How to Make Friends at a Festival

Eight Lesson From Lightning in a Bottle

Photo by  Guru

Photo by Guru

The sun was rising on Saturday morning at Lightning In a Bottle, an art and music festival that takes place over Memorial Day weekend at the San Antonio Recreation Area in Bradley, CA. I emerged from “The Drift” ravine to see a tractor pulling a large art car called the Front Porch. As it struggled up the hill, the tractor sputtered and died right in front of me. The proprietor of the vehicle leapt out and with great flourish announced: “Ladies and gentleman! Since this is a big hippie fest and we’re all collaborating and co-creating and cohabitating who’s going to help me pull this porch up over that hill? It’ll be like a tug of war but it will be a tug of love. Who’s with me?!” His charisma was undeniable, and so twenty bedraggled partiers descended upon two lines of heavy chain and began to heave the tractor, the Porch and its little outhouse up the hill.

An excited crowd gathered, clapping and taking photos. My comrades and I smiled blissfully as we shared a moment. With a triumphant cry we reached the top, and as we gained momentum down the hill, it occurred to me that the Front Porch was now headed toward my own campsite. I pulled a stool up to the bar while old-time music prattled on and my new friend Rob played the spoons. Together, we watched the sun come up over the hills as we rolled home.

It was my first time at a festival without a partner or a camp, and the experience taught me some simple, fun ways to make new friends and have exciting adventures. Whether you’re riding solo or with a group, here are eight tips that I’ve found helpful in making new connections at a festival.