IMHB’s Music Festival Essentials

Once again it’s THAT time of year where Lollapalooza is right around the corner and as per usual I am starting to make my many lists I tend to make to get ready (what to pack, what to buy, band schedule, etc.). August 2010 was my first Lolla trip and since then I am making it a tradition to go every year, this year will be my third! Each time I attend a music festival, I learn more and more about how to be be better prepared. I thought I would get together all of the information I’ve picked up along the way and compile a list for you, if you want it, or even just for myself to look back on each year. Whether you are headed to Lolla like me, Bonnaroo, Coachella, Sasquatch or any other music festival…this list will most likely apply to you. I hope it helps you get ready for some of the greatest musical events you’ll ever experience! Without further ado (not “adieu”, I looked it up) here is list..


Ticket – If you forget this then…there’s no hope for you!  Make sure to put it in your wallet or whatever you are planning to carry all of your stuff in, along with your ID and health insurance card if you have one (just in case)

$ – Be sure to bring BOTH cash AND a card. Most festivals have atms but there is usually a fee when getting money out. The merch tents do take credit cards BUT if you use cash you will be in and out much quicker and it also gives you an advantage if their credit card swipy freezes up!

Camelbak or water bottle – Camelbaks are the best possible thing you can to a music festival. What’s great about them is (besides keeping you hydrated) they vary in size shape and storage compartments! Most festivals have re-fill stations but there is usually a pretty long line especially on the super hot days! If you don’t have a Camelbak be sure to bring a BIG water bottle to avoid constant waiting!

Sunglasses – no matter how bad you want to bring your crazy expensive and ever so stylish sunglasses…just DON’T! There is a very good chance some flail-y dancing person will knock them them right off your head and into the crowd!

Sunscreen – Seeing as most festivals take place during the hottest months of summer it’s SUPER important to keep yourself protected from all that sun! Some festivals will NOT allow you to bring in spray-on sunscreen so to save your ass buy a tube of the highest SPF you can find!

Lip SPF – Nobody likes chapped burnt lips! And you never know when the perfect song might play and you’ll need to grab a a cute guy/girl to partake in a make-out session ;)!

Aleve/Tylonal/Advil, Etc. – If you get stuck next to a speaker..first of all congrats on getting a great spot but also you may need a little something for that future headache!

Alcohol – Some festivals are more strict than others. Both at Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo they will check your bags for open water bottles/alcohol. What I have done before that seemed to work was waited until the middle of the day left the festival ran to CVS with a friend, got mini wines and hid them at the bottom of my Vera Bradley backpack under a festival tee I bought earlier that day. When you go to one of the side entrances (not the main one!) the security checks become very half-assed as the day goes on (of course this only works for festivals like Lollapalooza where there are nearby places to get alcohol from). You can also try getting a “Camo Cap” that will disguise your opened water bottle (if you’re drinking dark liquor this won’t work for you).

Back-Up Contacts/Glasses – There is nothing worse than losing a contact lens and having to watch your favorite band through one eyeball…although I wouldn’t know for sure I always bring my back-ups :p.

Comfy Shoes – A lot of people will tell you to avoid sandals completely, maybe I’m crazy but I’ve worn sandals to each festival I’ve been too and my feet were never uncomfortable (probably because I always wear flip flops). I had a strap break but as far as getting my toes stomped on… it never happened to me. I’ve also notice that almost every music festival goer I see is sporting Toms. I’ve never had a pair (def want some but have an issue with most closed toe shoes). I don’t think that many people would wear them to a festival if they weren’t comfy..just sayin’, give them a shot.

Camera/Video Camera – Bringing any type of camera is definitely a good idea.  Who wouldn’t want to take pictures of their favorite bands up close and personal to share with friends back home?! The  most important thing to keep in mind about bringing a camera is: don’t take too many pictures! My first time at a music festival I was so in awe of the whole thing that I took hundreds of pictures, the downside was that I spent too much of the weekend looking through the lens of my camera and NOT enough time enjoying being there in person! Plus the  bands look WAY smaller when looking through a lens. Put down the camera and enjoy yourself! Also make sure your camera has a wrist strap, if you drop it chances are it will get trampled.

Phone – Your phone is a must! You will want to use it to take/post pictures, keep in touch with your friends at the festival, use the festival ap (usually has a map, stage times, extra activities going on, etc.). If you think you will using your phone A LOT (like I have in the past) this next item is very important to bring….

Back-Up External Battery – Last year I brought along an extra phone battery for my droid which worked pretty great for me. This year I bought an Anker Slim Talk back up external battery (pictured) which so far has been amazing! It’s very thin and has a cord up inside of the actual battery so you don’t have to worry about cords! I highly recommend grabbing one of these ($22 on Amazon). It also has a USB port so you can also use it to charge your Ipod, camera, and any other electronics you need to charge!

Extra Memory Cards – It can’t hurt to have an extra just in case you get a little TOO picture/video happy!

Ipod – Because you will be in the midst of so much music…you might not want to block it out with headphones. It’s great to have an Ipod (or any other MP3 player – I recommend the new Ipod Nano because it’s very small and clips to your clothes) not for the festival itself but for your ride there. When I go to Lollapalooza I take the train into Downtown can be sort of a long ride..what better way to spend it then to prepare my eardrums?! Also something great about the Nano, you can use the Nike+ ap (need Nike shows and Sensor) to track all the walking around your doing all weekend!

Hand Held Mister/Fan/Air-Conditioner – You may think this is a bit overboard/high maintenance BUT it is freakin’ hot at music festivals AND you will most likely be packed like a sardene into a very large sweaty crowd and it really can’t hurt to bring along a source of cold air to keep you from passing out!

Sharpie & Paper – Can you say…AUTOGRAPH?! You never know when you might bump into a celeb/band behind the scenes!! Also bring a tiny notebook to write on! This is especially great if you hear a new band and don’t want to forget a certain song you heard or maybe, if you’re like me you will think of something you forgot to pack and write it down for next time!

Watch – I personally don’t like to wear a watch and instead I use my phone..BUT phones die. It’s always important to know the time especially because all bands have a scheduled time. It’s also important to have a watch for when you plan a rendezvous with friends!

Lighter – Whether or not you smoke, chances are you will run into lots of people who do and sometimes people forget/lose their lighters aka YOU save the day! lol. If you do smoke be considerate and bring an old film canister to put out your ciggys in!

Bottle Opener – Well..why not?

Wet Wipes – Wipe wipes are extremely essential! Music festivals can get pretty dirty, so can port-o-pottys, do yourself a favor and bring a pack with you! Especially if you’re going to Bonnoroo (when I went I had to ask someone for a bunch…that is one dirty festival).

Bag – I am still trying to figure this one out! The last couple of festivals I went to, I took my Vera Bradley mini back-pack. I had plenty of room to put all my stuff BUT a backpack can kind of be an opent invitation for someone else to just stick their hands in your bag and take your stuff! It’s also kind of hard to dance around or crowd surf with a backpack. This year I bought the Lululemon Good Fortune Bag which has tons of little compartments inside and can be worn crossbody, as a regular purse, even as a fanny-pack (although it would look ridiculous). I’m hoping this will be better than the Vera (I will update on this after Lollapalooza).

Clothes, Toiletries and Such..

Girls: What to Wear – Girls this is mostly for you. If you’re like me and are not fortunate enough to be a size 2, don’t wear short shorts. In any festival the stages will be VERY spaced out and you will be doing a TON of walking..maybe even running! Do yourself a favor and prevent chaffing (OUCH) by wearing a longer pair of shorts or even some cropped yoga pants. Definitely don’t wear a dress (no crowd surfing for you…or cartwheels for that matter!). As far as tops go, wear something comfortable! If you dress like you’re in a fashion show…good luck with your never-ending discomfort! I recommend either a tank top or a flowy v-neck. Don’t wear dark colors…unless you want to suffocate! Wearing the right bra is really important too! Unless you have super small boobs and don’t need to wear a bra (you suck) then you will want to wear a bra that will a) not stick out too much when wearing a tank b) provides lots of support (for the dancing, jumping up and down, and what-not). If it’s extra super hot and you are extra super comfortable with your body you can even wear a bathing suit..some festivals have water related activities!

Guys: What to Wear – Well…I’m not a guy but I HAVE gone to a couple music festivals with my guy friends and after much observation (lol) it seems that most male festival goers wear either basketball shorts , cargo shorts, or swim shorts. Usually with concert tees or no shirt at all. Running and walking shoes,  and sandals are what I see most on the guys. A Bandana would also be a good thing to bring to catch the sweat. Bring a backpack too (you guys don’t seem to mind taking a bigger backpack) you know, to carry all your lady friends crap!! ;p

Hygiene – Treat others the way you want to be treated, for example wash yourself, wear deodorant, and share your wet wipes!! Noone wants be sandwiched into a crowd full of stinky dirty people who don’t share! Geez! lol.  Bring soap! As for your hair, I know most of you people can go a weekend without washing it but I certainly can’t! If you’re like me but don’t think you’ll be able to shower while you’re at a festival go pick up a bottle of dry shampoo! Girls, don’t spend all morning doing your hair! It’s damn near 90+ degrees wherever it is you’re going and you’re just going to sweat away all your hard work. I suggest taking a shower, scrunch your hair and letting it air dry… and while you’re at it pour water over your head to cool off and re-scrunch it OR put it in a messy bun..that works too! If you are going to a festival where you will be camping out, for goodness sakes bring a solar shower! When I went to Bonnaroo we didn’t bring one because there were showers…we didn’t realize at the time that the lines for the showers would be HOURS long and completely unshaded! So yeah..a solar shower will save your life…just buy one!! Girls, bring tampons, a pocket mirror, a mini brush, foundation, mascara, hair ties, headbands, face wipes,

Fun Stuff – glow sticks, glitter, body paint, hula hoop, water balloons, and all that jazz definitely maximize the fun!!

Ummmm I think that is about it. Hopefully you guys who are headed to and music festivals this year will find this list handy! I will certainly be using it! And if I missed anything that you think should be on the list leave it in the comments and I will add! Happy festival hopping music lovers!!

“For three days this summer, people will come to Chicago to  witness musical history in real time.”

-Perry Farrell

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