I'm deviating from my usual webmaster and photography posts to focus on a personal interest of mine: concerts and festivals.
In various Facebook groups for these festivals - especially multi-day festivals - the same questions are usually asked: what do I need to bring to this music festival to make this as comfortable as possible?
Regardless if you attend a country festival, rock festival, folk festival, or what have you, the same rules usually apply (though check the website of your respective festival for rules).
I've created this to provide a one-stop place to suggest the items you need to make your festival experience as comfy as possible. Some of this is also gleaned from traveling to national parks where there's lot of walking.
These are all items I currently use or have used. I do not and will not recommend things I don't use.
This covers sunscreen, wallets, bandanas, anti-inflammatories, hydration methods, and more.
At the bottom, I've included a few tips for you to help prepare you.
What You Absolutely Need at an Outdoor Music Festival
In most outdoor festivals, the sun is a killer. It will burn you and dehydrate you before you're aware. I've seen people fall out from the heat, sun exposure, and lack of hydration, most of which is preventable.
These items below will help ward that off.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Non-Greasy Sunscreen Stick
Most festivals ban spray cans and security have wisened up to fake sunscreen bottles to slow down entry while you prove it's really sunscreen.
Enter Neutrogena's Sunscreen 70 SPF stick. It's my go-to. It lasts several hours and goes on non-greasy.
Walmart also has a generic version of this which works just as well, but I prefer to stick with Neutrogena.
Gold Bond Friction Defense Stick
For us thicker folk - and I'm one - I use Gold Bond Friction Defense to fight chafing caused by friction, moisture, and irritating fabric. You don't realize it's an issue until it happens and by then it's too late.
Banana Boat Sunscreen Lip Balm
The sun will not only burn your body but your lips. Again, you won't know until it's already happened. You'll need a high SPF chapstick to protect your lips.
Enter Banana Boat Sunscreen Lip Balm. It's cheap and does the job you need.
Tyleon or Ibuprofen or Aleve
I would take ibuprofen at night to ward off inflammation the next day, especially at multi-day festivals where I stand for 8+ hours. I've used Aleve as well with similar results.
I've linked to the generic versions - it's the same results with a much lower price.
Bandana and Hat
For those of us who shave our heads, you will absolutely need a hat. I also tuck a bandana under the hat and drape it over my ears and over my neck, as in the image below.
You might think you look dumb, but you know what you won't be? Burned.
The bandana can also help keep your mouth covered if the dust gets kicked up from a moshpit.
Polarized Sunglasses for Outdoor Festivals and Concerts
You will need sunglasses - preferably polarized and cheap sunglasses. These are the cheap sunglasses I use so if they break, I'm not out much.
These sunglasses are also similar to what Raymond Reddington wears in The Blacklist, so I love them.
I don't know why it's necessary to tell people to bring deodorant, but...bring deodorant - the heavy-duty 36-hour kind that will last you maybe 6 hours.
It's better than nothing.
The one regret I hear from folks is from those who wear flip flops or sandals. They're not conducive to standing long-term on hard surfaces.
As much as I love Converse, my feet hated me in 2015 after Slayer closed out the night at Welcome to Rockville.
Get something with padding and save your feet.
Recommended For An Outdoor Music Festival
These are various items that you admittedly don't need, but I use or have used at festivals. My day job is the non-profit arm of the Florida Department of Corrections, so I tend to keep an eye on being safe, especially where ID and money are concerned.
I've moved to using a front-pocket wallet and at festivals, I bring only an ID, limited cash, and a single credit card.
Why a credit card and not a debit card? Because if someone gets a hold of your debit card, it's much more time-consuming to get your account under control and you could be out money you need to live on.
With a credit card, you call the credit card company and cancel the card and dispute the charges.
My go-to credit card for outdoor music festivals and concerts is my VISA Capital One Venture card. Sign up and earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months.
I accumulate points and use them for traveling. Go figure...
Front Pocket Wallet or Money Clip
The wallet takes getting accustomed to, but once you do you'll never go back to a regular wallet.
Clear Drawstring Bag, Small Clear Backpack For Outdoor Music Festivals, Concerts, Stadiums, Sporting Events - 14” x 17”
No, you don't need this but if you plan on buying merch - and you'll likely want to - you'll want to carry it in something. This clear drawstring bag for festivals is my go-to and I use it year after year.
As always, check with your venue or festival, but these are usually approved.
Waterproof Covering for the Ground
No, you don't need it, but people, including me, like to sometimes catch a snooze or spread out and eat away from other people.
This helps you do that by keeping you off the ground.
Same basic material as a tent - BEARZ Outdoor Pocket Blanket Picnic Mat.
Disposable Emergency Rain Ponchos for Outdoor Music Festivals and Concernts
In 2015, a tornado touched down in the St. John's River, close to the Welcome to Rockville Festival in Jacksonville, Florida. We were twice evacuated to vehicles or under the Hart Bridge Expressway. The festival was flooded and forced the cancellation of a few acts. A storm in 2019 did the same thing, though the festival hadn't started just yet and the start was delayed due to the storm.
Check the weather and get a clear (festival rules, usually) poncho. You'll be glad you did. . You'll be glad you did.
A Few Guidelines to Help With Your Festival Experience
Festivals seem to be one of the few activities that cut across racial, gender, and socio-economic boundaries that often keep us apart. We all dress the same and have the same goal: fun.
Here are a few tips to help with your overall festival experience, based on my experience.
- Eat before you go. Focus on protein-heavy foods, like eggs. You'll stay fuller longer.
- Hydrate. Drink a liter of water before you leave for the festival. You generally won't feel dehydrated until it starts to really kick in. You'll think you're hungry, but you generally just need water.
- Be prepared: have your tickets ready and your bags ready to inspect for security. Anything less slows down the line for everyone else.
- Drink water at the festival instead of softdrinks or alcohol if you're feeling dehydrated.
- Ladies, watch your drinks. 99.9% of the guys at festivals are there for the same reason as you, but there's always that less than 1% with ulterior motives. Don't accept drinks you didn't ask for. And travel in groups. There will be plenty of guys to help you if you're in a bind. Listen to your spidey sense.
- Be kind: point people toward the port-o-lets, help those who fall in the most pit, help hold up the person crowd-surfing, lift up the short people so they can see.
- Tip the servers at the vendor booths - that's how most get paid.
Did I miss anything? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These links are affiliate links and I will earn money from transactions if you click on them and make a purchase. I don't recommend anything I haven't used or wouldn't use.