Music Festival Weather Survival Guide

By Samantha-Rae Tuthill, Staff Writer
6/10/2015 11:29:21 AM

For lovers of live music, little can compare to the experience of a major music festival. Spending a few days camping out to listen to some of your favorite bands perform day after day, seeing top comedians, participating in art events and many other unique activities and exhibits. But when the weather isn't cooperating with your outdoor plans, it's important to take the necessary precautions to stay as safe and comfortable as possible.

With many different festivals to look forward to across the country, it is important for attendees to know how to prepare for, and protect themselves from, inclement weather.

Rain poured down on the 2010 Summerfest. Photo courtesy of Ramon Medina.


In the event of a rainy forecast, festival attendees staying in tents should make sure the tents are water proof and free of any holes or tears. A watchful eye should be kept for any potential flooding, and if possible, avoid setting up in areas that have poor drainage or will be likely to have puddling under your tent. When there is cold rain it's important to make sure there is a stock of blankets and layers of clothing to stay warm. Have a raincoat or poncho handy to prevent getting chilled through clothing, which could lead to discomfort as the temperature drops at night.


The threat of lightning should always be taken seriously. If there is a flash of lightning or the sound of thunder, attendees are at risk for being struck.

"The only safe places to be in a thunderstorm are number one, in a building with walls (not a picnic pavilion) and a roof. Secondly, in a hard-top vehicle (not a golf cart)," said AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

It's imperative that festival-goers avoid standing under trees, metal tent poles or any other high structure that can attract lightning. If staying in an RV, participants should get inside of it until the lightning threat has passed, at least 30 minutes since the last sound of thunder. If people are staying in a tent and have a car with them, it's safer in the vehicle than in the tent.

If attendees are absolutely stuck outside and in the open, stay as low to the ground as possible, but don't completely lie down. The lower someone is, the less likely he or she will be a target for lightning. The less ground a person is covering, the less likely to be hit by a ground current if lightning strikes nearby.

Participants should avoid having anything metal on them. Lightning strikes can result in severe injury or death, so safety is imperative.

Strong Winds

Strong, gusty winds can cause a risk for tents and open exhibits and shops. If staying in a tent, make sure it is well-tethered. Follow set-up instructions carefully to keep it from collapsing or blowing away. If things are out in the open, people should be prepared to quickly pack them up in your car if the winds pick up and turn too intense.

The sun beats down on fans at Which Stage, taken by griffintech at the 2010 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival


Even if the day is cloudy or it doesn't feel too hot, attendees are still at risk of UV damage. For protection, wear sunscreen whenever outside, including an SPF-fortified lip balm.

If people notice they are starting to burn, they should apply more sunscreen or wear more layers of clothing. Getting deeply burned on day one,will make for an unpleasant trip. Keep burn remedies on hand just in case, particularly aloe vera, which can be applied as much as needed throughout the day to soothe and help heal the burn.

When purchasing sunglasses, be sure that they offer UV protection, to not only shade eyes from the glare of sun, but to also protect them.

Over two million people will be diagnosed with skin cancer in the United States this year. Taking proper precautions can help eliminate the risk.


When planning for a trip to a music festival, participants should pack enough light clothing to get through the festival in case of heat. Manchester, Tenn., home of Bonnaroo, averages 85 in early June but can go up to the mid-90s or higher. It's important to avoid becoming over-heated, which could lead to heatstroke.

Another important factor to consider is hydration.

"Carry or purchase plenty of water, as caffeinated drinks and alcohol will accelerate dehydration. Seek relief from direct sunlight often and wear light-colored clothing and a hat to break the sun," Sosnowski advises.

If people bring nothing else into the festival with them, they should bring an abundance of water. It will be available for purchase inside most festivals, but towards the end when people are running out of their own supplies vendors may raise their prices. It's incredibly important to stay well-hydrated to ensure health and safety.

Check the forecast before leaving for the festivals you attend so you can pack accordingly.