Attending a music festival with the right crowd is the experience of a lifetime.
It doesn’t matter what genre of music you’re into or what country you’re in; there’s something that’s simply indescribable about attending an unreal festival with incredible music, stellar weather, and all-around good vibes.
However, if you’re relatively inexperienced when it comes to the world of music festivals, it pays to be prepared. After all, a lack of preparation can completely derail or even ruin your festival experience.
To make the most out of your next adventure, we’ve compiled a list of the 20 best music festival tips to help you flourish during your next festival.
These music festival hacks won’t apply for every event. However, scan the list and make notes of the ones that make sense for your next travel plans.
Music Festival Tips – Preparation
The key to having a successful music festival experience all starts with preparation before the festival even begins.
The following music festival hacks will help ensure you avoid headaches and maximize the fun you have at your next festival.
1. Pack Correctly
There’s a reason we have a Festival Dreaming music festival packing checklist for a reason…forgetting critical items for your festival trip can be absolutely devastating.
Leaving certain items like random snacks or your favorite bandanna at home is not the end of the world. However, some items, like sunscreen, medication, or even the right pair of shoes can create pretty massive headaches when forgotten.
The last thing you want to do during your time at a music festival is to spend time running errands. Consult our festival packing guide, and don’t ignore this simple yet vital music festival tip.
Pro Tip – Check the weather a few days out before leaving for your festival and make necessary adjustments to your packing list!
2. Prepare Early
Another simple yet important music festival tip is to always pack and prepare as early as possible.
The last thing you want is to arrange travel plans with your group at the last minute.
When my friends and I drove to Osheaga, we ended up doing half our packing and grocery shopping the same day we drove from Toronto to Montreal…needless to say, we arrived in Montreal around 4 am thanks to our delays and hitting traffic.
Pack your travel bag and car the night before at minimum. Trust me, this tip makes a massive difference for keeping you on track.
Pro Tip – If you drive with a few friends, try to outsmart rush hour traffic and book time off work accordingly. If you get stuck in festival traffic, you’re in for a miserable time. Consider arriving a day early and leaving a day late to truly miss all the craziness.
3. Book Accommodations Early
Personally, I always use Airbnb to book my music festival accommodations. It’s generally cheaper than booking a hotel room, and all of your friends can actually hangout in the same area, throw parties, or prepare for the festival/bars together.
However, it doesn’t matter if you book an Airbnb or hotel room; the key music festival hack here is to book early.
The second you buy music festival tickets, commit to an Airbnb. You’ll find way cheaper prices than if you wait until the last minute. Plus, waiting too long runs the risk of having all the cool/affordable spots being booked.
4. But…Don’t Skimp On Accommodations.
You (hopefully) won’t spend a lot of time in your room during a music festival. However, one common music festival mistake is to skimp out on your accommodations in an effort to save money.
I get it, music festivals are very expensive. However, the two most important features you need to have for your hotel or Airbnb are:
- Proximity to Festival Grounds – Make sure you’re close to the festival grounds, a metro station, or are in reasonable Uber driving range.
- Ability to Sleep – Festivals are exhausting, so avoid staying in hostels, shared rooms, or somewhere where it will be difficult to sleep.
Trust me, paying an extra $20 a night is worth it if it simplifies your life and let’s you catch up on sleep.
5. Prioritize Snacks, Not Groceries
Trust me when I say that you won’t cook a single meal except for breakfast.
I don’t care how dedicated you are to saving money. Breakfast is easy enough to cook at your Airbnb before heading out for the festival, but the rest of the day is a write off.
You’ll likely buy lunch at the festival grounds. Dinner will also be at the festival, or, potentially a pre-bar idea. However, you will be too drunk or too tired to do any cooking when you’re back home.
Prioritize breakfast foods and healthy snacks like fruit, granola bars, or things that are easy to take on the go. Don’t waste money by bringing ingredients to cook a 5-course dinner.
Pro Tip – Bring something with electrolytes for hangovers, like Hydrolyte.
6. Bring Extra Cash & Credit/Debit Cards
The last thing you want when visiting a foreign city is to run into payment issues or a lack of funds.
I bank with TD, and TD swears that you can travel without having to call them to inform them of travel plans.
Well, when I was in Montreal, my credit card got blocked because of fraud alert, and somehow my debit ended up getting messed up too.
Luckily, I had brought a decent amount of cash (left most of it at the Airbnb, of course) and an American Express.
The point is: always bring a few payment methods and a decent amount of cash to avoid headaches. Keep most of your cash in a hotel room safe or at your Airbnb, but be prepared.
Tips For The Music Festival Grounds
If you packed and prepared correctly for your music festival, the boring logistical stuff is out of the way!
However, there are still some useful music festival hacks to know that pertain to where you’ll spend the majority of your time: the festival grounds.
7. Get A Festival Map & Schedule
I see a lot of people download lineup posters or set-lists on their phones at festivals.
This is great, but honestly, printing out a small hard copy of the festival grounds and schedule isn’t a bad idea.
Phones get lost or die…paper is good as long as you don’t get absolutely soaked.
Pro Tip – Bring a burner phone/older phone you have laying around and swap out your SIM card. Losing your phone sucks, but losing an older, cheaper version of your phone will lessen the sting.
8. Pick A Rendezvous Point
At some point at your festival, your phone will die or you’ll lose signal. There’s just so many people at festivals that cellphones aren’t very reliable.
It’s a great idea to spend time on your own or to meet new friends when at a music festival. However, pick a designated meeting point that’s easily accessible/somewhere near the middle of the festival grounds in case your group gets unintentionally separated.
Pro Tip – Consider bringing a portable power bank for your cellphone!
9. Camp Uphill
This simple music festival hack is a complete game-changer for camping festivals.
Festival grounds are often fairly flat. However, if there are hills, try to camp on elevated ground, or, at the very least, avoid setting up shop at the bottom of a hill. If it rains, you’ll get wet. However, you won’t be forced to live in a swamp.
10. Prioritize Artists You Love
If it’s your first music festival, it can be tempting to fill absolutely every waking moment with music. While I commend you for your efforts, this isn’t always a great idea.
Music festivals last most of the day and start early. However, festivals usually space headliners and the most popular artists out throughout the afternoon and night.
Prioritize seeing artists you absolutely love, and get to their stage early to ensure you get a good view. Hardcore fans of artists show up early, so time your schedule accordingly.
You should still explore and see performances of new artists, of course. However, don’t over-book yourself and miss out on the artists you care most about.
11. Have Fun With Your Outfit…But Remember Comfort
Music festival outfits are a tonne of fun. However, a pretty key music festival tip is to remember comfort when picking your outfits.
Sure, it’s fun to go all-out for maybe one day out of the entire festival experience. But, trust me, picking stylish shoes or outfits that are uncomfortable will lead to misery over the course of a few days.
Pick comfortable shoes and tops you actually feel good wearing. If you dress down (which is fine), also remember to wear sunscreen!
12. Go With A Good Crew
Your best friends from back home are not always the perfect candidates for traveling together, especially if it’s your first music festival.
Go with a group that is on the same page with what they want.
This doesn’t mean you all have to love the same music. However, if half of you hate crowds or don’t like staying out late while the other half want to party all night, you might have some problems.
At the very least, if your group is dramatically different, consider booking separate rooms so you don’t disturb each other with different schedules.
13. Don’t Sneak In Anything You Can’t Afford To Lose
It blows my mind when I think about some of the things I’ve seen people try to sneak into music festivals.
It’s one thing to try and get a flask in or a ‘goodie bag’, if that’s your thing. But sneaking in mass amounts of alcohol or prohibited substances is a great way to get your festival wristband cut or even the police involved.
Follow the rules if you can, or, at the very least, don’t cross over the line too much. Losing your festival wrist band is not worth saving a bit of money on booze.
14. Bring One Backpack
Another crucial festival hack is to bring a single backpack or 2 for your group and to shuffle around who is responsible for wearing it.
Other than a few empty water bottles (which can be filled inside the festival) and a few rain jackets (if weather sucks), you don’t need to bring that much stuff into a festival. Simplify life by limiting what you bring inside, and focus on having fun.
15. Don’t Forget To Hydrate
If you get carried away with booze and dancing the first day of your music festival, you’ll definitely feel it the next morning.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated and to refill your water bottle as often as possible. Simple, yes, but crucial.
Pre-Concert Tips – Enjoying Nightlife
Spending most of your day/night on festival grounds is obviously the point of heading to a music festival. However, depending on the city you’re in, the after-hour festivities can be just as fun.
16. Get On VIP/Guest List
The second a day ends at a music festival, all hell breaks loose. Thousands of attendees also have the same idea: go home, get changed, and go out to party.
Beat the lines and rush by getting on VIP lists at bars if you’re able to. Often times, the only thing this requires is to call early or to check out events on Facebook and to signup for guest list.
17. Don’t Go Overboard
If you’re in a party city like Montreal, Las Vegas, Miami, or really any major city with a bustling downtown, it’s easy to get carried away…especially if it’s your first music festival.
Don’t go overboard! The music festival is your primary mission. Bars and parties are fun, but don’t jeopardize your entire weekend by partying too hard one night.
Trust me when I say that you will spend more at the music festival and bars than you expect to.
To keep life easy, over-budget for these expenses. Or, at the very least, accept the fact that you’re in for a pretty expensive weekend if you plan on going out multiple times.
19. Remain Aware
Music festivals are generally full of positive vibes and good fun. However, by the time 4am rolls around, a lot of people are coming down or too intoxicated. Mix in possible differences in languages, and you get a pretty interesting mix.
I see more fights at bars during music festival weekends than any other point. Remain aware of your surroundings, and don’t get involved in a fight for any reason.
20. Obviously…Have FUN!
I know I just bombarded you with a massive list of music festival tips, but they truly all relate to one thing…have some fun!
Pack and prepare correctly, be smart, but don’t overthink the process or stress if a few things aren’t perfect.
Well, I hope that whatever music festival you end up choosing, you have an unbelievable time.
Festival weekends are some of my favorite. If you follow this list of music festival tips and tricks, you should bet set for a weekend that is full of amazing music and incredible memories.
Thanks so much for reading!
Do you have a go-to festival ritual or piece of advice? Let us know in the comments!