Do's and Don'ts for Music Festivals

Coachella has come and gone for 2019. While I could spend hours scrolling through instagram looking at the extravagant outfits of my favorite celebs, Coachella has left me itching to go back to a festival. I attended Bonnaroo in 2017 and it was an absolutely unforgettable experience. The food, the amazing shows, and the overall atmosphere of Bonnaroo was, in a sense, life changing. I felt as if I was able to express myself and indulge myself in this community. Once I left the festival grounds in Manchester, Tennessee, I had already made plans to return as soon as I possibly could and this year, I’m finally making it back to the farm!


However, I definitely made some mistakes the first time that could have made my experience much more enjoyable. And there’s enough people at festivals where you can learn some valuable lessons from those around you as well. If you’re planning your first trip to a music festival this summer, here are some tips that will make your music festival experience much more enjoyable.


DON’T go in without doing research and planning ahead.



Do most people camp onsite? Are there charging stations that are easily accessible? Is parking going to be a disaster? This one seems slightly obvious, but it is so important for you to do your research beforehand. Down to where the ATMS and bathrooms are located, it is much better to have a general idea of where things are and how things work than to go in blind. Every musical festival’s website will probably have a FAQ section, a packing list, a map,  and a write-up about Do’s and Don’ts for your particular festival (which will probably include important rules about specific policies, rules, etc. These rules also change from year to year and from festival to festival, so don’t assume that the festivals you’ve attended in the past have the same rules and regulations.


However, there’s more to learn about a music festival than what they put on their website. I got the best tips and tricks from my fellow Bonnaroovians! Reddit is amazing for finding out the tea on how to do your festival the right way. Ask about your festival’s alcohol policy. Find out if most people camp out or stay in hotels. Find out the cheapest places to get food. There are so many resources and ways to prepare for the festival before you even begin to pack, so take some time to do your research to avoid making some beginner mistakes.


DO communicate with your festival group.


Several People At A Party


I got incredibly lucky the first year I went to Bonnaroo in terms of who I spent my week with. The couple that camped beside me, however, fought all weekend and wasn’t necessarily having the best week of their lives. The people you go with can make or break your festival experience. If the people you go with want to be front row at every show when you would rather sway in the back, then you’re going to have to make some tricky decisions throughout the weekend. I 100% recommend going with a larger group. My piece of advice is that the bigger the group, the better. You’ll have more options in terms of people to go with at certain shows, events, and other things around the festival. Festivals are huge. The more people you know, the smaller the festival is going to feel and the more fun you are going to have.


With that being said, it is so important that you and your group are on the same page throughout the entire festival. If you want to head back your campsite early for whatever reason, tell your group. If you’re going to a show at 3am with some new friends, tell your group. If you are feeling sick and just want to take a moment to relax, tell your group. If your favorite band is performing and no one else has expressed interest in seeing get where I’m going with them. The more transparent you all are with eachother, the better experience you will have. Here is a small list of things you should communicate with your group beforehand.


  1. Who is bringing what supplies?

  2. What shows does everyone want to see?

  3. If we get lost/separated, where should meet back up?

  4. What time should everyone be back at the campsite? Don’t establish a curfew, rather get a rough estimate of when everyone should be coming back from their shows.

  5. What does everyone want to take away from their festival experience? Some people want to relax and enjoy the artists. Some people want to hop from show to show and check as many artists off their bucket lists. Some people want to enjoy the other things that festivals have to offer. (Bonnaroo had a 5K, daily yoga classes, comedy shows, vendors, you name it, Bonnaroo had it). Festivals are expensive, so just respect everyone’s goals for their experience.


DON’T be lame. Seriously.

Group of People Carrying Man Holding Microphone

No one wants to drive hours away to a music festival and spend a ton of money on tickets just to have someone act like they’re too good for anything and everything. Try your absolute best to have a positive attitude. Festivals are fun, but they can get exhausting. Again, let your group know if you are tired, aren’t feeling well, or just aren’t feeling it in general. It’s much better to communicate with your group rather than to just sit around and act miserable for the day and ruin everyone’s experience. Trust me, I’d much rather walk my friend back to the campsite or go with when them to rehydrate and eat!


Festivals are also filled with such a unique, diverse group of people that come from every inch of the United States to enjoy a weekend of music, art, and expression. Don’t be judgemental. No one likes that one person who comments on how people look or act while they’re at a festival. Try new things. Talk to new people. Make new friends. Go watch a band you’ve never heard of. Festivals are a time for self discovery. Don’t waste your time and money by letting your pretentious pre-dispositions prevent you from growing as a person and enjoying your experience.


DO Be safe.


People Inside Dark Room With Spotlights


I had a completely sober festival experience and I loved every minute. To me, there was nothing that any substance could add that would make my experience more fun or more exciting. That being said, people do choose to enhance their experience with alcohol, drugs, etc. While it’s technically not allowed in most festivals, it’s almost unavoidable to atleast notice that the people surrounding you are drinking, smoking, etc. However, I absolutely never felt any pressure to partake in anything I didn’t feel comfortable with. The great thing about festivals is that, for the most part, most people could care less about what you do or do not do. While there are rules about what you can or can’t bring into festivals (which you need to read up on beforehand), most festivals are pretty hip to what happens once you’re on the festival grounds. For example, most festivals offer free, no judgement testing for any and all drugs!


The most important thing to do is that whatever you choose to do, be safe. Festivals, while fun, are overwhelming. Bright lights, loud music, and massive crowds can make being under the influence incredibly scary for anyone. My piece of advice?  Whatever you choose to partake in, do less than what you would normally do or skip it entirely. You want to remember your festival experience, right?



Group of People Gathering at Party

Going to Bonnaroo is my escape from the mundane aspects of everyday life. I can dress how I want, indulge myself in art and music, and truly grow as a person in this little weekend Oasis. I hope that whatever festival you choose to go to, you can have that same experience. However, your experience is completely dependent on what you make of it. You’re getting a weekend where you can be whoever you want to be and you do whatever you want to do. Take advantage of that. Try something new. Fall in love with a new band. Bond with your group. More than anything, just know that festivals are a once in a lifetime experience and take advantage of every second!


Good luck with your festival planning!