12 brilliant apps for festivals

If there’s one piece of tech you’ll take with you to a festival, it’s got to be your smartphone. Make it work hard for you and download the best apps to make the most of your festival experience. We tested some out at Coachella so you don’t have to –here’s our pick of the best...

26 May 2016


1. Uber

So you’ve got your shuttle bus sorted, or maybe you’re even driving. You’re staying somewhere a bit further out from the festival site because you wanted a proper bed and washing facilities – and, well, it’s just a bit more civilised. And if you’re at Coachella, like us, and you’re staying in Palm Springs, like us, it’s the place where all the best after parties happen (search online in advance for what’s happening where). But what if you lose your friends, or your car, or you miss the last bus? Uber. The international taxi service will get you where you want to go easily and inexpensively (it’s all charged to your pre-registered credit card so no need for cash either). Boom.


2. The official festival app

In our case, this was the Coachella app. The official app was the best place to get the latest updates. Our usual fallback for stage times – Clashfinder – was wildly inaccurate but the Coachella app was up to date and had features that let you create your schedule and plan your day. Plus, you can browse the acts by time, stage or alphabetically. You can also share your schedule with your friends so you know what everyone in your group is doing when. Of course, this is dependent on reliable wifi, particularly if you’re abroad and you’ve turned off data roaming. In which case, check it in the morning from your villa, hotel or Starbucks.


3. Coachella VR

This year, for the first time, Coachella launched a virtual reality app and gave everybody who bought tickets to the event a customised Google Cardboard headset. Where Coachella treads, others follow so don’t be surprised to see other festivals setting up their own VR apps soon. More than just a gimmick, it provides a wonderfully immersive experience. You can see the site via a guided tour before you get there so you’ll be orientated and know what to expect as soon as you hit the dusty polo field. There was also a special video on there from Run the Jewels and other fascinating visual experiences. They’ve only just tapped into the possibilities but look forward to it developing further in the years ahead.


4. Hootsuite

If you don’t want to miss out on all the on-site gossip, the best place to keep up to date with the latest news and rumours is social media. Hootsuite is a dashboard-based management system that aggregates all your social media platforms making it easy to keep on top of what’s going on. You can search for, say, Coachella and then turn it into a tab to, er, keep tabs on what the internet is saying on Twitter, Instagram or whatever. If you want to know about ‘secret’ sets or guest appearances, like Kesha showing up with Zedd, or Kanye West turning out for A$AP Rocky, or you want to know if Leonardo DiCaprio is on site, your best way of finding out is through this app.


5. BC Tentfinder (iPhone) or Festival Buddy (Android)

Whether you’re prone to drinking a little over-enthusiastically or you’re just plain bad with directions, a tent finder app will be invaluable if you’re camping. They make use of GPS so you can mark where your tent is (and other useful landmarks and facilities such as toilets and your car). Then, when you need to find your way back, it’ll guide you with foolproof directions.


6. Find My Friends (iPhone) or Locate My Friend (Android)

You’re bound to lose your friends at some point, whether one of you wanders off, you miss one another at your designated meeting place, you have different bands you want to see and go your separate ways or you just plain lose each other when two of you are waiting in a huge queue to get searched THOROUGHLY and the other one has sped through in a quicker line (yes, this happened to us at Coachella). A friend-locating app pinpoints them via GPS so you can turn up wherever they are and reunite.


7. Spotify

Get into the festival spirit by listening to the bands on the line up in advance and discovering some little-known gems for you to discover live once you’re on site. We used it in the days leading up to the festival, on the journey and mornings before heading to the festival site to listen to Coachella playlists curated by Spotify users to set the mood. You can also make your own playlists.


8. Packing Pro for iPhone

We hate packing. It’s a chore and it can be stressful. You want to take your favourite things and your essentials. You don’t want to miss anything but you don’t want to take too much. Ugh. So anything that makes that whole process easier is very welcome. Packing Pro lets you create packing lists so you don’t forget anything. There are sample packing lists including ones for couples, families, business travellers and campers that you can add to plus an Expert List Assistant feature that creates lists based on the number of people in your party, gender, weather conditions, destination and so on.


9. WaterIn

If you’re drinking alcohol, you’re active all day (and night) and you’re exposed to the elements (in our case, hot sunshine – and lots of desert dust!) it’s extremely important to keep well hydrated. This app basically reminds you to drink water. As if you’d forget. But let’s not joke around. It’s easy to get carried away with bands and booze and not give water a second thought. We saw enough collapsed revellers at Coachella to know those guys could have done with a gentle reminder to hydrate. It will notify you at regular intervals to up your intake and could be the difference between you staying fighting fit to the end of the headliner’s set (and beyond) or falling at the first fence and missing the fun in the first aid tent.


10. Battery Doctor

Whether you’ve brought a portable charger or not, Battery Doctor is a useful little app that will accurately predict how much longer your power is likely to last, disabling any power draining apps to help keep you powered up for longer. It also gives you charging tips.


11. Snapseed and AirBrush

These are two of our favourite photo editing apps – Snapseed is great for a huge variety of photos whether landscapes, action shots, stage pictures or portraits. You can use it to enhance the bulk of your footage – you can change the perspective, finetune the colour, brightness and exposure settings in spot areas and ‘heal’ imperfections. But if it’s selfies you’re most keen on taking and improving AirBrush helps you to look your best. It reshapes, brightens eyes, whitens teeth and eliminates blemishes.


12. Periscope

You can live stream now on Facebook but Periscope, owned by Twitter, is arguably the platform of choice if you’re a dedicated live streamer. If you want to get your footage up immediately, and you like the interaction that comes with it, Periscope it.


Check out the rest of our Coachella coverage and gear up for festival season by getting the tech to take on your travels.