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Zilker park decorated in the yearly trappings of ACL.

I have lived in Austin for about seven years and until last weekend, the closest I had gotten to the Austin City Limits music festival was via Instagram. Excited as I was to go to ACL 2019, I was equally nervous and had no idea what to expect. After some trial by fire, I quickly learned what it takes to become a festival pro.

DO bring chairs. You will have some downtime throughout the day, especially if you plan on being there from start to finish. Find a shady spot and camp out for a while.

DON’T wear your favorite shoes. You will get dirty—probably dirtier than you planned on being. Between the sweat, grass and general grime, I went home every day covered in layers of the environment. Unless you’re going for that look, wear shoes you don’t care about or are easy to clean.

DO drink plenty of water. Trust me, you will sweat out of every pore in your body. You should probably drink fluids constantly if you want to remain a functioning festival participant.

DON’T cake on makeup, unless you don’t mind constant reapplication. I stopped wearing mascara after day one because it was getting sweated into my eyes. If you still want a cute festival look, opt for glitter gel instead.

DO know what you want to get out of the festival. Do you want to be front row for your favorite headliner? Be prepared to camp out hours in advance. If you don’t like crowds, you may have to sacrifice some things—like the ability to see the stage.

DON’T be picky about the shows you go to. I cannot stress this enough; venture out of your comfort zone. You came for the big headliners but you might find your new favorite band along the way. After all, a festival is the best path to discovering new music.

DO avoid Uber. While highly convenient, the festival has designated drop off points so calling a car means extra walking. ACL offers free, air-conditioned shuttles to take you very close to the entrance and are the most superior form of festival transport.

DON’T forget a hat. Sun protection and not having to worry about how my hair looked sold me. Get a stylish article and incorporate it into your outfits—you’ll be glad you did.

DO locate the free lounges in the park. There are several lounges anyone can access, sometimes in exchange for a social media post or something of the sort. The lounges have couches, fans, free items and serve as a great place to take a break.

DON’T try to smuggle in anything. Security is everywhere and you will get caught. Don’t be the one person ruining everything for everyone.

DO bring earplugs if you are going to be close to the stage. The sound is adjusted for thousands and thousands of people. Think about the ACL festivals of the future—don’t you want to hear those too?

ACL is a ton of fun and with proper preparation, easy to make the most out of it. Weekend Two is just around the corner!

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