This was my first time attending CurlFest hosted by Curly Girl Collective, and I had a blast! But, it was quite overwhelming. There were thousands of people there. Literally wall to wall Black Girl Magic. You walk in and everything is grabbing your eye. You want to go to every corner to see and do everything. But it’s impossible.
I was there from 12 to 5 and I didn’t see a fraction of everything there. But that’s okay. The experience of being there was well worth it. But next year I will be ready, and so will you if it will be your first time attending.
Here are my Top 10 Tips for Navigating and Surviving CurlFest:
Go To Bed Early
Yes, the event starts at noon, and that leaves plenty of time to sleep in. But this event takes place in the center of a park with very little shade in the middle of July. It’s hot. The heat will drain you. I’m tired as I write this and it’s just 9:30 p.m. The earlier you go to bed the more refreshed you’ll be to tackle the event. There’s a lot to do so you’ll need all the energy you can get.
Get There Super Duper Early
There are a few reasons why I say you need to get there early:
1. To beat the crowd. I was standing in front and center of the main stage at 12:30 p.m. At that time there were about 200+ people there. Which made the event area look damn near empty. That’s the key word right there..empty. This is your opportunity to take photos at the large #CURLFEST hashtag sign or other fun selfie stations, gets floral headpieces made or get all the freebies you can from the numerous beauty vendors. I recommend getting there by 10 or 10:30 a.m. this will give you full reign of the space before the rush of the crowd.
2. To get a seat in the shade. CurlFest takes place in an open section of Prospect Park. The perimeter of the event has shady spots but not very many. So you want to get there early enough to snag one otherwise you’ll be forced to get a spot just outside of the event or worse, layout directly under the hot sun.
3. To get a general admission bag. If you were able to snag a regular ticket that meant you were to get a bag – while supplies lasted. Another key phrase a lot of people overlooked as it was mentioned at the bottom of the ticket. So if you want to get that supply get on that check-in line by 10 a.m.
Avoid The Official Check-In Line
CurlFest requires no ticket to enter. This is a FREE event. Which means there is NO reason to wait in line. Just walk in. Unless it’s 10 a.m. and you’re waiting to get a ‘while supplies last’ gift bag. Then, and only then, should you be in line.
I took an Uber and got off at Ocean and Lincoln and walked to the event. It’s a short walk. Less than 10 minutes. When I entered the festival area it was on the left of the stage, which would be considered the back. Should the event be held at this same location next year this is the side I will enter. It’s closer to all of the vendors and allows me to avoid the obscene crowd and ridiculous long entry line.
If you have an Early Bird ticket make your way to the official check-in as there is a much shorter line for you to pick up your GUARANTEED swag bag. There’s is no need to rush as you are owed a bag.
If you have a General Admission ticket and get there after 12:30 p.m. don’t even bother waiting on line for the bag as supplies are long gone. Just enjoy the festival.
Wear Comfortable Footwear
This is a festival and there will be lots of walking and even more standing. Yes, you wanna look cute, and by all means, you should but remember your feet will pay the price for not wearing something with support. Wear your cute shoes to start but make sure to have your sneakers in your bag for a switch.
Bring A Large Tote Bag
The swag bag I received was not heavy but thankfully the items were put in a larger bag (a bag in a bag) which made carrying everything else I received that much easier. But if you aren’t lucky enough to get a swag bag you need to bring your own. There are a lot of vendors present with tons of great stuff to purchase. All of those little bags add up and will get heavier in your hand, especially if you’re buying product. Those full-size bottles are weighty. Having your own tote or backpack to stuff your items will help keep you from losing bags and allow you to be hands-free to do things like dance and take selfies with friends.
I’m not one for cash but not everyone takes credit card, especially at festivals. I made sure to bring about $25 cash with me and guess what? It came in handy. There was an Italian ice cart and she only took cash. Guess who was able to buy a cup? This chick! Don’t miss out on good stuff cause you lack paper in your pocket.
Bring Your Own Food And Drink
There’s gonna be thousands of people at this event. There will be a chance food and drink will run out and if you do get some it will probably cost more than usual. If you’re not interested in waiting on line 25 minutes only for the for the taco stand say they ran out when you’re 3 people from the order window (a true story that was shared with me) then I suggest you bring your own goodies. This is a park so no one will check your bag. Bring whatever you need to keep your belly full until you leave.
Have A Plan
You need to have a plan of action. This is not an event where you figure it out when you get there. Do you want to get products from beauty row? Pictures at selfie spots? Try new foods? Be sure to get there earlier enough to quickly scope out what’s going on and do that first, then worry about everything else. Don’t be like me and lollygag for a few hours then turn around and realize all of those empty lines have more than 100+ people on them.
Getting Your Ticket to CurlFest 2018
Tickets sell out in the blink of an eye. You have to be prepared for when the Curly Girl Collective posts the ticket link. I made sure to turn their notifications on for both Twitter and Instagram. Starting back in May every time they made a post I was aware of it. It allowed me to know when ticket sales were going to happen and to have the link in advance to be ready to purchase at the release time. This is how I was able to snag two Early Bird tickets before the site crashed. Make sure you have quick fingers tickets sold out in less than 10 minutes, and you can only get one Early Bird ticket per person. Yes, I was quite fortunate to buy one and go back and buy a second. So tell your friends to be ready at their computers so they can get theirs as well.
Bring your phone charger. You will run your battery taking pics and video.
Do not drive. There is no place to park. Take the MTA or an Uber.
Find the Shea Moisture section with fan and mist combo. Life changing.
Wear and bring sunscreen. Again, this is an open area park in the middle of July with no shade. While tanning is great, burning is not.