Summer is just around the corner. Get ready to dust off your barbecue, break out your swimwear, buy a new pair of sunglasses, and visit some music festivals.
Of course, festivals happen all year round these days, but the bulk of the most famous ones still occurs between June and September.
Whether you’re heading to Burning Man or Glastonbury, technology can lend a hand. There’s a group of apps every festival user should be using to help you buy tickets, locate lost friends, and stay safe late at night.
The first step to any successful festival weekend is actually having a ticket to get in. That’s easier said than done for the most popular events — they can be sold out within an hour.
If you want to try and buy tickets as they become available, there are lots of apps you can try. Needless to say, the big players such as Ticketmaster and StubHub are must-haves.
If you missed the initial sale, don’t despair. There are ways to get your hands on cheap secondhand tickets.
U.S.-based readers should download CashorTrade. It claims to be the first “fair trade ticket marketplace” in the world. With more than 250,000 users, you’ll be able to find passes to some of the most in-demand festivals in the world.
If you go to a lot of festivals, you might find value in the $24-per-year “Gold Membership.” It will give you access to instant listings, text notifications for sought-after events, and suggested purchases.
If you’re in the U.K., check out Vibe Tickets. It lets users sell and exchange tickets for face value — no one can make a profit from the sale. The app also includes a chat feature so that you can meet fellow attendees before you leave and plan your daily itineraries in advance. Vibe covers sports events and other gigs in addition to festivals.
So you made it through the entrance, setup your tent, and headed off to the music stages.
But how are you going to find your way back to the campsite later? After all, every tent looks the same in the dark at 2:00 AM. Without a bit of assistance, you could be wandering around for hours trying to find your bed.
With some forward planning, you won’t have to worry about it. If you download Festival Buddy, you can log your tent’s GPS coordinates on a map (along with other locations such as the toilets, friend’s tents, and your favorite stages). The app uses your phone’s GPS to plot your current location in relation to your tent, meaning you’ll never be lost again.
The app is free to use but is ad-supported.
Download — Festival Buddy (Free) [No longer available]
Find My Friends
At least your tent is (theoretically) in a static location. It’s not going anywhere. The same can’t be said for your friends.
If you get separated from your buddies, it’s virtually impossible to find them again amid the throngs of people. And calling or texting them is no good if they can’t hear their phone ring over the music.
Instead, you need a GPS tracking app on your phone. There are a few to choose from, but you can’t go wrong with Find My Friends. Not only does it broadcast your location in real-time, but it also includes a chat feature, thus letting you easily keep in contact or send for help.
Google Maps also has a similar feature. Open the app and go to Menu > Share location > Add People. Choose the people you want to broadcast your location to, and tap Share.
Now that you’ve found your tent and your friends. you just need to figure out your plan.
These days, most mainstream festivals make their own apps. Obviously, the quality varies drastically from app to app, but they should at least include a map, schedule, and festival guide.
The better apps will also let you pin locations on the map to share with friends, build your own list of acts you want to see (along with notifications for when they are about to start), and in some cases, even interact with nearby users who are also using the app.
The list of apps is too numerous for me to list them all, but here are some of the most popular. If you can’t find the app for your festival right now, check again closer to the time. It might not be available yet.
While you’re making your way to see the next band, you might pass some smaller unknown acts on your way. And perhaps one of those acts is singing a song so good that you want to check it out from the comfort of your own home when the festival is over.
But how do you know who’s singing or what the song is called?
Download SoundHound and you’ll get instant answers. It will listen to whatever song is playing and match it against a database of millions of records.
Best of all, you don’t even need to perform the test there and then. The developers claim the app can still find matches if you hum or sing into the app yourself. It’s not clear how strong your vocals need to be for this feature to work, though.
Download — SoundHound (Free)
One You Drinks Tracker
Festivals can be lots of fun, but they can also be dangerous places.
It’s easy to consume too much alcohol when you’re having fun. Sitting in the sun all day can make your body more susceptible to its effects, and you probably won’t be drinking enough water to stay hydrated.
Instead of spending a night in the medical van, take some responsibility for your welfare and track your alcoholic intake throughout the day. One of the best apps for doing this is the One You Drinks Tracker.
The app includes unit guidelines, a daily tracker, and pre-populated drink options for you to select. It also has a cost calculator that lets you see exactly how much you’ve spent on alcohol over the course of the festival.
Download — One You Drinks Tracker (Free) [No longer available]
Sticking with the theme of safety, it’s important to know how to react if something goes wrong. On average, 17 people die every year at music festivals in the United States alone.
Don’t let yourself or one of your friends become a statistic. Educate yourself about what to do if there’s an emergency and keep a quality first aid app on hand just in case. You can save someone’s life in the time between a person collapsing and a paramedic arriving on the scene.
The official American Red Cross app is the perfect companion. If you’re in the U.K., you can see the British Red Cross version.
The app is split into five sections: Learn, Prepare, Emergency, Test, and Info. You should focus on Emergency and Test. The first section will give you step-by-step guides and videos on how you should react to a problem. The latter section provides quizzes and games to see what you already know.
Which Apps Do You Use at Festivals?
I’ve introduced you to a selection of apps that every self-respecting festival-goer should install on their device before they depart. Spending a few minutes downloading and setting up these apps will give you a safer and more enjoyable experience.
Have you found a clever way to collate all your friends’ photos? Do you rely on a certain app to locate missing members of your group? As always, you can leave all your tips, suggestions, and recommendations in the comments below.
Image Credit: Alexey Yuzhakov via Shutterstock.com