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A Beginner’s Guide to Music Festivals and Concerts

After being in lockdown for so long, bands and music-lovers everywhere are eager to jump back into live shows. This means a crazy amount of music festivals and concert tours are starting to pop up. I’m talking Coachella, Hangout Fest, When We Were Young, ACL, and so many more! 

As an avid concert-goer, I have picked up many tips and tricks for different types of events. So, if this is your first time going to a festival or live show, fear not. I will tell you everything you need to know, from the best way to get tickets to outfits to how to keep track of your belongings and friends at the show. Alright, let’s rock n roll!

How to Get Tickets

This, in my humble opinion, is one of the most difficult parts of going to any show or festival. From figuring out the money situation to finding a reliable seller, buying tickets can be a nightmare. My biggest tip for this is to buy the tickets directly from the venue or event website. I know it is tempting to buy from that Facebook seller with the tickets priced $50 below retail price, but trust me, that $50 is not worth showing up to the event and not getting in because it was a fake ticket… I have been burnt before. Another way to guarantee a ticket is to keep track of when the tickets go on sale, then when that day and time comes, join the waiting room at least 30 minutes early. I usually log on about an hour earlier depending on how big the event is, but logging on early will get you a good place in the online queue so you can get a ticket before they sell out. 

Transportation To and From the Venue

Most festivals and concerts are in relatively populated areas, with the exception of a few (looking at you, Coachella). This means it would be easy to walk or Uber to and from the venue, depending on where you are staying, which I will talk about next. Ubers can be pretty pricey, as seen by my hefty bill of $89 dollars coming from ACL night two, so another good option is to drive yourself and park at the venue. If you do this, you have one of two options: buying a parking pass for the venue, or finding a satellite or paid parking lot in the area. If you go with the second one, I usually do a quick Google search to find parking lots, or once I get there, I drive around until I see one. They will have big signs displaying the nightly price (typically around $20-$50 for the night), and you just pull in, pay, park, then party!

Where to Stay

Hotels can be hard to book when it comes to big events, not to mention very costly. Most hotels and rentals will raise their room rates if they know there will be a lot of visitors to the area on a particular weekend. The biggest tip for this one is to book early! Rooms fill up fast and as the rooms fill up, the prices go up, too. Consider looking into AirBnB’s, especially if you have a lot of people you are going to the festival or show with. The rates are a bit higher than a hotel, but if you have a lot of people with you, it is more cost efficient to rent a house with a higher occupancy level and split the cost than it is to get multiple hotel rooms. Another tip that I personally live by is that if you are going to a weekend-long festival, you don’t need an expensive, nice room. You will be at the festival all day, so the only time you spend in a hotel room is sleeping and getting ready for the day. Obviously, make sure the hotel is in a safe area, but you will barely be in your room, so why not save a little money?

What to Wear

This all depends on the type of show you are going to and what your personal style preference is. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and confident in what you are wearing! Now, I know that your super cute festival outfit may go better with the adorable white heeled go-go boots (yes, I desperately wish I would’ve been able to wear them), but long-term, they are not practical. I typically avoid heels because most festivals are on grass or dirt and for a clumsy person like me, that is a recipe for disaster. Another quick tip is to take the weather into account. This may seem like an obvious one, but there have been many times where I wore a cute bralette top to a concert but had to wait in a three hour line outside in the 40 degree weather. Not a fun time. So wear what you feel confident in, but keep comfort and the weather in mind.

Staying Hydrated

This is the biggest and most helpful tip I can give: STAY HYDRATED! Concerts can be crowded and very hot, and with all the dancing and singing, you are bound to get a little dehydrated. This is where things can go very wrong. I have witnessed and had to help numerous people after they pass out at pretty much every concert and festival I have been to. At concerts or events, bite the bullet and buy a water bottle to keep with you. Depending on the venue’s security rules, an even better option is to bring your own empty reusable water bottle and fill it up at a water fountain. Same for festivals, bring your own reusable water bottle. Pretty much every festival will have free water bottle refill stations, use them! Not only are you helping out the environment a little more, but you will also be saving yourself from dehydration.

Where to Keep Your Belongings

Something that stresses a lot of people out about concerts and festivals is how they are going to keep track of all of their things. Whether it be wallets, phones, medical equipment, or even bought merch, nobody wants to have to worry about losing anything. At most concerts, the only option is to either put it in your pockets and hope for the best or carry it in a small bag. I have a small “concert purse,” as I call it, that is just big enough to meet almost any venue requirement and I put my important things in there, then use it as a crossbody so it doesn’t fall off. For festivals, I bring a clear drawstring bag (most venues require clear bags) and wear that. At my most recent festival, ACL, I rented a locker for all three days. Some people think it isn’t necessary, but honestly, it made everything so much easier. I didn’t have to worry about losing anything because it was all locked nice and safe in my locker. My friend made the unfortunate choice to keep his backpack with him instead of putting it in my locker like I had offered, and the bag ended up breaking, causing him to lose his entire wallet and phone. So let’s just say, buying a locker is definitely worth it. It also serves as a great meeting place for you and your friends just in case you get split up!

Live in the moment

I know it is easy to want to video every single song and post your cool fit on social media, but my advice for that is to do it in moderation. Put the phone away for a bit and truly have fun while you are there in the moment. Festivals and concerts are the most fun way to let loose and sing your heart out along with your favorite artists, so be present. What I do at concerts is video the choruses to my favorite songs, or my favorite parts of certain songs, then I put my phone back in my pocket or bag so I am not tempted to look at the concert through the screen. Just live in the moment, and those memories will last forever.  

These tips and tricks are all things I have found that put my concert-anxiety at ease. Hopefully it can do the same for you! Now, go rock out at these festivals and concerts!

Ali McNew

Baylor '24

Alexandra McNew is a junior Marketing major at Baylor University. She is from the small town of Willis, Texas, which is just north of Houston. When she isn't studying or hanging out with friends, she loves to go to concerts, skateboarding, and playing her guitar. Her career goal is to become a music promoter at a record label and travel the world doing what she loves.
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