Planning on hitting a festival this summer? You’re not alone. With COVID restrictions and cancellations now a thing of the past, many music lovers are heading back into the wild and hitting summer concerts and festivals all around the world with renewed energy, making up for lost time with their psychedelic communities and their favorite artists.
But with the freedom and joy that comes along with dancing, hugging, and partying with thousands of strangers until the sun comes up, also comes the potential for mishaps, and at worst, serious harm to you and your friends.
Gathered from our team at Psychedelics Today – who have decades of festival experience between them – here are some tips to help you stay safe and get the most out of your party time during this psychedelic summer.
Pre-Purchase Your Substances and Test Them
In 2023, there is no excuse for having to resort to taking whatever substances you can get your hands on at a festival. While it’s possible (and likely!) you’ll be offered psychedelics at festivals, never take anything from someone you don’t know. Should you choose to take psychedelics (or any other substances), acquire them ahead of time from sources you trust and test them before consuming any. Groups like DanceSafe, Qtests, Bunk Police, and Test Kit Plus offer a wide variety of regent testing kits to give you a better understanding of what is (and isn’t) in your substances, including fentanyl. And if you’re in Canada, you can send a sample of your substance to getyourdrugstested.com for a free analysis. You can also browse their results catalog to get a sense of what’s going around in your area, and what the lab results reveal. Many festivals partner with harm reduction groups to provide substance testing on-site, so if you can’t test ahead of time, check to see if your festival offers on-site testing – and use it.
Plan Your Transportation Ahead
Figuring out how you’re getting to – and perhaps, more importantly – from the festival grounds ahead of time is crucial. This may include public transportation, shuttle services, or carpooling, so determine which option suits your needs and budget. Assign a designated driver, don’t get in a vehicle with someone who might be intoxicated, don’t drive if you’ve been consuming, and avoid walking or biking on poorly lit roads or paths. And when in doubt, call your parents – even if you’re 35, chances are they’ll be happy to give you a safe ride home (and they might even make you breakfast).
Get Familiar With the Festival Grounds
Upon arriving at the festival, get a map of the grounds and familiarize yourself with its layout. Locate important areas such as the first aid tent, water stations, restrooms, camping area, and stages. Knowing where these facilities are will save you time and effort when you need them most. Pay attention to emergency exit points as well, ensuring you have a plan in case of an emergency.
Pack Smart: Essentials for a Comfortable Experience
Preparing a well-thought-out festival survival kit will make your experience much more enjoyable. Some essential items to consider packing include:
Energy bars or nutrient-dense snacks: these will provide quick bursts of energy to keep you going during long sets.
Toiletries: pack travel-sized toiletries to keep your body clean. Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, mouthwash, and tissues are particularly useful in festival environments where you can get real grimy, real fast.
Changes of clothes and socks: staying fresh and dry is crucial in preventing discomfort, blisters, and skin irritation.
SPF protection: apply sunscreen liberally to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Pain relievers: bring some over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil or Tylenol in case of headaches or injuries.
Upset stomach relief: bring TUMS or Pepto in case of heartburn or indigestion.
Phone charger or battery pack: keep your phone charged at all times to stay connected with friends and have access to emergency services if needed.
Sunglasses: shield your eyes from the sun and prevent eye strain caused by bright lights or lasers during performances.
Set Your Intention
Just like you might with a ceremony, or guided psychedelic journey, ask yourself what you’re hoping to achieve before you dose. Is it a greater connection with your friends and community? Is it a deeper exploration of your inner mind and heart? Is it appreciation for the musicians, artists, or to experience the music more intensely? Or is it simply celebration, unwinding, and feeling good? Whatever it is, big or small, it’s ok! Just try to define it, and go into your experience knowing what you hope to achieve. It also helps to tell your friends what your plan is for the evening or weekend (both the substances you plan to consume and your goals). Added transparency can help you with your psychedelic integration, but can also help mitigate any potential harms, if your friends are watching your back and know your consumption plans.
Stay with Your Friends: Safety in Numbers
Attending a festival with good friends is not only more fun, but helps keep you safe. Try to make sure you always have a sightline to your friends in the crowd, but develop a plan to find each other in case you get separated (which can happen easily). Pre-designate a central meeting point to wait for your friends if you get separated, just in case there’s no cell service or one of your devices dies. If you’re attending alone, consider joining or creating a meet-up group to connect with other people, so you’ll have at least a few festival friends. Whatever you do, don’t leave the event with strangers – even if they seem nice, or you’re hoping to hook up – you really don’t know who you’re going home with. Grab that number, and hit up the person in a few days instead.
Hydrate: The Key to Beat the Heat
Summer festivals often take place under the scorching sun, and staying hydrated is paramount to keep the good times flowing. Dehydration can occur a lot more easily than you might think, and can lead to fatigue, dizziness, and even heatstroke – a potentially life-threatening condition. Make it a priority to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Carry a refillable water bottle and take advantage of water stations if available at the festival grounds, and consider bringing electrolyte-rich drinks, or drink powders to replenish essential minerals lost through sweat. Pro tip: Bring an extra bottle cap with you. Refillable water stations aren’t always available and venues usually sell water bottles without caps. Being able to seal your water can make all the difference in the world.
Take Breaks From the Dance Floor
When you’re really feeling the vibe, it’s tempting to dance non-stop. However, it’s crucial to give your body regular breaks. Even though you might feel like you have the stamina to go all day or night, dancing for hours on end can exhaust you physically and mentally – and you might not realize it until it’s too late. Take short breaks between sets in shaded areas to rest and recharge. Find a spot where you can sit down and relax while enjoying the music from a distance. Taking regular breaks will pay off – it ensures that you can last throughout the festival without feeling completely drained by the end of the first day.
Pace Your Consumption
And speaking of completely wrecking yourself the first day – you don’t want to be that guy. You the one we mean – the guy who’s rolling around naked in the mud a couple of hours after the gates open. Not only is it not a great look, but if you go too hard, too fast, you could spend the rest of the weekend feeling like shit in your tent and miss out on all the great acts you wanted to see. Finally getting to that big event you’ve been waiting for feels incredible, and the urge to go completely off the rails is real (we’ve all been there!) but the best festivals are a marathon – never a sprint.
Remember to Eat
Amidst all the sets and activities, it can be easy to forget about eating, especially when substances are involved that suppress appetite. And sometimes, eating is inconvenient – vendors might run out of food before the event ends, or pricing for simple snacks or bottled water can cost a lot. However, proper nutrition is essential for maintaining your energy levels. Try to pack a variety of portable snacks like granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, or energy bars. Incorporate water-rich foods into your diet, like watermelon, oranges, or berries to help you stay hydrated while providing essential vitamins and minerals. And if you eat from the food carts, look for options that offer a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables to keep your energy levels stable.
Remember: This Too Shall Pass
Sometimes, the combination of psychedelics and an intense festival environment can be extremely overwhelming. Should you find yourself in an uncomfortable headspace, surround yourself with people you trust, breathe through the emotions, and just remember – it won’t last forever. If a friend is going through a tough time, sit with them, let them know you’re there for them, and remain calm, and hold space. However, there is a difference between a challenging psychedelic experience, and a serious medical issue, so ALWAYS keep a watchful eye out for signs of drug toxicity in yourself and others (nausea, difficulty breathing, chest pain, dizziness, etc.) and seek out medical attention if necessary. When in doubt, a trip to the medical tent is never a bad idea.
Stretch It Out
Dancing and standing for long periods of time can strain your muscles and lead to discomfort. Take breaks to stretch and release tension. Stretching exercises can improve circulation, prevent muscle cramps, and help you stay flexible. Consider incorporating gentle yoga poses or basic stretching routines into your festival experience to keep you limber and feeling good on the dance floor.
Find Quiet Places: Retreat From the Chaos
Finding moments of tranquility from all the festival stimuli can be crucial for recharging and regaining focus. Seek out quiet places within the festival grounds:
Chill-out areas: many festivals have designated chill-out zones where you can relax and escape the noise. These areas may feature comfortable seating, hammocks, or shaded spaces. Take advantage of these spaces to unwind, socialize with other festival-goers, or simply enjoy a moment of solitude.
Natural surroundings: if the festival grounds allow, explore nearby natural areas. Find a serene spot under a tree, by a lake, or on a hilltop to enjoy some peace and connect with nature. Nature has a calming effect on the mind and can provide a much-needed break from the intensity of the festival atmosphere.
Silent disco or acoustic sets: some festivals offer silent discos or acoustic sets, where you can enjoy music with headphones or experience stripped-down performances. These intimate settings provide a break from the overwhelming sound levels of main stages while still allowing you to enjoy live music.
And for the Love of God – Sleep
Unpopular opinion: acting on the phrase ‘I can sleep when I’m dead’ is, while kind of true, a really great way to ruin your festival experience. Adequate sleep is crucial for recharging your body and mind, so try to establish a sleep routine if you’re on a multi-day trip. Find a quiet and comfortable place to rest, whether it’s in your tent or a designated camping area. Invest in earplugs, an eye mask, some CBD (visit our friends at HempLucid for 10% off all products with code PSYCHEDELICS10) or noise-canceling headphones to create a peaceful sleeping environment, and get some shuteye – even just for a few hours.
What are some of your top tips for staying safe and having a great time at festivals? Join in the conversation on our socials, and tell us how you make the most out of your trips.