It's go time, kids. The pre-"sale" for highly coveted Virgin Mobile FreeFest tickets begins Thursday at noon through Ticketfly, followed by a general "sale" beginning Friday at noon.

Set for Sept. 21 at Merriweather Post Pavilion, the festival has lined up 20 major and rising acts, from Vampire Weekend to Icona Pop to Robin Thicke. And anyone who has valiantly attempted to get FreeFest tickets in the past knows the odds are long. But there are ways  -- some, admittedly, not free -- to improve your chances of getting in the gates. We can't guarantee that our tips will land you tickets, but they're worth a shot.

Bookmark the page to buy tickets so you're not hunting for it at go-time.
Here's the link. Then browse Ticketfly's own list of tips for getting tickets. Much of the advice is practical, including trying in several different browsers at once, and clearing your cache, restarting your browser and trying again if you encounter an error.

COLUMBIA, MD - October 6th, 2012 - Santigold performs at the 2012 Virgin Mobile FreeFest in Columbia, MD. She released her sophomore album, Master of My Make-Believe, in April. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson / For The Washington Post)
Last year's Virgin Mobile FreeFest brought Santigold to Merriweather. This year, the festival features a who's who of electronic artists. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson / For The Washington Post)

Follow Virgin Mobile USA on Twitter and Facebook. Immediately.
Virgin Mobile customers, followers on social media and folks lucky enough to have landed tickets in previous years will be sent access codes to get into Thursday's pre-sale .

Don't bother calling.
We've all had the moment when, while stuck in Internet purgatory, we begin to believe that we might be able to game the system by trying the old-fashioned way. Tickets to FreeFest, however, won't be available by phone.

Don't wait at the box office, either.
We're real downers, aren't we? Free tickets will only be available online. However, if you're willing to pay, "Freemium" packages -- which, for $49.95, include a ticket, T-shirt and a cup for unlimited sodas and water -- will be available at the 9:30 Club and the Merriweather Post Pavilion box offices when they open Friday. In previous years, the packages have not sold out on the first day of the sale.

Don't request more than the maximum number of tickets.
Each billing address/credit card/shipping address is allotted a maximum of two tickets. Don't put four in your cart. You'll be at risk for having your whole order canceled. Also, you'll be a jerk.

When it asks you to make a donation, go for it.
FreeFest is raising money for the Sasha Bruce Re*Generation House for homeless teens in Southeast D.C. If you get far along enough in the online process, you will be asked whether you want to donate. If you've already selected your tickets, you're safe. Your tickets are in your cart.  It doesn't count against your "time" to complete your order (nor does it improve your chances of getting tickets). But if you're still worried, you can skip the step and donate in person at the festival.

If you don't get free tickets this week, don't lose hope. There's one more way.
Not all 50,000 attendees get tickets in this mad dash. In the past, fans have been offered a chance to get a free, guaranteed ticket by doing some good for the world. Look out on Monday for details about how you can volunteer to earn a ticket (while supplies last).