Next weekend is my favorite weekend of the year, but not for the reasons you might think. It’s not because of Halloween or the Florida/Georgia game, it’s because of Fest. Fest is the giant punk music festival that takes over downtown Gainesville the last weekend of October every year. Just a short walk from the University of Florida campus, Fest really is the best way to close out October.


Now in it’s sixteenth year, Fest has more than ever to offer local Gainesville residents. Here are just a few reasons why Fest is the best way to spend next weekend:


It’s More Than Just A Music Festival

Each year, fans travel from all over the world to watch an impressive roster of national and international bands preform. But, it’s not just about the music, it’s about the company. Festers are some of the best people you’ll ever meet. Everyone has a smile on their face and they’re always happy to make friends with you. By the end of the weekend, you’ll have gotten more hugs and high fives from total strangers than you ever thought possible. There really is no other festival like it! I’ve met some of my best friends at Fest and I can’t wait to see them all again this year and make even more friends!


The Bands Aren’t Just There To Play

The bands come to Fest to have fun, just like the fans. They interact with their fans, make friends, and go to shows just like everyone else. Odds are you’ll run into musicians you’ve seen play at shows, and it makes the experience seem that much more personal. They’re always super nice and happy to meet new people throughout the weekend.


It’s Close To Halloween

This adds a whole other level of fun to Fest weekend. Not only is the weather cooler because it’s fall, but since it’s almost Halloween there are always people in fun costumes. Last year I looked at records in the flea market with someone dressed as Finn from Adventure Time, Shouted along to Pup with someone dressed as Tina from Bob’s Burgers, and moshed to World’s Scariest Police Chases with a group of Power Rangers.


The Shows Are A Blast

A lot of Fest bands are high energy punk rock bands, so there shows are always pretty wild. They jump around on stage like lunatics, get the fans to sing along, crowd surf, and more! They’re always entertaining to watch, whether you’re right there in the mosh pit or watching safely from the side.


There Are All Sorts Of Different Shows To Check Out

There are 14 different venues with bands playing all through the day and night. Not really in the mood for a crazy punk show? No problem! There are acoustic showcases every day (last year, Ryan Young, the singer of Off With Their Heads, married a couple during the band’s acoustic set!), indie rock bands playing at some venues, a couple of metal bands at others, and this year they even have rappers like MC Lars.


Not Really Interested In Music? Fest Has Plenty Of Other Things For You To Do!

In addition to the stacked line-up of bands and artists, Fest also has a plethora of other things to do as well. There’s the Fest flea market, the Friday pool parties for the people with wristbands, Yoga for punks with Miguel Chen from Teenage Bottlerocket, the Fest Comedy Showcase, a live taping of both The Chris Gethard Show and Chris Gethard’s Beautiful/Anonymous podcast, Fest wrestling and so much more!


This Year, Fest 16 Is Bigger And Better Than Ever!

In addition to everything I mentioned above, there are more than 350 bands coming to Fest this year, including Gainesville punk legends Against Me! and Hot Water Music. This year Against Me! is playing their first album, Reinventing Axl Rose in full along with a bunch of other songs! It’s going to be the perfect set for fans, both old and new (I’ve been listening to Against Me! since I was 13, but I’ve never seen them live, so I’m stoked!). Bands will be coming from Israel, Canada, Scotland, and everywhere in between just to play Fest! This is a weekend no Gainesville local should miss!


So what are you waiting for? Make your Fest plans now! If you want to test the waters and see if you like it, you can check out some of the free shows during the weekend, or just hang out at one venue all day. You don’t want to miss out on what could be the best weekend of your life, a weekend so great bands have literally written songs about it! Hopefully I’ll be seeing some of you in the pit next week!

Find all your Fest info here:

And check out my Fest 16 playlist to get a taste of what you can expect next weekend:



Charlie Daffron

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