When attending a festival for the first time, it’s always helpful to consult with the veterans in order to ensure that the experience is as enjoyable as possible. As two first-time Mysteryland USA Nomads, we were fortunate enough to be taken under the courteous wings of some seasoned festival attendees (and friends), who without the experience would not have been nearly as enjoyable. Now as experienced Nomads ourselves, we wanted to divulge six important pieces of information we believe are imperative to Mysteryland USA first-timers. If you are interested in attending Mysteryland USA in the years to come, take the time to read through our first-hand encounters so that you too have an incredible adventure!

1. Pack lightly, but effectively

Mysteryland USA was my first on-site camping experience and it will certainly not be my last. Being able to camp on the holy grounds of the historic Woodstock Music and Arts Fair was truly an honorable experience. As we drove closer to the site, I was taken back by the stunning natural landscape. This weekend past, the small town of Bethel, New York hosted approximately 50,000 attendees, a mere fraction of the 400,000 individuals who made the trek to Woodstock. Lush greens and captivating lakeside views greeted us as we travelled closer to the grounds, emanating feelings of nostalgia for what had once occurred on the sacred terrain.

All surrounding beauty came to a staggering halt as we began unloading our vehicle with the abundance of supplies we deemed necessary for the weekend. Following stops at a local Wal Mart and liquor store, in addition to what was already packed, I became instantly grateful for the wagon we had invested in for the purpose of the trip, which brings me to my first confession: I am an over-packer. For those who have yet to experience a camping festival, bring only what you think is essential. Pack the travel sized hygiene essentials, snack food, warm clothes, and camping gear, and leave the non-essential clothing and other luxury items at home. Come day three, you won’t care what you look like.

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2. Arrive with an empty stomach

As someone who loves to frequent dance music festivals and awesome food joints, my tummy can’t help but smile when the two worlds come together. Unfortunately, some events fall victim to “festival food” and I’m forced to either force down an overcooked, $12 burger or stay hungry until the end of the night. Much to my delight, this was not the case at Mysteryland USA, as the festival was loaded with options that will delight even the pickiest of eaters. New York eateries such as Tica’s Tacos, Homeslice Pizza, The Loving Cup, Wafels & Dinges, Woodstock Pretzel Company, Bareburger and more all made their presences known over the course of the weekend, keeping all the nomads happy by satisfying our hunger into the wee hours of the night.

3. Make time to wander

Mysteryland has built a coveted brand on the notion of offering attendees an experience that is equal parts music and culture. There is so much more to Mysteryland USA than simply music, as the festival provides an elaborate culture and arts display. Although the experience itself is structured around incredible performances from an arsenal of artists that entice the likes of bass-heads and ambient lovers, all the way to techno and house enthusiasts, the festival caters to so much more than “just” music. While attending Mysteryland USA, it is important to observe the sounds, sights, and smells that surround you. Mysteryland USA appeals to all the senses, visually intriguing art installations, fashion bazaars, and more. While attending the festival, take some time to wander, and let your senses be tantalized by the fire breathing Incedia dome, live performers, art installations, and more. After all, it’s more than just a music festival!

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4. Don’t let the term “main stage” fool you

In today’s dance music community, the phrase “main stage” comes with a hefty list of connotations. Many people tend to stray away from festival main stages due to the fact that the artists tend gravitate towards the more “mainstream” and “commercial” end of the spectrum. Despite the fact that Mysteryland USA secured top-notch acts such as Skrillex, Bassnectar and The Chainsmokers for 2016, organizers still managed to showcase some artists that would not typically get the chance to grace the main stage of a major festival. Acts like Mr. Carmack, REZZ, The Floozies, Lido, Claptone and more definitely made the most of their time in the spotlight, as they threw down some of the best sets of the weekend. If you’re the type of person who refuses to give main stages a chance, Mysteryland USA is ready to change your mind.

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5. Visit the museum dedicated to Woodstock

The walk to the press tent was lined with posters that juxtaposed Woodstock and Mysteryland USA. Images with headings like, “Before Skrillex there was Hendrix”, and, “Before Kandi there were Love Beads”, highlighted some of the themes that had endured the test of time. On Sunday, seeking shelter from the cold weather, I made my way to the museum. Filled with memorabilia, interactive activities, and even Woodstock attendees, the museum dedicated to Woodstock truly encapsulates the raw essence of what had taken place forty-seven years ago. Although an unplanned excursion, I was thankful for the opportunity to be able to observe a truly spectacular tribute to the 1969 festival. It was a humbling experience, and I found myself leaving the museum with a gracious mindset. My tour through the museum dedicated to Woodstock left me feeling blessed for the opportunity to partake in a festival that is held on the same historic grounds as Woodstock. For first-time Mysteryland USA attendees, I highly recommend taking a walk through the museum.

6. “Mysteryland USA moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.”

Yes, I took this last confession from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (my favorite movie), but that doesn’t make it any less valid. Even though three days might seem like a long time, your time at Mysteryland USA will fly by. It’s practically impossible to experience all the phenomena taking place over the weekend, so it’s important to cherish the little things. Take time to appreciate the friends you make, the new music you discover and the memories that will live with you forever, as you will have to wait over 350 more days to do it all over again.

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Mysteryland USA’s 2016 recap video and for more information about the festival, be sure to head to its website.

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Co-written by Nick Benner & Alana Piedl