Guide to 2021 Music Festivals: How to Save at America’s Biggest Music Festivals

Festivals have carved out such a prominent space in the broader music world that they’re often known by a single name, nickname or acronym. Coachella. Lolla for Lollapalooza. ACL for Austin City Limits.

Music festivals blend music, fashion, dance, and sometimes, camping within a single festival culture that’s hard to describe and impossible to recreate.

Planning for the music festival experience begins long before your ticket gets scanned and you see your favorite performers take the stage, surrounded by your friends. Seasoned festivalgoers know that getting tickets, booking travel and lodging, figuring out what to eat and what to wear are all things to consider to make the most of the festival weekend.

Music festivals inherently offer incredible value. Where else can you see several dozen performers at the same place and time? Yet, there are still lots of ways to save money and maximize memories.

Rakuten has teamed up with Vivid Seats, the ultimate marketplace for live event tickets and experiences, to break down the top music festivals taking place in 2021. Learn how to save money at each, from Napa’s BottleRock Festival to Miami’s Rolling Loud and everything in between.

How to Save Money on Music Festival Tickets

Buy weekend passes for the best value

Three- and four-day festival passes present good value. A three-day pass for Life Is Beautiful costs $606, but single-day tickets for each of those three days costs a total of $942. If you’re going to be there the whole weekend, go for the pass.

Shop around for your favorite performer

Many musicians appearing at a given festival perform at other festivals. If you’re a die-hard fan of an artist performing at a music festival this year, then there may be more than one festival where you can watch them perform — and save money in the process.

For example, Billie Eilish single-day prices range from $349 (Austin City Limits – first weekend) to $203 (Governors Ball) while Post Malone single-day prices range from $322 (Hive Fest) to $208 (Lollapalooza).

Stay an extra day

For festivals that span a full weekend, the Sunday ticket is almost always cheaper than Saturday. For some festivals, you’ll save more than 20 percent by buying tickets for Sunday instead of Saturday:

So rather than taking off on Sunday, stay an extra night, make it a long weekend, and experience the Sunday festival for more value. If you purchase tickets through Vivid Seats, you’ll get to take advantage of Vivid Seats Rewards and get cash back.

Check the VIP section (It’s not just for celebrities)

The exact VIP experience varies by festival, but most share many of the same perks: a shaded area or room with A/C to cool off, better bathrooms, easier entry, comfy seats, swag pack, skip-the-line entry, and access to better options for food and drink. However, VIP tickets are more affordable at some festivals than others relative to general admission ticket prices.

At Austin City Limits, the cheapest VIP ticket is roughly 5x the price of the cheapest general admission ticket. However, at Governor’s Ball, you can find a VIP ticket for closer to twice the price of general admission: A VIP ticket costs $694 but general admission is going for $286.

For example, Billie Eilish single-day prices range from $349 (Austin City Limits – first weekend) to $203 (Governors Ball) while Post Malone single-day prices range from $322 (Hive Fest) to $208 (Lollapalooza).

Music Festival Packing List and Savings Tips

Each festival is unique, but there are some crucial must-pack items savvy festival-goers know are as indispensable as their wristband for admission.

Regardless of which festival you’re eyeing, consider having the following ready for the big weekend — and remember you can earn 10% Cash Back or more on your purchases via Rakuten and keep more money in your pocket:

  • Camping gear. Items such as tents, sleeping bags, portable lounge chairs and coolers tend to go on sale at the beginning of summer, so stock up on essential gear and equipment to create a comfortable and envy-worthy outdoor setup. Backcountry and Moosejaw offer deals on camping gear and everything else you’ll need for the outdoors.
  • Portable electronics. Don’t miss the opportunity to snap a perfect IG pic because your phone died. Pack portable electronics such as phone charges and lanterns to make sure your devices are juiced and ready to capture all those epic moments. You can earn 5% Cash Back or more on solar lanterns and chargers from stores such as MPowered by shopping through Rakuten. Not only will you feel good about being eco-friendly, but you’ll also feel rewarded knowing you scored extra Cash Back on your purchase.
  • Fashion. Looking for the perfect festival attire but don’t want to break the bank? It pays to wait. Retailers need to make room for new fall merchandise at the end of summer, so you can find discounts as high as 70% on summer fashion such as swimsuits, sandals, dresses, summer hats and seasonal accessories like beach cover-ups and sunglasses. Check out Urban Outfitters and Forever 21 for great online deals on must-have pieces to complete your festival attire.
  • Sun essentials. Sunscreen, lip balm and water bottles or hydration packs are staples at any music festival. Shop online at drugstores such as Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS for Cash Back offers on top of online-exclusive deals on essentials. You can also take advantage of in-store or curbside pickup for bonus convenience.
  • Travel. Whether you’re taking a flight or renting a car, booking early is the most important thing to remember when budgeting. Flights and hotels anticipate a surge in travel during festival season, so book your travel in advance. For summer festivals, for example, book at least 90 days before your trip to get the best rates. Also consider alternative travel ideas such as home rentals at VRBO or RV rentals from RVShare, which could be much more affordable.

Get the skinny on the top 2021 music festivals across the country and how to maximize your experience at each with the interactive map below.

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