Festival season is in full swing! Our list of potential festivals we’d like to attend this summer is rapidly growing, and with every new lineup announcement, our excitement only seems to grow with it. Some of our favorite music festivals across the country are quite a distance away from home, which means we have to factor in travel and decide where to stay.

Each music festival is different, but typically you can split them into two categories; city festivals and camping festivals. Festivals are all about the experience. What type of adventure are you looking for? The dynamics of each festival will change depending on whether or not you stay on the campgrounds for the night or take things back to the hotel afterward. But which is the better option, city festivals or camping festivals?

In this post, we will break down some of the major differences between the two. That way, you can figure out the best choice for you and your rave fam to get the most out of your next music festival experience.

Immersion

Suppose you’re looking for total immersion and a complete break from the outside world. In that case, camping festivals are the perfect option for you! Camping festivals have such an interesting dynamic. Even long after the festival is over, the party never stops. After leaving the festival grounds, attendees bring the campgrounds to life with lights and music of their own. Setting up and bringing a tent may take some work, but it’s all a part of the overall experience. Camping is all about logging off from social media, ignoring your phone for a few days, fully embracing the outdoors, and creating memories with your friends. If you’re looking for a mental reset for the weekend, camping festivals are a great choice.   

City festivals are great because after a long day of dancing, drinking, and partying in the sun, you get to go home to a shower and a nice hotel bed instead of a tent on the ground. Keep in mind that wait times for rideshares and other forms of transportation will be longer than usual after the festival due to the massive amounts of people also trying to get home. This issue can usually be avoided by leaving early or parking a short distance away and walking. Going to a city festival takes a little bit more planning throughout the weekend but it will be worth it at the end of the night when you get to rest and recover indoors.

Community

Late-night campground sets, bringing out the kendamas* or hula hoops, talking about what a blast the day was, and planning for the next are some of our favorite parts of the festival experience and always leave us feeling closer to our rave family at the end of the night. Camping festivals are typically filled with all types of different amenities and fun activities for you to do in your spare time before and after the performances. If you’re more of the artistic and adventurous type looking to dive headfirst into the good vibes and see what the community aspect is all about, we cannot recommend camping enough.

If you’re most interested in the music and not anything else, you are probably better suited to attend city festivals. With less time to spend at the venue, there’s usually less to do overall because there’s little free time. Don’t expect too many yoga sessions, speakers, or extracurricular workshops at city festivals.

Price

There’s no doubt that prices will vary when deciding between camping and non-camping festival options. If you would like to stay on the official festival campgrounds, you will usually need to pay for an additional camping pass on top of your festival admission. However, getting to and from the festival grounds is just a walk away and you’ll save plenty of money on rideshares.

If you’re looking to hit a city festival for the weekend, your best options will probably be a nearby hotel or an air bnb. Depending on the distance from the festival and traffic, prices on hotels and rideshares will fluctuate. Plan ahead and plan early to get those deals!

Conditions

Oftentimes, the people you’ll see camping are hardcore festival-goers and veterans of the experience. One of the many challenges that come with staying outdoors is dealing with the elements. Rain, wind, and cold weather can really affect your experience, so it’s best to come prepared with extra blankets and some tarps.

If you need to stay clean, you may be better off getting a hotel for the weekend because accessing a shower on the campgrounds is no easy task. Some mornings you may have to stand in line for up to an hour or more for a quick shower, and there’s no doubt you’ll have to get used to using port-a-potties for the weekend.

What to Bring 

You’re still going to a music festival, so all your essential outfits, totems, and festival gear is coming along with you. But what else should you pack? Well, if you’re going the camping route, you’ll need a tent, sleeping bags or an air mattress, snacks, water, lights, portable chargers, and anything else you think you might need. Bring whatever will make the trip the most comfortable for you and your friends. Packing to stay in a hotel is much simpler and much like a typical vacation. Just bring along your festival essentials and perhaps a couple changes of clothes for the weekend, and you should be all ready to go!

There are plenty of variables when it comes to making a decision about what festivals to attend each season. The lineup, location, and price are just a few, but we hope our breakdown makes your decision a little easier. Be happy with your decision, ignore FOMO, and prepare to live it up with no regrets. Stay safe out there, stay hydrated, and be sure to check out the rest of our content over at The Inspo Spot.

* Traditional Japanese toy that has popularity at festivals. “Sword and ball.”