Before I begin, I just want you skeptics out there to know that Hangout Fest is definitely worth the hype. Believe me, I was definitely hesitant to spend upward of $300 dollars plus room and board for a music festival. Once you think about it, it's definitely worth it to see big names like Travis Scott, Khalid, Cardi B, The Lumineers, and so many more all in one weekend for only around $300 when one concert ticket could start at around $75.
For those that don't know what Hangout Fest is, it's a three-day-long music festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama that takes place on Hangout Beach, hence the name. There are three main stages and so many things to do! This year there was a puppy kissing booth, roller skating, and even a spa. Most of these activities are free and super fun and cute photo opportunities. Each day lasts from around 11 am to 11 pm. Yes, 12 HOURS. So, here's what you need to know to survive the day.
Obviously, I knew it was going to be hot going into this because the festival takes place on the beach and it's the end of May, but nothing could have prepared me enough for the immense heat. It's one thing to be on the beach in an open area and get a breeze every now and then, but to be in a crowd waiting for an artist for several hours with no breathing room is completely different. I would definitely recommend putting your hair up and dressing in breathable, cotton clothing or just a bathing suit. Lather yourself in sunscreen and bring some along with you in your bag if you can because sunburns are definitely real.
Before this trip, I knew I would have to be flaunting a bathing suit every day, so I tried my best to hit the gym and eat as healthily as possible, which helped me feel pretty confident in my own skin. I loved the outfits I chose, my friends were hyping me up, and I thought I looked darn good until I arrived on the first day. Girls were wearing thongs and super revealing bikinis. Literal models were walking around strutting their stuff. I became really hesitant to take pictures because I all of a sudden felt self-conscious about my body. What I'm about to say doesn't just go for Hangout but for any day. Do not compare yourself to someone else. Everyone is perfect just the way they are and there's nothing wrong with having a little cellulite or having some stretch marks here or there. Just enjoy yourself and have the time of your life because that's what it's all about.
STAY HYDRATED. This is the most important thing to remember on this trip. I cannot count how many times I saw people pass out and have to get carried out of a crowd by a medic because they didn't drink enough water. Not only will being dehydrated make you absolutely miserable, but it could possibly lead to you missing your favorite band or causing your friends to miss out on their favorite band. Not only that, but it's super dangerous to be out in the heat all day without drinking enough water. If you don't want to buy water at the festival, you can bring an empty water bottle or Camelbak with you. There are refill stations located all around the beach so you can stay hydrated all day.
Oh my God, this was the worst. Everybody and their momma had their boo thing in the festival and if you're single like me it was so annoying to look to your left or right and see a couple macking on each other. If you're trying to find yourself a man or a girl at Hangout, forget it because everyone already brought someone except me apparently.
Okay, so this isn't really a must but it's more of personal preference. I absolutely cannot stand sand. If you're like me I would definitely recommend wearing sandals each day. I wore Birkenstocks and Tevas, but I saw a ton of people sporting Chacos (which are basically Tevas). I say this because two of the main stages are actually on the beach, so if you have sneakers on, you will get sand all up in your shoes, which would just be super aggravating to me. Also, sneakers would just make my feet hot and sweaty.
I would definitely recommend stuffing your face before you make your way to the festival. Don't get me wrong, the food was absolutely excellent. They had Chinese, Greek, Italian, corn dogs, Mexican, gelato, ice cream, literally anything your sweaty, stinky heart could desire. If you don't want to be broke by the end of the weekend, though, don't solely depend on the food at the festival. One slice of pizza was $7. Seven freaking dollars. I don't know about you but I don't have $7 to be throwing on a piece of pizza. Buy some snacks to keep in your hotel room or condo before heading down to the beach to save some cash.
Where to Stay
My friends and I stayed at a hotel near the beach, which was perfectly fine because the Uber rides to the festival were super cheap and we were ready for bed when the night was over anyway. If you're looking to party, though, I would definitely recommend renting out a condo or Air BNB. I would especially recommend this if you have six or more people in your group.
The 21+ Issue
At the festival, there were a lot of features that were exclusively 21+. One, in particular, was the Malibu Beach Tent. If you have seen any Hangout Fest pictures, you have probably seen someone with a bunch of foam around them having a super good time. Yeah, I didn't get to do that because I'm not 21. Everyone got to listen to music, get free stuff, and, of course, play in the foam. All the little kids got left out of this one.
Go to the bathroom before you leave your hotel or condo! The lines for the bathroom are absolutely outrageous. One day I had about 4 water bottles and all of a sudden they hit me and I had TO GO. The lines were ridiculous. I took my chances and just went to the men's bathroom. Ladies, desperate times call for desperate measures. Do not hesitate to do what you've go to do. The men's bathroom never had a line, so just take the opportunity.
I would say one of the things I definitely did not anticipate was waiting for the artists. In order to get anywhere close to the stage for the big artists, I had to wait anywhere from 3-5 hours in a crowd in the heat standing up. Sometimes you get to sit down, but other times you don't get so lucky. If you are obsessed with an artist it is absolutely worth it to get up close and personal, but otherwise, I would recommend just grabbing some ice cream and then showing up at the stage around ten minutes before they begin their set.
I knew people would be drinking because some of the main sponsors of the festival were Mike's Hard Lemonade and Corona, but I did not expect anywhere near the amount of alcohol that was present. Everywhere I looked there were drunk people. At first, it was kind of funny, but then it got kind of annoying, and then it got scary. People were passed out everywhere and several threw up way to close to me. I would say just to stay alert and be aware of the people around you because you can't control others.
I wouldn't trade those 3 days for anything. I had so, so much fun and couldn't have experienced what I experienced anything else. There were smiles, tears, and even new friends made. I will definitely be in attendance next year.
If you are thinking about going to a music festival next year, please consider the Hangout Festival because it is so much fun. It was my first music festival and I will definitely be going next year!
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