It's that time of year! Long summer days ahead with endless sunshine. Everyone is scrambling to buy their festival tickets as the dates get released. While it's always very exciting, for a first-time attendee the process and planning for a festival can be a little overwhelming. It can be hard to know what to expect but with my help you can arrive prepared and ready for a great time.
Top 10 Tips to Conquer Festival Season
1. Do Your Homework - After you book your tickets, the festival will send out an information packet with all the rules and guidelines you need. I know it may be boring but it's worth your time to read through it. Do your research as far as traveling to the venue, parking, amenities offered, food service and location of key points of interest. If you're going a to music festival with multiple stages, plan out what artist you're gonna see ahead of time.
2. Arrive Early - When we went to the Lights Festival we arrived right when the gates opened and it was such a lifesaver. The venue quickly ran out of parking spots and late coming attendees were scrambling. When you arrive early it gives you the chance to scope out the best location to set up camp and get settled before the madness begins.
3. The Picnic Setup - We brought everything we thought we would need to hangout on the grass lawn. At festivals you often spend several hours lounging out between big events so you want to be comfortable. Plan on packing blankets, fold-up chairs, snacks, an ice cooler, pillows and tech-free entertainment. Often these festivals are in remote locations and there can be very limited cell signal. We brought the Mexican card game Loteria and Cards Against Humanity.
4. Stay Hydrated - Along with all your picnic snacks, be sure to bring plenty of water. Sitting outside for hours in the baking sun will quickly dehydrate you and can put a damper on your festivities. Dehydration can lead to headaches, nausea, low energy and an overall feeling of yuckiness. Save yourself the grief and drink a large glass of water at least once an hour.
5. Stay Cool in the Shade - I know we all want that sun kissed summer glow, but trust me when I tell you that an all-day outdoor festival is not the time or place to get your tan on. Getting a sunburn will very quickly ruin your experience and lead to even further dehydration. Plan on packing a sun tent or umbrella, a wide brimmed hat and sunscreen.
6. Leave the Luxury Goods at Home - A festival may feel like the perfect place to show off all your high-end fashion goods but in reality it's not a good idea. If you really value something leave it at home where it's safe and sound. Things get hectic at festivals, your belongings get trampled, sunglasses get crushed, things can get stolen from your car or tent. Bring items that are fun and useful, but in the long-run are disposable. The last thing you want is to ruin your good vibes when someone steps on your favorite Fendi sunglasses.
7. Walk it Out - Summer festivals take place in very large outdoor areas and everything is really far apart. It can be up to a mile of walking between the parking lot and your campout spot. Bringing good walking shoes is crucial for a positive experience. Getting a blister would be a major bummer and make getting around tricky. Especially because you will be carrying all your supplies back and forth with you.
8. Wear Layers - Being outdoors means you're at the mercy of the weather and temperature fluctuations are unpredictable. In many California locations, the temperature will drop as soon as the sun goes down so having extra layers you can throw on will help. Layers will also help with sun protection and may save you the pain of a sunburn.
9. Ear plugs - As uncool as this sounds, loud speakers give me terrible headaches. Having some ear plugs handy can dramatically improve my concert experience and keep my eardrums happy. When scouting out a location to set up camp, I stay away from the speakers and find a more calm area.
10. The Bathroom "Situation" - Probably the biggest challenge of festival life is using the Porta Potties. Often times they run out of toilet paper and the hand washing station can run out of soap and water. I recommend having a "bathroom kit" that you take with you into the Porta Potty. It should include toilet paper, non-drinking water, soap and hand sanitizer.
Lastly, throw these items into your bag before you leave the house: cell phone chargers and power banks, cash and binoculars. Trust me, you'll be thankful you did!
The Lights Festival
Think all outdoor festivals are rowdy and boozy mayhem? Allow me to introduce the Lights Festival, most likely the calmest and almost spiritual festival ever! At the time when we bought our tickets to the Lights Festival, I really didn't know what to expect. The festivities began at 4pm with a combo of DJ music and live singing performances from local artists. They had food trucks set up for folks to grab fresh food and sweets. When the sunlight faded away, we began to prep for the lantern release.
I was very pleasantly surprised at how moving and emotional the lantern release was and at that moment I understood what all the hype was about. Thousands of lanterns are released into the sky all at once and it's as close to a magical experience that you could ever have. If you've seen the Disney movie Tangled, it looks exactly like this lantern scene. The tradition is that you write a message or a wish on your lantern and then you release it into the sky. I dedicated my lantern to my soon to be born baby girl, who quickly has become the light of my life.
The festival travels all around the United States and internationally, see tour locations and dates here.
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