Rapper Wale stopped by Yardfest one year for Howard University’s homecoming. (Josh Sisk for The Washington Post)

Yardfest: Oct. 19

This huge, free outdoor concert in the middle of campus is one of the most popular homecoming events. Performers include 2 Chainz, Meek Mill, Beenie Man and Naughty By Nature, plus there are food vendors and stalls selling everything from art to jewelry to T-shirts.

Keep these tips in mind if you’re planning to go:

●Howard has been dubbed one of the most fashionable schools in the nation for a reason. Some students will get dressed up for an 8 a.m. class just because it’s Tuesday. Homecoming gives them an excuse to go all out, depleting refund checks in the name of being fly. Feel free to join in on the fun, just make sure you’re comfortable. It will probably be cold on the day of Yardfest. Usually the weather is mild the week leading up to it, and then the day of is frigid. Better to plan outfits that involve boots and jackets than to freeze in the name of looking good.

● Make sure to visit the tents AND the vendors on the lower level of the Blackburn Center. There is cool stuff to be found. Don’t miss out.

 ●There is little to no cell reception during Yardfest. I don’t know if it’s the concentration of so many cellphones in one area or what, but if you get separated from your friends, prepare to be separated for a while. Your best bet is to plan to meet at a specific location at a certain time.

● If you plan on going to the R&B show afterward, be sure to pull yourself away from Yardfest in a timely manner and line up in front of Cramton Auditorium. The show starts at 8 p.m., so you should probably get in line about 7:45 to avoid getting awful seats.

Game day fun: Oct. 20

Game day is a busy one. There’s the parade, the game and the Greek step show, with all its theatrics, music and whatnot. It’s important to plan ahead to make sure you’re able to have a stress-free, fun day.

The parade is a good time for anyone who loves marching bands. Plus, you’ll get a peek at this year’s celebrity Homecoming Ambassador. The best parade vantage point is right in front of the university bookstore, where the parade route begins.

 Then comes the game. Here’s my little secret: I’ve never, actually, attended a football game at Howard. Yes, I’ve watched the homecoming game every year, but never in the stadium, mainly because I was too lazy to get up early to stand in line for tickets. Plus, spending hours sitting on cold, concrete seats? No, thanks.

 The solution? Watch the homecoming game on a jumbotron in the Yard. Usually chairs are provided, but you can plop down on a blanket, have a little picnic, stroll over to the booths and enjoy the food from the vendors. Just an option.

 After the game, there’s the step show. This year, it is at the DAR Constitution Hall, which is near Farragut North and Farragut West Metro stations. Plan ahead. The train station will get crowded, especially since the tickets are only $40 this year. 

 It’s a good idea to leave about an hour and a half early for the step show, to avoid overly congested trains and to make sure you get decent seats. It’s also smart to buy a round-trip train ticket in advance to avoid getting stuck in long lines with a bunch of people who are unsure of how to operate the complicated WMATA machines.

After parties: Oct. 19-20

Have options. Howard Homecoming is the perfect excuse for clubs to jack their prices up, and they take full advantage of it. There are tales of people paying as much as $200 to get into a club that wouldn’t dare charge more than $40 on a normal weekend. Do not get swindled. Make sure you’re getting as much bang for your hard-earned cash by asking around, checking out a club’s Yelp reviews and comparing prices. If you have to be there before 11 p.m. to pay a decent cover, get there early.  

 Also, be sure you have a ride home. If possible, drive to clubs. Cabs are a viable option early in the night, but if you wait until the club closes, you may get stranded. Swarms of people will be clamoring to hail a cab, and most cabdrivers don’t care if their fare called ahead. Plus, many cab companies only operate within the District, so if you’re staying in Maryland or Virginia, you can find yourself out of luck.

 If you plan on taking the train, make sure you know exactly when the last train gets to the nearest station. Metro’s close times will sneak up on you.

Don’t let parking problems ruin your weekend

Parking tickets are the District of Columbia’s lifeblood. I’ve seen parking officers drive around at 2 a.m. trying to catch people. Feed the meter, pay attention to parking signs and, above all, make sure you’re not blocking a hydrant.

Be safe

Droves of people come into the city for Howard Homecoming, making it a feeding frenzy for all types of shady characters. Lock your cars, watch your valuables and make sure to pay attention to your surroundings. It’s supposed to be a fun and happy time, but unfortunately, not everyone understands that.

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