Heading to Boston Calling for the first time? You are going to have a blast – it’s a terrific festival in a great city. That said, it’s always nice to have some advice going in for your first time. That’s where we come in! Here you will find all of our biggest tips for first timers to Boston Calling: how to get there, what to bring with you, and more. Here is our most sagely advice for Boston Calling.
If you took a look at our transportation guide for Boston Calling you know we aren’t a big fan of driving to the festival. I don’t care if you bike, walk, or take the subway – just don’t drive. There is no official parking, unofficial parking will be limited and expensive, there will be terrible traffic, and in general it will just suck. If you aren’t in Boston take the regional train in to the subway. If you are in Boston just take the T. Don’t drive, our most obvious tip for Boston Calling.
If you aren’t feeling any of the overpriced food or beverage options at Boston Calling keep in mind they allow re-entry. You can leave to get a bite and a brew and come back to Boston Calling. If you don’t have any shows you are dying to see head out and snag some better food and drinks outside the festival.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but you’d be surprised how often people forget this. Keep in mind this is Boston in the Spring: it could be 70 and sunny or it could be 43 and raining. The point is, you need to prepare for both. Generally we like to pack ponchos as they are cheap and a little more convenient than umbrellas. We usually just snag cheap ones off of Amazon like these. Be sure to have something just in case the weather sucks.
Yes I know you want to look fabulous for Boston Calling but this ain’t Coachella, it’s not a fashion statement. Be sure to dress for comfort. Boston Calling it as a lot of walking – walking to the T, walking from the T to the festival, walking between stages, standing at the shows, etc. Be sure you are comfortable all day in some good shoes. That said, it could also rain and be muddy so don’t wear any shoes you’d be terrible bummed about getting ruined.
Sunglasses, sunscreen, hand sanitzer (if you are grossed out by bathrooms), empty water bottle, cash, credit card and ID – don’t forget these.
If there’s a show you really care about getting a good spot for then show up at that stage while the artist before your artist is on. The key at music festivals is to take advantage of the transition that happens between shows. A show ends and a ton of people leave – you want to be there for that moment. Once the show is wrapping up people will begin leaving and you make your aggressive push to the front. Don’t expect to show up 5 minutes before a show (if the artist is well known) and get a good spot – show up early.
If you aren’t really big into the headliner I suggest sneaking out a bit before the show ends. Once the headliner closes out the night there is a huge rush to exit and head to the train. If you can sneak out before this big rush you can avoid the wait for the train and get out of there easily. Obviously if you love the headliner you should stay, but if not you can save yourself a lot of time by sneaking out with a few songs left in their set.
If you have a group at Boston Calling I’ve found it useful to create a meeting point in case some people get lost. In the afternoon when the crowds surge the cell phone service can get spotty. It’s useful to have a designed meeting point in case you can’t get in touch with people.
My personal strategy is to aggressively pregame before Boston Calling, coast on a few beers for the afternoon, and then go hard again in the evening. Be sure to pace yourself properly (and hydrate) but I really suggest the aggressive pregame as $8-$10 beers gets pricey quickly.
There are a lot of benefits to going early that make me recommend it. First, the train will be much more comfortable and easy to board early when the crowd isn’t rushing to the festival. Second, the line getting into Boston Calling will be short. Third, you can find a lot of great artists without big crowds early in the day. The point is, there’s a lot of benefits to going early so I really suggest you go to Boston Calling early and enjoy the festival when it’s less crowded.