How to Pick the Best Music Festival Group Costume Ideas

best list of music festival costumes and ideas

FestGuru.com Guide to the Best Music Festival Costume Ideas Ever

Music Festival Costume Ideas?  What Do You Mean?

A lot of people find wearing costumes fun, it's even more fun when you pick out an awesome group costume idea to wear with your friends. These are the people who feel that Halloween shouldn't be only one day out of the year. They look at music festivals as the best chance to show off their creativity.  Or they saved a bunch of money buying from the Halloween clearance sales.  Either way, they're my type of people.

Music festivals encourage outfits and costumes. It's a form of attendee participation and engagement that they want to encourage.  Most have a central theme for their event. Regardless, it's a chance to dress up as your favorite character just because you love dressing up.  You need to make sure that you pick a good music festival costume idea.

If you look through pictures from any music festival you'll see all types of costumes. From elaborate ones that took many hours to create, to last minute costumes that were just thrown together.

Often you can see people at a festival donning costumes where they look like characters from:

  • Anime
  • Video Games
  • Saturday Morning Cartoons
  • Comic Books
  • Movies
  • Popular Books or TV Shows
  • Random bits and pieces from someone's costume bin
These were not the best music festival group costume ideas ever seen

A group picture of 2013 TomorrowWorld. As you can see we had no group costume idea in mind when we picked the theme for our festival costumes.

Half the fun of a festival is looking at all the festival outfits people are wearing. You'll see some that are wacky, sexy, and even weird.

Deciding What Costume to Wear to a Music Festival

If you're going to a music festival for the first time, how do you decide what costume to wear?  Don't worry, I'm here to teach you about some of the best music festival costume ideas I've found over the years.

First, you need to find out what type of festival it is and what the environment is going to be like.

What do I mean by that? Some of the criteria to consider when choosing a festival outfit are:

  • Is it an indoor concert?
  • Is it an outdoor festival?
  • Is it a multi-day event?
  • Do you have a group costume theme with friends?

Regardless, chances are you're going to be hot and sweaty in whatever you wear, even more so if you like to dance.

What type of event is it?

Googling the name of the festival will give you a rough idea of what type of event it is. Usually, any type of costume is ok, but the last thing you would want to do is show up in an EDM themed costume to a Holy Festival.

gothic festival costume idea

You should always check the genre so you have the right festival costume idea.

Trust me, take a couple of seconds just to make sure. Also, you can see if there's a theme to the event.

Indoor Festival Considerations:

  • Indoor festivals are usually held in clubs, convention centers, coliseums, etc.
  • Indoor events have air conditioning, but it might not be able to handle the amounts of people attending
  • Don't have to worry about exposure to the weather (rain, sun, temperature), though you should think about the walk to and from your vehicle.
  • The venue is usually darker since the house lights will be dim to highlight the stage lighting.  So if your costume has lots of details, they might not be seen in the lower light.

Outdoor Music Festivals:

  • Usually, outdoor festivals are in a field or campground, amphitheater, or even downtown in some city.
  • Whatever the weather is for the event, you'll have to endure. It might be hot/cold, windy/not-windy, sunny/raining, etc. It's hard to say in advance, but try to google what the weather is going to be for the event before you go. In case the weather turns bad, have a backup plan in your bag that you take in with you. You may be hot at 2 pm in the afternoon. But at 2 am, when the temperature drops to -50 degrees and the wind picks up it's a different story. A tutu and fairy wings won't keep your ass warm.
  • If the event is during daylight hours, you'll have plenty of sunshine to show off your costume and take pictures.

Bonus Tip: Always try to take pictures as soon as you've put your festival costume on and before you leave for the event. Nothing's worse than having a badass costume and forgetting to take pictures. I'm horrible at remembering to take pics and so I have few to show from all the festivals I've been too.  

This especially important if you've found a great group costume idea to use.  The only reason I didn't post all the awesome group costumes that I've been a part of is because we always forget to take pictures.

Multi-day Festivals:

  • The same considerations from above depending on if it's an indoor/outdoor concert.
  • It's a multi-day event so you have a chance to show off your creativity many times.
  • Bring a backup costume. You never know if you might forget to have a critical piece to your festival costume at home. Fashion emergencies happen too: bra straps break, seams split open, chafing is a terrible, terrible thing. You might put a costume on and decide that you're not feeling it that day, so by having a spare costume to wear you've got a choice if needed.
  • You'll need several costumes, so that means more time is necessary to get ready before even getting to the event.

Picking an Awesome ​Group Costume Idea:

group music festivals costume ideas

Going to a show with friends? Here's a group festival costume idea that might work for you. Click on the pic to get some awesome onesies!

  • Having a group costume theme is great! Many costume ideas only work as a group. For example, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Nobody will get it if there's just Donatello, but by having the whole team, everyone knows who you are.
  • It can be easier to choose a costume if you're just having to match a theme. Superheroes anyone?
  • Costs can be less also, especially if someone is making the costumes. It's easier to make 4 similar costumes and less expensive since you can sometimes buy the costume materials together.
  • If you don't agree with the group costume theme, you can also go as the opposite costume theme. Super Villains vs Superheroes is a good example.

​Solo Costume Themes:

  • You can do what you want, how you want to. The Lone Ranger rides alone. (Tonto just happens to follow him)
  • Getting a group to decide on a costume theme can be a struggle sometimes.
  • Now you can wear your Darth Vader outfit and nobody will be able to tell you anything.

Bonus tip: Bring along some generic costume parts to your hotel/campsite. Chances are someone is attending last minute and doesn't have a costume. You can save the day by being able to throw a simple costume together for them. Also accidents happen and your primary costume might have issues, so being able to create something on the spot is so much easier when you have supplies. Things you might want to consider taking:

  • Regular or LED tutus
  • Angel or fairy wings
  • Simple masks - think masquerade
  • leggings, fishnets, or other hoisery
  • random costume accessories

​Deciding on a costume theme

​Now that you have those simple things thought about, it's time to decide on what your costume theme is going to be for the festival. You can do whatever you like, there's not a theme police to sit there and tell you no, that you can't go with the costume theme that you chose.

While there are some themes that are easier than others, it's pretty much up to you. Need an idea?  Here  are a few of the best group costume themes that I've seen or done before:

Bonus Tip: Be careful if you choose to wear a festival headdress like what you see in the old Western movies.  While you may think they look cool, did you know that you may be racially stereotyping?  The war bonnet, as it is officially known, is a cultural and spiritual symbol for Native Americans.  These war bonnets were traditionally used in marriages.  In other tribes, the bonnets were worn by men of leadership who had earned their war bonnets by creating them a single feather at a time.  They would receive feathers as a gift or for acts of valor and courage.

indian headdress at music festival

Indian headdresses or war bonnets may not be allowed into festivals

Because of the historical reasons for wearing the war bonnet, you can see why some might not like them worn as a festival headdress.  If fact, wearing "redface" is just as culturally insulting as wearing "blackface."  

Several festivals have taken the additional steps of banning "First Nations headdresses", war bonnets, or Indian headdresses.  You should always check the festival web pages for any items that may be prohibited.  Otherwise, you may be seen as that culturally insensitive ass

  • Ninjas - also the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Military - Rock the camo
  • Flower People - Daisy and tutus all the way. A real man isn't afraid to rock the tutu.  Have you seen our IHeartRaves coupon code?
  • The Smurfs - Who knew that there was more than one Smurfette.
  • Cheerleaders
  • Robots - Metallic silver and LEDs. Bonus if you can get everyone to dance the Robot
  • Clowns - Happy or creepy, either way someone is not going to like you.
  • Movie Characters - Tron, Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland
  • any many, many more.
evil clowns as a festival costume idea

Good or Evil, Clowns are sure to get a reaction with this costume idea for music festivals

You Found Your Costume Theme, Now To Find The Best Costume Idea

After you have decided on a theme, you need to choose your festival costume. Is there a character who's your favorite that you'd like to be? At this point, you should just be trying to narrow down the list of costume ideas.  Look online for pictures so that you can study that's characters costume.

superheros the perfect festival costume theme for groups

Superheros are always a good pick when it comes to choosing the perfect festival costume idea

I'm going to use Batman as an example for the costume idea that I'm thinking of using.  Do you want to be the Dark Knight, or do you feel like the campy 60's era Batman is a better fit for you. Again, searching online will help you out, someone has been your character before, so you should find images to use as inspiration.

Take notes of things or features in costumes that you see and like. Be sure to save bookmarks and pictures so that you can visit them again. You may also want to try and go with more popular costume ideas versus something a little less known. It gets really old having to explain to people that you're dressed up as Ross from Season #4 Episode 6 of Friends.

There's no easy answer for what the best costume idea for you will be.  Some people like to go dressed as something sexy, or neon, or...  The list goes on and on.

​Should You Buy or Should You Make Your Costume?

​You've chosen the costume idea that you want to have, now it's time to decide whether to buy it or make it yourself. The million dollar question is this: Do you have the time and skills to make your own costumes?

​While I wish I could sew, (seriously my costumes would be so much easier if I just learned how to sew myself) I can't so I have to either assemble the base costume and have someone tailor it for me or purchase something outright. Usually what I do is figure out the costume from the mental image I have and how I want it to look. Then I either have a friend sew it together or actually take it to a tailor or dressmaker that can create the custom outfit for me.

Other times, I have just a vague ideas for a costume.  What I'll do is buy the basic costume from somewhere online. Continuing with the Batman example from earlier, I'd visit SuperheroStuff.com and get the bottoms and top necessary. Then I'd look around for accessories that would complete the ensemble.

Combing Costume Themes and Costume Ideas

​The costume that you do decide to wear to your next music festival is not limited to just the clothes that you are wearing. You might need to wear a wig or have some other unusual hairstyle. Maybe your character wears makeup or has some distinguishing feature. The Joker wouldn't be the same without his signature white face and green hair, would he?

​The accessories are what really make an awesome costume idea. Often I will spend more on getting the right accessories to wear with a costume than the actual expense of the costume itself. It's easy to over-accessorize, and they'll often run up the total cost of a costume by 75% or more. That's why you need to do what I like to call:

​The FestGuru.com Festival Costume Reality Check (TM)

​Earlier in the article you might have noticed that I mentioned the weather and how you might get sweaty, there was a reason for that. No matter what costume idea you decide to follow you should carefully consider these points.

​The Environment:

You're going to be attending a festival. What's the temperature supposed to be like for the duration. Inside festivals have climate control, but what about the walk to your vehicle. The same thing goes for outdoor festivals.

​Is your costume one that will cause you to overheat if you're dancing for several hours?

Things to avoid: fur, feathers, lots of layers. But having said that, if your costume idea is one that shows lots of skin, do you have something warm to wear in case it gets cold?

At Something Wicked last year a good friend of mine wore something that had red fluffy fur arms. She was on the festival grounds for less than an hour before she decided that she was too hot and had to take them off.

2013 tomorrowworld festival costume idea

I practice what I preach, here's my festival costume for TomorrowWorld 2013.

At TomorrowWorld 2013, I rocked a tutu and fairy wings for my costume. It was great, I was nice and cool no matter how much dancing I was doing. The problem was having a 2-mile hike  back to my tent after the festival ended while soaking wet from sweating in 50-degree weather.  

​The Duration:

​You're going to be at the festival for hours, they have music playing for 12 or more hours.

​Do you have to have to carry around some part of your costume?

For example, I've saw a guy at EDC that was lugging around a huge fake sword that was part of his costume (He was Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII). By the end of the festival I happened to be on the same shuttle as him. I complimented him on his costume and noticed that he didn't have his sword anymore. He'd gotten tired of carrying it around and just abandoned it. The worst part was that he said it cost $100 to make, and it wasn't worth the energy to lug it around the raceway.

​The Fit:

​Unlike Halloween or other times that you might wear a costume, chances are at the festival you're not going to be somewhere that you can change your festival outfit.

​Does your festival costume fit okay and wear okay? Does it chafe anywhere?

​Your outfit is going to be worn for several hours and you'll be walking around in it for much farther than you think. Does it pinch, poke, prod, or pester any part of your body? FIX IT! Trust me.

Bonus Tip: consider bringing a travel sized thing of baby powder and some medical tape. While your outfit may be fine for the brief bit that you've tested it, out in the field it may begin to wear roughly. The baby powder will keep chafing away, and the tape can cover any pokey points that may be poking.

​Final Considerations for Your Festival Outfit

​After all this planning and work, there's only one last thing to do. Before you leave your home for the festival, try your complete outfit on. This dry run will give you a chance to fix any parts of it that are bothering you or don't fit right. Also, you can see what it will look like and take pictures.   

Powder Puff Girls at Something Wicked 2013

A easy group festival costume theme that was easy to implement. Professor X and the Powder Puff Girls

Hopefully, this has been a helpful guide to help you choose the perfect festival costume. We covered how to go from nothing to a costume theme to your actual music festival costume idea, to even getting all of your friends to join you in a group costume idea.  You should now know how to pick an awesome costume.  Heck, your festival costume could even be used as a Halloween costume with no problems.  

Please let me know in the comments below if you know of something that I might have missed. Or if you think I'm a complete idiot, let me know. If you read this guide and it helps you to have an awesome time at your next festival, please send me pictures of you in costume, I'd love to update this article with some actual pictures of readers and their best group costume ideas.

A Real World Example

TomorrowWorld 2015 is just around the corner at the time of writing this article.  While I still haven't finalized, or even gone shopping for my TomorrowWorld costumes, I do have an idea of what I'm wanting to wear.

Since it's a 4-day festival I'll need a costume for each day.  Also, I'm a sweaty person, so after about 5-6 hours I'm ready to change my costume and put something dry on.  

In previous years here's what I've worn:

2013

  • ​Fairy wings and tutu.  2x my first TomorrowWorld since I decided to go a day before the festival.
  • Neon bits and pieces, basically just through something together.
  • Murica!  TomorrowWorld has a tradition of people showing thier national pride.  Stars and Stripes all the way!

2014

  • Batman.  I ran around in my Batman underoos, complete with detachable cape.
  • Cowboys and Indians.  Actually the group I was with decided to be Indians, and I chose to be a Cowboy just because. I also stepped my costumes up a notch and went with ass less chaps.  YOLO!
  • I missed out on the Gathering (for the second year in a row) and also had to miss the whole Saturday so it was only those 2 costumes.

2015

  • Pirate.  I've really been wanting to wear an awesome pirate costume so this year I'm going to do it.
  • Murica!  I've got an outfit everyone likes to call my "Red, White, and Balls".  I think I'm going to wear it.
  • End of the World party.  Since the last Sunday there's a total lunar eclipse I want to do something along an Armagedon costume.  I may do something Gothic or Steampunkish.
  • No idea yet for my final costume.

I'm going to be staying in Dreamville during TomorrowWorld.  I need to come up with something awesome to wear while cruising the Boardwalk all night.  Maybe I'll dress up as the #Team No Sleep Coach.  Has anyone else ever noticed that they always seem to be sleeping?