Know Before You Go

A Field Guide to Festivals

Everything you need to know before you go to an arts event in a festival-style setting

Before the Festival

Going to an arts fair, outdoor concert, summer theater event? Here's what you need to know before a trip to a festival-style event...

  • Dress to move. If you’ll be traveling between events or exhibits, wear comfortable walking shoes. Considering that festivals are designed to hold anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand people, you may even have quite a trek from the parking area or bus station to the festival site.

  • Prepare for the elements. If you’ll be indoors, bring a sweater or jacket in case of chilly air conditioning. For outdoor events, check the weather—think about an umbrella, (if allowed), poncho or raincoat, baseball cap, sunblock, sunglasses, bug spray, and/or water bottle. Check the weather report. Like a baseball game, the event may be postponed or even cancelled.

  • Ground yourself. Wear pants or a long skirt if you’ll be sitting on the ground. It can also be fun to bring lawn chairs or a blanket and picnic basket. Some outdoor seating is first-come, first-served, so think about arriving early for prime seats. If you’ll be sitting far away from the stage, you might want binoculars!

  • Bring your tickets. For obvious reasons. And if you’re going to multiple days’ worth of festival events, make sure you have the right tickets for the right day’s events. 

  • Bring money. For food, drinks, souvenirs, and maybe even parking. These items can be pretty pricey, so plan accordingly.

  • Turn off your cell phone. During the performance, that is. 

  • Plan. What will you do if you get separated from your group? Agree on a meeting place and make sure everyone knows what it is.

At the Festival

What a crowd! Here's what to know once you get to the festival...

  • No pictures, please. Don’t take photos of performances unless you have been told that it’s okay to do so.

  • Talk quietly, walk calmly. Near performance spaces, at least. Festivals can have performance spaces open to the public, meaning that you might open a door or turn a corner and find yourself walking close to an ongoing show. Be careful not to draw attention to yourself or distract the actors or audience members.

  • You’re not the show. Some audience members at concerts think they’re part of the show and sing right along. Don’t be one of them unless the musicians have asked the audience to sing aloud.

  • Read the signs. Festivals might have signs that direct you toward different events, restrooms, or refreshments. Also look for programs or guides, which might be available at a festival information booth.

  • In case of emergency… Bee sting? Heat exhaustion? Cotton candy overdose? At festivals (especially outdoor festivals), there’s generally a first aid booth. Ask a festival worker if you need medical assistance.

  • Clean up. Be sure to throw away or recycle your trash. If you’ve just had a picnic, look for and collect food wrappers that might have blown away.

  • Stand down. At some concerts, if you stand, the person behind you will need to stand to see over you. Which means the person behind that person has to stand. And then, well, you get the picture. It’s simply contagious. So try not to be the first domino to fall (or, in this case, to stand).

  • Rules of the road. Just because a performance is outdoors, doesn’t mean there are no rules. Be polite. Respect the performers. Respect your fellow audience members.



Marina Ruben
Original Writer

Editors & Producers

Lisa Resnick
Content Editor

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