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COLUMN: The Festival Survival Guide



There are some experiences we come across that remind us what it means to be happy.  When, after being accustomed to the tick tock and hum drum of everyday life, we find an escape that shakes up our spirit and pulls our eyes up off the floor.

After a summer of monotonous work and hot days blending together like watercolors, I was ready for an escape and I got one.

Back when trees had no leaves and the air was hard and cold, four friends and I dropped $300 for the dream of an epic weekend.  That dream was called Osheaga, a music festival in Montréal, where there were not only some of our favorite musicians, but was also the convenient location of my friend Craig’s apartment.

Free shelter was a done deal for five broke college kids, so on Thursday night after we all got home from our respective jobs, we piled into Ali’s Toyota and headed for the land of Tim Horton’s: Canada.

(credit - Kyra Kruger)
(credit – Kyra Kruger)

Music festivals are quite honestly a living, breathing entity of their own.  They can be quite overwhelming, so if you ever find yourself caught in the middle of a Mosh pit during a Run the Jewels concert, I now have some advice to help you make the most out of your festival experience.


  1. Surround yourself with good people.

One of my favorite parts of the whole weekend was simply the people who came with me.

Ali and Craig, our Montréal natives, were fearless leaders when it came to actually knowing where we were going and acquiring what we needed to survive (like food).  Derek, resident tech genius, provided extensive rap impersonations (he does parties!) and an exciting up and coming app called No Flex Zone (coming soon to an App store near you).  Finally, Henry brought the energy, the hipster style and the gangster lingo we needed for a well-rounded festival group (never before this weekend have I used the words “finna” or “hype”).

Together, we were a great, easygoing team.  No one got upset over sleep locations, or shower times, or Derek’s terrible jokes.  Without having to worry about inter-group drama, we could instead focus on the way our hearts beat in time to the music.

  1. Don’t get caught up in the details

At a festival where there are so many acts all at different times and on different stages, it is almost impossible to see everyone you want.  If attempting that is your goal, then by all means go ahead, but I found that having leisure time made for a much more enjoyable experience.

Standing for eight hours is not always fun, but sitting on the back porch of Craig’s apartment while Derek tries to capture candid pictures of the group ensures a good time.

  1. Go to Scotia Bank: Original No Flex Zone

Low interest Rates, free international checking. ‘Nough said.  (This is only applicable for Canadian festivals)

  1. Assimilate

Remember, the people at music festivals are not your everyday humans.  They are transformed.  They say things like “What time are we going festy?” and “Kygo was so hype brah.”  I’m warning you, assimilate or die.

If you are considering what type of bun to put your hair in, the answer is two; it’s always two buns.  Should your average white T-shirt have useless zippers? Yes, yes it should. Will wearing a flower crown make you look stupid? Yes, but you’ll wear it anyways.  Is a bedazzled bra an appropriate shirt alternative?

As the festival goers say “obvi.”

  1. If you want to be close for a headliner (i.e. Kendrick) don’t be claustrophobic

We mistakenly thought it would be a good idea to be right in the middle for the biggest headliner of the weekend, but as the start of the show came closer and closer, the area around us grew smaller and smaller.

We started to notice lines of people trying to snake through the crowd, attempting to get closer to the stage. After a few minutes it became clear that we needed to move considering we were fond of breathing.

The subsequent twenty minutes became some of the most terrifying of my life, but going got really tough when we hit a certain intersection.  Two rivers of flesh and limbs were running in opposite directions, some trying to get in, some trying to get out, and because of the friction, no one went anywhere.  The space simply got tighter and tighter, the black sky offered no escape, and I finally accepted that this was how I was going to die, crushed by a Kendrick-induced frenzy.

Kendrick is cool, but dancing and living are better.

  1. Pay attention to the people around you

Walking through the crowd one night, as Kendrick assured everyone “we gon’ be all right,” I found myself looking at the faces of everyone I passed.

The girl with the pink hair, the boy with the tattoos, the dad with a child on his shoulders: all of these people were so different and yet they were brought together for the same purpose.  Thousands of people all enjoying music and good weather and each other.  Strangers shared contraband leaking not only euphoria but also solidarity. Despite language barriers and country borders, we all chanted the same words. We were artists and lovers, good-time-seekers and music conquistadors.  Where we were from and who we were outside of this weekend became irrelevant. We were people, and we did what people do: laugh, speak, love and enjoy.

Overall, Osheaga was everything I hate about humanity and everything I love, rolled into one giant, beautiful, loud, colorful time-of-my-life.

There are a lot acts I didn’t see, nightlife I didn’t partake in, and celebrities I didn’t have the balls to meet (I’m looking at you Nick Hoult) but if you love music, and you don’t hate people, Osheaga is worth every penny.