Fire Festival season is upon us! Only a few years ago there were merely five events for Flow Artists to attend in the United States. Last year, there were close to fifty!
Festivals are a popular way to connect with other artists, meet your favorite YouTube or Instagram stars, and connect deeply with your artform for the weekend. I’ve traveled to a LOT of festivals in my day and I’d like to share a few of my lessons learned with you guys.
First, let’s start with gear. I’ll get the obvious stuff out of the way: clearly, you’ll need a tent, sleeping bag, clothes, headlamp, food, and of course your props. Some festivals have food vendors or trucks that you can purchase your meals from. Wildfire remains the only festival that includes meals in the cost of your ticket, so more than likely you’re prepping for about four days of meals out in a campground that may have minimal facilities.
It may be in your interest to pack a small camp stove or avoid cooked meals entirely by bringing along pre-prepared food. For example, I love these Tasty Bites you can get from Trader Joe’s or on Amazon. You pop them open and they’re ready to eat. Also: Cliff Bars are magical. They’re quick but heavy food that can get you through hours of intense physical work. If you prefer fresh meals, you’ll probably also have to bring along a small cooler.
Here’s one of my favorite packing life hacks! Rolling up your clothes is the most space-efficient way to pack, I know two ways to roll up bundles of clothes together.
The first is to take a shirt and fold the bottom 3 inches of it inside out. Next, take your underwear for the day and place it near the bottom of the neckline, folding it into thirds along the centerline. Fold one side of the shirt over, then the other before rolling the entire thing up from the neck down to the base and using the folded over fabric to hold the roll together.
Another way to do this is to skip folding up the bottom of the shirt, but still place your underwear in the middle and fold over from each side. Now, place your socks across the folded up shirt with the openings out away from the center and again, roll up the shirt from the neckline down. When you get to the bottom, turn the socks inside out to keep the whole thing tight and together.
When I’m camping, I actually like to use both of these approaches. I’ll use the first approach to pack and leave my socks separate, then I’ll put the socks in with the shirt and underwear when I change clothes. This way, I can tell what’s dirty and my clothes take up slightly less volume on the way home.
It’s easy to get dehydrated at these events, so make sure you’re carrying around plenty of water. I take a 1 liter Nalgene bottle around with me. You can also purchase single servings of gatorade powder to pour into your water bottle to get an infusion of electrolytes if you start getting dehydrated--remember, this isn’t just a lack of water! Just remember to wash your bottle out when you get back to civilization so it doesn’t grow mold.
Another option I’m a fan of? Using camelbacks. This kills two birds with one stone: giving you a back to lug your gear around in as well as a day’s worth of water. There are tons of different sizes and options available. Personally, I like the ones with straps on the sides because I can use them to hold down my staves. See what works best for you!
Most fire festivals are leave no trace events. This means you’ll have to take care of your own garbage. Make it easy on yourself by removing as much packaging for your supplies as possible before you ever get to the event. Also, stock up on zip-lock sandwich bags. As you’re running around the festival venue they’re a quick and easy way to put garbage in a container that won’t leak into your bag and that you can dispose of later.
Some festivals have easy access to electrical outlets, but for those that don’t it’s not a terrible idea to invest in a portable phone charger. The one I use is small but it’ll charge my phone twice. There are also tons of options for solar chargers that you can leave out during the day and use at night. This is especially useful if you’re at the fire circle and don’t have an easy way to charge your phone back up. You don’t have to miss anything and can charge your phone while you spin! Also: unless you need to be in contact with the outside world, make sure you put your phone on airplane mode. An iPhone will last three days if it’s not constantly signalling a cell tower.
If the festival does have electrical outlets, be a friend to yourself and others by using a power strip.
As you’re going around to different workshops, make sure to bring something to record of everything you’ve learned. A small notebook works or you can try and shoot a video. Most instructors are willing to stick around for five minutes after class to give people a chance to shoot a summary video. These can be as good as gold a month down the line when you’re trying to remember what hand is supposed to go where on a particular trick.
Because it gets dark and things tend to get moved about, I mark my backpack with EL-wire so I can come back and find it easily. This also avoids the problem of well-intentioned people grabbing it if they can’t tell it from their own in the dark.
Finally, a good pair of earplugs can be worth their weight in gold when you’ve had a long day and there’s a loud sound system at the fire circle.
What are your favorite festival tips? Let me know in the comments section! Enjoy whatever festivals you’re attending and be safe out there! Peace.