If “festivaling” were ever such a thing, it would be the new keyword for consumers as they flock to music festivals around the country. Forget traveling to a sunny, secluded sandy beach, when you can have it all visiting a host city for a festival. The food, entertainment, culture and more all await you. According to the Washington Post, “Festivals are certainly big business. Over 32 million people are attending U.S. festivals every year — more than the entire population of Texas.” According to UStravel.org, U.S. residents logged 1.7 billion person‑trips* for leisure purposes in 2016. The desire to travel is there. If you do it the right way, you can have the experience of a lifetime. Here is a valid breakdown of what you can expect:
The Host City: When traveling to your destination, you’ll obviously want to check out the basics such as weather and a soft itinerary. However, pick a place that has a personality of its own. Imagine that you are Dora the Explorer and getting ready to embark on the journey of your lifetime. When we chose Austin, we knew that the weather would be charming. The dry heat gave us the breath of fresh air we were craving from the sweltering humid air back home in Tennessee. We’d heard the music scene was a bit like Nashville’s and Memphis’s. Sure enough, as we canvased the streets like true tourists, we bobbed our heads along to good tunes being played throughout various venues. We knew that the University of Texas was nearby which would mean a host of young people would be just as eager to flood the Saturday night streets! 6th street turned out to be a night of big laughs, memories, and shakedowns. We knew Austin was the Capitol of Texas so it had to come with some legacy and a historic aura. As we walked the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge over Lady Bird Lake, we joined the masses to spectate the world’s largest urban bat population emerge from underneath. What a sight to see?!
The Hotel: After canvassing several hotels, we decided that location would be our biggest feat. When festivals are going on, you don’t have much of a price range option on hotels! They’re all inflated. However, we wanted to be close to the “in-crowd”. Choosing a hotel that is walking distance from your ventures will make exploring so much more enjoyable. You can check in and out for your daily needs as often as you need to. Perhaps, you need to switch shoes, drop off a weighted purse or simply, relax. Also, choose a hotel that has free breakfast! You’ll definitely save coins here. We stayed at the Hyatt House! This 4.5-star hotel had the best views of the city considering it was on a hill. We had a spacious room that resembled an apartment. It was perfect for storing and preparing the many leftover plates we had from racking up on festival food! Trust, you will too! It’s just that good.
The Food: One usually doesn’t check on food before traveling. However, I will at my next festival venture. My husband and I buy Stubb’s BBQ sauce just about weekly from Kroger. Little did we know, Stubbs was around the corner from our lovely hotel and patiently waiting for us to feast! After living in Memphis for years, one doesn’t try other’s BBQ. It’s a sin. But, we indulged in smoked wings, bacon chicken wraps, and stuffed potato wedges that were good enough to eat over Thanksgiving dinner. Iron Cactus. The Jackalope. Moreover, on our walk down Congress Ave. we ventured into Tom’s Roasting Co coffee store. Gyro, Pull Pork Nachos… We sinned again. Fruit popsicles.
The Festival: This is the time where you will see all of the artists you’ve been dying to see from that glossy line-up poster. However, don’t let the limelight blind you, you will also need to keep your ears open for a new artist. Most festivals have apps for you to make notes in. Use it. You can highlight certain artists and revisit their music later. You may be too caught up in all that the festival has to offer to wander over to this artist’s set or that artist’s set. So, when you hear those vibing tunes, find the stage they are coming from, locate that stage on your map, the flag that artist, close the app and enjoy!
The Memories: The most infamous music festival of all time was Woodstock. I remember my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs.Penny telling us all about it. She raved about how they protested injustices. She illustrated how the music and the fun meritoriously worked together to create the memories of a lifetime. While you’re out there “festivaling”, be present. Join in on the causes you believe in. Sign petitions. Sway back and forth to the tunes. Lie in the grass and soak up the sun’s energy. Embrace the weather. Get lost in the crowds. Emerce yourself so far into the scene that you reminisce the “good old days” while you experiencing this golden moment.
In conclusion, it’s safe to say you might want to start exploring a city by attending a music festival. Planning traditional vacations look great. However, “festivaling” at least once a year allows you to experience artistry and hospitality at its finest. Amongst a plethora of cities hosting music festivals, Austin was made for such a time as this. Catch this vibrant city giving you everything it has in March of 2018 at SXSW.
Watch my VIP experience with my sister, Valerie June, here! She performed! That always helps break down an insiders perspective!
This blog was also featured on Huffington Post.