Tips courtesy of Emily Gabriele, Christina Richardson, and Laura Ferraro
The snow is clearing, The Bachelor is wrapped, and Coachella is suing Urban Outfitters and Free People for copyright infringement. This can all only mean one thing - festival season is upon us. Whether you're planning your inaugural visit to Stagecoach or 10th annual trek to Bonnaroo, festival travel doesn't come with a lot of freedom. Flight delays, unpredictable weather, or traffic can mean the difference between seeing your favorite artists or hoping to catch them on their next tour.
Luckily, we have more than a decade of experience planning, booking, and managing large-scale travel needs for major brands such as iHeartMedia, AMC, and MTV. With hundreds of events scheduled for contest winners, executives, and VIPs, we've learned a thing or two about keeping a schedule while also rolling with the punches. Check out seven festival tips straight from our event concierge team:
1. Plan your "can't miss" performances
With three stages, dozens of artists, and back to back performances - you are not going to see every artist in three days. In fact, you won't see a third of them - it's harsh, but it's true. Festival coordinators stack their lineups with amazing performers there to showcase their new material or plug an upcoming tour, so choose wisely. Make sure you have enough time between performances to make it to the next venue and scheduled hours for food, hydration, and the porta potty line. Most fests have apps to coordinate your "can't miss performances - check out Pitchfork's here.
2. For the love of God, put your phone down
While we're all guilty of snapping a "don't you wish you were me" Instagram photo and making sure our Snapchat story really drives the point home, don't spend the whole set, or even more than 30 seconds of it, watching through your phone screen. First of all, you're pissing off everyone behind you who can't see through your outstretched arms. Secondly you risk getting your phone, and dignity, taken by festival security placed throughout the crowd to prevent attendees from recording the full performance. Take your photo, then enjoy the moment.
3. Bring a portable charger
Your. Phone. Is. Going. To. Die. Thousands of people crammed into a small, usually isolated space is going to eat up everyone's data. When you're with your friends, keep your phone on airplane mode, turn the brightness down, and close your apps. Bring a portable charger for the times you're separated from the group, time stamp your texts to make sure your friend is still by the left speaker at Solange, even though she told you that 30 minutes ago, and don't take excessively long videos of performances (see tip #2). You can post your photos on social when you're back home and on wifi.
4. Expect to throw away your clothes
Okay, unless you are planning to mosh in the mud at Glastonbury, your clothes probably won't be destroyed at the festival. But, you will be at the mercy of the elements, so watch your spending as you outfit plan, lest that $300 suede fringe vest is ruined in a downpour. Pack comfortable shoes, extra socks, and more clean clothes than you hope to need.
5. Download the app, memorize the map
In the days and weeks leading up to your festival, download the official app to familiarize yourself with the layout, check out the food options, plan parking or transportation, and map a route to and from your "can't miss" performances. Since you've already planned for the death of your phone (see tip #3), make sure to grab or print your own map of the venue. Scope out stages, bathrooms, bars, food, and rest areas and choose a meeting spot with your group to reconvene throughout the festival.
6. Shop early
Get to the venue early to get your barrings, but also for the best merch. Being one of the first attendees means you can check out all of the vendors and ensure you have the best selection of souveniers to choose from. It's also the perfect opportunity to eat since lines are short, ingredients are fresh, and you can spend the next few hours focusing on the music instead of buying a too-small T-shirt and wasting away in the taco line.
7. Avoid loitering near the entrance
Festival entrances quickly become stopgaps as attendees filter in and immediatley hit ID checks, food trucks, and beer stands. Check for alternative, side entrances before forcing your way into the herd. If you can't avoid the chaos, venture further into the venue before making any stops. Usually, the deeper into the space, the less people (and waiting).