Planning, costs, camping, a road trip…going to a music festival can seem a little intimidating. However, I’m here to tell you all the planning, money, camping, and driving is worth it. I’ve attended Bonnaroo in Tennessee twice and Firefly in Delaware twice as well. I can promise you that once you’ve taken a shower and had a decent meal, you’ll want to do it again and again.
1. The Music (duh)
What’s the reason you attend a festival in the first place? The music, of course. No matter what genre strikes your fancy, there is a music festival for you. Besides seeing several of your favorite acts all within a few days, you will inevitably stumble upon bands you’ve never heard of before but be eager to look up on Spotify as soon as you get home. Shows at music festivals aren’t just regular concerts either. Oftentimes there will be surprise appearances by other musicians for a show that has never happened before and will never happen again. Music icons often headline festivals in epic performances that you will never forget. At Bonnaroo 2013, I sang along to Sir Paul McCartney and tens of thousands of strangers to “Hey Jude”…and I’m actually afraid I will never have a concert experience that will surpass that night.
2. Tons of Activities
There’s more than just music. There are art displays to view, beer gardens to explore, fountains to dance in, local cuisine to taste, water slides to conquer, movies to watch, comedy shows to see…these experiences vary by festival but are sure to be a nice break from the concert crowds.
3. New Friends
Everyone there has something in common — even if it’s just being there — so it’s easy to meet people. Your campsite neighbors, the people standing next to you at a show, and the person behind you in line are all waiting to be your new best friend. The open atmosphere and culture make this one of the greatest social experiences of your life. Whether you come with a big group or even go solo to see a band none of your friends know, there are plenty of opportunities to create bonds. I’ve made friends from all over the country just by starting a conversation about what brought them to the festival.
4. Disconnecting and Connecting
You know what else is awesome? You’re there. Not just physically but really part of something. Cell phone service is iffy and there’s no computers…it’s an amazing way to just get away from your hectic schedule and truly take in a unique environment that’s created by you. Yes, you. Festival grounds are empty for most of the year, but for a few days, you’re part of a special community that will never be exactly the same again. Want to start a “Sweet Caroline” sing- along? Crowd surf over thousands of people? Wear a Gumby costume? You can do that. And no one is judging you.
Go once. If you hate it, at least now you know. You can still cross it off your bucket list and have tons of stories to share with your jealous friends. And if (when) you love it, see you next year.