This past weekend my friends and I were down in San Marcos for our first ever Float Fest. Needless to say, we’re all exhausted and wishing we were back at the festival.
Float Fest is a two-part festival – music and floating the river. At first, I thought that everyone was in the river for the music, but they are two separate parts. First, you float the river, then at the river exit is where the music festival is.
The festival sent out informational emails prior to the festival to help explain and let festival goers know what to bring. However, I felt unprepared up until right before really. Lucky for me, my friends and I all brought different items along that all together made us prepared for a successful festival. So I wanted to give you guys a list of everything you need to bring and know about the festival!
Float Fest Set-Up
This past year, Float Fest hosted pre wristband pickups in a few different cities. My roommate and I decided we’d jump on board to avoid some lines at the actual festival. It took us about 30 minutes in line before the festival. However, I never saw a spot to actually pick up wristbands at the festival. I’d definitely recommend getting it beforehand, as there weren’t too many people to ask at the parking grounds.
We ended up taking 1 car to the festival, as parking was only $10. This was the best plan to escape the heat, take a nap, keep our dry clothes to change into, etc. Keep in mind that you can only keep your car parked there for up to two hours after the event ends, so be sure to have a DD.
Once we arrived at the festival grounds, we waited for about 20 minutes in a parking line where our parking pass was scanned. After parking, we waited for about an hour to get on the bus that takes you to the floats. When we arrived for the floats, there wasn’t a line so we were able to quickly get our tubes and get in the water.
On Float Fest’s website, it mentioned that floating can take between 2.5-4 hours. We felt like that was such a wide time range, so we didn’t really know when to arrive. I would advise the full 4 hours because it was crowded. With that said, I didn’t feel like it was so crowded we couldn’t float. I was also surprised at how cool the water was. It really was so refreshing.
When the floating came to an end, there was staff helping you out and guiding you to the festival ground. There were two stages surrounded by tons of food, drink, and bar stands, festival rides, a shade tent, and tons of restrooms. I didn’t wait in line to get food, or for the bathroom. The bar line was pretty minimal but much better than other festivals I’ve been to in that respect. There aren’t multiple artists playing at once, so you are able to watch everyone that plays.
We chose to leave a bit early to avoid the traffic leaving the festival. We were able to get out right away. Overall, we had a great time, and wished we had stayed for another day of floating!
With that, there are a few things we couldn’t have had a successful festival without, and a few things we all wished that we had with us, so I’ve rounded up those items below!
Float Fest Essentials
I’d definitely recommend a cheap pair of sunglasses. The second you decide to bring your Ray-Bans, you’ll lose them in the water! There are a couple of rapids where you’ll be flipping over and running into rocks. So, the best plan is to bring a knock-off pair!
I’m recommending this three pack because we went through about 2 bottles between the 6 of us while on the river. Granted, it was over 100 degrees the day we were there, so we were paranoid about getting burnt. The spray sunscreen was the easiest to grab and go while floating, but I’d also recommend a heavy-duty waterproof face sunscreen to apply before you get in.
I bought these bad boys four days before the festival because they mentioned that sandals would fall off when floating. They were seriously such a good purchase. I loved that they were closed toed as well because there were tons of rocks and mud. Water shoes are known for being ugly but I found these ones that look just like tennis shoes! They were a bit scratchy, but I didn’t notice them when we were in the water at all, and they’re only $20!
I was lucky that one of my friends brought a waterproof bag along. We were all able to throw our clothes into the bag and take it with us so we didn’t have to stop back at the car when we got to the festival grounds.
Waterproof Fanny Pack
These were perfect to keep your personal phone, credit card, ID, portable charger, and lip sunscreen along in the water and at the festival grounds. Plus, it doesn’t require you to actually carry it, since you can buckle it around you! Honestly, fanny packs are the best invention ever. I’m all for them.
This was one thing I didn’t bring but wished I did. My roommate got one of those fans that attach to your phone, but it was hard to bring out in the water because she didn’t want to drop her phone. I’d recommend each person in your group get a mini fan because you won’t want to share.
Another thing my friends brought that I forgot to order. There were other people with speakers, but there wasn’t music on the river, and I am so glad we had it. We even had other floaters tag along in our ‘float’ so they could join in on the music. I’d recommend a speaker like this one that also has a clip so that you’re able to clip it on somewhere on the tube.
We ended up renting a cooler tube, which is just a tube with a bottom to place your cooler into. But it would have been much easier to just get a cooler that floats on its own.
We ended up packing two coolers – one for mixed drinks + beer and another full of water bottles. We ended up going through all of the water bottles, and I’m so glad we had enough. It would have been nice to have a backpack full of water attached throughout the day as a constant reminder to hydrate.
Tube Rope seriously would have been key. We didn’t realize there wasn’t a way to connect the floats there, as we were renting them. A lot of other people brought their own rope to tie friends together. We got crafty and hung onto each others tube handles, hands, or feet, but we did get separated during the float a few times. Of course, the river all floats in the same direction, so we were able to find each other quickly.
Overall, we had the best time, and can’t wait to go back for a weekend floating the river, then again next year for the festival!