I drove six-and-a-half hours to Telluride last weekend for my first Telluride Jazz Festival experience. Thanks to great music, delicious food, and majestic scenery, the weekend was a success. But there are a few things I wish I’d known before I went. These lessons learned will prepare you for next year’s festival—or any other music fest you’re planning to attend before summer ends.

1. There are showers. When I go camping, I automaticaly assume I won’t be showering for a few days. But that’s not the case at Telluride’s Town Park campground. A few quarters will buy you a refreshing shower—which is especially nice during this summer’s sweltering heat.

2. Take Monday off. I skipped out of work on Friday to catch the beginning of Jazz Fest, but that meant I had to scoot out early on Sunday to avoid traffic and be back in the office on Monday. That’s a big no-no according to concert fans who informed me that Sunday—funk day—is the best day of the whole weekend. (This will also give you an extra day to rest up after some late nights.)

3. Bikes are your best friend. In a place like Telluride, it’s easy to walk everywhere, which is what I did. But after going back-and-forth from my tent to the festival and from the campground to town, I found myself staring green-eyed at the bikers whooshing by. There are plenty of racks to lock your bike to, and restaurants, the campground, and trailheads are all easy (and quick) to reach.

4. Bring a canopy. Knowing I’d be outside all weekend, I remembered the sunscreen and the bug spray, but I forgot to bring the most important thing: shade. A canopy or massive umbrella would have been a lifesaver.

5. Plan ahead. OK, so this one sounds obvious, but I mean more than just planning what to bring or what acts to see. On Saturday morning, a two-hour power outage affected all of Telluride—including the festival. Knowing about nearby hikes and other activites helped pass the time. One suggestion: a moderate jaunt to Bear Creek Falls.

Follow assistant editor Daliah Singer on Twitter at @daliahsinger.

Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at daliahsinger.com.