How to Survive an Outdoor Music Festival

Summer concert extravaganzas are a lot of fun, but present a lot of challenges, too. This checklist will help you make the most of the experience.


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You Will Need

  • Cash
  • Water
  • Cooler
  • Right clothes
  • Carabiners
  • Tent and tarp
  • Tent stakes
  • Flag
  • Flashlight
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Rain boots
  • Pocket poncho
  • Sealable plastic bags
  • Tissues
  • Baby wipes
  • Earplugs
  • Lozenges
  • Water-filled milk jugs (optional)
  • Trash bags (optional)
  • Duct tape (optional)


  1. Step 1

    Bring cash and water

    Bring more cash than you think you'll need. ATM lines are long, fees are high, and food and beverages are expensive. The same goes for water: it's important to stay hydrated and water station lines can be brutal.

  2. Fill milk jugs with water, freeze them, and stash in your cooler.

  3. Step 2

    Dress comfortably

    Wear comfortable, closed, waterproof walking shoes. Consider wearing cargo pants so you have plenty of pocket space; stuff a spare T-shirt into one. Use carabiners to secure your keys and a water bottle.

  4. Step 3

    Bring a tent and a tarp

    Besides bringing a tent to sleep in, take along a tarp for eating under and escaping the sun. Invest in heavy-duty stakes; the ones that come with the tent and tarp may be too flimsy to penetrate the ground. Mark it with an unusual flag and bring a flashlight so you can easily find it, day or night.

  5. Lock valuables in your car trunk; they won't be safe in your tent.

  6. Step 4

    Be prepared for any weather

    Bring plenty of sunscreen even if it's not sunny, plus a hat; a sunburned scalp and ears are no fun. Wear tall rain boots if the forecast is gloomy, and pack a pocket poncho just in case. If it does rain, stash your cell phone in a sealable plastic bag.

  7. Trash bags and duct tape can be turned into rain gear in an emergency.

  8. Step 5

    Supply your own wipes

    Have tissues on hand when you use the portable toilets. Use baby wipes as a shower stand-in.

  9. Step 6

    Take earplugs

    Take earplugs along in case the music is uncomfortably loud, you can't stand one of the bands, or you just need a little peace and quiet. Throat lozenges are a good idea, too, after days of yelling over music.

  10. Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Summerfest is the world's largest outdoor music festival, with as many as a million attendees over 11 days.