The Mayor’s tips for attending summer festivals

I’ve been attending festivals since I was just a kid. Our family favorite was the Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games & Clan Gathering in Enumclaw, Washington. We also attended regional and community events, such as the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Mt. Vernon, Washington.

As an adult, I attend festivals in Colorado year round, but summer is always extra special. There’s nothing better than dusty festival feet at the end of a long hot day in the sun.

Colorado Renaissance Festival HeidiTown 98

As a “professional” festival goer, I’d like to give you my best advice for making the most of summer festivals. Here are some things I’ve learned over the years that I hope you will find useful.

First, get there early. This is especially important for big events such as Colorado Renaissance Festival in Larkspur. There are several reasons to be an early festival bird. It’s cooler in the morning, and I find that most events are less crowded early on in the day. At events such as Renaissance Festival, vendors and entertainers are often more chipper and accommodating in the morning, before crowds and heat have taken a toll.

Colorado Renaissance Festival HeidiTown 20
A craftsman at the Colorado Renaissance Festival in 2013.

If you are attending a music festival and it’s important to get a good seat or a premium piece of acreage for your blanket, then getting there early may make your entire experience more memorable.

Second, talk to people. Many festivals have a theme, such as cars, beer, music, barbecue, etc. I get a lot more out of an event if I engage with people. I’ve chatted with brewers at beer festivals, cooks at chili cook offs, and artists at artsy fests. I always come away with a sense that I got a peek behind the curtain and that makes the whole event more memorable.

For example, last year at Greeley’s Oktoberfest my husband and I had a fantastic conversation with the people who were running the Germans from Russia booth. It made the entire event more meaningful when I realized just how many Northern Coloradoans have strong German ties.

Third, don’t be afraid to dance. Have you ever been at an event where you’ve witnessed a small child dancing wildly to the band? We have all seen this, but when’s the last time you danced? A festival is a celebration and we should approach these types of affairs with that in mind. Whether it’s dancing or just tapping your toe, it’s okay to let loose and have a little fun while festivalling (pretty sure I just made that word up, but I like it).

Twig the Fairy at Colorado Renaissance Festival.

What to Pack:

Sunscreen – Always, always pack sunscreen, and if you do forget this important item, ask someone to share.
Bug repellant – Here’s an item that I often overlook and then regret. It may be stinky, but it’s far better than coming home all itchy.
Cash – We live in a world where credit cards are widely accepted, but not in festival land.
Camera – Most of us have smart phones with photo capability, but I still pack a camera to every event.

Here’s a tip for the ladies. Bring a purse you can secure over your shoulder and don’t have to carry in your hand.

For more fun festival info check out these festival related articles by Hip Mountain Mama:

Festivals with Kids: 10 Tips

We’ve got your festival gear!


  1. “don’t be afraid to dance” – I’m always afraid to dance 🙂 Last year at taste of Fort Collins I witnessed a woman dancing up a storm though… more people were photographing and filming her than Ed Kowalczyk.


  2. I’m following up on your cyber stalking…thanks for all the tips and links on your site – before too long I’ll be feeling like a real Colorado resident! We have spent a lot of time playing tourist and we have learned a few things the hard way (no hiking in the mountains in the afternoon…it rains!). Heck, I learned all the liquor rules today! 😉


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