Summer and fall are the prime seasons for festivals across the globe, whether traditional like Scotland’s Highland Games, quirky/fun like the Air Guitar World Championships or the hour-long, crazy food fight in the streets during Spain’s La Tomatina. Some of these festivals unfold on crowded city streets, while others are held on large, sprawling venues. For example, the BBK Music Festival in Bilbao, Spain or Denmark’s Roskilde are weekend-long celebrations of music where many stay the night and set up tents on the festival grounds.
If you find yourself at a large outdoor festival, here are six ways to make it a safer, more enjoyable event.
1. Locate the following (beforehand or as you arrive):
- Safety / Medical / Security stations - Knowing where these are ahead of time means less panic and stress to find them when you need them.
- Exits - In the event of an emergency, know how and where to exit quickly.
- Meet up point - If you are traveling with a group, designate a rendezvous point to reconnect if you are separated. If you decide to visit separate stages during the day, also choose a specific time to meet up again.
2. Be aware of pickpockets:
Large venues, with tightly packed visitors, are a great place to find pickpockets.
- Avoid flashing too much cash when buying drinks, food, or merchandise.
- Hide cash and valuables beneath your clothing, either in concealed pouches or zippered pockets.
- Lockers or bag check - Some venues provide lockers or a bag check to store backpacks or other items; there are pros and cons to using the lockers or bag check versus keeping it on your body - use your best judgment on whether or not to use these services.
3. Know what to do in an emergency:
- Head to the exits (official or otherwise). If you are in an extreme emergency, official or staff exits no longer matter - exit wherever you can.
- If you are in a group, hold hands or lock arms to stay together.
- Big crowds can be unpredictable. If the crowd turns mob-like, move at an angle with - not against - the crowds until you can get to the edge and out of the herd.
4. Stay in control:
While at Bonnaroo, my friends and I came across a passed out young woman on the ground. We decided to set up around her to watch the next performer, to not only make sure she was okay but more importantly, to prevent anyone from taking advantage of her in that state.
Avoid any substance that may prevent you from making good decisions, especially if you are alone or separated from your group.
5. Beat the heat:
Many festivals can still bring the heat in the fall and may not have adequate shade:
- Clothing - In the heat or direct sun, wear light clothing and cover up as much as possible.
- Sunblock - Always a good idea, especially for the fair-skinned.
- Stay hydrated - Drinking fluids with electrolytes will help prevent sunstroke or dehydration. You may not be able to bring fluids into the festival with you; if not, try bringing electrolyte tabs that you can drop into water bottles.
6. Festival Camping 101
- Make friends to create a sense of community (and have a great experience).
- Be aware of your less savory neighbors.
- Leave nothing valuable out in the open, unlocked, or unsecured.
- Keep an eye out for scavengers casing your camping area and alert festival security if you notice someone stealing from campsites.
Whether at home or overseas, festivals are a celebration and great reason to get together with friends. Some of the best will take you out of your comfort zone, but that does not mean they have to be unsafe. Take your personal security into your own hands and make it a safer experience. Do not let unfortunate events keep you from partaking in a festival; protect your trip with travel insurance to ensure you have a great experience no matter what happens.
Fun is part of any travel experience, but so is staying protected. Learn more about our policies here!