best tips for a first time music festival attendee?
April 2, 2008 3:51 PM   Subscribe

Next month I'll be attending my first weekend outdoor concert festival- what should I know, bring, be aware of, and/or avoid?

I'll be attending Festi di Bella Sol in Geneva, MN. My metal-loving self isn't usually attracted to festivals like this, but my sister and her boyfriend are big jam band fans and I thought it would be awesome to spend some time with them doing something they love (I was convinced by the fact that the festival is being headlined by the almighty BUCKETHEAD).

I went camping quite a bit when I was in Boy Scouts but haven't slept in a tent in probably 8 years...I'm familiar with camping basics, but when it comes to attending a music/camping festival I'm at a loss. What should I know before I go?

(PS- any MeFites who are attending should hit me up via MeFi Mail- it'd be fun to meet up)
posted by baphomet to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Sunscreen, water, and closed-toe shoes. Every festival that I attended where I neglected one of these three things, I've sorely regretted it.
posted by gyusan at 3:55 PM on April 2, 2008

The shoes are a great point. I almost wore flip-flops the first time I went to Ozzfest, but ended up wearing Chucks instead. They protected my piggies from being stomped. They didn't prevent me from getting headbutted in the chest by a fat guy, though. YMMV.

As with any outing to a theme park or other place where food is extremely expensive: eat a hearty breakfast, and pack more food. Chances are, water beer and shitty chili fries are going run you 7 dollars each.

Have fun. \m/
posted by crunch buttsteak at 4:15 PM on April 2, 2008

Drink more water than you think you need. If this means you buy a bottle and refill it from a hose, so be it. The last two outdoor festivals I went to, I only drank when thirsty at one and had a poor time. At the second, I drank water whenever possible, and had a much, much better time.

You will need to pee more, but I am sure the Boy Scouts taught you something about peeing out of doors.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:21 PM on April 2, 2008

Bring binbags.
posted by fire&wings at 4:32 PM on April 2, 2008

Bring earplugs for when you want to sleep. A hat for sun protection during the day. And yes, closed-toe shoes for sure.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:35 PM on April 2, 2008

an extra pair of dry socks.

(the water, and sunscreen, and earplugs, and closed-toe shoes are all necessities, but the extra pair of dry socks provide a surprising amount of comfort the morning after/second day....)

chances are you won't be doing much in the way of sleeping, but a small fleece blanket has a multitude of other uses and weighs next to nothing.
posted by squasha at 5:43 PM on April 2, 2008

Never bring anything you cannot afford to lose either sentimentally, financially or time wise. Drink water. Consider bug spray if they are out that time of year in MN. Establish a plan and a meeting place in case of getting separated or an emergency.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:46 PM on April 2, 2008

If you're the kind of person who might conceivably use a lighter, bring more than one.
posted by box at 5:57 PM on April 2, 2008

Outdoor festival story: I once traded a couple of drags of pot (i was holding it for a friend, of course) for a bottle of water, so I wouldn't lose my 2nd row spot to get some $5 water.

Moral: Bring water, water, water.
And weed.
posted by the druid at 6:09 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Bandannas can be super-useful. You can tie them on your head, around your head, around your neck, or around your arm for sweat-absorbing or water-distributing coolness.

Use them to blow your nose or use as an impromptu napkin. They can also wipe down various surfaces. Bring a few.

All sorts of other ideas here. I've become a big fan keeping one around day-to-day.
posted by asuprenant at 6:34 PM on April 2, 2008

Umm, don't forget a little thing of hand sanitizer. Because if any place is dirty -- port-o-potties and the like -- it's a music festival.
posted by brina at 7:31 PM on April 2, 2008

Bring lots of snacks, a huge variety of clothing, a tarp for under your tent, tuck it all the way under though so if it rains it won't become a pool liner, (seen that too many times) and a tarp for over your tent if it's not really waterproof, stakes to stake it down, a light weight chair, a light weight back pack for your essentials, a picnic blanket type thing but with waterproof on one side is good, a flashlight, a camping matress, your pillow, bandanas or small towels are good, a bike and lock if its a big festival, paper towels or tp, raingear...have tons of fun!!!
posted by starfish at 8:17 PM on April 2, 2008

Definitely bring a hat and sunscreen. Toilet paper or kleenex are good to bring, just because some music festivals run out. Can't emphasize water enough. If you bring huge jugs and keep them in your car, you can sort of shower or wash up. Those sanitary wipes are good too, just to keep somewhat clean. Also, a small thin blanket or plastic tarp to sit on. Have fun - the lineup looks great.
posted by gt2 at 8:22 PM on April 2, 2008

Hat, sunscreen, water, EARPLUGS, granola bars, extra saline for your contacts if you wear them, cheapo folding chairs from K-Mart, and a TARP and plastic garbage bags and big ziplock baggies for your stuff for when it inevitably starts to rain.

You probably want to pick a more distant location for your tent, so it's away from both the teeming masses and from the stage and thus perhaps a little quieter at night, even if it's a bit more of a hike. Bring a flag or a balloon or something distinctive to attach to the outside of the tent so you can see it from farther away and pick it out from all the others that look just like it.

Also, pot and very hot weather do not mix well at all. Save it for sundown or later.
posted by Asparagirl at 8:41 PM on April 2, 2008

If it's a festival with a bunch of different stages it pays to have a generic meeting place to catch up with people - our group of friends usually meets about 30 foot to the right of the sound board for the giant stages and kind of right center for smaller stages.. this way you can say 'meet you at buckethead' and then not have to hang out by the portaloos somewhere waiting for stragglers while the place gets packed.

oh, and if there's any possibility of rain take some gumboots! the nicest looking field will get chopped up into a muddy cesspool within a couple of hours after a nice downpour and 10,000 people stomping all over it!
posted by mikw at 12:11 AM on April 3, 2008

See also this related thread.
posted by dmt at 12:44 AM on April 3, 2008

By day three, everyone starts to get a bit tired, dirty, hungover and cross. I like to keep a stash of something nice back for day three - be it chocolate, bacon, cider, whatever - just to cheer people up.

Also take lots of chewing gum. Tent-mouth sucks.
posted by Jofus at 1:17 AM on April 3, 2008

Best answer: Harmony Park is a great place to hang out for the weekend! (We'll probably be there selling our djembes.)

Things to bring:
  • a flashlight
  • warm clothes (the wind blows across the lake & it can get pretty chilly)
  • aspirin, bandaids, toilet paper & wet wipes (the portapotties usually run out of paper & water on Saturday night & then Sunday morning when you're packing to leave is pretty unpleasant)
  • food, beverages (no glass bottles), a way to cook if you don't want to spend $7 for food, a cooler (you can buy ice there)
  • chairs & blankets
  • assorted fun stuff: a book, cards, glow sticks, etc.
  • the ground isn't very flat, so an airmattress is nice
When you get off the highway, drive carefully; the police tend to watch pretty closely for speeders in that area.

Get there as early as you can. It's no fun setting up your tent in the dark. And if you come in late Friday night, you may find yourself camping very very close to the portapotties. The camping area usually becomes a solid mass of tents. If you want to be with certain people, plan ahead & get there early.

Here are a couple photo galleries of events at the park: one | two
posted by belladonna at 6:06 AM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

PS - feel free to mefi mail me if you have any questions about Harmony Park. I designed their website & spend quite a bit of time there.
posted by belladonna at 6:27 AM on April 3, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions in this thread. My first festival experience was completely, ridiculously amazing.
posted by baphomet at 3:05 PM on June 17, 2008

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