A beginner's guide to EDM summer festivals

Going to your first EDM festival this summer? Then listen up. It's easy to arrive at a festival starry eyed as you line up at the front gate and feed off the buzz from the anticipating crowd. There's also that extra jolt of energy after you see the main stage for the first time along with all of the other distractions happening on at the festival grounds.

New fans can easily get overwhelmed and burned out well before day 1 comes to a close. A festival can put a lot of strain on your mind and body as you stand and dance in the summer heat for hours at a time. It's important to take the following steps to give yourself the best chance at having a great time from beginning to end. The advice might seem obvious to some (drink water, duh), but once you enter the festival grounds it's easy to forget the very basics. This guide is here to help you along and keep you in good spirits as you navigate your first festival. 

1. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is the number one and most important piece of advice contained in this guide. A full day at the festival can last up to 10-12 hours and that's a lot of time to spend in the summer heat. As you dance away to your favourite DJ you can expect to lose a lot of water which can lead to dehydration. Find a water station near you and fill up your water bottle or camelback (If allowed) before you head back out in the crowd. 

2. Wear comfortable shoes

Festivals are not the spot to wear high heals or sport your latest fire Jordan's. Summer festivals involve big crowds dancing and jumping on top of ground that might be dry at the best of times or be muddy at their worst. Wear comfortable shoes that you can see yourself dancing/standing in for hours at a time and your feet will thank you. 

3. Adopt a realistic DJ wishlist

Planning your DJ schedule with your crew can be one of the most enjoyable parts of your pre-festival ritual. This is a hard ask but try your best to schedule a realistic DJ schedule so you can take planned breaks to drink/eat/chill. Give yourself enough time to transfer from one stage to another as the time to travel to different locations on festival grounds is often underrated. There are often thousands of people at a festival wanting to do the same thing as you, and the last thing you want to do is not schedule enough time to get your favourite DJ on time.

4. Make a point of discovering new DJs/genres

Almost every festival this summer features multiple stages with a wide variety of genres and sub-genres of electronic dance music on display. If you're new to the scene, do yourself a favour and spend time at the smaller stages, arrive early and sample new artists performing at the earlier set times to know who's up and coming. EDM is a huge musical environment that invites you to explore - embrace that ethos and make a point at checking out new acts. 

5. Wear earplugs

If you love music and want to enjoy listening to music for the rest of your life then you must protect your ears. Festivals have massive sound systems to make sure that thousands of fans can hear the set no matter where you are in the vicinity. Sometimes these festivals can be really loud and it's important to protect your ears from possible damage. A good piece of advice is to go to a music store and buy artist grade earplugs that protect your ears while allowing in safe frequencies so you can also enjoy the music. I bought mine for $20 and have had them for over 4 years. They're worth every penny. 

6. Consider renting a locker (If available)

Festivals have begun offering rental lockers which can be a godsend for fans as they can store spare t-shirts, fresh socks, rain gear, or whatever you need to make your festival experience the best it can be. If you love heading out in the craziest parts of the crowd and dance your butt off, then having an extra outfit waiting for you in a locker would be a great relief. 

EDM Canada has always been about showcasing and promoting electronic dance music, and that you only need the music to have a good time at a festival/club event. But if you don't subscribe to that advice, then the Ottawa Overdose Prevention and Response Task Force via Ottawa Public Health has important advice for you: 

(The following is an excerpt of a post that can be found here)

Festival goers who choose to use drugs should: 

  • Never use alone – stay with friends you trust and keep an eye on each other
  • Go slow if you are using a new substance;
  • Know the signs of an overdose and call 911 - an overdose is always a medical emergency;
  • Carry naloxone – it is a medication that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose;
  • If you witness an overdose, call 911 immediately. Administer first aid, give naloxone and if you are on festival grounds, send someone to get festival medical staff.

Festival goers should also be familiar with the signs of an opioid overdose, which include:

  • Breathing will be slow or absent
  • Lips and nails are blue 
  • Person is not moving
  • Person may be choking
  • Person will make gurgling or snoring sounds
  • Person can’t be woken up
  • Skin feels cold and clammy
  • Pupils are tiny (also known as pinpoint)

To read the full post from Ottawa Public Health, click here

Remember to have fun and stay safe this festival season!

If you still haven't made your summer festival plans, make sure to check out the 2017 Canadian EDM Summer Festival Guide.