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Guide to camping music festivals

| Tuesday, April 12, 2016

festival webSusan Zhu

Summer is the season of music festivals. They come in all different forms: from free concert series to ticketed events, beaches and cities, indoor and outdoor. They cover all genres and each has its own charm. But one aspect offered by some festivals provides a definitive advantage:


For some people, camping is a deterrent. They think its dirty and gross, and they’re not wrong. Even still, there’s no bliss like spending all day outside listening to live music, then crashing in a tent and doing it all again the next day.

A side-effect of camping is that you can party into the wee hours of the night, there’s no travel to worry about or 10 p.m. noise restrictions. This appeals to the night owl for obvious reasons, but it’s also essential to nighttime dance parties and laser light shows.

What’s most important is the sense of community. You’re not the only one who emerges from your tent each morning, stinking and dripping sweat, excited to tackle a full day of activities. It’s everyone, and somehow that brings us together.

Here’s a guide to the music festivals with camping this summer.


Summer Camp May 27-29

Chillicothe, Illinois

This less-talked about alternative to Lollapalooza is only a 2.5 hour drive from Chicago. Some may argue that the lineup is a downgrade, but really Summer Camp has snagged the cream of the crop when it comes to jam bands with Moe and Umphrey’s McGee. Electronic acts STS9 and the collaborative Big Grizmatic bring something more than your typical dance music. Even lower on the lineup are Greensky Bluegrass and Yonder Mountain String Band, providing bluegrass perfect for a sunny memorial day out in a field. And let’s not brush over Mudcrutch, the forerunner of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

May in Illinois might provide cooler weather than most summer festivals. The woodsy venue is met with the theme of summer camp nostalgia.


Electric Forest June 23-28

Rothbury, Michigan

For four days the trees in the Double JJ Resort Ranch are electrified. Electric Forest has a reputation for EDM, but it’s not completely limited. Bassnectar and Major Lazer lead the EDM selection at this festival, but another headliner, The String Cheese Incident, is a jam band with a bluegrass style. Artistic decorations provide a surreal backdrop. This may be one of the more luxurious experiences, as the ranch also has an indoor water park.


Sasquatch! May 27-30

George, Washington

Indisputably the most scenic venue, the Gorge is a natural amphitheater with majestic view of the Columbia River just outside the city of George, Washington. This eclectic festival is headlined by major rock bands Florence + the Machine and Alabama Shakes. The extensive lineup spans genres, including some comedy acts.


Firefly June 16-19

Dover, Delaware

Firefly brings its own community to the Woodlands, complete with brewery, coffeehouse and market. A strong lineup is headed by Mumford and Sons, Kings of Leon and Florence + the Machine.


Bonnaroo June 9-12

Manchester, Tennessee

When you go to the farm, you become a Bonnaroovian. It’s truly a community experience, complete with drum circles, hula hoop lessons and silent discos. The main stage is headlined by rock legends Pearl Jam. Bonnaroo’s most unique musical experiences are its Superjams, which bring together various artists for a once-in-a-lifetime performance. Comedy and cinema tents allow you to escape the heat while still embracing the arts.



Some advice:

Decorate your car for fun highway encounters with others who are festival-bound.

Comfort over fashion, wear whatever you can be yourself in.

Make a flag to mark your site. Make it your own.



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