When the clouds part and the sun shines down without scorching everything in its path, you know festival season has arrived. And more specifically, camping festival season.
For the uninitiated, the very phrase bubbles up visions of Woodstock-esque mud pits, 4 am impromptu jam bands, and people stumbling into your tent all night long. In fact, camping festivals are the strangely perfect blend of time in nature plus musical adventure, solving for both camping woes and big festival frustrations.
Austin is close to several camping festivals, but one in particular that seems to deliver year after year — Utopiafest. Originally located in Utopia, Texas, they’ve moved the event to Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet, only an hour away from downtown. Before this homegrown fest returns for another year November 2-4, here are the five reasons why camping festivals are the best festivals.
1. The bands.
From humble beginnings, this fest has grown into its own, bringing back performers like Wild Child each year while adding Patty Griffin, STS9, and Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real to the lineup. The daily activities, too, have expanded to include yoga, MelodyDanceFit, a wine “sensory” lab, a crystal grid workshop, and more. If you’ve never been to a camping festival, this is a great one to start.
2. The community.
There’s a sense of community that naturally bubbles up along with the lower stress atmosphere. Being surrounded by big sky and the beautiful Texas Hill Country inspires a kind of folksy friendliness, and it’s surprising how much pressure is relieved from being mere steps away from your campsite. Take a nap during the day, enjoy campground activities, or hang out at the tent between bands. You can even put up a hammock and listen to the tunes from the trees, if you so desire.
3. BYO ... Everything.
Often, as is the case with Utopiafest, you can bring your own food and drink so you’re not locked into a certain kind of beverage — and the cost that comes along with it. Food is available at a little commissary or on-site food trucks.
4. The bathrooms aren't that bad.
Maybe the thing that looms largest is the bathroom issue. Of course, they’ll have portable toilets (saving you from going in the woods) and there’s usually a shower offering for a small fee. If you’re super serious about a private bathroom, spring for the RV ticket.
5. It brings out the best in everyone.
Perhaps the most fun part of a camping festival is the people watching. Attendees come from all walks of life, ranging from the REI adventurer, the face-painted ingenue, and that one guy that is always up front dancing. Because you're all headed the same direction, people often join camps, playing cards, sharing food, and forming long-term friendships.
In a time when there is a lot of division in the world, this kind of togetherness feels a little like magic.
Tickets for UtopiaFest are on sale now, and priced at $109 for daily passes, $215 for weekend passes, and $499 for VIP weekend passes.