Firefly Survival Guide
by Samantha Speiss and Alexandra Speiss
You see the lineup. You text your friends. You buy your tickets. Then you wait and wait. After months and months of waiting, the day has finally come: Firefly. You excitedly throw your bag into the car next to your two friends, who are in the back seat, and then you’re all off. It didn’t hit you that though you had an excess amount of time to plan for the occasion, you didn’t really plan at all. You spent most of your time picking out the outfits you were going to wear to the festival and put the essentials and necessities on the side burner. Who cares though? It’s the Woodlands, it’ll be awesome anyway – with or without essentials. This is true, the Woodlands never fail, but I am here to help the awesomeness become even more awesome. I have been through it all; rain, thunder, excessive heat, and low temperatures. And I am here to say that this is very, very important to maximize your Firefly experience. So, without further ado, the guide:
General admission grants you basic access to the festival. You can get a one-day pass or a four-day pass. The majority of people attending the festival have general admission. This ticket gives you access to everything you think Firefly would be. It is the basic festival experience that you have been dreaming about. You have access to all of the amazing food trucks and vendors as well as well as stages to watch your favorite artists perform. Keep in mind that this ticket does not include your camping pass.
VIP is just like general admission but with many extra amazing perks. VIP has exclusive closed-off areas with shade from the sun, fun giant board games like checkers, foosball, boules and ping pong. You can take a break from walking around to just sit and sip on a cold bottle of water (the water bottles are free with VIP!). In the VIP areas there are air-conditioned bathrooms. These bathrooms are a dramatic improvement to the bathrooms that general admission grants you. You even are able to access exclusive viewing areas that extremely close to the stage. You can get to an act 30 minutes in and still get a good spot. This way you can stay away from the insane crowds and don’t have to wait for your favorite artists to perform for hours!
Last but not least – super VIP! Super VIP includes access to all of the general admission areas and the VIP areas. It also grants you access to super VIP viewing areas. These areas are just like the VIP areas but in front. These viewing areas go right up to the stage. Super VIP also includes access into the artist lounge. This tent has snacks, free water bottles, air conditioning, free open bar, plenty of comfy couches, outlets to charge your phone and a variety of arcade games.
When you have wifi (so that you don’t waste data and make your cell phone bill extremely high) you will want to download the Firefly app. One of the MOST important parts about this handy app is the ability to sort out your schedule. You are able to select the artists that you want to see and then the app will organize which artists you need to see at which time. This gets rid of the headache of you constantly checking the lineup and creating a schedule on your own. Personally speaking, I have missed an artist (or two or three) because I did not use the app at first and did not make a correct schedule for myself. Trust me, you do not want to miss an artist. You do not want to be that person.
Assuming that you have packed the basic items such as underwear and other undergarments, when you’re looking over the clothes that you have packed, you will want to make sure you have a few other certain items. Make sure to pack a sweatshirt of some sort. Campers are not immune to getting cold at night, and you will be happy that you have a cozy sweatshirt to throw on when you’re trying to get a little sleep in. Along with the sweatshirt, pack some cozy socks. You’ll thank me later. When you are up and at ‘em at the festival, after your nice, warm, cozy sleep, you will want to have something to hold your belongings in. This is where I suggest a backpack. Nobody wants to carry about their wallet, water bottle, phone, cough drops, and sunglasses in their hands while listening to Mumford and Sons. A lightweight backpack will hold all of these items (and more) so that you can watch the performers worry free.
I gave away the next few items that you will want to pack; sunglasses, a water bottle, and cough drops. Not just one pair of sunglasses, but two. I know you’re probably thinking that two pairs of sunglasses is quite ridiculous, but you’d be surprised. Both my sister and I lost a pair of sunglasses at the festival. Squinting the whole time is not enjoyable. When I say water bottle, I mean a nicely sized one. The water stations inside the festival accumulate a line, and being that waiting in line is not fun, a larger water bottle will prevent this. Yes, you did see that I have included cough drops. I include this because when you’re done watching your favorite band perform on stage and your throat is burning, you will wish you had some cough drops.
Listen, we are in the age of technology and though we do not like to admit it, many of us are very reliant on our phones. Having a dead phone and missing an opportunity to record your favorite song or post a snapchat in your story is a downer. Besides those two reasons, you do not want to be that one friend who gets separated from their group and who does not have a way of contacting their friends. This is when I say pack a portable charger, or four. Charging stations are scattered about the festival, but that is an unneeded hassle and your phone will probably die by the time you get to one.
If you are camping, a tent would be useful to pack. Remember that a camping pass is separate from your ticket into the festival. If you are looking for an all-around Firefly experience, camping is the way to go. Forgetting a tent would be the equivalent to the end of the world (unless you don’t mind sleeping in your car for 4 days). Jokes aside, I have learned from my previous Firefly experience that I need much more than a tent and a few blankets to have a great camping experience.
So you check the forecast everyday two weeks prior to Firefly and the weather looks beautiful. Until you wake up in your tent the first night with rain on your head and everything is soaked. A rain cover for your tent – or even a tarp – is necessary. The weather can be so unpredictable and you don’t want something as small as rain to ruin your whole time. It rained the first night that I was there, and I was very thankful that I had put the rainfly on my tent. Another essential item that you may want to include on your packing list is a trash bag. You may be thinking “oh duh for the trash!”. Well yes and no. You will want to have a trash bag inside your tent to put your empty water bottles or chip bags but may also want to stick one in your backpack. Trash Bags can double as ponchos and somewhere to sit on the ground or maybe even rest your head.
Now that we have made sure to include a tent and a rain fly for the tent, we need to make sure to include what should go IN the tent. Prior to this year I didn’t put much in the tent besides blankets and pillows. It was not very comfortable and I did not look forward to going to sleep. This year I learned from my mistakes and made sure to amp up my sleeping situation by bringing an air mattress. I actually looked forward to going to bed after a long day of music, and slept like a baby. If you bring an air mattress (you should), a pump would be helpful as well. I bought a pump that plugged into my car and it worked wonders. One of the many joys of camping is that there are no outlets. Which means no air-conditioning. Which means no fans. Or does it? I recently found out that battery powered fans are a thing. A very wonderful thing. They are portable and perfect for camping.
The nights are brisk, but the mornings are quite hot, so a battery powered fan is great to keep in your tent. This way, when you want to relax in your tent, on your air mattress, at 10am, a fan will keep you cool.
The campsite and tent will be your home away from home for the next four days. You’ll want it to be nice and cozy. Bringing chairs along with you to Firefly will be a very nice addition to your campsite. You can either put the chairs in your tent (if it is big enough), or outside your tent, or both. This way you will be able to sit down and lounge, since you’d be on your feet so much inside the festival. I also suggest that you bring a canopy. You will want to seek shade and tents are hot inside, so having a canopy will provide shade as well as a breeze.
Speaking about cozy… The first year we attended Firefly, we did not bring a blow-up mattress. This was a huge mistake. After walking and dancing around ALL day, you will want to have a soft place to rest. Although they can take up a lot of precious room in your car, it will be worth it. Trust us.
And speaking about sleep… you may want to pack a pair of ear plugs. Getting some shut eye isn’t the easiest task to do when you’re in a camp ground filled with music fans just like yourself. There is no bedtime and there is no “quiet hour,” not to mention your tent may be pretty close to a stage which isn’t helpful for sleep. Some acts get done around 3AM! So if you are like myself and may want to go to bed kind of early (according to music festival time) a pair of earplugs will be necessary.
For the last addition to the survival guide: a small grill and a water boiler. You may not want to buy all of your food inside the festival, and in this event, the two items mentioned above will come in handy. If you have a grill you can easily and quickly grill hotdogs or hamburgers or whatever your heart desires. With a water boiler you can make oatmeal and ramen noodles. Then boom, you have all of your meals made.
Now all you have to do is go buy your tickets for next year and start planning! Whether you choose the basic Firefly experience or the super VIP, you will have an amazing experience that you will never forget. Ready, set… Firefly!
Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 15, 2016.
Photos by Samantha Speiss and Alexandra Speiss © 2016