Survival Tips for Music Festivals

Connie Martinez Events, Music, Performing Arts, Tips

Summer music festivals are happening everywhere around the country right now. I recently attended Make Music Pasadena in Pasadena, CA, which had 150 musical acts performing in over 30 venues in the city, making it one of the largest free music festivals in the country with an estimated attendance of 50,000. And while music festivals may be intimidating to some, here are a few practical survival tips to remember to make sure you’ll have a blast.

1. Know the Schedule

Music festivals are always a bit hectic, especially when you have many performances and different venues to choose from, it’s good to know who, where and when someone is performing. More often than not, there will be a line-up and schedule available either online or at the event. This will help you with who you want to see, what stage they’ll be on, and at what time. Make sure to get there beforehand if you want a good place. This either means arriving early or if there is a performance before who you want to see, go and then stick around for the next set to get a good place. The best seats are usually those closest to the stage where the musicians are performing. However, temporary outdoor barriers may prevent access most of the time, but the thrill of seeing your favorite musician up close (if you’re an ardent fan) is second to none. If you don’t do this, you’ll probably end up in a bad spot which leads to the next thing:


2. Don’t be afraid to get through people.

I was a bit late to hear the Australian band, Atlas Genius’ set, leaving me behind hundreds of people. My height at just 5 feet 6 inches isn’t tall enough to see the stage when almost everyone in front of me seemed to be over six feet tall and blocked my view. Nevertheless, if there is anything I’ve learned from general admission shows, the kind where it’s standing only and you have to fight for a good spot to see the performer, you’ve got to keep moving forward and weave through audience members. Now, don’t get rough. Tap shoulders, say “excuse me,” with a smile and sometimes people will let you through.


Photo credit Chris Molina

3. Prepare for a lot of standing.

A lot. So I would also suggest to wear some comfortable shoes. My friends and I stood for about 30 minutes for Atlas Genius. With all the bodies we walked through, we made it about half way to the stage and stayed for the next band (James Supercave – stay tuned for our review next week) which meant more standing-waiting for them to set up and then the actual performance itself. But it’s totally worth it to get as close to the stage as possible especially when you’re watching a great performance! Plus, your feet don’t ache so much if you dance it out.

Huge crowd for Atlas Genius at the Colorado Main Stage. Photo credit Michelle Shiers - with Old Pasadena.

Huge crowd for Atlas Genius at the Colorado Main Stage. Photo credit Michelle Shiers.

4. Plan accordingly.

Weather is key when going to an outdoors music festival. It happened to be rainy the day I went to Make Music, so take a hat or poncho if needed. That said, travel light. You don’t want to be carrying stuff when the dancing starts. Most importantly, if you are in a hot climate lather on the sunblock and make sure to hydrate, but remember to hit the port-a-potties before you wade into the crowd. Backing out of a crowd can be as hard as getting through one.


Photo credit Michelle Shiers.

5. Have fun!

Simple as that. Dance to the music like no one is watching (not just to help your aching feet), sing along, nod your head to the beat, and enjoy the show!


The Mowgli’s at the Colorado Main Stage. Photo credit Manny Hebron/Picksysticks

6. Stick around until the end.

You never know what could happen if you stick around until a performance ends. If another performance follows, staying will give you the opportunity to get closer to the stage for the next show, like I did. If an act doesn’t follow, staying could mean getting band merchandise or even meeting the band themselves!

Photo credit Michelle Shiers.

Photo credit Michelle Shiers.

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Connie Martinez

Connie Martinez

Consuelo Martinez, is a graduate of Pasadena’s John Muir High School, and just finished her freshman year at Pasadena City College. She is a first generation Mexican-American and also a first-generation college student. Within the past year and a half, she found her voice in writing, poetry and public speaking and essentially found who she was: a poet, writer, artist and feminist. Connie plans on a writing career and hopes to be an English teacher, as well as a role model for young Latinas who come from a background similar to hers.
Connie Martinez

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