The bright lights, the heavy bass, the lively crowds. There’s really nothing quite like summer music festival season in Canada.
For nearly four years, I have attended two outdoor music festivals every summer. While I now consider myself somewhat of a festival veteran, it hasn’t always been that way.
If you’re planning on attending one this year and you’re anything like me during my first time around, you are likely unsure of what to expect or how to make the most of your experience.
Here are some tips that I wish I had known when I attended my first festival:
1. Do your research
As a first-time summer festival attendee, you might be feeling overwhelmed by the size of the event and everything it has to offer. Luckily, most festival websites are equipped with the tools to help you map out a plan.
Tara Ferguson, the manager of ticketing and customer relations for Ottawa Bluesfest, has been working within festivals for 10 years and believes that planning is vital.
“In doing your research, you are not only going to get more excited about the event, but you will also have a better idea of who you might want to see,” she says. “Most festivals have multiple stages, artists are usually diverse, and you might find a new favourite.”
Aside from deciding what sets you can’t miss, doing your research can prepare you for what you should bring and what services will be available to you.
2. Make some friends
It’s likely that you aren’t planning on attending your chosen festival alone. It’s a great idea to have a companion, but who says that means you shouldn’t try to connect with someone new while you’re there?
“I have made some lasting friendships with people that I’ve met at music festivals,” says Alex Sutherland, a frequent festival goer and commerce graduate from the University of Ottawa. “Being in that environment reminds you that you are surrounded by a bunch of like-minded people that love music and it just brings you out of your comfort zone.”
Ferguson shares this sentiment. According to her, making new friends at these events can actually enhance your festival experience.
“You will be in a space where you will meet people that you wouldn’t necessarily get to meet in your day-to-day life,” she says. “Take advantage of that.”
3. Take in every moment
This might seem like basic advice, but it’s the most important. It can be hard to let go of all of life’s distractions and be 100 per cent present, but it’s something that you won’t regret later.
“I always try to tell people to stay off their phones as much as possible,” says Sutherland. “Taking some videos and pictures for memories is fine but trust me when I say that if you put it away and enjoy where you are with your friends, those memories will outweigh any that you have on your phone.”
At the end of the day, your festival experience is what you make it and if you follow these tips, there’s no reason your first one shouldn’t be one to remember.