What to expect at your first music festival

Haven't been to a music festival before? You're in for a treat. But we're here to help make sure you don't go in blind.

August 2, 2017
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You’re headed to your first music festival; congrats! While new experiences are the spice of life, instead of going in blind we invite you to read on for what you can expect, as well as a few tips and tricks that can help you make the most of your experience.

You’re going to have to get used to the porta-potty life. Fast.

We hate to break it to you, but port-o-potties and festivals go hand-in-hand. If taking care of business in one of these mobile, modern outhouses bothers you, you’ll have to get over your fear as fast as possible. If you bought a VIP pass you might have access to separate areas with upgraded toilets or even access to “real” bathrooms, but for the most part the porta-potty will be your only choice when it comes to answering nature’s call while at a festival like Osheaga. Don’t worry though: they will most likely get cleaned/emptied daily and you can make your portable pooper experience more pleasant by making sure you have your own tissues, wet wipes and sanitizer on hand.

You will probably get sunburnt (if you’re not careful).

Hopefully you get nice sunny skies for your first festival experience, but even if clouds are in the forecast you’ll want to protect your skin against the sun because yes, UV can pass through clouds with ease. Apply sunscreen throughout the day, and make sure you look for one that has the UVA mark on it: UVA rays are those that can cause long-term damage and contribute to premature aging and skin cancer. Bringing a hat doesn’t hurt either!

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It’s easy to B.M.F., so plan accordingly.

Festivals can get expensive quick if you don’t watch your spending. Between that $12 poutine, those two $12 beers and that $50 artist merch tee, you can spend almost $100 in five minutes no problem. Set a budget and stick to it! We also recommend taking advantage of any free food and beverage sampling that might be happening on or near the grounds. Also, keep in mind that many festivals, including Osheaga, are going cashless, so you have to pay for everything by loading funds onto an RFID bracelet that will get scanned at vendors to pay for purchases. Make sure you know what methods of payment are/aren’t accepted at your festival destination.

Water is going to be your best friend.

All the walking, singing, dancing, sunning, and (let’s be honest) drinking you’re going to be doing can takes it’s toll. The best thing you can do for your body before, during and after you abuse it for three days straight is to hydrate. Most festivals will allow you to bring your own (empty) water bottle onto the grounds and offer free water refill stations all over the place, so take full advantage.

If you’re camping, get ready to get down and dirty.

Festivals like Osheaga that take place in urban centres are actually pretty rare, so if you’re attending a more traditional camping-style event, be prepared for things to get a little grubby. Camping in the summer can be tricky because the inside of a tent gets damn hot as soon as the sun rises, so you’ll likely be waking up in a sea of sweat with no access to a shower (sounds like fun, right?). Micellar Water is a secret weapon and great for not only removing makeup at the end of the day but freshening up your face at any time. Dry shampoo is also good to have on hand if you don’t have access to a shower.

Function (almost) more important than fashion

A lot of hoopla is made about “festival style” but please just stop stressing about making boho chic happen; nobody cares what you are wearing. Your best bet is to dress casual and comfortable. Get some comfy ass shoes that can be easily cleaned (or that you don’t care about trashing) should a flash rainstorm hit and the festival grounds turn into a muddy mess. And speaking of rain: get yourself a packable poncho that fits in your bag so nothing can stop you from wilding out to your favourite act.

Scheduling can be tricky, so figure out a plan of action.

Find out if your festival has a mobile app that you can download; these can be lifesavers when you’re trying to figure out your itinerary. Most apps will let you build a custom schedule and will send you push notifications when the performance is about to start, which can come in handy when you’ve lost track of time at the beer garden (which will most likely happen at least once).

It’s going to be one of the highlights of your summer.

Being outdoors and enjoying live music and the company of friends is one of the funnest experiences you can have, and one of the best things you are going to do. Your first festival will almost positively not be your last, so take it all in and enjoy!

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