way longer than festival where you don’t camp.
(Michael and friends soaking up the sun and some tunes at Bonnaroo 2011.)
JF: Let’s start at festivals where you don’t camp. What are some things you recommend?
MP: Since you aren’t sleeping there overnight, be sure to secure a place to crash ahead of time. Non-camping festivals are usually held in an urban setting where lodging can be expensive and transportation to and from the grounds can be exhausting. Allow yourself way more time than you think you need to get where you want to be. It’s important to note that these festivals typically don’t allow re-entry to fans that purchase individual day passes. Full event passes will allow for re-entry, but chances are you won’t be anywhere near a convenience store to replenish any supplies you deplete or forget.
JF: What are the ‘must have’ items for the non-camping festivals?
MP: There are seven things you need to remember to bring:
- Tickets/credentials – Triple check you have yours prior to heading to the grounds. Most passes are non-transferable and cannot be replaced if lost or forgotten.
- Cash - Cash is king at a festival. ATMs are usually available but will have long lines and high fees.
- Snacks/beverages – Check the festival website to see what is allowed, but most allow sealed bottles of water and small snacks.
- Toilet Paper/ wet ones/baby wipes – Port-a-Johns aren’t the most appealing facilities, especially when they run out of supplies. Wet ones/baby wipes can serve multiple purposes.
- Weather-appropriate attire – Most grounds have very little relief from the elements, so be prepared if it rains or temps drop. Keep in mind umbrellas are usually not allowed, so things like hats, shades, sunscreen, ponchos, etc. could save your day.
- Small bag/back pack/fanny pack – Don’t weigh your pockets or hands down with all your gear. You’ll be more comfortable with a small bag, and have all the necessities on you at all times.
- Arrange a meeting place and time – Chances are you’ll attend with a group of friends. Identify a meeting place to gather after the music – yelling someone’s name in a large gathering is not very effective. Stay tuned tomorrow, when I’ll be back with tips for those heading out to camping festivals.