How to Survive a Music Festival in Style

Welcome back to ventifashion.com! If you follow along on Instagram, then you know I spent this last weekend at ACL, the big music festival in Austin, TX. It feels like only yesterday I was writing about my very first time attending ACL, and now I’ve checked it off the to-do list for the fourth year in a row! Needless to say, I’ve picked up a few tips when it comes to attending a festival. From what to wear, how to save, and why to bring with you, I’ve got you covered.

How to Survive a Music Festival in Style

OUTFITS | What to Wear to a Music Festival without Trying too Hard

When it comes to festival style, there’s an “anything goes” vibe as long as your look matches the environment. As festivals become more popular, it’s easy to overdo your look and wear something that clearly looks like you’re trying way too hard. If that’s your natural style, great! If it isn’t, don’t force it.

I wore the most variety during my first year of ACL simply because I had no clue what to expect. I tried jeans and converse the first day–neither of which I would recommend now. Find clothes that fit your personal style and that you can ideally wear even after the festival.

 

Tip: Dress for the weather and for comfort first. Try your shoes on before making the commitment of wearing them to a festival, and always leave the pants at home if you can. If your uncomfortable showing your legs, a maxi dress is a beautifully festive way to stay covered yet cool at the same time.


BEAUTY | How to Wear Makeup at a Festival without Melting

When it comes to makeup, the location of the festival really determines how much or how little you can comfortably get away with.

  • Foundation: Speaking in terms of festival style, the general rule of thumb is to go with a lightweight foundation or tinted moisturizer and let the highlighter do the talking.
  • Lips: Lips are another area to keep bare or neutral because of you don’t, you’ll spend most of the festival reapplying your bold lipstick.
  • Eyeshadow For eyeshadow, I think it really comes down to personal taste. On the one hand, I think it makes sense to just skip eyeshadow and only wear mascara/liner since most of the time your eyes will be hidden by sunglasses. On the other hand, eyeshadow can get as glittery and creative as you want in a festival, so why not play around?

I wore Fenty Beauty’s Trophy Wife as both a highlighter and an eyeshadow this year, and I was basically a walking advertisement for the brand in a good way. Not to mention, I received a lot of compliments on the makeup so it is definitely festival-approved. I also wore Juvia’s Place eyeshadow on some days, using The Warrior palette for a pretty gold eye.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to have fun with your eye makeup and highlight, but keep the face and lips to a minimum.


HAIR | Tips for Styling your Hair for a Music Festival

When I posted my Instagram carousel sharing all of my outfits for the past few years at ACL, I realized that I tried something different with my hair each year. This year, I went with the style from the past 3 years that overall was the least time-consuming.

acl music festival survival guideACL Music Festival Outfit Idea

  • Straight hair: Some of you may know that I used to wear my hair straight more often than not, and this did not work in my favor the first year of the festival. Depending on where you live and the time of year the festival is happening, putting heat on your hair may not be a dealbreaker. Personally, I don’t recommend it. Not only does overly styled hair (excluding braids, of course) clash with the bohemian vibe of music festivals, but the style may not hold up by the end of the night.
  • Braids: I decided to wear my hair in box braids last year, which my sister so kindly did for me a few days before the festival. I loved the ease of waking up and not having to style my hair, and I loved the switch up that braids gave my appearance. I very rarely wear extensions or fake hair in general right now, so it was fun to try something new. The downside of braids is having to put them in and take them out. Depending on how long you’ll be able to wear them after the festival, the cost in time spent may not be worth it.
  • Natural: The second year of the festival when we attended for a single day, I was well into wearing my natural curls more regularly. For me, it was a no-brainer to stick with natural curls that year. I loved how easy it was to style and maintain because your natural hair texture isn’t manipulated by weather conditions like straightened hair is. At the most, you’ll leave with more frizz than you started with, but as most curly girls grow to learn throughout their journey, there’s nothing wrong with a little frizz.

I opted for natural hair this year as well because not only did I not have the time for braids, but I wanted the freedom of switching my hairstyle each day. I wore a wash and go the first day, a messy bun the second day, and a style with the front pinned back on the last day. All in all, I particularly loved having my hair in a bun because it was out of my face the entire day.

Tip: Wear your hair in its natural state and always keep a hair tie on your wrist. By the end of the night, you’ll be thankful you brought one.


So now that we’ve covered the basic style essentials to surviving a music festival, I did want to spend a little time covering the things I feel not enough people share their experience with food, travel, and lodging.

LODGING | Travel and Lodging tips for the Music Festival Goer

LODGING:

Hotels are my least favorite expenses with any trip, so the fact that I’m encouraging you to stay two days longer than the festival is really saying something. Getting to town the day before the festival gives you the opportunity to check in and get settled, as well as have a good night’s sleep without having to worry about traveling the next day. Once the festival is over, the last thing you want to do is head back home that late at night after spending several hours at the festival. With the exception of the first year, I’ve stayed in a hotel the day after the festival and have never regretted the decision.

acl music festival guide

Find your core group of friends who you know will be able to go prior to booking your hotel stay. Things come up and people aren’t always able to confirm their availability, but traveling with friends is the one area where it’s best to plan a trip based on confirmed headcount only.

Traveling in groups helps cut the cost of a hotel down, but the last thing you want is to assume you’ll have a group of 8 but 4 of them drop out and then you’re stuck with an 8-person sized bill for the hotel stay.

You can also look into HomeAway and other Air BnB options if the hotels are looking less than stellar. When booking your stay, you can expect to pay more per night the closer the location is to the venue. People who aren’t familiar with the city will naturally gravitate towards a nearby venue, and hotels realize they can price gauge based on traveler’s naïveté. Do the research and book a hotel that’s a little further away to save the most money. (If you plan on attending ACL, check out hotels in Round Rock.)

Of course, you also have the option of crashing with a friend if you happen to know someone in the city. If you go this route, the hospitable thing to do is bring a little thank you gift or take care of the ride fees if they’re also attending.


TRANSPORTATION:

As for transportation to the festival, definitely, research all of your options. Our group happens to know someone who is able to get us really close parking so we can walk to/from the festival for free, or when we do choose to call an Uber it ends up being around $10 for the ride.

Prior to nailing down this method, we tried it all! We grabbed an Uber from the hotel our first year, which ranged in price from $30-80 per ride! We purchased a 1-day parking pass sold directly by the festival for $100 our second year. It was really convenient but extremely overpriced. It would’ve cost $300 if we attended for the full weekend, which is more than the ticket itself. Last year, we tried the free shuttle offered by the festival. If you park in their paid designated pickup locations, the free shuttle is available all day. The downside is you have to pay to park in the locations, which ranged in price from around $30-50.

I say all that to say, the transportation piece is the most trial and error thing you’ll deal with, but researching the options before you get there can save time.

Tip: Whether you’re heading to a festival in a town you can drive to or fly to, always always always book your stay to begin at least one day before the festival, and end at least one day after the festival.


FOOD, BAGS, and OTHER RANDOM TIPS | A Few Tips I’ve Learned over the Years

FOOD:

When it comes to the food, there are plenty of vendors at festivals. They change every year, but they usually will have at least 1-2 booths that cater to a specific dietary need. As someone who currently doesn’t eat meat and is generally health-conscious, I appreciate that you aren’t limited to bad foods. I will say that the menus overall are very limited at each booth, so substitutions aren’t really a thing. Also, food can add up pretty quickly if you’re constantly stopping by the food vendors throughout the day to refuel.

The Tip: Eat before you go! We spent the most on food and drinks the first year we attended a music festival. This year, we barely spent a dime. While we did have the luxury of free snacks backstage with HomeAway, eating a filling meal beforehand kept our appetites at bay. Food is cheaper outside of the festival and you have the freedom to eat exactly what you want.

BAGS:

As I mentioned earlier, this was my fourth year attending the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Each year, security measures increase so the bag rules are more strict as safety is made priority number one.

I’ve worn a backpack, I’ve gone bagless, and I’ve also opted for belt bags before. All three options are ones that I would recommend to a festival goer because they each result in hands-free fun. While I do have a top choice, the bag selection is truly driven by the festival rules.

Before you go, always check out the festival’s app or website to read their restrictions.

Even if you’ve attended the same festival in previous years, rules change with the times. You don’t want to be turned away because a bag doesn’t fit the restrictions.

The Tip: When at all possible, skip the bag. Not only is the line faster for entry, but it’s one less thing you have to worry about leaving behind. If you need a bag, opt for a very small belt bag. While they may not always be in style, they are the next best thing to going bagless. Belt bags are hands-free and secure so you know they won’t get lost or stolen.

For tips on how to style belt bags even outside of a festival, you can watch my styling video here.

Have you attended a music festival before? What are some tips you’d provide to a first-timer?


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ACL Music Festival Outfit Idea


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