The Cannes Lions 2015 Festival of Creativity starts this Sunday, June 21st and will run riot on Cannes until June 27th. It’s the world’s greatest celebration of advertising and probably the world’s greatest excuse to spend a week on the French Riviera hobnobbing with creativity’s elite. Cannes Lions, while still a competition and an amazing opportunity to hear from some of the premier minds in marketing, advertising, entertainment and tech, is ultimately a marathon of yacht parties hosted by adtech companies, making “connections” at the Gutter Bar, not-so-secretly hoping you meet Kanye West, and powering through rosé hangovers for your morning jog-and-talk meetings.

While the festival is about showcasing the world’s best creative work, it’s also about taking a moment outside of the grind to meet peers, make your colleagues back home really jealous, and have so much fun you tell yourself you’ll never go back. After all, it is a celebration—so here it is. Percolate’s Executive Guide to Cannes.

1. Know what you’re probably missing while you’re taking that meeting on the beach

What is Cannes Lions? It used to be called the International Advertising Festival, but looking at the more than 40 thousand entries to this years competition, it’s clear that the line between art and advertising is too hard to define now and what we are really celebrating is the creative brilliance of artful advertising.

We’ve been talking a lot about how creativity and systems fit together to give way to more novel, more inspired, and more impactful work—and nowhere speaks the truth of that idea better than at the Palais. The Palais is where the work, the awards, and the presentations will take place. It’s where you’ll see the world’s best creative work in Film, Film Craft, Media, Press, Outdoor, Cyber, Promo & Activation, Direct, Design, Radio, Mobile, Branded Content & Entertainment, PR, Creative Effectiveness, and Titanium and Integrated.

If you’re going to Cannes as a delegate, you’ll have the opportunity to get a more intimate view of this internationally recognized work. At the Palais, you can join seminars, see film screenings, watch the judging of the Innovation Lions, and participate in topic-specific forums and workshops. But at the end of the day, going to Cannes for this Festival of Creativity is about enjoying the good company of top-notch marketers and creatives. You’ll probably learn a lot more from an agency veteran after your third martini with him or her than you are from their fireside chat.

2. Become a local and set up camp

“Find a small, off-the-beaten-path spot and hold court. The usual suspects for meetings—all of the big hotels on the Croissette, especially the Carlton Terrace, are super jammed and it’s a pain to get a table. Instead, find the cool small cafe or restaurant, befriend the staff, and make it your local for meetings and dinners,” says Colin Nagy, Executive Director at the Barbarian Group and Cannes Lions veteran.

The Boulevard de la Croisette that Colin is referring to is the promenade that stretches along the waterfront. You’ll find a variety of great cafes, bars, and hotels. Among them is the famed Gutter Bar, actually named Le 72 Croisette, which during Cannes Lions will be packed. It’s a great place to say a hello to as many people as you can and exchange cards (and numbers), but not the best for quiet conversations, as Colin notes.

Some of Colin’s recommendations for your new local spots:

  • Pizza Cresci in Cannes is delicious. Make sure to stop by.
  • For nice Lebanese that’s a staggering distance from the Gutter Bar, head to Al Charq and sit outside.
  • Hôtel Le Canberra has a nice, discrete pool, and is wonderful place to have lunch. Have a meal and sneak in some sun bathing.
  • Armani Cafe on the Croisette is a wonderful spot to schedule the slew of coffees and quick meetings you’ll surely have.

3. Drink water, rest when you can….

It’s going to be pretty warm next week with temperatures in the 80s (that’s about 30 in celsius), and with plenty of cocktail hours, late nights, and opportunities to lay out in sun, sunscreen, water, and naps where you can fit them, each is a good idea.

You can get your day going with a run along the promenade. It’s about 6.0 km (just over 4 miles) from the Radisson Blu hotel all the way to L’Ecrin Plage and back. You’ll probably be able to find at least one representative of the Percolate Run Club hitting that trail to clear his or her head.

Again, the best part of the festival is being out, meeting people, and getting inspired. Save your energy for that.

4. …But pack in as much as possible

If you need a break from the all the Michael McDonald and conversations about reaching your daily activity goal, get the hell out of Cannes for a few hours. Outside of the meetings, parties, and official events, you are going to be in a beautiful place, rich with art, history, and culture. It’s going to be a busy week, but try to build in some time to just enjoy it.

Monaco is a great day trip if you have any free time in your schedule. It’s an easy train ride from Cannes. If you do make it there, be sure to have a cold beer at the Hotel de Paris.

Also, another great day trip is sneaking into the Negresco in Nice and checking out arguably one of the world’s best private art collections. Play it cool—if anyone asks, you didn’t get that tip from us.

You can also head to Antibes and visit the Musée Picasso. The art is amazing, but the ambience of the museum alone is worth the visit.

It’s going to be a great week. We’re excited to be there, celebrating with our clients and partners who are there competing, sharing their insights on (and off) stage, and getting inspired. Let us know if you’ll be there too. We’ll jog off that last good-idea-at-the-time Sazerac from the night before together.