How To: Survive Festival Season

Avoid festival frustration with these tips and tricks to make your experience the best it can be.

May 30, 2017

illustration by Mike Kerr

It might not be summer yet, but, with festivities already kicking off, Edmonton lives up to its yearly “festival city” sobriquet. How are you going to make it through the 50-some festivals that saturate the city this time of year? Fortunately, we’ve compiled some tips on how to make the most of festival season.

Early bird gets the worm

If you’re contemplating going to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival this year, you’ll have to make a decision soon, since tickets go on sale on June 4. And the festival sells out fast — in 2012, tickets sold out by 11 am. The box office opens at 7:00 am, and the lottery cut off is at 8:00 am. Tickets can also be purchased through Ticketmaster starting at 3:00 pm — so whether you prefer the in-person experience or the convenience of buying tickets online, you're covered. 

Cash is king

Most Edmonton festivals have been running for more than three decades — Servus Heritage Festival has been in operation for 42 years; Edmonton Folk Music Festival, 37 years; and the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival, 36 years — meaning this shouldn’t be your first rodeo. More and more vendors are beginning to accept credit/debit cards, but it's always best to have some cash on hand, just in case.

Your feet will thank you

While those Christian Louboutins look great, they aren’t practical for walking the festival grounds. Leave those at home and opt for a sensible pair of shoes that will last you a solid five hours or more of walking time. When it’s a behemoth like K-Days or the Servus Heritage Festival, you’ll be doing a lot of walking — and standing in queues for food or rides.

Don’t forget your manners

It seems like when we’re manouevring in large crowds, our manners get thrown out the window. Don’t shove people; don’t cut in line; don’t let your friends cut in line; don’t be a jerk. Be considerate of everyone around you. As for your phone — leave that at home. But if you aren’t up for the challenge, keep your Instagram-ing and Facebook-ing to a minimum. How are you supposed to enjoy the festival when your completely consumed by social media? Put that phone down and socialize with the people around you.

Best seats in the house

For events like Folk Fest, you’re going to want those front row seats. Luckily, Folk Fest offers a lottery system for those with strong seating preferences — so make sure to participate if you want to ensure you've got your favourite spot. And don't forget to bring a blanket or tarp to lay across the grass when you're enjoying the performance. 

This article appears in the June 2017 issue of Avenue Edmonton. Subscribe here.


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