Rave vs. Music Festival: What's the Difference?
Photo Credit: Insomniac Events
Rave vs. music festival…which is it? In this section, we’ll be covering this lifelong question that has plagued us all. Before we dive into the differences, let’s start with defining the two.
Raves, by definition, are large dance parties featuring either DJs or live performers that play electronic dance music or EDM. Whereas, music festivals are simply community events, which feature live musical performances that are often presented with a theme.
Raves and music festivals can be very similar, but there are some key characteristics that can set these two apart. Coachella is a festival that features EDM but isn’t considered a rave. On the other hand, EDC is both a rave and a festival, but warehouse and underground events are simply just raves.
This might be confusing at first, but once you’ve experienced each of these events, you’ll understand that they have distinct qualities.
The Differences Between a Rave and a Music Festival
Before you even get inside of the rave, you’re going to hear/feel the constant booming of the kick drum. You’re typically going to see DJs on the lineup of raves with the occasion of live electronic artists.
Raves are going to have a lineup stacked with a variety of EDM artists. Within the EDM scene there’s a diverse selection of genres in electronic dance music. Each genre sounds and feels very different from one another.
Music Festivals may feature some of your favorite DJs, but it’s not limited to electronic music. There can be any or every genre of music at a festival. Oftentimes, a music festival will have a theme and only host performances that fall within that theme.
At festivals, you’ll most likely see more live music and bands play than you would at a rave. The main purpose of a rave is to get people up and dancing. Music festivals focus on the appreciation and quality of the music itself, whether it makes you want to dance or not.
Another significant difference between raves and music festivals is fashion. You’ll be able to dress up for both kinds of events, but there are specific outfits and styles that you’ll see at each!
Whether you’re at a rave or a festival, you’re sure to see some really cool outfits! People love going all out at both of these events! When you go to these events you’re going to see a lot of colors, themed costumes, and matching outfits. You’ll find that the fashion at both raves and festivals can also follow a lot of current trends, but are presented in very different ways.
Rave fashion is all about standing out and self-expression. There are basically no boundaries in rave fashion, so you can wear very unconventional outfits and make it as wild as you want!
Lots of rave outfits have some pretty crazy features like neon colors, holographic fabrics, and bold fits. Whether you want to wear a pair of thong bottom booty shorts or underboob cut crop tops, raves are a safe place where you can wear just about anything!
Fashion at music festivals can vary depending on the style or theme of the festival, but people generally dress stylish and casual. Music festivals can often allow all ages, so you won’t see people wearing outfits as crazy or bold as you would at a rave.
Depending on which festival you’re attending, you may see a lot of crossover of both rave and music festival fashion. Check out our guide for what to wear to a rave if you need help!
Art / Activities
When you go to a rave or music festival, music isn’t the only thing that you’re going to see. You’ll find some of the coolest art installations and activities at these events!
Raves usually take place during the night or somewhere underground, so the artwork and installations are loud and vibrant! They usually use colorful LED lights and UV reactive colors. Bright lights, visuals, and EDM all go hand-in-hand, so you’ll probably find glovers giving light shows or creating stunning light trails with other LED light toys!
Many music festivals get started during the day which can allow for more activities than raves. There can be games and interactive events that you can play or experience with others. Festivals have some amazing art installations that don’t always require a dark setting or crazy light setup and make for some pretty awesome photo-ops!
The stage production at raves and music festivals are freaking crazy! The sound and visuals are epic and are what turn an artist’s vision into reality. The stage production of these events has gotten better and better each year. The experience of these two can be very similar, but there are still some features that make raves separate from music festivals.
Raves thrive in the dark, they achieve a level of visuals and sound like something never before! If you’re going to your first rave, get ready to get your face melted! Raves have the craziest lights, lasers, and visuals. When you pair this with crazy amounts of bass, you’ll be blown away!
Each genre of EDM is very unique and has its own vibe and feel. If you’ve ever been to EDC, you’ll see that the stages reflect each sound and create an atmosphere. The stages that Insomniac creates are probably some of the craziest stages you’ll ever see in your life. Some stages blast air, some have enormous structures built in, and others even shoot fire!
Music festivals are capable of doing this as well when they are featuring electronic artists, but when it comes to live performances, you’ll probably have a different experience! When there are live bands or performances, there will be a greater focus on the sound quality of the instruments and vocals. The visuals also probably won’t be as intense as a rave. At music festivals, there will mainly be colorful lighting and a live display of the band/artist on the big screens.
Photo Credit: Insomniac Events
Raves and music festivals can be similar in a lot of ways, however, the overall feel and experience of each is very different. Each is totally worth going to see the difference for yourself. Regardless of which one you decide to go to, you’re sure to have an amazing time. Whether you’re into house, alternative rock, or reggae music, there’s either a rave or music festival that’ll be perfect for you!
Published by Kellie Burch
Last Updated: 6/11/21 by Julia Sachs