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L.A. Times Travel Show: 5 travel tips for music festival fans

Music insiders offered insights and travel tips about the world of music festivals at a Saturday panel at the L.A. Times Travel Show called "On the Road: Traveling for Music & Festivals." The panel returns noon Sunday.

Times staff writer Jessica Gelt led the discussion with Betto Arcos, host of KPFK’s Global Village; Rick Farman, creator of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and Outside Lands; and Nigel Dick, filmmaker.

Secrets to tickets

If tickets sell out quickly, Farman recommended companies that sell packages, noting most are VIP packages. Bottom line: Be prepared to spend more if you really want in to a particular festival.

If you miss out on buying tickets to the multi-day Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts in England or other big festivals, Nigel Dick suggests checking out smaller festivals in Europe, even if there are no big acts. It's still a chance to have a cool cultural experience.

Navigating a festival

Do not get overwhelmed by all there is to see and do. "Festivals are not programmed for people to see everything. They’re for people to have lots of different experiences,” Farman said.

Arcos said to “spend some time looking at the program, highlight those shows you have to see and then if you feel you’ve seen enough you can leave and go see another act.”

Farman recommends that you “budget more than half of your time for just wandering around.” That is how you learn about new artists and acts, he said.

Split time between city and festival

If the festival is in a field, it may be hard to spend time sightseeing. But if it's in or near enough to a city, plan to squeeze in a few tourist activities between shows. "Spend a few hours in the morning making sure you can check out the sites or leave early and go to a local restaurant," Farman said.

Plan for snooze time as well. “Don’t get carried away. Plan your day; if you want to visit some sites, then make time. But ultimately you don’t want to be at a festival passed out!” Arcos advised.

Food

Sample the local food -- that's part of the experience. “Try local vendors representative of where the festival is because those will usually have the most quality,” Farman said.

Weather

Make sure you check the weather before heading out. “If you go to a festival in Europe, it will be in a field and you should take Wellies [rubber boots], and some kind of rain cape. It might be very sunny but it will probably be very wet,” Dick said. If it's hot out, drink plenty of water and look for shade.

Recommended festivals:

Festival del Centro Historico in Mexico City from March 12 to 23. 

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans from April 25 to May 4.

The Sacred Music Festival in Fes, Morocco from June 13 to 21. Best part: Sufi singers.

Lowlands in Amsterdam from Aug. 15 to 17.

Burning Man Festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert from Aug. 25 to Sept. 1. Tip: Bring a bike. 

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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