Moonrise Music Festival 2017 festival goers and crowd. Couple stands in forefront of picture, with girl smiling up at falling confetti.

So: it’s your first festival. LET’S GO.

Beyond the musical, festivals embody an ethereal and communal spirit. Without getting too woo-woo on everyone, they really are experiences that transcend the ordinary. 

Festivals are a chance to break free from the routine, take a vacation without going too far, and find a place to connect with like-minded individuals. Equipped with a disposable camera and a pair of earplugs, you’re sure to make shared memories that will linger long after the last note has faded away. Festival grounds are where strangers become friends — and the collective energy becomes a force of its own.

If you’re about to experience you’re first festival, let Ticket Rescue be the first to say: welcome. You’re about to have so much fun that you go to a bunch more after this, we promise. 

Brace yourself for an immersive exploration into the ins and outs of surviving and thriving at the kaleidoscopic landscape of your first fest, offering invaluable tips and tricks to ensure your experience is not just memorable but unforgettable. From practical advice on packing essentials to navigating the uncharted waters of festival culture, this guide is your new BFF and festival shaman.

Pre-Festival Preparation

Step one will always be securing your tickets. First and foremost, only purchase tickets from reputable sources to steer clear of potential scams that could dampen your festival spirit. Utilize official channels and beware of deals that seem too good to be true — unless you’re selling a pass with Ticket Rescue, in which case we do pay you instantly. Research the festival’s history of ticket sales, ensuring you’re well-informed and ready to snag your pass without a hitch.

Check the Lineup — And Plan Accordingly

Researching the festival lineup is not just a formality; it’s a strategic move to curate your own personalized music adventure. Dive deep into the eclectic mix of artists and genres, identifying the must-see performances that align with your musical taste. Take note of schedule overlaps and prioritize your favorites to make the most of this sonic journey. This meticulous planning ensures you won’t miss the acts that could define your festival experience.

It’s About the Journey and the Destination

Once tickets are secured, shift your focus to the logistics. Despite what fest culture insinuates, you do need to sleep at some point, so accommodations are a must. For a full immersion in the experience, explore camping options that bring you closer to the heartbeat of the event. For some of the top 15 music festivals in the United States, camping gives you access to exclusive late-night events like Coachella’s Silent Disco. Whether it’s pitching a tent under the stars or opting for a communal camping experience, choose an option that resonates with your desired level of connection to the festival community. 

(A lot of people fear fest camping because of the showering and bathroom situation. Speaking from experience, our Ticket Rescue team has never had an issue. Coachella specifically offers free showers for campers plus frequently complementary shower items, and though the line is long, it also moves fast. Note that the demographic of camping does tend to be younger and scrappier though!)

Crafting a solid travel plan is paramount for a seamless festival experience. If you’re camping with a group, meet up beforehand. Ticket Rescue’s team members have historically had a lot of luck with picking the closest grocery store and caravaning from there. There generally keeps the group together so you end up with one big car camping spot. 

Of course, there are hotels too. You can evaluate best options based on price range, proximity, and the festival’s specific shuttle and transportation options. Additionally, those with big vehicles enjoy the luxury of having a friend DD to and from the fest by parking on-site. Some festivals charge for day parking, while others have it for free. Ultimate option? Use a friends and family drop-off and ask someone else to do the driving for ya…so long as they don’t mind a 2am pickup time.

Packing Essentials for Festival Survival

As you prep for your festival journey, strategic packing is the key to a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Start with clothing considerations, ensuring you’re well-prepared for the unpredictable festival weather. Pack weather-appropriate clothing, considering both day and night temperatures. 

Hot festivals get cold at night! The desert is a freezing place! Do not be the one person to forget this no matter what temperatures the fest is hitting during the day!

Opt for versatile pieces that can be layered for warmth during cooler evenings. Remember, festivals can be dusty or muddy, so choose outfits that strike a balance between style and practicality. There’s a reason festival culture is so layered with scarves: they pack down easy and provide lots of warmth options at night. It’s also not unusual to don some sweatpants post-nightfall. Never forget that half of a festival is spent staring at the back of someone’s head, so do what you gotta do to stay warm.

Heed Our Warnings: Festivals Are Not the Time to Break in Doc Martins

When it comes to footwear, comfort is non-negotiable. Select sturdy yet comfortable shoes suitable for walking and dancing for extended periods. A pair that can withstand the festival terrain while providing support will keep you on your feet and in the groove throughout the event. 

Our digital marketing strategist would like to add a personal anecdote that Weekend 1 of Coachella is NOT a good time to break in a brand new pair of Doc Martins. She reports her feet bled a lot and several pairs of socks and prayers could not have saved her. Make sure the shoes you choose have had some love before. Please. Jen’s feet are begging you.

Girl looking grumpy at Coachella as she breaks in new Doc Martens as part of her festival fashion.

Festival Accessories That Make Sense

This section could be a whole post on its own, and we’ll be updating this page once we write it. What’s in your bag at a festival can grossly change the trajectory of your day. Don’t forget too that festivals are communal experiences — it’s helpful to have a spare electrolyte packet or tampon for a stranger in need.

Figure out if your festival has sun, rain, and/or mud; guaranteed there’s at least one. Sun requires excessive sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. Don’t skimp here. It’s never worth being sunburned at a festival by day three. Not only that, but the sun will zap your energy if you’re not well-protected…and make sunset feel even colder than it already does during those summer desert fests.

Think it won’t rain at your event? That’s what Firefly 2015 thought, too. Years of a festival that was so dry and hot that people passed out regularly despite medics’ best efforts, and in 2015, it rained so hard the whole campground flooded. Moonrise in 2017 faced a similar demise, where one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons still on record cut the festival’s Day One short  — and turned Day Two into a mudbath. The situation was so rough that iEDM made an hour-by-hour breakdown of the 2017 Moonrise weekend.

While many people tell you to bring ponchos and the like for these situations, most festival bags are water-resistant if not waterproof these days. The real savior will be an extra pair of socks, shoes, and maybe a towel plus some trash bags for said shoes once you get back to the car.

Festival goers trekking through the mud of Moonrise Musical Festival in August, 2017.

Camping Survival Tips

Setting up your campsite should be done as quickly as possible, with organization at the forefront. We don’t mind that we sound like your parents. Especially when you get in late to a festival on day one, it can be tempting to leave everything in the car and commit to setting it up when you return from the first night of festivities. This inevitably leads to someone sleeping with inadequate shelter. Even if it’s not you, we promise: you won’t hear the end of it for the rest of the weekend.

Staking Your Claim and Setting Up Camp

If you’ve never set up a tent before, we’d advise trying it in the living room or backyard at least once before you arrive at a fest. Generally speaking, it’s pretty simple: put the poles together, and put the poles inside. If your heart rate is already increasing, here’s a convenient link to the WikiHow on how to pitch a tent.

Big, multi-person tents may require a few sets of hands. If you’ve got a rainy weekend ahead of you, lay down a tarp under your tent and put the seats down in an SUV pre-emptively. Even the most experienced campers might opt for sleeping upright in the passenger seat if a sudden storm or drop in temp hits the campgrounds. 

Ideally, you got to the festival early and landed an incredible camping spot by chance near the entrance, bathrooms, and something cool to do. For the other 90% of y’all, the second there is daylight, you should familiarize yourself with your campsite’s location. Many festival campgrounds have street signs and directions, and going for a stroll with a friend can feel lifesaving when you’re orienting yourself amongst crowds at the end of the night.

Focus on Creating a Spot to Chill…and Be Chill

Regardless of rain or shine, if your car can accommodate a pop-up canopy, GET ONE. The sun seems to rise earlier and hotter during the festival season. Shade is your friend. For under the canopy, throw down beach blankets or a washable outdoor rug, set up a folding table, and put a cooler underneath. This can generally all fit behind a standard sedan in a camping spot, and gives you room for a tent to the front and back of the canopy, or one to the side if your camp spot is wide.

Seating is few and far between during the festival, and chances are the group will be sick of sitting on grass by 1AM. A few lawnchairs or an inflatable hammock (like the iconic Chillbo Shwaggins) can elevate the vibe fast. 

Use the cooler to store that morning’s food and drinks, putting it away (or ensuring it is empty of goods) before you head into the campgrounds. Ice is often available for purchase at festival general stores, and a bag a day can make all the difference in keeping meals and drinks way more fulfilling. Homebase complete. With a portable charger, an outdoor speaker, and some friends, you’re pretty much set.

Festival attendee at campsite, laying in a Chillbo Shwaggins inflatable ground hammock.

Be Like Statefarm: Be a Good Neighbor

Building positive relations with your camping neighbors is a golden rule for a harmonious experience. Introduce yourself, share a smile, and don’t be shy about packing extra snacks and drinks for new pals. Group games before you head into the festival can genuinely introduce you to some new lifetime friends, and save you when you realize you forgot Bandaids or a bottle opener.

Festival Health and Wellness Strategies

Staying healthy at a festival is a marathon in and of itself. Most of us aren’t used to a number of factors introduced at festivals, including the amount of physical activity, outdoor element exposure, and several hundred thousand people’s germs.

Our top tips, in no particular order:

  • Electrolyte packets and green juice tablets in the morning. Mix with water and make everyone chug. Delicious.
  • Ideal pick-me-ups for mid-fest are Gatorade chews, Honey Stinger packets, and (candidly) eating normal Pedialyte packets as Pixie Sticks. Now is a good time to mention none of this is reputable medical advice.
  • Don’t share water. Sorry. If you want to stay healthy, just don’t! Tell your friends to carry their own Camelbak water bladders, and if someone’s out, go to the water refill station (with a buddy).
  • Try not to touch your water bladder to the water fountain if you can. Some weirdos drink straight from them with LIPS TOUCHING. Gross. A bunch of people at Coachella all got herpes this way one year.
  • For every alcoholic drink, you need a cup of water. Two if it’s a hot festival. Keep in mind that alcohol actively dehydrates you. Double whammy and we’ve personally watched friends straight up buckle in the heat. 
  • Sunglasses don’t seem like a huge deal until you realize you can sunburn your eyes. Don’t learn the hard way.
  • Chapstick also doesn’t seem like a huge deal until you realize you can sunburn your lips too. Get some with SPF.
  • Speaking of which, have you heard of sunscreen? You need it. Soooo much of it. Travel bottles and the normal kind. Reapply often. Sweat takes it off. You are not tougher than the sun. Barstool reference tweet.
  • Get some rest at night. We know it’s tempting to find the after-hours and jam constantly, but your body is in sensory overload. Give it a rest every once in a while.
  • In the same vein, don’t be afraid to leave the fest and come back, especially if you’re camping. Take a nap. Lay down. Put on more deodorant. You’re allowed!
  • Stretch! It gets increasingly more important with each year older you get. And tearing your MCL at Lollapalooza is a vibe killer.
  • Pack hand sanitizer and actually use it. We don’t need to tell you why, right?

Festival Safety and Emergency Preparedness

None of us want to think the worst will happen, but it’s vital to familiarize yourself with the festival’s available safety and medical tents. Make sure everyone knows where these are, regardless of their sense of direction. Being aware of the nearest med tent can get you help swiftly if you’re in need. For minor cuts and headaches, carry a well-stocked first aid kit with essentials like bandages, pain relievers (as allowed by festival rules), and any necessary personal medications with appropriate documentation. If you’re feeling extra prepared, create emergency plans — like what to do if someone needs to go back to camp or the hotel, or where to meet if the day’s activities get canceled for any reason.

Have to Miss a Festival? Ticket Rescue Buys Tickets Instantly

From the iconic stages of Coachella to the eco-conscious beats of Pitchfork Music Festival, every music festival offers a unique take on the live arts experience. At Ticket Rescue, we know that scoring a festival pass to your favorite music festival feels just as great as being there — which is why having to sell your music festival ticket can be such a heartbreaking headache.

As you plan your 2024 festival calendar, don’t be afraid to score tickets to every festival you’re even considering; Ticket Rescue will buy any festival passes you need to sell, instantly. We offer you our best price and if you accept, you’ll have direct payment issued to your PayPal account within minutes. Learn more by reading about how our ticket buying process works, or read more about the team of festival lovers behind the Ticket Rescue website.

Sell Your Festival Pass Instantly

Ticket Rescue makes festival ticket, pass, or wristband selling extra easy. Simply send us a screenshot that confirms you have a ticket and we’ll instantly PayPal you the money. It’s quick cash in your pockets, so you can get back to picking tix for festivals you can attend.
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