Festival season is nearly upon us. What could be better than spending a day or two hanging out with your mates and seeing your favourite bands play?
However, attending a festival isn’t something you should play by ear. After six years of attending festivals I’ve learnt that preparation is key. Whether you’re planning on seeing Cardi B at Field Day, Childish Gambino at Spilt Milk or The Kooks at Lost Paradise, these tips will help you live your best festival life.
Plan your outfit
Of course you want to look great, but be practical as well. Hot tip: the weather forecast can’t be trusted. Always bring a plastic poncho, because it will rain. Despite it being the middle of summer, you should bring a jacket – nights can be surprisingly cold even when you’re in a pack of sweaty bodies. And although it shouldn’t need to be said, please don’t wear anything that could come remotely close to cultural appropriation.
Double check your ticket
First up, make sure you remembered to buy one. Festivals generally sell out well in advance, so there’s no use showing up at the gate and trying to buy one on the day. Don’t bother with scalpers, and definitely don’t go anywhere near Viagogo unless you like spending $200 on nothing. If you did forget to buy one, see if the festival has an official resale site. Occasionally extra tickets are also released a couple of days before, so keep an eye out. If you managed to snag a ticket, congrats! Set yourself a reminder to actually bring it with you. Most festivals let you scan tickets from your phone now, but it helps to print it out just in case your phone dies at pre’s.
Pick a meeting spot
This is absolutely essential. Before you look at merch/go to the bar/run to the barrier, agree on a spot to meet with your mates. One of you will get lost. It’s the law of festivals. Assume your phones won’t have reception, because by the end of the night they won’t. Be sure to confirm whether you’ll swing by every couple of hours, or just meet at the end of the festival. Stick to whatever you say, because it sucks to be the only one waiting at the info desk while everyone else is in the mosh for Dune Rats.
Bring the essentials
Here’s a list of things you should definitely bring to all festivals: sunscreen, portable phone charger, a pack of gum, tissues, hand sanitiser, your ID and your ticket. An empty water bottle is also good, although check if you’ll be allowed to bring it in. Lots of festivals are moving to card-only purchases, so bring your bank card (or cash if it’ll be accepted). Bum bags and cargo pants with lots of pockets are all the rage at the moment, so there’s no excuse not to bring this stuff.
Don’t be a dick
This is pretty self-explanatory. You’re all there to have a good time, so don’t disrespect your fellow festival-goers. Keep your hands to yourself, don’t throw your tinnies into the crowd and be extremely polite when moving towards the front of the crowd. Don’t harass photographers either – they’re there to do a job, not put up with your demands.
There is nothing worse than having your day cut short with a trip to the first aid tent. It gets stupidly hot during summer, and there’s often very little shelter from the sun at festivals. Outsmart heat exhaustion by drinking heaps of water throughout the day. Bring in an empty bottle to fill up if you can, or shell out for a fresh Mount Franklin if you have to. Tip: festival bars have to provide free water under RSA laws, so fill up there if you can't see any designated water stations. While ciders might make you feel good at the time, water will be so much better in the long run.
Festival food is super expensive because it’s a closed market. While hot chips might be $5 in the outside world, they’ll be $15 at a festival. Avoid the disappointment of paying top dollar for half a plate of nachos by eating a decent meal before you enter. You could also bring in some snacks to keep you going throughout the day. It’s worth checking if they’re allowed beforehand, though, because I once had to scoff two muesli bars and a mandarin at the gate. And no matter what, make room in your budget for a chip on a stick – nothing beats eating spiralised potato as the sun goes down.
Have a plan, but be flexible
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years, it’s that it’s impossible to see everyone you want to see. With the exception of FOMO Festival, which only has one stage, there’s no avoiding the tragedy of set clashes. Look at the set times beforehand and plan out your day, but be ready to have things go differently on the day. It helps to have a list of non-negotiables that you absolutely must see, and then other acts that you would like to see but aren’t essential. Be reasonable and put in bathroom and food breaks, because you won’t make it through otherwise. Don’t plan to run from between stages during the same slot - the map always looks smaller than it really is. Commit to one act and enjoy them!
Look out for your mates
While you’re there to enjoy some live music and make the most of your summer, you need to look out for your pals. Medics are there to help, so don’t hesitate to go to first aid if someone needs it. Security guards are employed to keep the peace, so call out to them if you don’t feel safe in the pit. At the end of the day, everyone is there to make sure the event goes smoothly, so use them if you need to.