Festival season has kicked off for the year, with events nationwide inspiring music and comedy fans, foodies and travelers to hit the road this spring and summer. The best way to enjoy the shows is to do a little planning beforehand.
Hotels and lodging
- Do your hotel research first. Many festivals have partner hotels that have blocked off a large group of rooms for people coming in from out of town. Also, for the most popular events, nearby hotels anticipate the need and will hold off rooms for festival-goers.
- We recommend booking your lodgings before your airfare or making road trip plans. Because there's a finite number of rooms and they often go fast, finding a place to sleep for non-camping events is key.
- Make it easier on yourself and build in a buffer so you aren't worrying about delays and missing your favorite acts. Our advice is that if you're flying or staying nearby, arrive at least a day early or leave a day after the events. As a bonus, hotel and flight prices will likely be cheaper in the days before and after the festival.
- Things to keep in mind when you're browsing: What are the basics of the festival? Will you be leaving your lodgings in the morning and not be coming back all day? Or will you want to be able to go back and forth between events?
- If you're willing to stay farther away from the venue or the downtown location, there could be deals to be had. To find the best options, check Travelzoo's hotel deals or our VIP Booking Engine.
- Another thing to consider, once you've picked a hotel, is what your transportation needs will be if you are staying farther away. Carpooling, shuttle festivals or taxis can all be options and can be booked and arranged before arriving.
- If the festival is near a smaller regional airport, travelers can expect flight pricing spikes for the festival due to increased demand. To save some cash, consider a bigger airport that's within a reasonable drive. For example, Coachella fans could fly to Los Angeles instead of Palm Springs. By arriving at a larger airport, you are also more likely to get cheaper rental car rates as well.
- The earlier you buy, the more likely you are to save. Festivals often offer price incentives for buying tickets by a certain time. Bookmark the sites and monitor the pricing structure once you know more about your travel plans. It's important to know whether you want a single-day pass or a full-session pass. The full pass usually makes the average per-day price more affordable, but it's important to remember what you want to see and where you want to be when.
- Talk to your friends early and coordinate! Buddying up on accommodations -- whether it's a hotel or condo rental or tent camping -- can bring big savings, as can carpooling.
- Apps like Travelzoo will pinpoint restaurants and things to do near you whether roadtripping or checking out the city once you're there.
- Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California near Palm Springs brings the best to the desert, April 11-13 and 18-20
- New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, this year the marathonlike "cultural feast," features Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, and dozens of Louisiana natives, April 25-27 and May 1-4
- Sasquatch! Festival, with indie rock and comedy acts east of Seattle, May 23-25 and July 4-6
- Bonnaroo music camping festival in Tennessee, June 12-15
- Firefly Music Festival is Delaware's answer to Bonnaroo with camping and national acts, June 19-22
- Lollapalooza takes over Chicago's Grant Park with dozens of alternative and indie bands, Aug. 1-3
- TomorrowWorld is three days of electronic music and five nights of camping outside Atlanta, Aug. 26-28
- Austin City Limits Music Festival, inspired by the TV show, is a festival fan favorite, Oct. 3-5 and 10-12
How to get there
Feeling inspired to hit the road? Here are some upcoming festivals worth checking out:
-- Hilary Solan is an editor at Travelzoo and based in Chicago. Travelzoo has 250 deal experts from around the world who rigorously research, evaluate and test thousands of deals to find those with true value.