Music festivals seem to be to be growing in popularity and it feels like new ones are popping up every year. From Bonnaroo and Coachella, to Lollapalooza and North Coast Music Festival, here’s what you need to know when deciding if you want to let your teen be in attendance.
Firstly, though slightly dependent on the festival, your teen will receive an amazing music experience. They’ll see the headliners they bought the tickets for as well as discover new bands while wandering the festival grounds during quieter points during the day.
But, I’m sure that as a parent, this isn’t really your primary concern when sending your teen to a music festival. I’ve personally been to Bonnaroo (a camping music festival in early June held in Manchester, TN) twice, so I’ll be speaking from my experience.
For most music festivals, you are not allowed to bring in alcohol or even any kind of glass container. While this is probably so the vendors can make more money, it is also helpful for parents. If your teen somehow procures alcohol and tries to bring it into a festival, it will be confiscated because everyone gets searched before entering the grounds. There are tons of vendors inside the gates, though, so alcohol is available, but the vendors card. So, unless your teen can somehow convince an over-21-year-old to buy them alcohol, you should be safe on that front.
By technical festival guidelines, illegal substances are not allowed, but that is not to say that they are not brought. This category really depends on how much you trust your teen and their judgment. Drugs are available; it’s a reality. But they are also fairly readily available in high school and in the real world. Sure, I saw a fair number of people smoking pot, but I didn't see any hard drug use. Drugs are a reality of music festivals, but not required to have a good time.
Hygiene is not at its best at music festivals, but it certainly exists. Showers are available for everyone as well as constant access to clean, filtered, and free drinking water. There are mainly just port-a-potties for bathrooms but there are almost always hand-washing stations.
There are safety crews at every festival as well as fully staffed medical tents full of professionals who can help with any kind of medical issue 24 hours a day.
As an endnote, music festivals are an amazing experience. You hear incredible music, meet tons of interesting people, and feel a strange sense of community with thousands of strangers you’re only with for a couple of days.
Congratulations! You can now make an informed decision on whether you feel comfortable sending your teen to a music festival!