February 02, 2023 | 5 COMMENTS

When you’re in a crowd of thousands of people, it can feel almost impossible to get a hold of your friends. Chances are the phone signal is bad, your messages aren’t sending, and the music can be too loud that you won’t even be able to hear. Nothing is worse than getting to your designated meet up spot and not seeing your friends anywhere! What's the answer? A rave totem!

DIY totem poles for music festivals are fun, creative, and a great way to get spotted in the crowd. Having been to so many festivals, I’ve seen so many creative rave totems that it inspired me to make my own! If you’re wondering how to make a totem pole, follow this guide for important key steps in making the perfect rave totem.

How to Make a DIY Totem Pole for Music Festivals

  1. Create the Base
  2. Craft the Head
  3. Make it Stand Out

1. Creating the Base of the Totem

Music festival totems need a sturdy base otherwise they're going to break. Trust me. There are many options for choosing what to use as the pole of the totem, such as wooden dowels from craft stores, mini portable flagpoles, telescoping pool poles, PVC pipes- essentially any long pole that is strong enough to hold the head of the totem as well as withstand multiple festivals. I searched for a pole online with the keyword “telescoping”. I recommend looking for a pole that is telescoping because it makes carrying and transporting your totem much easier, especially if you’re flying with your totem! The pole I went with was something that was approximately 2 feet long when collapsed and stretched to about 4 feet long when extended out. This was the perfect option for me; it was lightweight, long and easy for me to fit into my luggage, especially since I travel and fly around a lot for festivals (catch my totem pole at Bass Canyon and Electric Zoo!). It was pretty affordable, too - about $9. 

Extendable PVC pipe for a rave totem pole

2. Crafting the Head of the Totem

It was my first time making a totem and there were so many different options to make. I wanted to something eye-catching, yet simple, so I went with an animal totem. I figured totem animals were relatively easy for a first totem, so I found an image of a cute dog and did some photoshopping myself to make this dog festival ready!

rave dog for a DIY totem pole

I then saved the image and searched up places to do large poster prints of the image I created. OfficeMax offered a cheap option that printed my picture on a large poster option (18" x 24")  for less than $15! It was pretty impressive in size, especially for the cost.

I pasted my poster image on to a piece of cardboard that I cut out perfectly to the outline of the image. I went ahead and glued the poster onto the cardboard. On the back of the poster, I used some scraps of the remaining cardboard to form a strap where the totem pole could be inserted and could be removed easily as well for easy transporting.

Animal Rave Totem - dog

I was super satisfied with the outcome of my first totem: it was large and so easy to carry and take apart for traveling, which fit all of my needs.

3. Making Your Totem Pole Stand Out

For my totem pole, I wanted it to light up so I found some LED lights on Amazon. The ones that I bought were great because they were battery operated and also waterproof.

LED lights waterproof

LED lights from Amazon

I added them to the edge of my totem so it would be colorful and lit all around!

LED Light up Animal Totem Pole

These lights were awesome because there were multiple colors and could be operated to cycle through the colors on its own.

Additional Tips to Make Your Totem Stand Out in the Crowd!

A festival totem is great for expressing your creative side so take this as an opportunity to do so! Not to mention, the more creative your totem pole is, the more photos it will likely end up in. There are endless options for how to make your totem unique: glitter, faux flowers, colorful faux fur, lights, stuffed animals, jewels, etc.

Punny Rave Totem Pole - send needs

You can even make your totem very punny!

Tiesto Totem

Create a funny slogan or print a picture of your favorite DJ. Photo Credit: Fest Fashions


Take your favorite characters on a trip with you. Photo Credit: @loveraving

Animal Totem

A simple and cute idea for a totem - add a cute stuffed animal to the totem pole! Photo Credit: Fest Fashions

EDC is Cool but Have You Ever Been to Target

Photo Credit: Insomniac Events/EDC Orlando

The list is endless! Take a trip to your local craft store and you can find loads of items to take your totem to the next level. Using hashtags on social media platforms can give you inspiration from a bunch of photos of other people’s totems.

Making my first rave totem was definitely a fun experience for me and allowed me to express my creative side. Festivals are a place where people are free to express themselves, whether that’s through the clothes ravers wear, the kandi they trade, the totems they make, the flags they fly. So go and get creative! Make a totem of your favorite image or meme for the festival season; who knows who will see your festival totem or where photos of it might end up. If you see my totem at Bass Canyon or Electric Zoo, be sure to stop by and say hi and let’s headbang together!

Last Updated: 7/3/19 by Leonard Pulig


Brandi said:

Can you tell me where you got this?

Liz said:

Are telescoping bases allowed in most festivals?

Deanna said:

Sorry if this is a dumb question, but how do you attach the sign to the pole itself? I’m looking into getting a telescopic pool cleaner pole (4-5 ft) and want to attach a picture of my dog turned into a rave shiba. TIA!

Kellie Burch said:

Mely, you can check out microfibertech.com or google, “pool pole” :)

Mely said:

Where did you buy your $9 telescopic pole?

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.