Summer music festivals tend to inspire images of sunny fields and shirtless bros in the minds of people — eternal sunshine of the Coachella mind. Alas, this is imagined, and more often than not the Fuji Rock Festival experiences at least some precipitation over the course of its three-day run. Usually, it straight-up pours at some point. Ideally, you — the smart, always-thinking-ahead punter that you are — already have a good pair of boots and a slicker ready to go. But even this prep can’t stop the rain from making your show-viewing experience a little less enjoyable.
So why not take a break? When I started going to Fuji Rock, I’d push myself to watch performers even in monsoon conditions. But I realized last year doing this was only making me miserable (also: sick). A light drizzle can be dealt with. An afternoon deluge, not so much. When the sky opened up in 2017, I found shelter. And ended up having a much better and healthier time as a result.
For those looking for a little escape during inclement stretches of Fuji Rock, here are a few places to head to when the sky starts looking a little too grey (with the caveat that maybe the grounds look different this year! But in general, this is a solid plan).
Orange Court Tents
The space wherein I realized “huh, staying dry during heavy rain…feels good?” Now that this space in the center of the grounds lacks a stage, Fuji Rock have assembled a large tent in the middle with plastic tables free from the elements. It fills up quickly — especially when those clouds start looking less than friendly — but it’s also quite large, meaning the odds of grabbing a space are pretty good. Obviously, getting into the middle is better than the edges, but any cover is better than none. And of course, make sure you have good boots on — it’s a dirt ground, and it turns muddy fast. Don’t be like the dude I saw last year wearing sandals whose feet slowly submerged over the course of an hour.
What really separates this space, however, is the abundance of food and drink surrounding the tent. Taking advantage of this comes down to timing — knowing when the drizzle starts and being ready for it to get heavier soon after — but if done correctly you can have something to nibble on while waiting out the storm. This is especially nice since the Orange Court area has become the best area in the fest to grab craft beer. Nothing makes bad weather more tolerable than a drink.
I mean, it’s a completely covered music stage…the chance to stay bone-dry and see bands? Good combo. But it isn’t that easy. Because of the above reasons, the Red Marquee fills up fast when it looks like bad weather is incoming — and that’s ignoring all the folks who just plant chairs down, making navigating the space pretty difficult.
Similarly, you’ve got to get to the center to actually take advantage of this. The sides of the Red Marquee let water flow in…and a lot of the stuff drips off from the roof. So standing there is even worse than being outside. And everyone knows it. If you can get deep in…and are OK being packed tight…this is a good option.
Your Tent / Room
If you have a room at the Naeba Prince Hotel or space at a nearby lodging, that’s your best bet to beat the weather. And it’s important to get some rest during gatherings like this. Even the heartiest weekend warriors could use a nap.
A tent…slightly trickier. If you have a tough one, for sure, but otherwise you might be better off looking for shelter somewhere else. Though…if your worried your tent might get wiped out by the rain, you might do well to check on it anyway.
Bonus “Place That Seems Like It Would Be Good, But Isn’t” Winner: Café de Paris
Sure, the Café de Paris has a roof, but it’s pretty bad as a place to wait out the rain. It’s small for one, so even if you do get inside you are bound to be smooshed tight by all the other people behind you trying to get under the ceiling. Even worse, though, is that the front to the tent gets super muddy, and surprisingly deep. Even good boots get mucked up here. Unless you really want to see something here at the same time it rains, avoid.