Thursday, July 24, 2014

An Insiders Guide to the 2014 Newport Folk Festival

First and foremost, I would not consider myself an insider. But this will be my 6th NPFF so I'd like to think I've learned a thing or two. This year we will be attending the festival without kids (despite one of my 5 "tips") with some festival first timers and I hope to impart some of my wisdom on the neophytes. So, in no particular order check out 5 helpful tips to maximize your fun at the best fest on the planet.

1. If you've opted to go without children, next year, bring 'em. As I mentioned earlier, this is my first year going without kids since 2008 and I am very excited about the prospect. Attending beer gardens and maneuvering my way towards the front of the stage are now options that were previously off the table. That being said, this festival is great for families. Don't expect a Bonnaroo or Firefly kind of scene, the NPFF is a family friendly environment with plenty of kid options to keep them entertained. So enjoy your weekend, but next year, pack the kids. I have a feeling I will.

2. Pack two different forms of footwear. I'm not necessarily advocating for two pairs each day, but come prepared with 2 pairs for the weekend. The obvious reason is just in case it rains. But even if it doesn't, after 2 days of standing/walking on cheap flip flops, you may want to switch it up on Sunday.

3. Be mobile. This is harder with kids, but don't be content staying in one spot between sets just because you are comfortable. Bounce around to the rest of the grounds checking out artists that you may not be familiar with. Some of the best sets I have seen have come by stumbling on them as I walked around. This is the best way to truly get a feel for where the energy of the festival is at that moment.

4. Do not over pack your cooler. Although there aren't hundreds of choices, the food at the festival is SOLID. The falafel in years past has been some of the best I have ever had and every year new entrants come in and up the culinary game. Its good to have snacks packed, but don't limit yourself to whats in your fridge at home. You can eat well at the fest for under $20 a day, and it will also provide you some additional local flavor.

5. Water taxi it to/from the festival. Driving is for suckers. I have done both, and sometimes when I am on the water taxi line I curse myself for not driving. But consider the water taxi an extension of the festival with people bustling with excitement on the way in and deconstructing the days highlights on the way back. Throw in a couple of boat sodas (beer) and you can close your eyes and pretend you are one of Newport's yachting elite. Even just for a moment.

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