“It takes 1 song to bring back 1000 memories.”
So people, it is that beautiful time of year again. Time to pack the car full of amenities and prepare to be the life of the festival! This is huge in Canada and I know that there have been festivals all over the world ever since the iconic Woodstock in August 1969. I want to start off by talking a little bit about why Woodstock, rock’n’rolls most famous festival worked.
Table of Contents
Why Woodstock Worked
- The culture was relaxed – any decent flower child of the time attended Woodstock to protest the war abroad in Vietnam and to stand against racial tensions at home
- The security of the event was minimal – I ff-duty police officers were banned from providing security. Thus, to provide some sense of security, a New Mexico commune known as the Hog Farm was hired to pose as a “Please Force”. No that is not a typo I did say “Please Force” – they warned troublemakers that if they acted up they would be doused in fizzy water and hit with custard pies.
- The Food For Love concession eventually ran low on supplies and raised their prices on burgers from 25 cents to $1 – people saw this as a capitalist exploration and in the spirit of the festival burnt the stand down. This was a place for everyone to be equal – no venture capitalists here!
- There was no fence enclosing the crowd – They did not know what to expect when they planned the concert so they used Max Yasgur’s dairy farm for the venue! Some people were calling him in support but there were also a lot of threatening calls – many campaigned to buy no more milk. The expected amount of people in attendance was around 150 000 people but in fact 500 000 people showed up! Max’s farm allowed people to spread out without getting anxious about people so close keeping tensions low.
- The U.S. Army Saved the day – Ironically the festival was mood based on anti-war mentality but most likely would have turned into tragedy if the U.S. Army didn’t airlift food, medical teams and performers to the venue. The hippy crowd was informed, ‘They are with us man, they are not against us’.
- Volunteers – 45 Doctors or more volunteered at the event because they believed in the message.
- Time Magazine named Woodstock, ‘The greatest peaceful event in history’.
Don’t get me wrong though, there were still a lot of things that went wrong at Woodstock. However, due to the low level of security, no real fence and the culture of the flower children it could have gone much differently.
Woodstock vs. Altamont
If you are interested in a show that tried to mimic the success of Woodstock check out Altamont. Altamont was also a free concert but was held in an enclosed speedway, with the Hell’s Angels as their security presence and featured rock groups like the Rolling Stones and Jefferson Airplane. Altamont drew upwards of 300 000 people and due to the increasing amount of violence even The Greatful Dead decided to pull their performance. A much different type of vibe versus Woodstock that had been conducted just a mere four months earlier.
Festival Life Today
Basically, this is the reason why we have regulations on ticket sales and venue size. We can always learn a lot from history. I want to lay down some key things you should bring or be prepared for when you sign up for an outdoor festival! If you are prepared you will be happy you chose the festival life because it will change your life – even if you just try it once!
The energy you feel at a festival and the amount of people around you sparks something inside you that you cannot explain you can only experience.
What to Bring to a Music Festival
- Check the Prohibited List – Before going to an outdoor concert or a festival check out the prohibited list. Recently I went to Mumford & Sons for a one night outdoor concert and people were not allowed to bring camping chairs or professional camera equipment. So obviously outside the fenced area there were tons of chairs piled up!
- Cell Service: Because these festivals are in the middle of nowhere more than half the time there is usually poor service without thousands of people trying to access the airwaves! Be aware if you are taking photos on your phone consider turning it on airplane mode. This will save your battery and you can always turn it on if you find a place with available service.
- Bug Spray and Aerosols: Rarely will you be able to bring in any kind of aerosol into a venue like this! We saw so many people have their bug spray confiscated. Luckily we asked the security guard to let us use the confiscated stuff because we forgot to spray before we left! Bug spray is super important for outdoor concerts but try to remember to apply before leaving you car or else it is likely to be confiscated. If you are parking for 3 days these products are allowed to leave at the campsite – they just aren’t allowed once you enter the concert area.
Music has the power to boost the human experience and aid the soul
- Dude Where’s My Car? Okay so when you go to one of these concerts bank on their being thousands of people there which means yes, thousands of cars! Just this last weekend we were trying to escape the frenzy of 30 000 people when we finally made it back to the car. I know you are bursting with excitement to get inside the venue – but along the walk make some mental notes about where your car is. Also, if you have a beeper for your car make sure the battery is working, it can literally save you! Thankfully I have a bright yellow car so that helps with the iSpy action.
- No Glass: If you are bringing in drinks know that you are likely not allowed to bring in glass for obvious reasons. This will be confiscated at the front gate so make sure you only buy cans or plastic bottles.
- Cash Money! This is a must! Take cash with you to these concerts. The line up for the ATM machines can be out of this world! Also, the charges on these machines are usually just as much as a casual beverage. Also, if you have cash with you there are usually fast lines. Some merchandisers only take cash but a lot of them will accept card payment – however, cash is your key to fast efficient service. Also, save up if you plan on buying concessions or drinks they can be a little pricey but are usually delectable!
- Price on Day Passes vs. Full Weekend Passes: Festivals usually go for around 3 days. You do have the option of looking at the line-ups however and seeing who you would really like to watch. If there are some sets that you aren’t as into you can save yourself some money by just purchasing a day pass versus a full weekend pass. Therefore you can still have a taste of the festival but you’re not committing to the full cost.
- Tent City versus Hotel: Let me lay this down for you, because I have stayed in what they call “Tent City” before.
- Tent City
- You are right in the thicket of it – surrounded by everyone you are never worried of missing out
- You can drive your car right in and set up your tent next to it. This way if the weather takes a turn for the worst you can sit in your car without being worried about a leaky tent.
- You can walk around and meet people not worried about anyone drinking and driving or having to organize your transportation.
- In the morning you are ready to walk over to the concert grounds at any time. Good to Go!
- If you are on a budget this is the perfect option for you! It really is an experience to slum it out with your closest buddies. Shower pass is more and totally optional – no one will judge you if you don’t get it!
- If it rains – a lot – and you are on the mud… your tent could float away. I’ve seen it and I’m laughing while I type this but I actually feel really bad for those people. So learning lesson #1 from this – get there early and park your tent on high ground!
- Also, learning lesson #2 – get there early and put your tent as close to the concert arena as possible. Keep in mind that it will be likely dark when you are walking back to the tent after the headline night show. You may have had a beverage and your tent does not have a beeper! Make some mental notes and stick with your friends/make a plan.
- Tent City
***Practice setting up your tent before you go to the festival – you don’t want to look like a total goof trying to set up your tent (especially if you get there late and it is getting dark!)***
- Sleep. Just.. Sleep – it can be difficult to get shut eye if you are sleeping on the ground and the tents next to you decide to pump the beats all night long when you and your crew have decided to pack it in (I missed sleep for those three days).
- No Port-o-Potties – you actually have a bathroom with a shower and all of your amenities before you head out to the concert.
- There are shuttles to the parking lots that are very easy to get on. They will take you to your general parking field to make the trek quicker.
- You don’t have to plan all of your meals. When you stay on the camp sight you will have to practically bring food and drink for the entire weekend.
- Hotels are perfect if you are just getting a day pass and you don’t live in the area. Keep in mind that you are totally free to walk around tent city and be apart of it without having to sleep there. If you have a group of friends that are in tent city you can go there and hang out all day – no worries about missing out.
- Camper Van – The Golden Hybrid Option (Shwing!)
- The creme de le creme! Okay, these people know where it is at! Many of the camper vans are right central before the park (spots do run out quickly so if this is your plan – get on it!)
- Many campers can be packed with barbecues, fridges, beds, kitchens, bathrooms etc.
- So easy to pack everything that you need in a camper van – you can pack folding chairs and large coolers with so much more ease than in a regular car or van.
- Port-o-Potty Party: No one loves port-o-potties but listen if you have to go in them acceptance is the first step. Whenever I know this is where I will have to go when nature calls I am prepared. Make sure you bring hand sanitizer with you. I usually opt for a good smelling one from bath and body works! Usually they will have little portable sinks but they unfortunately run out of water and paper towels pretty quickly – be prepared for when that happens!
Personal Packing Musts!
- Pack for all types of weather – especially cold and wet weather. At night if you are staying in a tent make sure that you have some warm cloths. I totally underestimated this the first time I went. If you’re not into packing a big rain jacket at least have a poncho you can just shove in a small pocket of your bag. If the weather is going to be really rainy, bring rain boots. Keeping your feet happy and warm is always a good idea.
Quick Tip: When you pack your clothes put some dryer sheets in the bag – this will help to keep your clothes smelling good even if you have to wear them a couple of times!
- Pack an obscene amount of underwear and socks – I know this sounds ridiculous but you will be so happy! Plus if you are out all day at the concerts and you want to freshen up for the second part of the day, changing your underwear and socks makes you feel like royalty!
- A Decent Pair of Cheap Sunnies: Don’t bring your best sunglasses to an event like this. But try to find a pair that will actually be of some use to you! Depending on the type of concert buy a cheap fun pair from Ardenes like circle ones or heart shaped ones!
- A Hat or Bandanna: Whether it is sunny, cloudy, rainy or whatever! A hat can be a saviour. Thankfully when I went to Boots and Hearts the cowboy hat was expected and almost a right of passage.
- Cross Body Bag: You want your hands fun and fancy free! But you may also need to carry a few things on the ground – so bring a cross body bag. I love my cross body bag <3 Or bring sexy back with a fanny pack!
- Close toed shoes & Shower Shoes: If you opt in for the shower option you may want to consider bringing some flip flops to avoid being blessed with foot fungus. Better safe than sorry am I right?! Also, close toed shoes are a must if you are walking a far distance. Sometimes they clear cut the fields and there could be some sharp remnants of sticks etc. sticking up.
- All of your technologies! Car Chargers! If you plan to bring your phone bring a car charger and an external charger as well. When travelling the coast of Australia an external charger saved my life – I now live by this little piece of technology. If you are driving in bring a car adaptor and cord for your different devices. This way you can charge up!
- A Camera: Some places don’t want you bringing expensive equipment to these types of events. However, you can bring a small portable camera. These places have a ton of photo opportunities and set ups so you can rave about how amazing it was on your social media accounts! Be prepared – even dress the part!
DO NOT FORGET YOUR TICKET!
- Be your own pharmacy: You will most likely need some sort of ibuprofen at some point along your trip. Bring your own pharmacy – pack bandages, polysporne, ibuprofen and any other medications that you take. Also, set an alarm on your phone because out of your routine you are likely to forget when you are supposed to take your meds!
- Toilet Paper! Please bring toilet paper! This one is self explanatory and you will be so happy you did!
- Sweat Proof Make-up: You don’t have to put your full face on for a festival but you still want to look your best. Look into some sweat proof makeup so you don’t need to worry about melting.
- Chapstick: Mwah!
- Flash Body Tattoos: It depends what kind of festival it is – but just go have fun and be free. Get some fun temporary body tattoos.
- Dry Shampoo & Baby Powder: This can help your greasy hair situation and just make you fee cleaner longer.
- Wet Wipes & Sanitizer: I know I mentioned this one above. Because you may not be having a shower for 3 days, wet wipes can be the best thing since sliced bread! Plus you will smell like a cute little baby!
- Sunscreen: If you are out all day no matter if it be bright or cloudy, sunscreen is always a good idea!
- Toothbrush/Toothbrush Container & Toothpaste: Try and get some biodegradable toothpaste if you are on a conservation park! Also, if you have one of those handy dandy tooth brush holders they will keep your brush clean.
- Eye Mask and Ear Plugs: You will be so happy at night – make your tent a little more homey. Plus when your neighbour is still riding the musical high of the concert you will be able to fall asleep by drowning them out.
- Deodorant: Yes please.
Set Up Your Campsite Like a Pro!
- Bring your pillow, sleeping bag and an extra blanket as well. First of all it is perfect to sit on if you want to chill in the background for a concert and it will be your saviour in the middle of the night. Be sure to check the weather forecast for the area not just for by your house. If you can bring a sleeping pad to put under your sleeping bag!
- A Tarp: When you set up your tent be sure to set it up on a tarp – this will help you to keep as much water out as possible if it rains. Also – you can drape this overtop of your tent to keep the water from coming through. If it is dry enforce no shoes on the tarp and you can make a nice living space!
- Plastic Ziploc Bags: For some reason, no matter where you go Ziplocs are a great idea and will always be of some use.
- Folding Chairs: Jack up your camp sight – bring chairs and stack your coolers around to create a little living space.
- Cases of water: This will be your toothbrush station! You will need bottles of water for a lot more than you think and it is super important to stay hydrated!
- Cooler with Ice – Meal Planning: Any food that you bring plan to eat the cold stuff first and the things that last longer later. Having a meal plan is so key when you are planning for food for 3 days. You can get some coolers that plug into your car to stay cool.
- Utensils/Food Prep/Grill: When planning your meals make sure you are going through step by step how you make it and how you clean up from making it. Paper towels were very useful. Some food that we brought was half prepared:
- ex. to be cooked pre-scrambled eggs in big pop bottles. This eliminated the hazard of breaking the eggs and it was easier to pack and keep them cool in time for morning.
Ain’t no party like a snack a’lack party – Bring a ton of snacks!
- String & Decorations: This sounds a little silly at first but let me explain! When I went to Boots and Hearts the crew that I went with had the set up process all figured out! They had a party tent – it looks like a vendor tent (just four poles and a cover on top). They used the string to string up all of their empties (empty drink cans) like a big frootloop necklace! This added a festive look and we were the talk of the town – a lot of people like to decorate at these things.
Quick Tip: Decorations or flags etc. will help you identify your tent in the sea of tents!
- Sports Equipment: If you are just hanging out in tent city because you rather chill and enjoy the weather versus see some of the earlier bands – bring some games! If you can bring a folding table and some cups or a football etc. You can pass the time like kids of the 80’s and 90’s.
- Flashlight & Extra Batteries: When you think of a festival you picture the brightness of the concert and day time events – walking back to your tent there are some running lights but you will want to have flashlights for night time. Don’t forget extra batteries as well!
- External Speakers: Hanging out in your tent area is a lot of fun. So that you don’t burnout the battery in your car bring an external speaker that you can just connect to with a wire or bluetooth. This will keep the party going and the mood light.
- Garbage Bags: You want to make sure you are being respectful to the conservation area as a guest. Bring garbage bags so that you can keep your space as clean as possible. This will help with the packing up process.
- Have a Full Tank of Gas! You really don’t know how long it is going to take you to get off the site when you are ready to go. You could be waiting in a line up of cars for a few hours – as well as coming into the park. Be prepared – if you know you have a small tank you can even bring an extra little bit of gas just in case.
- Snacks to leave! Make sure you have some food for when you are leaving. Considering it could be awhile to get out you need to make sure that you don’t get “Hangry!”
DO NOT FORGET YOUR TICKET!
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GO HAVE A BLAST! Don’t hangout at your own tent the whole time. Mingle with people, make new friends, enjoy the music, enjoy being young and surrounded by music culture!
And remember Woodstock worked because people were kinder and went with the flow. Take something from that.