What is it about festivals that make them feel like home? Even if it’s your first time attending a particular festival, once your car is parked, it’s like you just entered a portal and on the other side is a place you were meant to be. You can’t really explain the feeling, but it’s there until you drive away from the grounds, back through the portal, and into real life.
Unlike simply going on vacation, traveling to a festival offers certain things to its attendees that any new city can’t. Other than all the logistical needs being fulfilled on site and the lack of a language barrier, one of the main goals of a festival is too bring its attendees together. When you travel a new city, most people you meet live there. As such, they have little to nothing in common with a bumbling tourist such as yourself. On the contrary, at a festival, you have at least one thing in common with everyone there. You have all purchased a ticket to become part of a temporary civilization, complete with the opportunity to establish your own settlement, aka camping.
Many first (and second) time festival goers have reservations about camping, but in truth its the best way to attend a festival. Even if there’s an RV readily available, it’s worth fully roughin’ it at least once. Here’s 4 reasons why we we think it’s worth it.
It doesn’t matter what festival it is, camping will always be the cheapest lodging option. A car camping pass to most festivals is between $70 and $150. Hotels (if there are even any available) are very aware of larger events in their area, and will always increase rates on coinciding dates. It is very rare to find a room for three nights that is less than the one-time fee of a car camping pass. Even if you have to purchase essentials like a tent or sleeping bag, those are one-time fees as well, and with the help of Amazon, you can find some killer deals.
There is no better feeling than having absolutely everything you need at a festival. Especially when it’s all within walking distance. Food. Beer. Shade. Water. Warm clothes. It’s all there when you need it. The campsite also serves as an eternal meeting spot throughout the weekend, and not just for your friends, but for the people you meet at the festival. It’s much easier to remember where a campsite is as opposed to establishing some arbitrary meeting spot within the grounds. Plus, with a creative mind and a little bit of planning campsites can become very inviting and comfortable places, regardless of the rugged environment.
Sometimes you need a break. It happens. Festivals require a lot of physical activity quite commonly after nights of little to no sleep. The loud music, the heat. There are plenty of things to wear you out. Because of its separation from the main festival, a campsite offers complete relief from such things, as well as a kind of interaction the rest of the festival can’t. Going wild with your friends inside the fest is its own kind of bonding experience, but the campsite is where you really connect with people. There is nothing to entertain you there except each other. Kindred souls and good conversation. Even if you’re camping with people you just met, you have now shared a deeper experience than simply attending the festival together.
If you’re looking for the spirit of a festival, look in the campgrounds. I’m serious. Even if you started mobbing in a random direction through cars and tents, there is a good chance you’d meet one of your new friends who invite you to slap the bag. When you camp at festival you become a part of it. Camping is what separates a festival from any other kind of trip. Everything at a festival is somewhat new to everyone, and everyone there, including the staff, is absolutely thrilled about it. A festival isn’t “just another day” to anyone. A few years ago when I working at the Hollywood Bowl, Coldplay did three sold-out nights in a row, and I met several people who went to all three. They didn’t go a festival, they went to three concerts in a row. That’s what it’s like not to camp. The music, art, and everything else the festival offers are all reasons to come; to sell tickets, and as wonderful and amazing as they are, they are expected. They are avenues of guaranteeing a good time, and they can be planned. What can’t be planned though is who you will meet; who will be sharing that experience with you. Even if a festival gets a lineup better than Woodstock, if no one is there to enjoy it, it served no purpose. That’s where the soul of the festival lies, within the people, and when you camp, you aid in the existence of that soul. You are sharing the temporary community with everyone around you. Coming back to you’re campsite is like coming home.