Music festival season: where are you going, and how are you preparing your family?

baby party
Babies at the Beloved Festival! Photo by Dori Mondon.

Oh, you guys. It's fully upon us: summer music festival season, which for some of us means packing up the entire family to dare the crowds, the heat, and the occasional disoriented daytime psychonaut at our favorite festies.

After the amazing experiences I had with my family last year at Oregon's Beloved Festival (which featured higher numbers of naked yoginis than psychonauts, which is just about my speed these days), I'm in full-fledged preparation mode to head back to the festival again in August. Noise-cancelling headphones? CHECK. Walkie-talkies to replace the ones that got trashed when our van was stolen earlier this year? CHECK. Deep breathing exercises to prepare myself for inevitable melt-downs from my pre-schooler? CHECK.

So, where are y'all headed this summer? Did anyone go to Bonaroo? Who's going to Burning Man? Will I see any of you at Beloved? Who's hitting up Sasquatch!?

I'm spending some time this week re-reading all our posts about prepping for music festivals…

Random Rab and babies
Musician Random Rab with double trouble at Beloved Festival in 2011. Photo by Dori Mondon.

…but I'd love to know what you guys are doing to prepare for this summer's festivals.

Any secret tips that saved your sanity at last year's fests?

Supplies you wouldn't go without?

Breathing exercises I should be practicing?

…And who will I see at Beloved?

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  1. Winnipeg Folk Festival starts tonight!! Great music, great people, great camping! Can't wait to get out to the site!

    1 agrees
  2. I'm so sorry, but you all missed 80/35. It was last weekend, and it was the Rockin-est show ever! Plus it's in downtown Des Moines, which is awesome and wicked cheap to hang out in. David Byrne & St Vincent, and Wu Tang Clan! It's always the weekend closest to the 4th of July, and you should totally put it on your list! http://2013.80-35.com/line-up/

    ETA: I swear I don't work for them. It's run by a volunteer collective.

    1 agrees
  3. Not doing one this year, but looking forward to going to the Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso, NS in another year. ๐Ÿ™‚ Lots of family stuff, lots of great music. Those thinking about going, be sure to get some good galoshes!! It's usually a wet weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I'm so lucky to have a job that gives me media access to a tonne of festivals in Alberta. This year I am attending the Street Performers' Festival, Art Walk, International Music Festival, Calgary's Folk Festival, Interstellar Rodeo, Edmonton's Folk Festival, Edmonton's Blues Festival, Edmonton's Fringe Festival, Symphony Under the Sky, and the Fort Edmonton Storytelling Festival.
    That is A LOT to do with a 2 year old, so my strategy is to keep the days short and not get hung up on who I have to see. I discovered last year that by following my daughter's lead I experienced things that I would not have otherwise.
    Supplies I wouldn't go without? This year it's a potty. What a pain in the butt.

  5. Thank you for this! We are taking our 14 month old to Outside Lands in SF in August, staying with a friend who is very close to the location. I've been meaning to come on here and do some research! My little guy is not typically a great sleeper when away from home, so I'm hoping that changes for the better in the next month. Looking forward to people's responses.

    • WOW, just looked on the Outside Lands website and they don't allow strollers. Or wagons! Sadly, we'll be selling our tickets because I just can't see getting my son to sleep without the stroller. Feeling like their policies are pretty crappy!

  6. I LOVE concerts. Nothing gets me going like a concert. All the festivals mentioned tend to be mellow, folksy ones. Am I crazy for wanting to bring my 1 year old to Riotfest?!?

    • We were thinking of taking our toddler to Riotfest!

      We are definitely going to the All Caps festival on Toronto island in August. We were debating about Hillside….maybe next year.

      1 agrees
    • Kids under 5 get in free: http://riotfest.org/chicagofaq/.

      Another tip: I would leave the stroller at home if you can! I have seen parents at festivals struggle with strollers that aren't always designed for non-paved ground. I mean, do you what you want, but it always seemed to me it'd be easier just to wear your baby and not worry about it.

      AND OF COURSE if you do take your 1 year old to Riot Fest, write a post about it for us! ๐Ÿ™‚

      3 agree
      • My daughter refused to have anything to do with carriers when she was a baby – or even being carried, once she could walk, if there was anything interesting happening – but would ride quite happily in a stroller. (I think because she had a better view of what was going on.)
        Anybody planning to take a stroller 'off road', make sure you have the kind with big tyres, good shocks, and locking front wheels. And if all else fails, turn it around and pull it. Fighting to keep a cranky stroller pointed in the right direction all day isn't fun, but it's less not-fun than fighting to keep a cranky toddler pointed in the right direction all day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        1 agrees
  7. Last weekend we went to the Mariposa Folk Fesitval in Orillia Ontario. We camped in a nearby Provincial Park which was my 2 yers old fav part.

    Day one of the festival didn't go so well: heat/didn't nap at regular time/tonnes of people/didn't bring a lot of supplies like his fav blanket= cranky toddler.

    Day two: after a great nap at the campground he had lots of fun on this cooler day with less people. I brought a lot of his stuff too so we could set up a central spot with his toys and blanket we could come back too. He enjoyed the folk music and watching the big screen a lot more than all the kids oriented entertainment. I just had to let him relax and enjoy. Also having a bubble gun to play with other kids was a bonus!

    • BUBBLE GUN! Great idea! Totally BIG yes on that. Added bonus: the psychonauts love bubbles too!

      • Yes they do! My son was playing with the bubble gun and police officers walked by commenting on it so my mom commented back that ALL police officers should be issued Bubble guns instead. The psychonauts loved the bubble gun but more so my mom's response!

  8. I don't have wee music lovers of my own yet, but as someone who has 13 younger cousins and grew up with an in-home daycare, I like to pack along things like extra bottled water, blankets, wipes, and baby-safe sunscreen just in case parents around me are in need. In my opinion, it's just doing my part and being a part of the fest community.

    1 agrees
  9. We'll be celebrating our little girl's first birthday at Magnolia Fest this October, so a chunk of our supplies will be dedicated to that – cake, camp decorations, food, etc. We're so excited that three grandparents (and two step-grandparents) will be there also!

    One thing I won't do a festival without is a wagon. A big wagon with lots of blankets and toys is a necessity for hauling a little one all through the woods, especially if she decides to conk out in the middle of a set.

    • Yes to the wagon. One other plus to wagons, they can give parents and older kids a not-ground place to sit down as well.
      One downside to them is if you have a child prone to not staying where they're put, you might have your kid standing up while you're moving or escaping as soon as you stop.
      For any mobile very small child, in a wagon or not, I'd suggest safety reins in a crowd.

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