By Samantha D.
Music festival season is almost here and, if you’re anything like me, you’ve been painting the backs of jackets, throwing your scarves and mittens in storage, and filling your piggy bank to the brim in preparation. Let’s face it, having an excuse to dance like an idiot to your favorite bands live and drink until two in the morning is pretty amazing no matter what the occasion is, but the wonder involved with a music festival only heightens this experience even more. Live displays have gotten crazier, the clothing has gotten cooler, and the bands continue to impress every year and why shouldn’t you be an integral part of this musical movement?
However, it can be easy to become stressed and focus more on the planning of the event rather than the event itself and you may find yourself feeling like you do at the end of the festival before you even get there. So how do we kick that stress to the curb and, in turn, plan the ultimate music festival experience? The best way to enjoy the season without the stress associated with it is by planning ahead of time, taking into account your location, your gear, your expenses, and your means of transportation, and, most importantly, learning to have fun throughout it all.
1. Location, Location, Location: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Whether you’re heading down to Milwaukee’s Summerfest, California’s Coachella, or The United Kingdom’s Glastonbury, knowing more about your location ahead of time can help you to determine where the safest places to stay are, which spots you simply have to visit when there, and what other activities you can be a part of during the festival’s duration. If you’re anything like me, you want to get the most out of your festival experience and, although getting blasted and throwing glowsticks at chicks that look hotter than you can be a fun way to pass the time, looking at other local events, hotspots, and awesome restaurants can allow you to learn more about the culture that created such an event and get engulfed in the local fun that comes along with the festival. Then, once you’re done, glowstick-sling away and know you’re entitled to it now, because damnit, you’re an honorary local!
2. Hotel, Hostel, Car? : Where To Stay When There
Although many festivals recommend camping on-site, there are still many that do not and, even when they do, you might not want to camp with thousands of tents surrounding you and music and laughter emanating from every angle (don’t they realize they need sleep to focus on the music better?!?). If you’re more of a hotel, hostel, or car kind of person, then picking the right place to stay means so much more.
In fact, last year police warned Glastonbury-goers that their cars would be towed if parked wrong or they were found sleeping overnight in them. So, how do you pick the right hotel, hostel, or parking spot to ensure your stay is full of amazing days as well as amazing nights? The best way to do so is by reviewing online experiences throughout the years, picking locations in good neighborhoods, and definitely choosing ahead of time for larger festivals (they fill up fast, trust me).
3. The Gear: Must-Haves of The 2017 Festival Season
Alright, so maybe it’s just our obsession with being accepted by fellow music-lovers or the fact that new gear smells all ‘plasticy’ and gives us that fuzzy feeling inside. Whatever the reason, picking out the must-haves of the new year and sporting them at that festival we’ve been waiting for for decades is basically ‘fashion crack’ and, although there are plenty of 2017 trend guides to get you started, there are actually some simply, tried and true ways to be recognized without spending the prices that often go with ‘new’.
So maybe you’re tired of searching aimlessly for the shirts and styles you want and, let’s face it, with so many bands and designs out there, it’s pretty hard to keep up in the fashion industry. On top of this, some brands such as H&M have removed their plus sized sections from their stores completely which basically means that, if you are one of the billions of plus sized men or women out there, you are ultimately forced to shop online for clothes that aren’t even that trendy in the first place. With this in mind, creating your own custom summer gear ranging from sunglasses and t-shirts all the way to water bottles and totes can be a fun way to sport your favorite logos, featured bands, or even your own band this summer music festival season.
Going back to promoting your own band, if you want to sell some of your merch to the music festival scene without being caught by festival officials (it is technically bad, but who’s really watching, right?), creating some awesome and useful custom products can help you to get both your band out there, sell more merch, as well as make some money in the process. However, I know what you’re probably thinking- cash and festivals don’t really go well together and all that hard-earned money could be in the pocket of some hippie on the complete other side of the festival before you even realize it. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of useful mobile POS systems that can help you to keep track of your sales and allow your customers to use their credit cards as opposed to cash likewise. However, choosing the right mobile POS system and learning how to use it ahead of time can relieve some of the stress involved in street sales and ensure the impulse of the buy is still working to your benefit.
Also, if you happen to be one of the many who chose to buy your ticket online, you may want to check out how these online purchases are done at the festival to avoid being on of those ticket-buyers that worry about entry more than they enjoy the event. Trust me, I have had my fair share of sitting outside while the events coordinators discuss whether I’m a fraud or not and I have even had the phone with the code on it die right before hitting the front of the line. That’s why being prepared ahead of time can be a great way to avoid these absurd situations and be immersed in the festival rather than the ‘entry bureaucracy’.
Mind and Spirit Enhancers
Okay, so you’re probably thinking drugs right now but there are surprisingly other ways to enhance your experience and enjoy the festival on a deeper level as well (crazy, right?). From oils that evoke love and peace to apps that let you become a part of the performance and display, there are plenty of enhancers to consider this year that are either cheap, free, or worth the cost and will help you to create a festival experience you will never forget.
On top of this, a new trend of kaleidoscope glasses hit the market last year and, when attending Insomniac Countdown Festival 2015, I learned all about this wonderful contraption and how it literally is the coolest thing ever. These simplistic yet awesome glasses are certainly a must-have for any EDM festival in 2017 and, by choosing the kaleidoscope glasses you like best, you can even tailor the trippiness of these babies and get a completely unique show out of it in no time.
HIGH- quality Photos
You’ve probably seen those amazing videos and photos that show the entire festival from a bird’s eye view and, let’s be honest with ourselves, taking that video or photo is pretty much the dream of most avid social media users during an amazing show. To have that perfect picture or video that documents your experience is similar to the white whale Captain Ahab himself went insane over and, surprisingly,. It’s not as high-tech or expensive as you would think.
In the last few years, drones have become a wonderful way for the media, the military, and the avid nature hobbyists alike to combine tech with photography and videography and not be forced to fly in a helicopter or skydive in the process. When the drone was first introduced to the public, most of them cost an arm and a leg and honestly weren't worth the large price tag either. However, in the last few years, several companies have come out with more effective and cheaper versions that easily appeal to the populace.
With this in mind, several photographers and festival-goers alike have recognized their potential to achieve movie-worthy shots and the world of drone photography has taken off. So, how do you get your hands on one of these bad boys without spending your entire festival budget in the process? Luckily, with drones becoming more of a common hobby and something both kids as well as adults have begun to show more interest in, major stores such as Walmart and even Kohl’s have begun to sell these babies for cheaper than ever before and, depending on the quality of the drone you are looking for, you can typically find one capable of carrying a phone or GoPro for far less than you would think. The key is to find the best drone for aerial photography that also fits in your budget and, once doing so, learn to fly it ahead of time to prevent chaos at the festival.
Also, be careful about what festival you choose to bring it to as many festivals have begun to ban the usage of drones due to their sheer weight and the potential of them falling from the sky. A great way to prevent this is by either choosing a lightweight and small drone or a more advanced drone that is capable of flight correction in the chance that it does begin to fall. Once you’ve taken these amazing videos of the event, you may find yourself wanting to post them online as is. But, a great way to get noticed and create more views is to choose a quality video editor that can help you make the most out of these web-worthy videos and get you the social media praise you’re looking for.
4. Money Talks: How Financial Planning Can Benefit You
Planning your finances ahead of time can be a great way to determine what you can and can’t get for the festival as a whole. It may seem boring, but luckily there are plenty of financial apps that can help you to determine what amounts you should spend on lodging, food, gear, and merchandise when at the festival. After all, festivals are certainly a way to splurge on some of the coolest things of the new year, but you shouldn’t have to go bankrupt in the process.
The most important thing is to map out how much you would like to spend when not at the festival (ie. clubs, food, lodging) and how much you plan on spending when there. Keep in mind that getting a shirt from the festival is probably a necessity and, of course, so is eating so learning about merch costs beforehand and searching for the restaurants and food trucks you want to eat at can be great ways to plan accordingly and know how much you have left for all the gear and miscellaneous expenses.
5. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: What’s The Most Cost-Effective?
Finally, it’s probably a good idea to look at how you plan on getting there even if it isn’t by plane necessarily. There are plenty of ways to save money on your travel expenses when dealing with any festival and knowing them can be a wonderful way to factor this into your budget and benefit from it in the process.
If you plan on going by plane, you may find yourself spending an incredible amount of money on cabs simply to get to and from which can be a pain but bringing your car along is really not an option for someone who isn’t swimming in the benjamins. If you still need a ride from the airport however, taking an Uber can actually lower the cost and allow you to keep more in your pocket for other ventures that don’t involve simply getting there.
Similarly, if you plan on going by train (because maybe you’re old school like that) or bus, contacting a driver to pick you up or even just take you to some of the sites can be an easy way to steer clear of high cab fares and still enjoy the sites in the process.
Now, if you’re like me and your car is your baby, you may be attending more national music festivals which is still a wonderful way to enjoy the festival season without spending thousands just to get there. If you do choose to drive to the festival, creating a map ahead of time of some of the most cost-effective gas stations along the route can be a great way to avoid the middle-of-nowhere gas fees as well as getting stuck on the road with no gas.
Festival season is a time full of magical atmospheres, great music, amazing food, and good times. Although it can sometimes be stressful planning the perfect experience, taking these tips into account can help you to keep the focus on the fun rather than the work that goes into this awesome season. In the end, it isn’t really about how you get there, what you wear, or even where you go at night but rather about the memories that come along with it and the music that lead you there.