Surviving Summer Festivals

When this topic came across our desks, I leapt for it immediately. I was right in the middle of CMA Music Fest, and then I capped the week off at Bonnaroo. Having attended summer festivals for over 25 years, I thought it would be helpful to provide some suggestions for staying healthy and informed at these events.

#1 STAY HYDRATED (the right way!)

Drinking plenty of fluids is a given. You have to drink the right kinds of fluids, though. Make sure you have at least 4–6 bottles of water a day and an occasional sports-type drink for vitamins.

#2 Wear Sunscreen

When I was in high school, I attended the Monsters of Rock tour up at Alpine Valley in Wisconsin. Did I bring sunscreen?  NO. Did I pay for that mistake dearly? YES! I baked like a lobster. My back was is PAIN. Lay it on thick 30 minutes before you go outside, and bring it with you every day to reapply it occasionally.

#3 Dress for Comfort, Not Fashion

Wearing comfortable clothes and shoes is essential as you will be outside most of the day. Those feet need to carry you through a week of waiting in line for autographs, food, and drinks; standing up at shows, and wandering through town and the festival grounds. You could log several miles a day. And, if the spirit moves you, dancing will also be involved, so be ready.

#4 Wear Sunglasses

Since you won’t know where your seat will be half the time (if you have a seat), it’s a good idea to have a pair or two of sunglasses with you. That sun could be high in the sky or setting in your eyes while you are trying to watch your favorite group.

#5 Be Ready for Rain

Pack that poncho especially if you go to CMA Fest because CMA Fest and rain go hand in hand. Unless lightning is spotted, the show will go on. After major rain storms, I’ve seen shows postponed over an hour, but they do go on.

#6 Download Festival & Weather Apps

You have access to so much info on that smart phone of yours. Many festivals have their own app with schedules, maps, and a wealth of other info for you to review while onsite. You also might want to download a good weather radar app so you are not taken by surprise by the weather.

Another great resource for festival information is the information desk. Ask for tips when you arrive. There’s a good chance the folks working there are local and have worked it before.

#7 Pack Bug Spray

Once night time sets in, you might want to carry some bug spray. This year at Bonnaroo, I didn’t have too many bug issues, thankfully, but it’s always good to be prepared for mosquitoes.

#8 Stay Charged

If you are going to be tweeting into the wee hours or coordinating with friends to meet up, carry an extra charger with you. I’ve seen them as cheap as $10.00. These have saved me many times over from going unexpectedly dark and unable to communicate.

#9 Make Friends with Shade

Find ways to get into the shade occasionally. Maybe when you go to grab that bottle of water, take a sun break. Find a shady area to guzzle it down.

#10 Eat in the AC Where Possible

Air conditioning is the main point here, not food. At some festivals, you might be standing all day in the heat while watching your favorite bands. Take a break, find a close restaurant, and enjoy a good meal in the AC.

Last but not least, because as they say in Spinal Tap, “this one goes to 11″…

#11 Have Fun, and Keep Supporting the Arts

This one is all about survival…of music, that is. Fans love attending these events, and bands love the support. When I told Tyler and Josh of the group Twenty One Pilots that the Bonnaroo app showed 16,000 were scheduled to attend their performance, they were blown away. They put on a great show, and more people got to know who they are in the process.

If you love attending these events as much as I do, their survival depends on your support and continued attendance.

Let’s recap (and maybe paste this into the notes app on your phone):

1. Hydration
2. Sunscreen
3. Comfortable clothes & shoes
4. Sunglasses
5. Rain poncho
6. Festival & weather apps
7. Bug spray
8. Extra phone charger
9. Shade (find it)
10. Heat break (take it)
11. Fun (have it)

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Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith

Ryan is a Regional Manager of Artist Relations at the Shure office in Nashville, TN. He started at Shure in 1993 in Customer Service and joined the AR team in 1996. Ryan has over 30 years of performance experience playing drums and percussion in various groups and genres. In his spare time he enjoys woodworking, watching movies, videography, and camping with his family. His Twitter handle is @ryan_smith1969.

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  • Lady says:

    Great article. I’ve never gone to a festival and at this stage, won’t. But I thoroughly enjoyed your festival tips. Well written and kept the reader interested. I’ll apply your tips to other events I attend like theme parks, etc… Great article. Thanks.

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