Festivals: Truths and Misconceptions

Lately, there has been a lot of negativity rearing its ugly head in a place that was created with positivity, fun, and happiness in mind. Music festivals used to be about coming together, leaving the daily grind behind for a few days and enjoying music. Nowadays, it seems as if everyone has something bad to say. Articles filled with grievances, people fighting about which artists should be on the lineup, and one writer even complains about the festival food (She’s obviously never had Spicy Pie!) We all know about how much it sucks to use a port-a-potty all weekend and that everyone and their mom wants to attend. Sure, those things suck, but what about the other rumors being flung around? How many are truths and which ones are all talk? Here are 10 common misconceptions surrounding festivals.

1. There are people that do or don’t belong there.

I’m so over the fight between people who have been to every (Insert Popular Fest Here) versus the newcomers who are not being welcomed with open arms. Listen here. The only people who should not be in attendance are the ones who want to hate on everything or harm someone in some way (offensive clothing, stealing, etc.) Otherwise, everyone belongs. That’s the beauty of music: it brings people together. Go in open-minded and you’ll have a good time! This goes for which artists “belong” on a line-up as well. Most big festivals have diverse lineups to reach all kinds of music that will be appealing to a large fan base. You might hear something you like, and if you don’t there’s at least one other act playing at the same time. If nothing appeals to you musically, there are tons of other options.

2. There is a certain way you have to dress.

  One of the most common questions I see posted online regarding festivals is people asking what they should wear. The answer? Pretty much whatever you want. Fashion magazines will try to tell you that heels and $250 Baja Hoodies are the way to go, while others live in the same pair of shorts all weekend. The truth is, whether you’re most comfortable in pasties or khakis, you’ll find that there isn’t really a do’s or don’t list. Just don’t offend anyone with your garb and remember to dress for the weather!

3. Wearing all of your wristbands is a sign of pretension

   Some people like to think that the only reason we keep on all of our wristbands is to show off. Definitely not true. For some, it is a way to hold on to all of the amazing memories of the year, for others it is a conversation starter. I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me about my wristbands, and I love telling the tales behind my festie adventures. It’s also a way to connect to others who experienced the same thing, which never fails to bring a smile to my face. And to those who like to say our wrists are bacteria ridden, you must be confused as to how showers work.

4. The weather will be great because it’s in the summer, right?

  Wrong. People who believe this must live in a fantasy land or maybe they’ve only been to festivals where they get to go to their warm cozy beds at the end of each evening. Camping festivals are totally different and you have to be prepared for anything. Just because it’s July doesn’t mean you should only pack shorts and bikini’s. Just because you’re in California and they are experiencing a drought does not mean it is not going to rain. A smart festi plans for all types of weather.

5. “Bad” people look a certain way.

  Some people online seem to think that people that will steal from you or sell you bad drugs look a certain way. The truth is that you just never know. You are in a place with thousands of people. Unfortunately, there are going to be some bad ones. But this isn’t a cartoon where a thief will be blatantly obvious. Basically, you have to be street smart. Leave the expensive ring that was your grandmother’s at home, keep your cell phone with you at all times, and lock your tent. If you really want to wear your hat with every pin that you own, you better be ready to guard it with your life and not put it somewhere when you’re drunk and not realize it until later.

6. Everyone is there to party… and that’s it.

  This is most likely the biggest misconception about music festivals. People who have never been tend to think it is just about getting wasted for a weekend. Sure, there is definitely a ton of partying to be had. For most of us, however, there are so many other reasons why we go. The sheer amount of artists we get to see. Making friends who turn into family. Dancing barefoot in the grass. Camping. The list goes on. Festivals are usually on the expensive side, therefore most of us like to get our money’s worth by actually experiencing everything, not just being too out of it to remember anything.

7. Festivals add green initiatives because it’s the cool thing to do.

  It’s hard to believe, but some people are actually hating on the fact that festivals want to add recycling programs, workshops and yoga. How can wanting to keep the venue space clean or people wanting to exercise a bad thing? Sure, some people just don’t care (or don’t want to take the time to figure out) about which item should go in which bin. But really, if a festival having yoga in the morning is your biggest worry, I’d say you’re having a pretty good time. If people need initiatives, so be it. Taking care of the venue and campgrounds helps the events get approved for another year and dancing is way more fun when it’s not on top of garbage.

8. You HAVE to eat festival food.

  For those griping about the “fake gourmet food” at festivals; Guess what? You don’t have to eat it. The best part about camping out is that you get to bring your own food. As long as you follow the grill rules, you’ll find that you can make some pretty tasty dishes right at your campsite. It will save you the time waiting in line for something that only tastes half as good as you thought, and your wallet will thank you. On the other hand, a lot of fests have been stepping up their game when it comes to what is available to nosh on. So, ask your neighbors where they got that amazing looking sandwich and give it a try!

9. Fests are dirty.

  They’re outdoors, showers usually require a fee and you’re using a portable toilet for 3 days. How can you be clean? While hygiene is something a lot of us overlook while we’re adventuring, have no fear, there are ways to stay fresh! If you are someone who needs a shower, then by all means bring some cash. Otherwise, you have the options of water bottle showers ( get in your bathing suit and use a loofah and a bottle of water) or baby wipes. Brushing your teeth, using dry shampoo, and changing your underwear also works wonders. As far as your living space goes, bring trash bags and clean up whenever you have down time. This will help when it is time to go home and you won’t misplace anything if everything isn’t strewn about.

10. You have to party harder than ever before.

  Outsiders think that festivals are all about the party, so it’s hard as a first timer not to think that you have to go crazy to have a memorable weekend. Truth is, if you indulge too much, you’re not going to have much to remember. Not to mention that it really sucks packing up your camp and dragging everything to the car with a hangover. Don’t be kicking yourself later because you overdid it and missed the set you had been looking forward to for months. Take it slow, drink water and take care of yourself! Your weekend will be better because of it.


What do you guys think? Did we miss a festival truth? Words of advice for festi newbies? Let us know in the comments below!

Melody Koney

My name is Melody. As long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with music. I'm into everything from headbanging dubstep to old school hip hop to bluegrass! I'm a girl that is always down for raging at the club or riding front row on a roller coaster but I also love my quiet time and am a huge book nerd!

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