Music Festival Survival Guide

Festival season is upon us! I just returned from my very first Forecastle Festival in Louisville, KY; a three-day festival, on the beautiful Ohio River. I like to be prepared, so I did my research. I found a couple useful tips before I left, but as always, I learn from experience. So here are some tips that I learned along the way:

Check the Weather Before You Pack

This may seem obvious, but it does affect what you will pack. For instance, the first day of the festival, it rained. So I wore my outfit that included a hat, so I didn’t have to worry about my hair looking like a wet dog (bangs – am I right ladies?), and my makeup was safe too.

Check the Restricted Items List

You may be surprised by a few of them. For instance, many festivals don’t allow aerosol cans. There went my plans of dry shampoo and sunscreen! Instead, my boyfriend and I applied a very generous coat of cooling [aerosol] sunscreen at the hotel and brought a Neutrogena Sunscreen Stick in my purse for touch-ups. Read my rave review of this product on my blog post 5 Things to Bring to a Music Festival (that you might not think to)!

Uber There, Walk Back (if possible)

We stayed at a hotel about 1.5  miles from the festival site. That’s definitely walkable, but…I’d rather pay $6 to arrive sweat free. Plus, there’s no surge pricing TO the festival, but there is coming FROM the festival. Weird how that works, right? And by the time the festival is over, the sun is already set, so it’s not nearly as hot out. And who cares if you’re sweaty at that point? Be sure to keep an eye out for Uber/Lyft codes while you’re there! Check the festival event page, we found a ton!

Check if They Have an App!

If the festival has an app – download it! The Forecastle app was incredible. You could look at the line-up, mark what bands you want to see, and it will send you an alert when they’re about to go on. If there are any changes in the line-up, it will let you know. The app also had the festival map, the list of vendors, the current weather, and links to all of their social media. We had a rain delay on Friday, so the app was super useful letting us know about the rescheduled set times!

Eat Before You Leave

If you’re staying in a hotel, pack snacks! Festival food, while delicious, can be expensive. Have some granola bars and Gatorade before you leave your room. It will get your energy up before you get there, and save you some extra cash.

Locate Water + Bathrooms

Once you’re there, first things first, find the porta-potties and water stations. Find a map, walk around, and find ALL of them. You don’t want to be waiting until you’re doing the pee dance to figure out where to go. And again, find ALL of them. Some lines will be way, way longer than others just because they’re in a central location, or easiest to find. I guarantee there will be a water station or porta-potty along the border of the festival, with much shorter lines.

It’s Not the Place for a Full Face of Makeup

Stick to BB-cream and some waterproof mascara, or you’ll be checking your mirror all day – blending foundation streaks, trying to reapply your winged liner while sweating, it’s not worth it. Or better yet, ditch the makeup! You’ll be wearing your sunglasses for 85% of the day anyway.

Take a Memento

Call me sentimental, but I always have something to remember my trips by. I got a Forecastle tank top because they were adorable. I also brought two disposable cameras with me for pictures. Yes, you’ll take pictures on your phone, but how often do you really print any of those out? Keep your ticket and/or your wristband, and put them in a shadowbox with some photos! Have SOMETHING to remember your experience by, other than your Instagram feed.

Now, go! Enjoy the festival! And please comment any useful tips you’ve learned along the way.

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20 thoughts on “Music Festival Survival Guide

    1. Thanks! We already have our tickets for the Forecastle Festival in Louisville this year. We are also going to see the Gorillaz in the Red Rocks Amphitheatre 🙂

  1. Some very helpful tips, Anna! We have a handful of festivals here in Austin and I’ve used a couple of these tips myself. I would recommend bringing a reusable water bottle to refill at the water stations so you don’t have to buy one. I haven’t heard of the Forecastle Festival before but will look it up. Thank you for sharing these tips!

    1. Thank you! I’ve never been to Austin, but it’s definitely on my list. Forecastle Festival is a great smaller festival with great bands, I would definitely look into it!

  2. This definitely is a great guide when attending any music festival and goes very well with me as I am planning to attend few this year. Thanks for such great tips

  3. This is super helpful. I’ve been planning to visit a few festivals this summer and didn’t really know where to start. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Great tips! I agree with your suggestion to walk back too. Traffic is usually so bad at the end of these festivals, since everyone is trying to leave at once, that it’s often faster to walk anyway! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Thanks! Traffic is always terrible after festivals, and surge pricing is crazy, so I always walk. It’s fun to find things along the way too!

  5. I’ve actually never been to a music festival, but these look like great tips! I didn’t know that a lot of festivals don’t allow aerosol! I only use aerosol sunscreen so that’s helpful for me to keep in mind!

    1. Thank you! I had no idea until the week before we left! I usually use aerosol too. Honestly the sunscreen stick is one of my favorite festival items. I cannot praise it enough.

  6. What a great post! I totally agree about the suncream stick (I’m super pale) and the keeping mementos – I’m far too sentimental and can never throw away wristbands haha. That first photo is amazing btw – I love your hair and I think I actually have the same heart shaped sunglasses 🙂

    1. Thank you! I cannot praise the sunscreen stick enough! I’m so so pale, I have to reapply every hour lol. And I keep my wristbands too and keep them in a shadow box!

  7. Thanks for sharing these tips. I’ve never been to a music festival before, however, the Mr desperately wants to. Bookmarking this for the future.

    1. Music festivals are great! There is a festival for every taste. I personally don’t enjoy huge festivals like Coachella, I prefer smaller crowds. Finding the right one for you is the trick! Hope you and the mister find a festival you love!

  8. Some great tips. I will definitely be going to a few festivals this summer so it’s go to remind myself what to do / and not to do 🙂 For me the most important thing is to locate the bathroom, because I tend to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated 🙂

  9. My boyfriend and I have been thinking about going to a music festival for a while now, and we want to know the best tips to do it. I love that your first recommendation was to wear and pack clothing according to the weather to avoid any mishaps. I will definitely make sure that my boyfriend and I choose the right clothing to wear to avoid any problems.

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