Coachellapaloozaroo: Advice on Music Festivals (from a one-timer)

To quote a cousin of a friend, “I wish I loved anything as much as you weirdos love Coachella.”

Click Image for Source

When this rather impressive lineup was released a few days ago, my various social media outlets EXPLODED. Statuses like “Let’s just go to Coachella.” or “Can I fast forward the rest of my life until Coachella?” or “I will sell any and everything I own in order to get to Coachella.” hit my newsfeed. Admittedly, the lineup is something to be impressed with; there really is something for everyone. And for $285 a pass, you gotta figure that if there are even 4 major shows that you’d shell out $70 to see. Then, there’s the camping fees (most of which are sold out). They look to be $82.50 (though that could be per day). And trust me, at least one night (or, more likely, all nights) you’ll end up drunkenly buying 1-2 slices of $4-5 pizza. Clearly, the costs add up (hence selling any/everything you own.)

If Coachella is anything like Bonnaroo (or Lollapalooza or any of those other crazy festivals), then I can speak a little bit to the music festival experience.

For one (long) weekend in 2007, I was a Bonnaroo-ian.

Talk about the hippy cliche

With henna on my hands/feet, hemp around my neck, and tye-dye everywhere, I fit the part to a T.  I flew to Nashville, bussed to Manchester, and hoofed it into the campsite to meet my two buddies who’d driven.  It was intense, and I figured I’d share some tips/info/advice for any of you brave enough (or wealthy enough) to shell out the dollars for the FULL festival experience.  I’m fairly certain this could apply to any of them, but I’d love your input below if you’d care to share…

Admittedly, this is only relevant if you go the route I did (read: campsite, no hotel, whatevs).


You’re gonna get dirty. And, for a modest fee ($10-20 during my festival, but with the economy these days, who knows?) you can take a shower. Otherwise, you’re screwed. I didn’t really think about this (or know this). My recommendation: Bring baby wipes. Get creative with the sinks nearby. Invest in some of that dry shampoo that Sierra can tell you all about. Bring baby powder.

Or, alternative route, revel in the dirtiness.  Hug strangers who are just as dirty as you.

(not a stranger. Not a problem.)

(not a stranger. Not a problem.)

Pack smart. If you’re going to a festival in the summer, it’s going to be sweltering out. If you’re going to one in the winter, I can’t help you (I don’t know… invest in blankets… Bring layers?) But I can’t stress this enough: Pack lots of little things.  I wish I’d brought about 15 camisoles, because I’d sweat through one every 2 hours. Oh well, I guess this goes along with the dirty point. Just do you homework, know the weather ahead of time, and be ready for the elements. Rain and wind, we were unprepared for… but we made due (FREE SHOWER!)

Gatorade Mocktail Hour!

Gatorade Mocktail Hour!

On the subject of Do Your Homework, know the food/alcohol/grilling policy of your festival. This can help you avoid those pesky $40 spent on pizza with the help of a $2 loaf of bread and a $2.50 jar of peanut butter OR the $80 spent on beer with a $12 bottle of cheap vodka and some Gatorade (ELECTROLYTES!!).  However, some festivals (Coachella included) don’t allow outside food/drink. For some, this can translate to shelling out the dollars.

For others, it can mean smuggling in your PB&B (Peanut Butter and Bread).  Choose wisely, you never know how strict they’re gonna be that year (we saw HUNDREDS of beers snagged at Bonnaroo when we went, and I’ve heard absolute horror stories about people watching their food/drinks poured onto the dirt.  So sad.

Breakfast (and lunch?) of Champions

Leave the diet at home. If you can survive a festival while eating healthy the whole time, I’ll clap for you. But I’ll probably just assume you spent too much time or money or effort on it, and toss you a poptart.  Save that energy to rock out to your favorite bands.

So Studious

So Studious

Bring alternative entertainment.  Whether it’s tiddlywinks, cards, an iPad (we didn’t have those back in my day) or the old fashioned book, you probably won’t go to a show every hour of every day. And there’s gonna be times when you’re waiting for your favorite group to go on, but they’re late (I heard Kanye was 3 hours late for one Bonnaroo). Be ready to entertain yourself during those times. You might even branch out and talk to a stranger!! But if you’re anti social, books are top notch. I read (cover to cover) 3 books when I went to Bonnaroo.  It is, to date, one of my proudest/lamest accomplishments.


If you’re going to camp, spring for a nice tent. Seriously, this is your home for the next 3-4 days. You’re already sweaty and dirty and maybe hungry. The least you can do is be comfortable.

Soak up every second. For some of us, going to a weekend festival is a once (or a few) in a lifetime experience. For others, it’s what you save up all year for… Either way, live it up, go to as many shows as you can, don’t just get so messed up/dehydrated/grouchy that you end up missing it all.  There’s much fun to be had, so pace yourself, and be awesome.

Gateway to Adventure!

Have you ever done a music festival? Which one? Any tips?

If not, which would you like to attend?

8 thoughts on “Coachellapaloozaroo: Advice on Music Festivals (from a one-timer)

  1. I went to Coachella back in 07and I think you pretty much sum it up pretty well! It was an awesome experience but draining in the best way possible! I recall having some pretty bad tan/burn lines myself!

  2. What an awesome post! I’ve never been to any of the big outdoor festivals like Bonaroo, but in 2004 and 2005 road-tripped it from Milwaukee to Asbury Park, NJ for Skate & Surf Fest and The Bamboozle, respectively. Both trips were fun and we saw awesome sets from bands like Andrew WK, Brand New and Coheed & Cambria. Plus The Convention Center Hall at Asbury Park is super old, was considerably dilapidated at the time of the concerts, and the city itself is historic and very urban wasteland cool. Fun times!

  3. I am 15 and I am going to Coachella for the first time!!! Im going with my sister who is 30 and it is her first time too so thanks for the great advice:)

Leave me some love!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s