Essential guide for a festival planner

Essential guide for a festival planner – words Alice Weaste

With the major festivals overexposed, oversubscribed and a logistics and access nightmare, many entrepreneurs or enthusiasts are starting their own local festivals. These are often focused on culture, arts, alternative music or food, as an alternative.

These can bring interest and investment to a local community, create a focal point for the area or help highlight a charity. Whatever the event, attendance at local festivals is soaring and many become firm fixture. Some grow and find themselves amongst the best music festivals in the world.

The key to attracting an audience and to keep them coming back is to ensure the right mix of attractions, amenities, and services. To get a festival right, from the smallest village green to a major sporting or music festival, serious preparation and planning must take place. For this, a production manager or a team with similar experience is essential to manage licensing issues, contracts and the money side. Having a good team can make the difference between a great day out and a soggy disaster.


Location, location, location

For a start a suitable location is essential. Most festivals take place on council or public land, or a private farm. It must be large and accessible enough to cater for the stages, stalls and public, with suitable parking facilities and camping if a multi-day affair. Festivals can easily be ruined by the weather, so many are taking place in indoor venues, while many food, gaming and seller-stall-based festivals prefer a more sedate environment.

Music, maestro

The most common festival includes musical acts. Huge numbers of retro, modern and niche acts tour the country each year, playing folk festivals, revival events, livening up food festivals and others. The key is to approach as many acts as possible within your budget, ensuring a mix of local acts who will bring their friends along, and attracting a big name or two along to create a headline attraction.

From classical soloists to bands and cover artists, a good mix will attract the widest audience and keep people at your festival for the longest period of time. Mix these with entertainers, performance acts and other artists, and you can keep visitors on site all day.

Food and drink

People attend festivals expecting a wide array of food and beverages these days. Asian fast food is increasingly popular, as are wood burning pizza ovens, vegan treats, hog roasts and other festival staples. It’s notable that these days the best festivals in the world also have the best food. There are van or stall-based providers around much of the country, and all will be keen to profit from a well-attended festival. Signing a contract to bring in licensed bars and eateries is a lot easier than setting up your own. Shop around and ensure the event gets a good deal out of it.


Finally, the most complained about aspect of any festival is a lack of toilets, cleaning facilities, good parking, camping and similar issues. These can generate huge problems, massive bad press, and even shut down an event outright if the police or council think there is a health or safety risk.

Organisers must ensure there is a sufficient electrical supply for stages, and enough cover and activities if poor weather strikes. Most of all, plan for suitable numbers of toilets for a packed event where people are having a good few drinks. Work with contractors who know the area and the festival scene to ensure they will do a good job of working with the organisers. Have a strong festival time table. You could invest in a festival schedule creator.

Get in touch with SRP Hire Solutions to see how we can help support your music event or festival with high-quality toilet hire and management! By planning carefully, a small festival can be a big and beautiful day for all involved. But do it wrong, and no one will ever want to go back.

Essential guide for a festival planner – words Alice Weaste


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