In the article, “Why? An Introduction to Festival Planning”, the author sums up the festival experience this way, “Most festivals are awful.” She explains that this is due to the unfocused nature of most fests, but also goes on to share what makes a great festival.
“I do think it is possible to create a Festival, a festival of value, distinction, and purpose. To do so requires real integrity of purpose (WHY?), real definition and intimate understanding of its audience (FOR WHOM?), a real commitment to the uniqueness and quality of the artists to be presented (WHAT?), and a real sense of the magic of place (WHERE?). It also requires enormous hard work in both planning and implementation.”
Let’s take a look at 12 essential tips that can help you create a festival of value, distinction, and purpose.
There’s a Gap in Your Scene…Fill It
It’s never too late to develop a point of view for your event. For example, perhaps your area has a local craft brew scene (and trust me…it does). How could you celebrate this scene? Maybe dedicate an area to local breweries and regional, up-and-coming artists. There’s a niche that needs to be filled. If you find it, you can make your festival stand above the rest.
But Take It Easy, Initially
Large events take an enormous amount of planning to achieve. Sure, you’re full of big ideas – but you don’t need to implement all of them at once. Start out by focusing on just a few. You’ll save yourself a great deal of stress. If you hit your initial ideas out of the park, your reputation will grow – and your festival along with it.
An outdoor festival puts a huge toll on the space where it’s held. Make it your mission – and emphasize to your attendees and exhibitors – that you are running an eco-friendly festival. Here’s some ways you can help lessen your fest’s carbon footprint:
- Implement a “No Plastic Water Bottles policy” that encourages attendees to bring their own reusable bottle
- Have plenty of recycling containers with volunteers to encourage their use
- Use compostable or biodegradable plates and utensils
- Add a Carbon Footprint fee or donation to your tickets to offset the environmental impact
Let Your Attendees Know You Appreciate Them
In 2015, 32 million people went to at least one outdoor festival in the United States. That number almost equals the entire population of California. And festivalgoers who feel engaged and appreciated are most likely to become regulars. So, how can you make every attendee at a festival feel appreciated? Focus on the details like signage, activities, and staffing (i.e., see the following steps).
Deliver Activities for All Ages
The guests attending your event may be in their 20s, 60s, or may have children of their own. Because you’re playing host to a wide variety of interests and demographics, you need to provide an assortment of entertainment options. Even if you are hosting an event that is primarily focused on adults, set up an area that’s directed toward the younger attendees, so they can also enjoy the day.
Clearly Delineate the Layout and Utilize the Space You Have
No one likes getting lost, and the typical outdoor fest provides a lot of opportunities for the unwary to lose their way. So, don’t leave your guests in the dark. Provide plenty of clear and obvious signage that makes it easy for them to get around. Also, don’t sell tickets beyond your maximum capacity. It’s easier for people to get lost in a crowd, and nothing is worse than ridiculously long lines at an event.
Additionally, have cool and creative spaces for your attendees. Create an oasis to retreat from the outdoor elements, or a community of portable rooms to store personal items and to sleep in.
Supply Water & Sunscreen
To avoid sunburnt, dehydrated attendees, make sure to have multiple water stations available in easily accessible locations. You could even partner with a sponsor to provide a refillable water bottle to every attendee. A sponsor could also be part of the sunscreen booths. Your guests will greatly appreciate the cold water and SPF protection.
Supply Plenty of Potties, Too
Temporary outdoor restrooms can quickly become brutal. That’s why it’s your job to supply plenty so overuse doesn’t become an issue. If you have a several day festival, you’re going to need staff to keep those potties fresh and clean.
There’s nothing more important than the safety of your guests. Do everything you can to provide information about their security. Monitor the weather forecast and provide alerts about any inclement weather. In addition, contact local medical and law enforcement to ask them to be onsite in case a situation arises.
Don’t Over Serve Your Guests
If it’s your thing, there’s nothing like enjoying an ice-cold beverage in the sun with your friends. At most festivals, guests expect some alcohol to be available, but, unfortunately, they cannot be expected to police themselves. Do your best to be sure they don’t go overboard by hiring bartenders who are able to identify anyone who has been over served. This helps to maintain the safety of your attendees and the reputation of your event.
Your attendees will need help with everything from parking to directions to general festival information. Security and concessions personnel are musts, but also recruit some reliable volunteers that can help guide your guests and provide them with event knowledge. Having plenty of event staff will leave a lasting impression on your attendees.
Thank Your Staff and Volunteers
We’ve mentioned the importance of making your attendees feel appreciated, well that extends to your staff and (especially) volunteers. Remember that many of these folks will be out in the heat all day, so make sure they are well taken care of with meals, water, and a cool area to take a break.
Be sure to give The Trade Group a call at 800-343-2005 to see how our event experts can help you create a festival of value, distinction, and purpose.
Click and download our handy infographic on 12 Essential Tips for Planning a Summer Festival