Music festivals for beginners: What to bring, what to know before your first fest
5 things to add to your packing list before heading to a music festival. Wochit
Music is in the air this summer as dozens of festivals will be jamming through the weekends.
But for first time festival-goers, the experience can pose questions: What do you bring? What do you wear? If you're camping, where do you sleep? What's the water situation? The questions are endless.
Not to worry; we've got you covered with a handy a guide, no matter which festival you're heading to this summer.
Some no-brainers: Don't forget your wallet, your keys, your fully-charged phone, and most importantly your ticket. And if you're camping, take a tent and sleeping bag. But there are some things that you may not think of at first.
Sleep and breakfast
"Always, always get a good rest the night before," said Matthew Cavaliere, co-founder and promoter of the Tail Winds Music Festival in Wappingers Falls. "It's going to be a really long day and you could be in the sun the whole time which can make you even more tired."
Sleep isn't the only thing you can do to make sure you're day is off to a great start. Eating a healthy and filling breakfast can help jump start your festival-going experience.
There's an app for that
Your cellphone should be one of the first things you pack, so it's worth repeating. Some festivals have apps you can download with your festival's information. Some, like Tail Winds, have a website.
Apps and websites can have crucial information. From a list of vendors to your tickets, your phone could have literally everything you need right at your fingertips.
"The Tail Winds website has a field map just to see where you are and where vendors are," Cavaliere said. "Mobile batteries are good to bring along too."
Apps and websites may also have the schedule for the festival so you can time out your day. Be sure to take into account walking to and from the festival grounds, bathroom breaks and any other time elements that can get you off track.
However, there are times where wifi and networks aren't available so just to be safe, print out any information necessary, as well.
With today's technology, it's easy to forget that cash is so essential. With credit and debit cards making funds readily available, it's easy to forget that sometimes vendors don't accept credit/debit or that technology can fail at any point.
"Sometimes the technology isn't there," Cavaliere said. "Being on a field during the festival, we do have some ATM machines that will be out there but it's always good to carry cash with you just in case."
Music festivals are loud. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, NIDCD, it only takes 85 decibels to cause noise induced hearing loss. It's best to stay cautious and pack a pair of ear plugs.
"We do try to keep the volume at a reasonable level, but it can occasionally get a bit loud," said Ruth Unger Merenda and Mike Merenda, Hoot, a folk roots music fest, co-organizers and musicians from The Mammals, "especially right in front, and having some ear protection for those loud moments is a good idea."
If your group plans to camp at a festival, ear plugs may come in handy to block out any noisy neighbors.
"What's worse than wet socks on a long day?" Cavaliere asked. "If you're staying for a full day at a music festival, you may want extra clothes like sweatshirts and long pants. The weather may be warm during the day but cold at night."
Some music festivals, like Tail Winds, may offer lockers of various sizes so you don't have to carry around your clothes all day. If lockers aren't available, a backpack may be an option but always check the music festival's website to double check that backpacks are permitted and, if they are, if there are size requirements.
This is especially important if you're camping at the festival. While smart phones are all equipped with flashlights, it may be helpful to pack a small one with you.
"Our festival site, the Ashokan Center, is nestled in the Catskills," Ruth and Mike Merenda said, "so it's pretty dark — but it's a great place to see the stars."
Flashlights can come in handy during late night bathroom runs or making your way to the parking lot too.
Protection from the elements
Be sure to pack sun protection whether that's a hat, sunglasses or sunscreen. Festivals often take place in open fields with very little sun protection.
"Even on the loveliest of days, it can be quite a lot to be out in the elements for hours on end," the Merendas said. "We highly recommend bringing a good sun hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and even an umbrella to shield the sun."
The sun isn't the only force of nature festival-goers should worry about though. Cavaliere also suggests packing a rain poncho or disposable rain gear in case of showers.
It's always best to check the weather right before you head out so you're well prepared for anything Mother Nature may throw your way.
Reusable water bottles
Keeping hydrated on a long day is one of the most important things one can do, but it's especially important when spending the day standing, singing and dancing in the sun.
Some festivals, like the Hoot, give free water to festival-goers. Not every festival will allow you to bring water bottles so be sure to check your festival's website.
Festivals to check out this summer
- Caramoor Summer Music Festival: June 16-July 27; Katonah, Westchester County
- Tail Winds Music Fest: June 29; Wappingers Falls, Dutchess County
- Pleasantville Music Festival: July 13; Pleasantville, Westchester County
- Hudson Valley Music Festival: July 27-28; Middletown, Orange County
- The Summer Hoot: Aug. 23-25; Olivebridge, Ulster County
- Electric Zoo: Aug. 30-Sept. 1; New York City
- Mixtape Tour: Jersey hip-hop icons Naughty by Nature — Treach, Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee are part of this tour starring New Kids on the Block with Salt-N-Pepa, Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. June 27, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, starting at $29, www.wellsfargocenter.com; July 2, Prudential Center, Newark, starting at $39.95, www.prucenter.com
- Rock, Ribs & Ridges Festival: June 29-30; Augusta, Sussex County
- Anglesea Blues Festival: July 12-14; Wildwood, Cape May County
- Black Potatoe Music Festival: July 12-14; Clinton, Hunterdon County
- Maplewoodstock Music & Art Festival: July 13-14; Maplewood, Essex County
- XPoNential Music Festival: July 16-28; Camden, Camden County
- Soulsational Festival: July 27; Bayville, Ocean County
- Canal Day Music & Craft Festival: Aug. 24; Wharton, Morris County