Surviving a Festival With Your Group

Large group dressed in black and yellow (like bees) posing for photo
Photo by Eric Allen

Going to a festival with a group? Surviving each other can be just as important as surviving together.

I’ve compiled my most useful tips that will help your group slay the next festival. Whether it’s a group of 4 or a hoard of 20 people, we usually have some number of friends we are camping with.

You’ll learn the craft of sticking together, finding each other again, and knowing when to branch off.

Part one: Sticking together

Have you ever barged your way to the front of the stage only to look behind you and find that you’ve lost all your friends? Or maybe this is your first festival and the thought of that just scared the shakra out of you.

Well, lucky for you I have some tried and tested methods to give you the best shot at sticking together.

Packed Lucid Stage crowd at night. Stage is lit up. Audience is dark.
Photo by Curious Josh

The Unbreakable Chain: Surviving the Crowds

Before your group delves into the crowd, tell everyone to get into a single file. Each person has to keep eyes on the person in front of them, and do not lose sight of them, touching distance is preferred. If you’re feeling up to it you can even hold hands, but that chain usually gets broken here and there when dodging other people.

Use a totem:

This method can be a little irritating, but it’s definitely effective. You’ll need a long stick, like PVC pipe or wooden pole, or two broomstick handles taped together. Whatever works!

Then you’ll need a homemade sign or any random object that can be identified by your crew as a beacon to the group, that’ll be fixed to the top of the pole. Carry the totem around whenever going to see performances at the stages.

We usually take turns holding it as they can be rather heavy and annoying to hold. Your group will always stay together!

Couple holding matching "We <3 Pumpkin" totems
Photo by Kenny Hoff

Part two: Finding each other

Inevitably you’ll end up getting separated from your group many times. Whether it’s to go use the restroom, refill your drink, or simply returning from a solo adventure (which I highly recommend). These tips will help you relocate your friends easily.

Totem Method:

Look for the totem in the crowd as previously mentioned. This helps in sticking together and finding each other.

Always in the Same Zone:

Pick a spot where your group always watches the shows from. For example, my group always goes front left – no stealing!

This means whenever you go to watch a performance, you always watch it from the same general location at any given stage. This narrows down your search when you go looking for your buddies, and if you have a totem it’s even easier to spot ‘em.

The Nook stage with a packed audience. Daytime.
Photo by Get Tiny
“We’re back middle on the sofa. You can’t miss us!”

Have a group call:

This method is as fun as it is effective! Make up a funny sound or word that your group is constantly yelling out. A nice loud “Pyah!” or “hoo dee hoo!” are examples of some group calls I’ve used before, but come up with something unique or familiar to your crew.

Then actively yell out your call whenever you’re walking around or at the stages. If you’re looking for someone, and if they hear it, they’ll retort with the sound and keep doing it until you’ve reconnected.

We tend to excessively yell our call all the time just to be annoying or for fun’s sake.

After hearing it enough times, your hearing becomes selective and will recognize it over all the other festival noises going on around you. I think it’s kind of like how penguins know the sounds of mama and baby even while everyone else is squawking. Hoo dee hoo!

Man with whip amongst friends dressed as various animals
Photo by DNA Imagery
Not sure what their group call might be but…the whip probably gets the job done!

Make a plan:

I’m going to be honest…this method isn’t all that effective but can be helpful, as long as everyone’s coherent enough to follow along.

When leaving camp to go out for a set or adventure try and say where you’ll be going and what time etc. You can also try to meet back at camp at specified times to regroup. Just know that plans change and are definitely subject to getting derailed in the best kind of way.

Remember where you camped: Surviving the..well…mostly just surviving!

This should be self explanatory but if it’s your first time at a new festival location, it can be easy to get turned around and forget where in tarnation your camp was…in the dark…intoxicated.

After camp is set up, look for nearby landmarks that can serve as a beacon to the general area of your camp. If possible, make some kind of unique or tall landmark of your own at camp so it’s easier to find.

Just a conscious effort to make mental note of your camp location before you leave usually serves me well enough. Then, if possible, every returning year try and camp around the same location.

Man laying alone on the ground  at The Nook.
Photo by Get Tiny

Part Three: Knowing when to branch off.

Festing with the group is all good and fun, but there’s something truly magical about solo adventures at a festival.

You can go wherever your heart desires without having to adhere to the will of others. I’ve found that some of the best experiences happen when I’m alone. You’ll also be likely to meet some new and fun people! Or catch a glimpse of some weird sh*t that no one will believe when you tell them about it.

The magic of a solo adventure must be experienced by all, so grow a pair, and leave the comfort of your group. I dare ya! 😉

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