Updated: Jun 21, 2020
1. STAY HYDRATED
Even if it’s not hot outside, make sure you drink a lot of water at any festival you attend! It’s easy to get dehydrated while rocking out and most music festivals have free water refill stations to make sure that doesn't happen.
2. GET SOME REST
I understand that festival tickets are not cheap and you want to get the most out of the experience, but don't forget to give yourself some breaks. Either arrive later in the day or find a place to sit back and relax! The musicians who aren't as popular are earlier in the day and the headliners are at night, so don't arrive early to the festival if you don't plan on seeing anyone. If you plan on seeing the artists that are scheduled for earlier in the day, make sure you give yourself a little break in between sets to sit down and hydrate and/or eat ;)
3. PLAN AHEAD
Before leaving your accommodation, look on the festival's website to see which items are allowed and which items are prohibited. The best bag to carry is a small Camelbak because you can keep it full of water and still fit your belongings inside. Also, don't forget to wear comfortable shoes! You'll be on your feet a lot and while you want to look good, you also want to be able to walk around the festival the next day :)
As for the festival itself, don't plan your entire time because that would honestly be a bad experience. Take a mental note (and maybe have the festival's app downloaded on your phone or a screenshot of the schedule) of the artists that you 100% can't miss and plan on arriving to their stage early. For some of the headliners at ACL, I've "established" (you will always end up moving, even just a little bit) my spot at least 30-45 minutes in advance. Of course, it's easier if you are seeing someone on the same stage beforehand. Also, sometimes you gotta go when you gotta go, but if you're able to, I recommend planning when you're going to hit up the restroom. If you don't care about leaving a show early or being at the back of one show, use the restroom then. Otherwise, you'll end up having to use the restroom in the middle of the sets you want to see.... Trust me, I know from experience.
One last thing to plan: know how you're getting to and from the festival grounds. If you are camping on the festival grounds or staying at a hotel within walking distance, that's perfect! If not, figure out methods of transportation beforehand. For example, I know that I can take the ACL shuttle into downtown and get an Uber/Lyft from there. I could also walk down the street from the festival and get an Uber or Lyft from there. Because everyone is on their phone trying to call a car all at the same time, you usually have to walk a few blocks away or wait until some of the crowd has gone down to get better service.
4. MAKE FRIENDS
You at least know that you have one thing in common with everyone at the festival: you like live music! Don't be afraid to talk to the other festival-goers. Ask them who they have already seen and who they recommend seeing for the future. I'm not saying tell them your whole life story, but just be friendly with those around you.
5. HAVE FUN!
You paid for the festival ticket, so enjoy yourself. Music festivals are fun! You're able to see some of your favorite bands/artists, spend time with your friends or family, and enjoy good food!