Hoverkicks' EDM Music Festival Guide for First-Timers—How to Stay Safe and Still Have Fun
Music festivals are amazing. Thousands of like-minded people gathered in one place to celebrate music, dance with friends, and enjoy the electric atmosphere. Whether you’re still trying to decide which festival to attend (in which case, this post may help!) or you’ve already bought your tickets, being prepared is the key to making your first festival a magical experience. This guide will cover absolutely everything that you need to have an epic festival adventure!
Once you’ve chosen your festival of choice and organized who is going and how you’ll be getting to the venue, it is time to buy the tickets that’ll give you access to your very first festival experience! Unfortunately, this is where a lot of first-timers’ plans unfoil—they buy tickets from illegitimate sources (read: scammers) and either never receive them, or are delivered fake tickets which will not be accepted at the gate.
To avoid being ripped off, it is definitely worth ensuring that your ticket seller is legitimate—better yet, buy your tickets from the event organizer’s official website. For more information on ensuring that you first festival experience starts as you mean it to go on, check out Showbam’s guide to safe ticket purchasing.
Your First Festival Checklist
You’ve got your tickets, you’ve arranged your transport… now what? Inexperienced festival attendees sometimes underestimate the amount of planning and preparation required to ensure that they have a safe and enjoyable time. Fortunately, we’ve put together a complete checklist to prevent unnecessary festival drama!
Accommodation and Sleeping
Once upon a time, tents were at the top of the packing list for festivals. Thanks to the increasing popularity of “glamping”—shorthand for glamorous camping—this isn’t always the case. You’ll know from purchasing the tickets whether you’re roughing it in the traditional sense or enjoying the luxury of modern convenience in a VIP area. If you’re going to be “roughing it” in the usual campsite scene, then here are a few tips that you’ll need:
- A tent of the appropriate size for the number of people it will be housing
- A roll-mat, or inflatable mattress—these aren’t strictly needed, but you’ll be much more comfortable than if you were to sleep on the floor. Plus, being off the ground will help you to stay warm
- A sleeping bag per person (or double, for couples)
- A good quality headlamp or portable light per person
- Small locks are really handy for ensuring that nobody enters your tent while you’re away enjoying the festivities. Just remember to never leave valuables unattended in your tent—determined thieves could find a way in! Check out Skiddle’s festival possession safety article for more excellent tips on keeping your belongings safe
The main thing to remember when it comes to festival accommodation is that you’ll need somewhere warm and comfortable to sleep, to change clothes, and to administer yourself in general. Of course, the campsite is also an awesome place to socialize while you’re waiting for your favorite acts to go on stage!
Food and Drink
While you’re attending a festival, you’ll need to eat and drink thanks to the fact that many festivals last for 48-hours or more. Some people may opt to take no food and drink and purchase everything at the festival itself—that’s fine, but don’t expect it to be cheap! Food and drink stands at festivals are rarely cheap affairs. After all, attendees have nowhere else to go for their nourishment, so demand is high!
To avoid paying more than you need to, here’s our food and drink checklist to help you on your way to an enjoyable but still affordable festival experience:
- Plenty of bottled water, as it is extremely important to stay hydrated. Most festivals are held during the warmer months, and you’ll be outside for a good portion of the day with little to no shade. If you’re not careful, dehydration can set in rapidly.
- Enough food to last your party for the duration of your stay. It’s best to avoid frozen or refrigerated food—unless you’re glamping and have access to a fridge. For some great ideas on what to take, have a quick look at GoOutdoor's guide to camping food.
- Whichever festival you are planning to attend, it is very likely that there’ll be fast food stands and drinks vendors on site, so if you do run out then it isn’t the end of the world; you’ll just have to be prepared to pay festival prices! Of course, there’s some really nice food on offer at many festivals, so it can be worth sampling what is on offer from the increasingly popular food trucks that specialize in festival catering once or twice over the course of a weekend
- If you are over 21, alcohol is allowed in designated areas and with proper identification. It is important to note that some organizers do not allow you to take your own alcohol inside the venue, so do check the official rules of the event that you’re attending first so you are prepared
- Cooking equipment, such as a small camping stove, disposable barbeque, or jetboil. Keep in mind that some events do not allow fires!
- Soap, a wash bowl, and some hand sanitizer will go a long way to helping you stay hygienic when you’re preparing your festival food
Obviously, no two festivals are the same. Similarly, no two festivals will have identical clothing requirements. Different climates, varying amounts of indoor staging, and even music & dancing tempo changes can make an outfit that would be suitable for one venue, completely unsuitable for another. You may even need to take a bathing suit to some festivals, like What The Festival, as they have a daily pool party! Whichever festival you happen to be going to, it is definitely worth checking the weather report beforehand—just remember that, while the forecasts will help you plan, meteorologists are not always correct so ensure that you have an “unexpected weather” contingency outfit (or two)!
Whichever event you’re attending and whatever the weather, here’s HoverKick’s checklist to make sure you arrive dressed for the occasion:
- Bring enough clothes suitable for the predicted or most likely weather conditions relative to the festival that you plan to attend—including a spare set, just in case you do get soaked!
- Warmer items, such as fleece or down jackets, for the cooler periods during the evening and early morning (and in the event that the weather takes a turn for the worse)
- A waterproof jacket and, if you’d like, trousers. Some people opt to take a “poncho.” Whatever you decide to take should be light, breathable, and easy to store—after all, we’re hoping you won’t need to get it out!
- Enough clean underwear and socks to last you. It is always worth taking a few spare sets, especially of socks, in the event that your feet get wet
- Sunglasses, sunscreen, and hats will all help you to avoid having your first festival experience hindered by sunburn. You may be spending an entire day at a time in the sunlight, so it is definitely advisable to protect yourself from harmful solar rays!
- Sensible footwear is a must! The chances are fairly high that you’ll be standing, walking, and dancing for the majority of your stay at the festival venue. Flat, and comfortable shoes will allow you to enjoy yourself in comfort and could help to prevent trips and falls, too. HoverKicks are ideal sneakers for EDM festival goers thanks to the three “Fs” that are central to their design: functional, fashionable, and fun! Plus, once the sun goes down and the rave gets dark, your moves could be the highlight of the dance tent!
- A pair of wellington boots is always a good idea for festivals; even if you’re not expecting rain, if it does come down, the ground will soon be a “mush” thanks to thousands of feet walking, dancing, and stomping all over it
Of course, like the scene itself, EDM festivals have a style unto their own. Ravers and dance music enthusiasts are bold and outspoken and their style and fashion show it. Colorful, breathable clothing allows for a full range of movement and ensures comfort while you cut shapes. Meanwhile, comfortable sneakers allow for safe shuffling. Accessories like Kandi, Sunglasses, Snapbacks, and Neon paints and jewellery are almost a prerequisite for raving and you’ll see them absolutely everywhere at an EDM festival.
There are also two items which are not necessarily clothing but that will make your festival attendance far more enjoyable: earplugs and a fanny pack. The former help because EDM events draw huge crowds, and huge crowds require speakers of similar proportions—if you end up near a speaker, you’ll absolutely love your plugs! The latter just gives you somewhere to put your stuff, after all, rave outfits aren’t always as practical as combat shorts!
Making sure that you have clothing that is functional, fashionable, and fun is an important part of your festival planning and it can have a major effect on how successful your first festival experience is. By using the weather forecasting services, some common sense, and a little bit of extra bag room, you can have the time of your life while remaining comfortable throughout!
Following the lists above, to the letter, you will need nothing else for your stay at any festival. Of course, there are tons of non-essential items that could make your trip more enjoyable and that’s why we’ve decided to list a few of these too:
- Money, debit, and credit cards are all nice to have although they are not strictly necessary as long as you follow the checklists above and bring the necessary items
- Cell phones can be really handy for keeping in touch with the people that you have attended the festival with, especially if one of you happens to get separated. They’re also a good idea for sharing your experiences on social media, or photographing/filming your favorite acts
- A digital camera can be an awesome way of documenting your festival experience, but it is another valuable that will need to be looked after for your whole stay—as always, never leave anything of value unattended.
- Body paint, glitter, novelty headbands, face paint, and just about anything else that you can use to show off your personality and stand out from the crowd. Music festivals are a great opportunity to express yourself; why not take the opportunity to show the world how loud you can be with your neon face paint and a set of light-up sneakers?
One thing to remember when choosing which non-essential items to take with you is that whatever you take will need to be looked after. Valuable electronics should be left safely at home, where possible, and you should also limit the amount of cash and cards that you have on your person. Of course, it is your festival experience and you should do as you please—just try to look after yourself and your stuff.
HoverKicks’ Ultimate Festival “Do’s and Don’ts”
No beginner’s guide to festivals would be complete without a list of “do’s and don’ts” to ensure that you stay safe, stay on the right side of the law and most importantly, have fun! We’ve put together this list to make sure your first festival memories are some of the best!
5 Festival “Do’s”
- Do plan and prepare properly to avoid ruining the fun before you have even arrived. Make sure you have the essentials covered and that you have a plan in place to keep all of your valuables safe (either keep them on your person, or make use of lockers that can be hired at some events)
- Do keep a note of the festival schedule. Whether you keep hold of a flyer, or simply use your cell phone to view it online, it is best to know when your favorite acts are on stage and on which stage they are performing. After all, you don’t want to miss Avicii because you forgot what time he was on!
- Do organize a meeting time & point with the people that you are attending the festival with. This could be the area that your tent is pitched, or another prominent area of the venue. In the event that you get separated and cannot keep in contact, the lost party will know where to head and at what time!
- Do remember to take identification, especially at festivals where entry is barred to those under the age of consent. You don’t want to buy a ticket, plan the big weekend, and then be turned away at the gate!
- Do remember to have fun. Music festivals are an awesome way of escaping the monotony of “real life,” even if it is just for one weekend. Let go of any anxiety and stress that you’re under and enjoy yourself!
5 Festival “Don’ts”
- Don’t attempt to break any of the rules that have been set out by the event organizers. They are there for your safety, and the safety of everybody else in attendance, and breaking them can lead you to being thrown out of the festival venue. Or worse (see point 2)
- Don’t let the party atmosphere lull you into a false sense of lawlessness. Everybody may be raving, everybody may be going wild, but you can almost guarantee that there will be a strong law enforcement presence at any music festival.
- Don’t leave the festival venue without checking that you’ll be readmitted. Some organizers do not allow people to leave the venue and then return later, for any non-emergency reason. Paying for your ticket and then only experiencing half of the event is definitely not worthwhile!
- Don’t leave your valuables unattended. Keep them on your person, or better yet, in the various secure storage options that many modern festivals have. It’s not worth having your big weekend ruined by something as simple as a missing cell phone or camera
- Don’t attempt to “smuggle” in items that are not allowed by the festival that you are attending. More often than not, there will be security on the gates and they will search you and your luggage. If they find something they shouldn’t, they will not hesitate to bar you from entry—and if the item is illegal, there’s a good chance that you’ll be hearing from a nearby police officer, too
Preparation Complete—Party On!
While the preparation and planning that you undertake may be tedious and uninteresting, it will help to ensure that your first festival experience is truly magnificent. Taking the time to plan out your festival and packing all of the proper items is definitely worth it in the long run.
With all of that out of the way, there is only one thing left to do: turn up and rave the night away!