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Planning an Outdoor Music Festival

1. Get Development Approval

You may not realize this, but if your festival is being held on public or private land, you’re likely to need development approval from the local council. This can involve Event Management plans, Noise plans, Waste Management plans, Traffic Management plans, Site plans and Alcohol Management plans. These plans can take months to get together and Council approval will take at least three months. The last thing you want is to get shut down on the day because you don’t have your paperwork in order.

2. Give yourself plenty of time to plan

Planning an outdoor musical festival means juggling a lot of balls; you’ll need to arrange bands, vendors and the venue, as well as marketing and selling tickets to the event. I’d recommend giving yourself months (if not years!) to plan the festival from start to finish if you don’t want a last minute panic.

3. You’ll need A LOT of technical equipment

The whole focus of your event is going to be the live music, which means a suitable stage, lighting equipment, and sound equipment. I wouldn’t recommend you try to plan this all on your own, instead use the services of a specialized music production company who’ll know exactly what you’ll need, when you’ll need it, where you’ll need it, and pretty much run the technical side of the event.

3. Plan the space well

The festival will need enough open space for the stages you need, plus backstage areas, Car and Coach parking, catering vans, toilets, First Aid, and of course camping if it’s a weekend festival. Don’t forget that you’ll need a fair amount of space between stages if there’s going to be more than one.

4. Budget wisely for artists

You might be lucky enough to attract big name musicians to your festival, but be aware of your total artist budget.

If you get one huge star act that uses up your total budget, you’re going to struggle to keep festival-goers entertained for the duration of the festival. Think about having an eclectic mix of unsigned, local talent, up-and-coming bands, with a big name or two thrown in if budget allows.

6. Organize your entrance

How will the entrance to the festival work? What about wristbands, tickets, or hand-stamps? If your music festival runs for more than one day, people might want to leave and come back in, which is why wristbands are a popular choice when planning an outdoor music festival.

7. Make sure you have enough security

Music festival tickets can be pricey, especially if they’re weekend events, so make sure that it’s impossible (or at least very difficult) for people to ‘hop fences’ and get in for free. Not only will it equate to lost revenue if people manage to sneak in, but it could also take the festival capacity over the maximum allowed for health and safety reasons.

8. Think about non-musical entertainment

There may be downtime between sets, or possibly technical difficulties arise. Make sure that you’ve got other types of entertainment for attendees, art installations, maybe dance shows, magicians, wandering theatre players, kids’ activities or comedy acts.

9. Market cleverly

Marketing outdoor music festivals is much the same as marketing other types of events, but you do have extra avenues to explore. Along with social media and local press, think about the bands and acts that are performing at the festival. Their fans are going to make up a large part of your audience, so target their fan-sites as well as your usual outlets.

10. Don’t forget the essentials

If you’ve ever been to a music festival, what were the facilities that you couldn’t have done without? Festival-goers are going to need food, drink, bathrooms, first aid (just in case!) and litter/recycling points to name a few

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