How to Organise a Festival

Following the two years or so when every scheduled gathering was disrupted by travel restrictions, lockdowns, and social distancing, crowds of avid festival-goers are ready-primed for a return to these events. So, let’s look at how to organise a festival.

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Organising a festival is no small undertaking – and it comes with a range of inevitable risks. Whenever you are responsible for gatherings of large numbers of people, public liability is a concern, as is the risk that the whole thing needs to be called off for one reason or another. You face the considerable costs of cancellation.

For those two reasons alone, our Festival Insurance will be high on your list of priorities.

Organising a festival: what’s involved?

Music festivals are the first to spring to mind, of course, but there’s a rich tradition in this country of many others – from food to beer festivals and stand-up comedy events to book festivals.

Whatever the main or overall theme, here are some key considerations…

Acts, speakers, and personalities

Whatever your festival’s main or overall theme, the acts or speakers you have booked to appear, and the personalities you expect to attend will be the chief draw – and likely to determine the size of the crowd you attract.

You’ll find it well worth your while, therefore, giving the selection of these principal characters careful thought and consideration.

Location, location, location

Pick the right people and, above all, pick the right place – the location for your festival is likely to prove a critical factor.

Consider transport links, ease of access, the amenities and facilities you’ll need to provide – and whether the festival’s noise levels are likely to cause problems for neighbours.

Organising the help

Festivals don’t run by themselves, and you’re likely to need a whole army of staff, stewards, and – possibly – volunteers to help run the show.

Recruitment and selection criteria will vary from one festival – and festival type – to another. But the greater experience that any of your helpers have, the more efficiently they will be able to manage admission, the many queues that are likely to form, and the occasional accidents and emergencies that might occur.

For the latter, the prudent festival organiser will have already formulated an effective and realistic risk assessment of the site and the numbers you will be entertaining.

Funding and budgets

Of course, you’ll need to work out how much it’s all going to cost to organise the festival you have in mind. And, once you know those costs, you’ll have to work out where the funding is coming from. Loans, angel investors, and crowdfunding are just some of the potential sources you might want to explore.

In any event, any money lent or invested will need to be repaid – and the obvious way to do that is through the tickets you sell. That requires a careful calculation of the price of each ticket and the marketing and promotion campaign you’ll be launching to encourage ticket sales.

Promoting your event

There are many ways you can promote your festival, with both offline and online marketing (including social media). Our blog

10 different ways to promote your event has some useful ideas.

Summary

After several years’ of restraint and restrictions, the crowds are anxious to return to some of the festivals they’ve loved to attend in the past – whether the main draw has been the music, food, drink, comedy, or books.

Any festival is a significant undertaking and if you are preparing to organise one, give it the serious, careful, and meticulous planning it deserves.

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