It’s the biggest decision all festival fans must make before they purchase their tickets: to camp or not to camp? While some feel camping is too emotionally exhausting to even be remotely plausible for them, others assume that if they don’t camp they will miss out on the “full experience.” Now, I can’t say for sure which is the better option, for it really is a matter of opinion. I can, however, provide some personal perspective — and debunk some myths — based on trying both options for Mysteryland USA in Bethel Woods, NY.
Last year, Mysteryland USA was, without a doubt, my favorite festival of the season
. The reason why is pretty simple: I’m a sucker for a view. But then again, a beautiful backdrop would prove pretty futile if the festival itself was majorly shitty. Good thing that wasn’t the case. An incredible lineup met with mind-blowing production, a tolerable crowd and amazing eats made Mysteryland USA stand out as one of the best festivals of summer 2015 in my book.
Which is to say, when I started planning my return for 2016, I tried as hard as possible to keep my hopes under control. And in order to better guarantee that I would not spend the better half of the weekend comparing this year to the one before it, I decided to switch things up. Meaning, last year I camped, so this year I would try staying at a hotel. Last year I drove, so this year I would try public transportation. Last year I spent most of my time at the main stage, this year, I would enjoy the talent on the smaller stages and inside the tents.
And now that I have experienced all ends of the stick, I am 100 percent qualified to write this article. But, just in case, I also gathered insight from other attendees of Mysteryland USA 2016, based on their individual experience.
True or False: If I don’t camp, I will not look like a hobo the third day!
The Verdict: False AF.
Last year, I only stayed for one night, didn’t shower, didn’t wash my face, and didn’t look very attractive by the second day. As I recall, my friend kept referring to me as “the homeless teenage boy with the backpack.”
This year, after deciding to go foursies on a hotel room with a few friends, my first thought was, Yes! Now I can shower and consistently look cute. LOL. It was a nice thought, but as reality would have it, the amount of fucks one gives on their appearance at a music festival consistently lessens from day to day, no matter where they are sleeping. Either that or I just thrive better when I’m fully gross.
True or False: Camping is the cheapest option.
The Verdict: True.
I mean, unless you live near Woodstock, camping is the cheapest option by a long shot. Yes, you’ll have to buy gear if you don’t have it already, but a tent is about $40, and our room hotel room was roughly $240 per night (it was a lovely hotel, though!). Granted, there might have been a cheaper hotel nearby, but this was the only one that offered a shuttle to the festival (for an additional $45), which we needed because we didn’t have a car. Ergo, a hotel room is a very cozy, clean option — and a bed is a godsend when you are coming home at 2 a.m exhausted and drunk. But if you’re looking to save on change, it’s definitely not the option for you.
Now, what if you do live relatively close to Woodstock? Attendee Alysha Nicole DiDiego said about driving back and forth each day,”We saved money by not having to pay for overnight accommodations so definitely not expensive. Driving up every morning was super easy…The ride home sort of sucked because I was exhausted by then and the first night my friend vomited out the window – ALL over my Jeep. I liked it, though, because I could choose when I wanted to leave and not have to wait for a shuttle…Also liked going home to my comfortable bed and hot showers with no wait.”
True or False: You will miss out on the experience if you don’t camp.
The Verdict: True.
This is not to say you won’t have a fab time — you most certainly will. But there is a certain element of the experience that will be missing from your life if you do not camp. This can best be described as “Summer Camp Syndrome,” and the rapid rate at which you will bond with those camping around you, as you all fully separate yourselves from society and become one with this mystery of a land.
Attendee Faith Sapp opted for all or nothing by traveling to Mysteryland by herself and camping with people she had never even met before. She told 20something about her experience, ” I drove three and a half hours by myself and met up with some people I met on the Mysteryland Facebook page and camped with them. I had posted on the page that it was my first festival and I was going alone and what not, and then someone messaged me saying they had a big tent and could share.”
And you weren’t kidnapped and/or ax murdered?
“Three strangers camping together and we just meshed really well. We became good friends…everything went smoothly!”
Alysha, on the other hand, did feel like she missed out by not camping:
“Saturday night I REALLY didn’t want to go home. I wanted to stay and continue the party lol. But that was also the night with the crazy winds and freezing cold…. So I guess it was a short lived feeling. I do want to experience camping though, so next year I definitely will be camping!”
True or False: Taking a shuttle is easier than driving a car.
The Verdict: So, so, soo false.
Last year, my friend picked me up at a central location in Manhattan. We drove about two hours to the festival, then about one hour in circles to find parking, paid for parking, parked, and walked into the festival. Aside from the parking part, all went smoothly.
The bus option did not go so smoothly. First off, my friend missed the bus to the festival, which was totally her bad. But the shuttle back was an absolute mess. Ticket holders for the 12 a.m. shuttle bus leaving Mysteryland on Sunday night had to wait an hour for the ticket taker to show up, and then once they did, it was a free-for-all. Meaning that the ticket takers didn’t even check for tickets. Meaning we could have saved $58. Meaning it was all very frustrating.
Which is to say, if you have any access to a car at all, whatsoever — definitely opt for that. It is no more expensive, and so much easier.
For the second year in a row, Mysteryland absolutely amazed me.
The main stage sets (special S/O to Skrillex, Lido, Griz and Tchami) were mind-blowing, and the more deep-house/techno fans had it all with such acts as Lee Burridge and Claude VonStroke keeping it real in the Spiegel Tent and Big Top, respectively.
All I can say now is, too bad I’ll have to compare every single festival to this one for as long as I live.