After a long time of being sequestered, maintaining safe distances, and not gathering in groups, those of us who love music and arts festivals are over the moon that they have returned. These incredible extravaganzas engage every one of our senses in an environment of complete — and, yes, carefully planned and controlled — freedom of expression. These are usually outdoor affairs offering unique and varied accommodation options, and with all the stimuli, you could find yourself in sensory overload. The ability to sleep and relax can be pretty hard, which means you won’t relish the experience as much as you deserve or even take advantage of all the amazing opportunities to chill while enjoying the tunes that are available to you.
A few years ago, we wrote a two-part “how to” for music festivals that still holds pretty true today. We thought it would be nice to combine our top tips of both parts here in one accessible area to help you fully enjoy and embrace the wonder that is the music festival.
First things first — follow your heart on where to stay
From hotels to house rentals to camping out, where you call a temporary home while visiting a music festival are varied and completely up to you. Personally? If the venue allows it, we’re huge fans of camping on-site. Being right there, not having to worry about parking, transport, any of it, is a huge weight taken off our shoulders whenever we attend our fave fests.
We recommend highly that you do a bunch of due diligence in checking out the camping rules, the reality of what the festival genuinely offers with onsite accommodations and making sure that whatever is being touted as festival provided living is legit. “Buyer be smart” is our motto when it comes to ensuring what you see in the brochure is what will be at the venue. (Fyre Festival, anyone?)
Contact the event planners directly to get the 411 on what’s up with where to lay your head. The legit ones will be real with you about what to expect, what to look out for, and what they recommend and provide.
Glastonbury Festival in England, for example, has a whole page that shares the “wheres and where-nots'' of sleeping/resting. They share info that ranges from onsite camping rules and suggestions, info on houses to rent rooms or the entire building, and “watch out” of off-site, unofficial tent or campervan pitching. Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival has a fantastic Travel & Accommodations page as well that gives you in-depth info. Governors Ball Music Festival in NYC, for their part, provides hotel recommendations — camping out isn’t really an option with this city-based three-day hangout. And the Firefly Music Festival highlights the benefits of camping out in the Dover, Delaware, woods to make the experience that much more relaxed and enjoyable.
Basically, check out the websites associated with your music festival to see what makes the most sense for you in the surrounding area. Our biggest suggestion with this is to find what will make the experience that much better and allow you the best chance of relaxing while there. A lot goes on at music and arts festivals — as we mentioned there’s a ton of sensory overload. To ensure you not only see and hear all your heart desires but you don’t feel completely exhausted when it’s all done, here are our top 6 tips for being comfortable no matter what and where you are.
Keep time of year, weather, terrain, environment, etc., in mind
Music and arts fests are international and even year-round events. Whether you’re staying in a hotel, renting a house, or doing the pitch a tent thing, you’ll still need to be prepared for whatever nature has in store in the surrounding area and pack accordingly to make your stay more comfortable and accommodating.
That leads us to…
A smart packer is a happy packer
There’s a lot you’ll want to do at these events and something you don't want to have to worry about is either having so much stuff it overwhelms you OR packing so hurriedly you forget essential items. We suggest you do a trial packing run, especially if you’re camping out. You want to pack what you need, not what you THINK you’ll need, and while you want to be prepared, you don’t want to overdo it. If you’re camping, make a list of the equipment and supplies you’ll need. Hoteling it? What will help you feel more at home and relaxed when you are in your room? And if you’re sharing any of your space with others, remember to coordinate items and divide and conquer. Beyond your personal hygiene, clothes, and equipment needs, anything communal can be shared so everyone is included.
Familiarity (of surroundings) breeds relief
How close are you to the bathroom? Where’s the closest charging station? How many security tents are there? It doesn’t matter if you’re staying onsite or not, when you’re attending a festival over several days, you are spending a lot of time at the venue. Take the time to walk it when you get there, know where all the exits are, food stands, specialty booths — anything that is important for your enjoyment and all around survival needs to become second nature to you. This is one of the ways we are able to relax and feel comfortable during large, highly populated events. When we have a better sense of our surroundings, we feel more secure and able to give into the experience that much easier.
There’s no place like home away from home
Yes, you want to watch your packing to strike the right balance of just enough stuff to make your temporary stay livable. That also means bringing along those little touches that add to your comfort — candles, bath salts, aromatherapy, little bits of self-care. Sure, most of your time is spent experiencing what the venue has to offer. When you want to grab a little downtime and just chill, going back to wherever you’ve chosen to lay your head can still be a cozy joy. Always check with the proprietor of wherever you’re staying on what you can and cannot bring to add a bit of comfort to the site, but we have discovered that having even one thing with us enhances our relaxation and calm when we need a breather.
Slow your roll and enjoy
Often, by the time we’re finally at the event, we throw ourselves into every possible experience being offered so we don’t miss anything, get the most bang out of the rather hefty bucks we’ve probably spent, and just the simple FOMO we find ourselves overwhelmed with while there. Take it easy. These are built for you to pick and choose who and what you want to do. You will burn out big time if you try to do too much of everything. It’s just not possible. And when you do that, the joy goes out of it. It starts to feel like a job. Before you go, look through who’s there, what the events within the festival are, and get a game plan in place. You’ll be glad you did.
Make the most of relaxation
Every music festival venue offers areas to wind down during either lulls in the entertainment, bands or experiences you’re not really into, or when you’ve been overloaded with sensations and can listen/feel the vibe of what’s going on while also taking a moment for yourself. Whether it’s yoga tents, swinging in the breeze in a hammock area, giving in to your inner horticulturalist in a plant-filled space, roller skating, or simply sitting in a camp chair and closing your eyes to let the tunes wash over you while cooling mist dapples your sun soaked skin, taking time to make the most out of your music festival getaway is essential.
Sure, you want to dance, sing, and roar in joyous indulgence with the tunes and crew of the music fest. And, yep, you’ll down some seriously delicious liquid indulgences that’ll get your blood flowing. That’s part of being at these festivals. But the other aspect is for you to get away from your day-to-day. That’s why there are so many ways to escape and just lose yourself for a while, away from the craziness, away from the roaring crowd (as they say) made available to you at these incredible places. Indulge in what you want to indulge in and let yourself be swept away by the vast array of relaxation options right there around every corner.
And if your festival doesn’t have them, guess what? You set up your temporary living space in such a way that it can be your escape when you need it. Lucky you!
A welcome return, rules and all
The music and arts festival has been gone for far too long and it’s such a pleasure to have it back. With its return, there may be more stringent and even new rules in place about the do’s and don’ts of enjoying various familiar experiences. We know it can be exhausting to have to do a little extra prep to attend these, should that be the case, but at the end of the day, listening to good music, embracing amazing art, and losing yourself for a few days in pure, creative freedom is coming back in a big way, and how cool is that?
Welcome back, music and arts festivals. We sure did miss you.