Get the best out of the Pemberton Festival

Combining indie acts like The Fiery Furnaces with the big guns of such as pop-rock Coldplay, classic rockers Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with tribute-band wannabes Whole Lotta Led, and hip-hop acts with symphony orchestra violinists, the Pemberton Festival offers something for everyone.

Modelled after successful European festivals such as Glastonbury, the three-day Pemberton concert boasts over 100 performers and promises to be the biggest music event of the season.

Pemberton is roughly a two-hour drive from Vancouver, but festival planners expect frequent police checks and heavy traffic on Highway 99—the only road connecting Vancouver to Pemberton—particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Friday.

Check the festival lineup to give yourself enough time to catch your favourite bands. Although Nine Inch Nails, one of the headliners, don’t grace the Mount Currie Stage until 9:30 p.m. on Friday, they are preceded by Metric, Interpol, and some 30 other acts performing on the other three festival stages throughout the day.

There’ll likely be long lineups to check in when you get there, so skip those and hit the advance check-in locations before heading to Pemberton.

Starting tomorrow, festival-goers can trade in their concert tickets and camping passes for wristbands at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Vancouver or the Blackcomb Lodge in Whistler. VIPs, carpools, and motorcyclists can check-in at the Creekside Parkade in Whistler.

Purchase your parking passes ahead of time, too. Tickets are available on-line for camper, three-day, and one-day parking. Cars with four passengers or more park for free.

Those lucky enough to ditch the city on Thursday don’t have to wait until Friday for the festival to begin. Barn Dance, a 12-year-old Pemberton tradition that showcases local country music, has been revamped and reworked into the weekend’s festivities and kicks off 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Beer, the staple of any music festival, can be purchased between noon and 11 p.m. daily in the festival beer gardens, but you’re not allowed to bring in your own alcohol. There will also be a farmer’s market selling fruits, veggies, and other local produce, along with vendors touting official concert merchandise and necessities such as sunscreen.

A medical staff of 200 will be on hand for emergencies and Options for Sexual Health volunteers will act as “Condom Roadies”, providing contraception and lubricant.

Campers should pack standard camping gear, as well as warm clothing for the nights, an extra pair of shoes, a flashlight, rain gear, and earplugs. But don’t overdo it: the campgrounds aren’t car-friendly and you must be able to carry what you’ll need from the parking lot or shuttle stop.

On-site camping passes sold out long ago, so try Pemberton and Whistler for accommodation. However, if you’re willing to pay an arm and a leg for the festival-adjacent campgrounds, some of the coveted passes can be found on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.

And don’t forget to drink lots of water during the day. Too much sun and too much alcohol could mean missing bigger acts, like Jay-Z or The Tragically Hip who don’t take to the stage until nighttime.

Festival tickets are still available on-line, with three-day and one-day passes priced at $259.50 and $149.50 respectively.