Festival Essentials For Newbies & First-Timers


You know how your parents used to preach to you about the whole “with age comes wisdom” thing? Whether or not you agree with that, there is certainly something to be said for experience, and whoa what a difference it makes! Experience really counts during festival season – veteran festivalgoers traipse around the grounds with their Camelbaks and comfy footwear making the whole thing look easy while newbies are often left burnt, blistered, and befuddled.

But the good thing about experience is that it can be shared – there’s a lot to be learned from festival veterans and all the little things they do to make their fest experience as easy-going and carefree as possible. In order to help you avoid making any first-timer mistakes this festival season, we’ve rounded up a few simple things that distinguish seasoned fest-goers from first-timers. Have a look and take a cue from the veterans this year, because believe us, getting a sunburn that first morning really isn’t worth it.


Perhaps nowhere is the divide between seasoned veteran and clueless newbie more apparent than in the arena of sunwear. While festival experts may not sport the whole sunscreen-covered-nose look, they do make sure toha keep a bottle handy for those long shadeless stretches where escape from the sun seems impossible. Sunglasses and hats are a fest veteran’s best friends, and keeping yourself covered has never been cooler. Newbs with a first-day sunburn will truly stand out when they’re freak dancing in a sea of people and every brush of the skin compels them to scream “OW!”


Next up is footwear, which rivals sunwear in terms of its importance for festival comfort. Because you’re at a festival, chances are you’ll be grooving on the dance floor at some point. Got a new pair of 8-inch stilettos you’ve been waiting to whip out? Festival season is NOT the time. Nothing yells newbie quite like limping around the grounds as your heels get stuck in the soft green earth. Embrace comfort and go for something more low-key like Toms, flat boots, or sneakers. Don’t worry, you can still be fashionable without towering over everyone else.


If you’re deciding to fully rough it by camping at your fest of choice, packing appropriately can mean the difference between life and death. Well, not really — but it is the difference between happiness and frustration. Veterans of the camping experience will be sporting handy non-perishables and healthy snacks that will hold them over between meals and save them a few bucks (food vendors can be pretty pricey). Newcomers will want to leave firewood behind — campfires are prohibited at most fests — and instead bring collapsible stoves for easy and safe grilling. Seriously, no one will be impressed if you burn down the campground with your attempted bonfire.


For all you budding photographers out there stoked to capture Drake on that sick new DSLR with the ultra zoom lens you got for your birthday, well, leave it behind. Chances are your fancy camera will not be allowed in to the festival – you’ll be left trekking back to the car or tent to drop it off, and your friends will not be amused while they wait for you. Instead, take a cue from veteran festivalgoers making memories with disposable cameras and their cell phones. Not only will the people standing behind you during the show thank you for leaving your bulky prosumer camera and selfie stick behind (selfie sticks are banned at some festivals), but it’ll also allow you to enjoy the fest with less distractions. Awesome.

Battery Savvy

It’s incredibly exciting that you’re attending a festival, and you’re going to want to share every minute of it with your poor friends who are missing out, but it might behoove you to wait until after the fest. First of all, festivals are notorious service black holes, and you’re only going to frustrate yourself trying to repeatedly upload that photo to Instagram. But more importantly, you’ll want to save your phone battery for any emergencies, like losing your friends. Oh hey, see that guy over there? He’s using a solar-powered phone charger so he doesn’t have to worry about losing contact with his fest buds. Smart guy. Other handy options to help newbies extend their battery life include bringing a charger and finding a charging station or carrying an extra battery pack with you.

Bag 101

How are you to carry all these handy items that will make your life easier, you ask? Seasoned fest-goers know how to streamline their packs — whether it’s a fanny pack (the ultimate fest tool) or a slim backpack, keeping your valuables close to you has never been easier. Still got that bulky JanSport backpack from middle school that automatically creates a five foot radius around you? Don’t bring it. But also avoid just bringing a clutch or something too small to fit the essentials. If you lose your group you’ll want to be mobile and self-sufficient.


And then there was water. In the midst of all the chaos, music, and dancing bodies, newbies on the scene sometimes forget one of the most vital festival fundamentals: hydration. To guarantee that your energy lasts and you feel ready for another round each morning, drinking H20 throughout the day is a must. Simply bringing your favorite water bottle or Nalgene from home will prevent the financial and environmental burden of relying on plastic water bottles. Cue the aforementioned Camelbaks; these handy backpack/water packs are the perfect way to modernize your means of hydration. Not only are they lightweight, but they also hug the body closely so you can dance freely without worrying about knocking out your neighbor when your favorite song comes on. You’ll notice these Camelbak-clad pros are some of the happiest campers out there, because a hydrated fest-goer is a happy fest-goer. Pro-tip: Most, if not all, festivals require your reusable water bottles and Camelbaks to be completely empty before entering the festival.

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