Nervous, lost, confused, excited. These were the feelings coursing through my veins while preparing for Sziget, my first international music festival.
Social media does an excellent job of showcasing the glamorous side of international music festivals while doing very little to actually help you prepare.
Regardless of how many festivals anyone has attended in the past, being in an unfamiliar country brings about new factors and experiences to the event. For the most part, this is the beautiful thing about traveling, but it can lead to complications as well.
EDM Maniac decided to take the matter into our own hands and compile a list of Dos and Do Nots for your upcoming international music festival:
Figuring out where I was going to sleep at night during a six-day festival was probably the most stressful part of my international planning experience. The festival I attended had so many incredible camping options but it was also common for attendees to stay off-site and take a train in.
Staying in the city can be tempting, but I urge you to resist that temptation. Camping provides a unique opportunity to meet new people and stay out all night without worrying about how you’re going to get back to your hotel.
Many international music festivals will offer pre-set camps so you don’t have to travel with all of your camping gear. Look for camping options that are secure like igloo tents or bell tents that can be locked up so you can leave your things and rave with peace of mind.
The campsite that I chose also had 24/7 reception and staff for added security for additional support.
By choosing to camp, I made so many friends and I was able to attend everything that the festival offered from dusk to dawn. I wouldn’t have traded camping at that music festival for the world. If you’re new to camping festivals, check out these tips.
2. Rent A Locker
Being pick-pocketed while traveling is unfortunately very common but there are some things that can’t be stolen while abroad like your phone, passport, and extra cash.
Although the campsite was semi-secure, I didn’t want to take any chances so I rented a small locker for those ultra-valuable valuables.
A locker was one of the smartest things I bought to keep my trip running smoothly, and it was only $40. Look for lockers that have a USB cable included as an added perk in order to charge your phone during the day!
3. Embrace The Culture
Food, music, clothes, and dance are all things that make international music festivals unique. Organizers of international music festivals run through lists of applicants with a fine-toothed comb to ensure talents are being presented from every inch of the globe.
Never did I think I would be listening to rap in Italian but one of my favorite sets from the entire weekend turned out to be by a rapper from Milan called, Lazza.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty sheltered in my own culture, but I was given an incredible opportunity to expand my palate and be welcomed into so many different realms that I wouldn’t have been offered at American festivals and I’m so glad I took full advantage of that space.
My biggest advice is to be lenient when you’re budgeting for international festivals. You don’t want to limit yourself when you’re browsing the food trucks or shopping for souvenirs to bring home.
1. Go Into The Festival Blind
Do not go to an international music festival without reading the policies on the festival’s website and researching the city and country where you’re traveling.
Similar to American festivals, you are going to want to read up on the bag policy, rules regarding camping, opening and closing times of the venue, and anything else they may have on their website.
One of the more important things you want to pay attention to is if the festival is cashless or not. Most festivals are cashless but if it’s not, you want to make sure you’re bringing the correct currency.
If you choose not to camp on the festival grounds, you’re going to want to look into the public transportation routes available. From there you can choose the most logical lodging and check the transportation’s hours of operation.
Researching a country’s values and beliefs is extremely important before heading to that country. This is where I messed up for my first foreign festival. I hadn’t realized that Hungary had been under political fire recently for anti-LGBTQ+ laws and ideals.
Luckily, the festival was extremely queer-friendly and I felt comfortable throughout my stay there as a queer woman. However, outside of the festival could have been dangerous for me and it was a shortsighted mistake of me to not look into the culture before going.
Safety is so important and I want to continue seeing every single one of your beautiful faces at future events, so please be smart!
2. Don’t Be Stupid
It doesn’t hurt to say it twice: be smart! Foreign prison is no joke. The biggest buzzkill to an international vacation is an arrest, and police overseas may not be as forgiving as American law enforcement. Undercover police officers are just as present abroad as they are in the States.
Remember PLUR and incorporate it to the highest standards while visiting someone else’s home. Respect all of the employees in the venues, follow directions when told, and spread love in the best way you know how.
Make sure to keep an extra eye out for your friends and anyone you’re with. Being lost or partying beyond your abilities is never fun at any festival but the consequences could be more severe when in an unfamiliar territory.
3. Don’t Stay At Camp All Day
The magic of international festivals happens during the day. Activities, performances, and art installations come alive in the daytime! Make sure to see as much as you can instead of lounging around your accommodations waiting for night time.
I would have missed out on so many unique performances if I stayed at camp all day. My recommendation is to really use the first day of the weekend to get a layout of the festival. Use a map to explore, learn the stage names, locate food and water stations. Then go have as much fun as humanly possible!
Relaxing at camp can seem so appealing, especially when it’s hot out, but it’s easy to relax while exploring as well! Bring a friend with you, walk around a little, and lay on a blanket in a nice shaded spot and split some yummy food that you’ve been eyeing all weekend.
4. Don’t Be Surprised When Festival Customs Are A Little Different
The only real downside to international music festivals is that ravers aren’t as expressive or silly as Americans are. You will get some outlandish looks if you try to trade Kandi or give out little trinkets while abroad, and flow toys are minimal.
If that’s your thing though, go for it! You’ll find the right people who appreciate your goofiness and kindness.
Festival fashion also isn’t the same outside the States. You won’t see nearly as many expensive sets or funky patterns flaunted around the festival grounds.
This isn’t all bad, though, because I felt comfortable in my oversized T-shirt and didn’t have to pack extra clothes in my already size-limited luggage.
Featured image courtesy of Sziget Festival Website