Heading to an outdoor music festival? Heed this advice

CorrespondentApril 24, 2014 


At outdoor summer festivals, dress for hot weather during the day, but be ready for cooler temps at night.


  • Festivals

    The Carolina Music Festivals website ( carolinamusicfests.com) has an exhaustive listing of music festivals across the state, including musical lineups, costs to attend, maps and if on-site camping is available.

    Survival kit

    Putting together a survival kit for a festival is a good idea. In general, think about what you’d need on a camping trip and then factor in some extra craziness. A lightweight portable chair, a first aid kit, bail money, etc.

    Or if you’re feeling fancy, you might opt to include some spinach and kale chips for snacking, or some Oscar Blandi Pronto dry shampoo spray and a Cult Gaia Turband (part turban, part headband) – you know, for looking good fresh out of the sleeping bag. Those items (plus some other interesting luxury items) come in the Spring VIP Box from FabFitFun.com – a subscription service that sends you a box of beauty and fitness products four times a year. It’ll run you more than a quick stop at Harris Teeter, though; the mystery boxes cost $49.99 four times a year.

From Asheville to the Outer Banks, North Carolina is bursting with summer festivals that vary in size and tradition.

This weekend alone: MerleFest – probably the state’s best music festival – is underway in Wilkesboro, featuring Merle Haggard, Old Crow Medicine Show, Alan Jackson and many others; the Art of Cool Festival in Durham has free outdoor sessions Friday and Saturday; the Triangle Beach Music Festival is going on Saturday in Garner; and in Asheville, Moogfest grooves all weekend, celebrating progressive rock, tech and art.

But whether you’re blissing out to bluegrass or rocking hard to Zed’s Dead, festivals share common themes – crowds, delicious (albeit artery-clogging) food and loud music. And in most situations, the same rules apply to attending both large and small fests.

Avoid summer celebration buzzkills with these tips.

What to wear

Clothing at outdoor summer festivals can be tricky, especially when you’re camping. Be prepared to sweat all day while the sun beats down, but night can bring cool temps or a more dressy party scene.

Most festival junkies suggest dressing in layers and bringing a variety (though not a ton) of clothing options. Also recommended: convertible pants (the legs zip off to become shorts).

Hats and sunscreen are a must, as is comfort. Also, bring along good rain gear (and maybe even a tarp to cover your stuff during a shower).

Adding some flair to the basic festival uniform is highly encouraged. Music fests are the perfect time to wear anything one may deem “inappropriate” or too “out there” for every other day of the year.

Nontraditional attire – including tutus and banana hammocks – are staples at large festivals. Glitter and face paint are also acceptable.

Food and drink

Hydration is essential to feeling good and staying alert during hectic festival time. Drink lots of water and then drink some more. The last thing any festivalgoer wants is to pass out just as a favorite act is walking onstage.

Snacking is also key. Fruit and protein bars keep you going after some serious crowd surfing or banjo-plucking have taken place.

And of course, consume alcohol in moderation. Dropping hundreds of dollars on shows only to black out during the performance makes you That Guy, and no one wants to be That Guy.

What to attend

Greg Lowenhagen, the founder and director of Hopscotch Music Festival, which takes place in September, recommends entering a festival with an open mind.

It’s impossible to see every act and attend every event at a festival, he said, so embrace the acts and events you can attend.

And pace yourself.

“Don’t go too crazy the first night so you’re sick or tired or ‘over it’ by day two,” he said. “You’ve got a long way to go.”

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