When you need to plan an outdoor festival, you’ve got a lot to prepare for. You love the spectacle of New Orleans’ Carnival, feel the danger and excitement of Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls, see the beautiful colors of India’s Holi spring festival, and enjoy the always entertaining Germany’s Oktoberfest.
While you don’t have to live up to these celebrations, you can take a few steps to make your outdoor festival fun and unforgettable. Whether you’re organizing visual arts, music, performing arts, theater, film, or multifaceted festivals, read on to learn the best ways to make them go off without a hitch.
Focus on the Music
The National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal organization that focuses on the nation’s arts. It researches and encourages artistic development with helpful data, grants, and prestigious awards. This agency takes a special interest in festivals around the country. Why? Because festivals provide many their main access point to local culture. And according to a 2010 research report, music is the connective tissue among most festivals.
While many festival producers feel they need a famous headliner, those “big acts” can come with a big price tag. If your budget allows, booking a well-known performer can attract crowds from all over the area. However, if you have limited funds, you still have options. Scout out the nearby university and enjoy a few coffee shop shows to find local bands. You can give them a platform to perform and introduce the community to underrated, homegrown music.
Let Them Eat Cake
Music is essential, but if your festival-goers are going hungry, they won’t enjoy that music for long. If your venue is small enough, you could bid out catering to one lucky company. They will pay handsomely for the advertising and sole access to captive customers. How ever, if your festival contains hundreds of famished families, they will need more than one option.
Like we discussed with local bands, local restaurants, food trucks, and start-ups would clamber to serve at your festival. You can increase their visibility and customer base, which can boost the local economy. Include a variety of food types so people can select their favorite.
Put Safety First
So far, we’ve focused on the entertainment, but your most important concern is always visitor safety. Most municipalities require yo u to place a tent near the entrance so people will know where to head if they need help. Make sure to include this tent as you plan your festival layout.
Your entrance brings up another safety concern. If your festival is free to the public, you may be tempted to dispense with entrance booths and let people walk in and out from all directions. However, this can be unsafe because you and your team do not have an accurate occupancy total-and you can’t see what people are bringing inside. Choose one or two monitored entrance/exit points to keep everyone as secure as possible.
Divide and Conquer
You can only do so much on your own. Make sure you surround yourself with a team you can trust to get their jobs done. But, even if you have a reliable team, you may not have enough resources to publicize your event.
One of the best delegation methods is to reach out to volunteers. Yes, you can put up flyers that contain your phone number or em ail address and hope people will get in touch. However, most people aren’t that proactive. Instead, utilize already-formed volunteer groups. Get in touch with the local masonic lodge, the PTA, high school or university programs, church volunteer groups, or any other volunteer-focused association. They can spread the news while you tend to other matters.
During the planning stage, you have hundreds of tasks to juggle. The layout, volunteer signups, vendor contracts, publicity, lights, and permits all matter in the final product. But after the festival is over, you don’t want to get stuck with the clean up.
You can help avoid the mess by placing garbage cans throughout the area. The moment you feel you have enough, add a couple m ore. They fill up faster than you think. Even with this precaution, however, someone will need to clean the festival site. Hire a local street sweeping company that services special events like yours. The best will offer cleaning options for before and after the festival. Some even provide hand cleaning for areas that trucks can’t reach.
If you want your festival to evolve into a community tradition, you must take the after effects into account. If the area looks like a disaster afterward, the city or private owner will not want to host it again.
Use these steps to make your festival a success. Don’t forget to take photographs and grab a couple of interviews from your happy festival-goers-you can use that material in next year’s advertisements!