Know Before You Go: Sizing Up a Music Festival

If you’re like me, and love music and travel, music festivals are a great way to enjoy two of your favorite things at once. If you’ve never gone to one, or just want to ensure you’ll have a good time, here are some questions to consider when choosing a music festival.

At Outside Lands 2019

What are the conditions of the festival?
Does the festival make sense for you? My bestie and I have gone three years in a row to the Outside Lands music festival, held in August in San Francisco. In addition to several great bands and musicians on the lineup – it’s also a welcome change in climate to have 60-to-70 degree weather when South Florida’s heat and humidity is at its peak.  It’s also a fun city to hang out in – always something new to see in the time before and after the festival. There are also festivals such as Avett Brothers at the Beach, which are held at tropical locations when much of the U.S. is cold. You should also consider characteristics of the venue – can it hold a large volume of people without feeling cramped? Is there shade? Knowing the conditions of a festival can be just as important as who is headlining.

How is it organized?
This summer marked the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock, and a lot has changed over the last half-century when it comes to festival logistics. In Woodstock’s case, it was such an incredible moment in time, it didn’t matter that the festival had tens of thousands more attendees than anticipated, that it ran hours behind schedule, that they ran out of food, and it ultimately became a mud-hole. It was a mud-hole with Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. Nowadays, anyone attempting to put on a festival knows better – there are no excuses for disasters/scams like the Fyre festival, and no one will put up with a poorly managed event. It’s easy to find information about how well a festival is organized by looking up ratings and firsthand accounts from previous years on social media, and through concert reviews and blogs. When in doubt, opt for events run by reputable organizers with a history of staging quality events.

What are the accommodations?
Is your festival located in the midst of a large city, like Lollapalooza in Chicago, or is it in a more remote location that necessitates camping, like Bonnaroo? If you’re into RV camping at festivals, check out RoadtripMojo for articles and ideas. If your festival is in a city, you may want to check on hotel and AirBnB options before committing to the event – and book as early as possible. Sometimes “perfect storms” come together where multiple major events are taking place at the same time in a particular city, making it hard to find a place to stay at a decent rate – and hard to get around, too.  You’ll also want to be sure you can get there by checking ahead on flights or other methods of transport.

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can book your festival trip, confident that all the pieces are in place for a good experience. Rock on!

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