Festival Culture and the Realities of Attendance

Festival season is once again upon us!  While some of us are contemplating going off of social media for the next few months, others are eagerly packing their bags to get ready for those days of musical bliss. Music festivals are a great way to get together with your friends, express your taste in music, show off your style and eat delicious, albeit overpriced, food.

We’ve seen Vanessa Hudgens (aka Coachella queen) and her amazing Instagrams, as well as many other celebrities showing off their great outfits. But what is it really like to go to Coachella, or any other festival, as a “regular” person? Well, for one thing, it definitely isn’t all flower crowns and sunshine. Actually, it basically is all sunshine, all the time. Heat has many plus sides, but with those come downsides as well.

Stay comfy

Let’s start with my favorite part, the fashion at festivals. For one thing, all of those cute outfits we see celebrities wearing, while they do make for great inspo, are really unrealistic for people who do not have golf carts to drive them from stage to stage. It is hot, like unbearably hot at times, and so freaking windy it literally lifts things from the ground and flies them through the air.

You’re walking and dancing all day, so while some materials like lace and leather may be super cute, they can both end up being super uncomfortable. And speaking of being uncomfortable, and those golf carts that are definitely not available to us regular joes and joannes, walking from each stage causes hell to your feet. Those cute little booties you see all over the place may not be the best choice; personally, I had mine on for ten minutes until I was already trading them in for Adidas sneakers. Don’t get me wrong, fashion is a HUGE part of these festivals, and I am definitely guilty of spending too much time planning my Coachella outfits. But sometimes it’s best for you to sacrifice looking extra cute for being extra comfy.

Stay hydrated

While being comfortable at a festival is definitely something you want to strive for, being safe at them is the utmost goal to achieve. To reiterate what I said before: it’s HOT,! And that is pretty much a guarantee, with the possible exception of Outsidelands (Bay Area I love you, but San Francisco in Summer is not all around ideal). So it’s so important to protect yourself from dehydration. With all of the excitement of the performers, the walking from stage to stage, and the beer and alcohol, it can be easy to forget about your best friend: water.



However, dehydration is no joke and definitely not something you want to risk happening to you. I get it, bottled water is not the best brand and can be overpriced at festivals. On the bright side, empty Camelbaks are typically allowed in, and that way all you have to do is head over to a water refill station every once in awhile. Dehydration is a pretty easy thing to avoid as long as you pay attention to your body and keep yourself, you guessed it, hydrated! Trust me: in the end not only will your body be thanking you, but so will your wallet because you won’t have to spend the festival in a medical tent with a banana bag.


Be aware of your drinks

Since we’re on the topic of drinking, let’s talk about the *wink wink*  drinking at festivals (that is, if you’re over 21). We’ve heard the “drinking rules” for example, beer before liquor makes you sicker, and don’t mix your lights and darks. But there’s a big chance that those rules will all go out the door once you start your day.

Being at a festival isn’t the same as going to a bar where you have a full range of options. If you want to drink, you drink what is available to you, which explains why I spent three days drinking somewhat warm Heineken.

Also when you’re at festivals, you may not be able to walk around with your drink, regardless of what it is, so you may find yourself chugging to make it to the next set. This combined with the major mixing of drinks can be a disastrous recipe for over-drinking.

Over-drinking is another thing that can easily be avoided, but it’s so important to pay attention to how you’re feeling. Keep yourself well fed throughout the day. I’ve heard Spicy Pie is good, aka I’ve spent the past two years at Coachella eating at least one slice a day every day. But if pizza isn’t your thing, festivals are known for having a great selection of foods so why not try some of them out?

Another age-old trick to avoid over-drinking is having water in between drinks. Once again, owning a Camelbak is a lifesaver. One more way to avoid this is to keep yourself rested throughout the weekend. I know this sounds like a joke, especially for those who camp, but being tired can cause you to feel drunk faster, or even make you feel like you need to keep drinking to make it through the night.

If you’ve only had two beers and all of a sudden feel extremely buzzed, grab some food and water, find a place to sit and just relax for a little bit. Missing one set to take care of yourself is better than blacking out for the whole day.

Last thing, and I think we all knew it was coming: the drug use at festivals. We all know it happens. And while it is clear that no festival encourages it, people are incredibly clever in sneaking things in. This is where, not only safety becomes even more important for yourself, but having consideration for your friends is also important. Bottom line: watch your drinks and be extra careful.


Music festivals are fun, awesome places to be and to experience. But it’s so easy to get swept up in all of the excitement and forget about taking care of yourself while you’re there. Be aware of how you’re feeling throughout the day and the weekend and take precautions where they’re needed. You’ll probably be shelling out a good amount of money to go to them, so you deserve the have the best time of your life.  

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