CUI Survival Guide: Summer music festivals

With Coachella a day away – or a week depending on which weekend you go – music festival season is finally here. With thousands people and bands flocking to fields and parks and cities through October, these festivals can be incredibly fun or a complete disaster. To prevent any misfortune befalling a fellow music lover, CU Independent has compiled some tips to make sure you have an amazing festival experience. 

Make a schedule ahead of time and don’t stick to it.
There’s usually four or more bands playing at any given time during a festival. Are you going to see Coldplay or Kanye West? Are you going to make it all the way across the festival from M83 to Nine Inch Nails in five minutes or should you leave the first set early? Planning out your day ahead of time will prevent you missing something you really wanted to see but just didn’t know about. The best moments in life are the spontanous ones, and that goes double for music festivals. You’re only obligation is to have fun and see something amazing, so make that your priority over you’re neatly prepared schedule–or more likely the one your scrawled on your hand.

Dress accordingly
Nothing is more annoying then the girl wearing heels and a skirt in the mud or the guy in a sweatshirt when it’s 90 degrees out. The outfit that has gotten me through three Austin City Limits is the following: jean shorts, a v-neck tee, a sweatshirt or waterproof jacket for night/rain, a bandana to prevent from dust/sun and your old Converse All-Stars. You’re going to be outside for roughly 12 hours so be smart about what you wear. Dress not to impress but for comfort, and always bring a jacket.

Bond with the crowd
Music festivals involve a lot of waiting. A lot of waiting packed into a crowd of thousands and there’s a good chance your personal space will be invaded. Don’t make it awkward. Bond with the crowd. Start up a conversation, share a drink or dance with a stranger. At the very least you and the people around you like the same band, so go from there and make some new friends.

Pack smart
Bringing a small backpack to a music festival is smart. Bringing a giant bag you have to lug around is dumb. Pack some essentials for the day: a water bottle, a protein bar, lots of cash, your camera and sunscreen. Don’t bring a bunch of extra stuff “you might use” or “just want with you.” You’ll thank yourself later, and the more stuff you have, the more stuff you could – and probably will –  lose.

Other tips

  • The port-a-potties by the kids area are always the cleanest
  • Don’t get wasted at noon when it’s super hot out, you will regret it
  • Drink more water then you think you need
  • Carry extra cash
  • If you’re going to bring something prohibited, place it in your bag under food which is also usually prohibited. 9 times out of 10 security will get distracted by the food and not search the rest of your bag.
  • Have an amazing time!

Contact CU Independent Editor-In-Chief Isa Jones at

Isa Jones

This is Isa's third year at CUI. She has served as a news reporter, entertainment reporter and Breaking News Editor. She is a senior news-editorial and English major. She has a fear of contracting scurvy and being trapped in walk-in freezers, but that rarely interferes with her reporting. Isa enjoys morning runs, whiskey sours, baseball and avoiding homework at all costs. Her goal is to be able to write and travel frequently and never work somewhere involving cubicles, synergy meetings or the phrase "9 to 5." (@theisajones)

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