How to Successfully Plan an Unforgettable Festival or Outdoor Event
Outdoor festivals and big events can be magical for attendees. Warm weather during the day and star-studded nights make open-air venues appealing to everyone.
Planning for big events such as these requires lots of forethought. Weather can be uncooperative, security considerations need to be made, logistics detailed and the list goes on. Prepare and plan for a safe and memorable festival by following these steps below.
Whether you’re hosting an event to make money, or your festival is not-for-profit, you need to create a budget and carefully stick to your plan. Costs such as food or entertainment are obvious expenses, but don’t forget to account for smaller items such as first aid provisions, licenses, or other administrative costs.
Venue and Lodging
Once you’ve established your budget, you can begin your search for your perfect venue. Are you looking for a hillside location so your guests have great views of the stage? Perhaps you need open space to host booths and performance stages across the grounds. Whatever type of location you’re looking for, make sure you book your lodging and location in advance and plan for move-in and move-out dates.
Your attendees are coming to your festival to have fun and to be entertained. Book your performers well in advance, and promote your festival and the acts through social media and in the local media. We've laid out a few ways event planners can help marketers get more attendees. If you’re planning to host your festival annually, you can incorporate special hashtags and request that guests post updates to their stories and tag your event as a way to promote the fun for next year.
To save on the cost of your event, you can gather sponsors to help offset some of the expenses. Consider creating a sponsor letter and distribute to local organizations or businesses. Their names could be placed on swag items or they could make cash donations in exchange for logo placements on signs around the venue.
It’s pertinent that you ensure you fill seats and meet your financial obligations for your festival or outdoor event. Arranging for online ticket sales is convenient and easy, because there are many options for online ticket purchasing. Customers can purchase easily, and you’ll have immediate access to sales numbers. The earlier you can get these apps and events listed, the earlier sales will start to come in so you can have a better forecast.
When preparing for security for your festival, you’ll need an extensive plan in place. Hold an on-site evaluation, and consider items such as your perimeter protection, security personnel placement, and evacuation plans. Your team should be well-trained for first-aid issues and dangerous situations such as armed intruders and riots. While no one likes to think of these situations, it’s your job to prepare your team for the off chance they could occur.
If you are gathering volunteers to help with your festival, you’re relying on cooperation and goodwill. Much has been written about how to get more volunteers at your events, but what about covering the event promoters and financial backers from litigation and other concerns? Create a volunteer policy that covers expenses, health, safety, etc. Be clear about roles and expectations. Check local and federal laws when arranging for volunteers, because many states have strict guidelines about how and when volunteers are used for events.
Inclement Weather Plan
Unfortunately, weather can sometimes interfere with your best-laid plans for your festival, so it’s important to have a plan for inclement weather or other forces of nature. Will you continue the event to the extent you can, regardless of "force majeure"? How will you notify attendees if there is a cancellation? If the weather doesn’t cooperate, will you provide accommodations like large tents? If the event must be canceled, will you host an alternative event? All of these options must be considered.
The most important thing you can do when you’re hosting a festival or event is to deliver on what you’ve promised your guests. If you’ve followed the steps provided above, you’ve promoted a fantastic festival and you’ll be well on your way to showing everyone a great time, regardless of what comes up. Give them what they’ve come for—an event they’ll always remember and keep talking about for years to come.