Traveling for a Music Festival: Is it right for you?

Last year, I spent 5 days in beautiful Montreal. As one of the closer “fun cities” from Toronto, Montreal is a place I have been to before, and a place I will inevitably go to again. But this particular trip was not like previous trips to Montreal. This time I was there for Osheaga, a three-day music festival that turns Parc Jean-Drapeau into a massive, multi-stage outdoor party.

This particular event happened to also be my very first time at a multi-day music festival (my underaged days at the Warped Tour don’t count) and now stands proud as one of the best experiences of my life. Despite my obvious bias here, I am going to take a minute to outline some of the pros and cons of traveling to music festivals.

Osheaga 2013

Pros:

  1. Never getting bored. Don’t worry about finding stuff to do, the activities are there and ready when you are.
  2. Meeting tons of people. Like the previous point, you don’t really have to worry about seeking out experiences or finding like minded people. They are there, just like you.
  3. Watching a large number of bands in one place. If you pick your festival wisely, you can be lucky enough to see a bunch of your favourite live musicians and discover new ones you may have not heard about before.
  4. Discovering a new part of a city. Music festivals typically take places a little outside the main touristy core, so they are a good excuse to see something different.
  5. Being outside. Now this may not be appealing to everyone, but it’s not everyday that you get to party outside and listen to music. Definitely a nice bonus.

Cons:

  1. Paying for this experience. Not only are you going to dish out for the ticket price (typically between $200-$500 depending on the festival). But accommodation prices will be significantly increased during music festivals, as will food and drink options.
    • What helps? Travel in large groups and split on accommodation. Look for airbnb options instead of hotel rooms and book ahead! Having the option of a kitchen will also save you money (although some festivals have “no bring your own anything” rules) Also, consider going to a music festival with camping options.
  2. Not seeing much of the city. Unless you have extra time off, you are probably not going to have much time to actually explore the place you are visiting. In a perfect world this wont be your first and only time there and you will have another chance to see it. But if not, don’t count on the music festival experience as being anything more than a music festival experience.
    • What helps? Arrive a couple days before (you will probably be too exhausted after) and try to experience the city/place before the festival starts. And if not, make a point to return. Otherwise, it’s okay, don’t beat yourself up about it. you can only do so much.
  3. Being exhausted. Let’s face it we can’t all be 22 forever. And if this music festival vacation is a getaway from work, don’t expect to come back very relaxed. Dancing and day and night will take its toll so don’t be surprised when you come back wanting a vacation from your so-called vacation.
    • What helps? Make a point to get some sleep. Even if it means skipping a show here and there- trust me, you will feel better the rest of the time. And most importantly, take care of yourself. Hydrate, wear a hat, wear sunscreen. Pretend you are 8 years old again and channel what you parents would have told you to do. Take the time to sit down and rest, recharge, refuel. Too often people end up very sick and even in the hospital after attending these festivals. A lot of the causes can be prevented, so listen to your body. Oh yeah, and book a massage for when you return, you will not regret it.

So do I recommend traveling for a music festival? Absolutely, yes, yes, and one more time YES! But keep in mind that it just wont be like your typical trip. But who wants typical anyways?

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