Published on May 30, 2023
Festivals are spectacular events that celebrate music, food, art, culture, and so much more. Planning a festival, however, can be an overwhelming task. Fear not, because we’ve got your back. This comprehensive festival planning checklist will guide you through every step of the process, ensuring your event is memorable, enjoyable, and runs smoothly.
Understand Your Vision
Before diving into the specifics, it’s crucial to have a clear vision of your festival. What type of festival are you planning? Is it a music festival, a food festival, or an arts festival? Knowing the type of festival will guide you in selecting the right location, determining your audience, and deciding the kind of activities that will take place.
Arguably the most crucial part of your festival planning checklist is setting and sticking to a budget. A well-planned budget will outline all the necessary expenses, such as venue hire, artist fees, security, marketing, and other logistical costs. Remember to factor in a contingency budget for any unexpected costs. You should also factor in sponsorships and in-kind services that you might be able to get for the event.
Sponsorship and Partnerships
Festivals often involve partnerships and sponsorships to help cover costs and increase visibility. Identifying potential partners and sponsors who align with your festival’s theme and values can bring additional resources and marketing reach.
Selecting the Perfect Location
The location of your festival can significantly impact its success. It needs to be easily accessible, have enough space for your attendees, and align with your festival’s theme. It’s also essential to consider the infrastructure, such as power, water, and restroom facilities. Ensure you’ve got all the necessary permits and insurance to host your event at your chosen location.
Accessibility and Accommodation
Accessibility is a crucial aspect that needs to be a part of your festival planning checklist. Ensure your venue is accessible to everyone, including individuals with disabilities. This might involve arranging wheelchair-accessible routes, setting up viewing areas for people with disabilities, and ensuring restrooms are accessible. Additionally, if your festival is a multi-day event, consider accommodation options for attendees. This could involve partnering with local hotels or setting up a campground.
Safety and Security
Safety should be a top priority in your festival planning checklist. This includes crowd control, emergency medical services, security personnel, and a well-prepared emergency plan. It’s also worth considering event insurance to protect against unforeseen circumstances.
Event Programming and Scheduling
Your festival’s program is the heart of your event. When considering performers, caterers, or artists, think about your audience’s preferences. Also, ensure that the schedule is well-paced and caters to the audience throughout the event.
Marketing and Promotion
Getting the word out about your festival is a crucial part of the festival planning checklist. Use a mix of traditional marketing methods and digital marketing strategies, such as social media, email marketing, and influencer marketing. Additionally, ticket pricing and sales are critical aspects of this stage.
This doesn’t end once your festival starts, marketing should be for before, during and even after the festival. A great option for marketing during the festival is to include a social wall so that the guests post about the great time they’re having!
Use a Social Wall
In today’s digitally connected world, incorporating social media into your festival can enhance the attendee experience and provide real-time marketing for your event. One effective way to do this is by setting up a social wall at your festival.
A social wall is a live feed of social media posts from platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, displayed on a large screen at the venue. Festival-goers can post about their experiences using a designated event hashtag, and their posts will be showcased on the social wall for all attendees to see. This not only amplifies your event’s social media presence but also encourages audience interaction, creating a sense of community among attendees.
One popular social wall provider is Everwall. Everwall is a robust and user-friendly platform that allows you to curate and display posts from various platforms. With Everwall, you can easily customize the look of your social wall to align with your festival’s branding (or have them build you something completely custom). Moreover, their advanced moderation tools ensure that only appropriate and relevant content is displayed.
By including Everwall’s social wall in your festival planning checklist, you’re sure to provide an engaging, interactive experience for your attendees while promoting your event in real-time.
Staffing and Volunteers
To bring your festival to life, you’ll need a team of dedicated staff and volunteers. This team will be responsible for a variety of tasks, from setting up stages and facilities to managing crowds and providing customer service. It’s important to start recruiting your team well in advance of the festival to ensure you have enough time for training and preparation.
When planning your staffing needs, consider the various roles that need to be filled. These might include:
- Event Management: This includes your core team who oversee the festival’s operations, liaising with vendors and artists, managing budgets, and ensuring the event runs smoothly.
- Technical Crew: These are the people responsible for setting up and managing the stage, sound and lighting systems. They work closely with the performers to ensure all technical needs are met. If you’re doing a music festival, you’ll probably want to stick with pros, though.
- Security Personnel: This team will manage crowd control, enforce festival rules, and potentially respond to any security incidents. If your festival is small enough to not need dedicated security personnel, they would be crucial in maintaining the safety of your attendees. They can also help with initial entry, ticketing, and wristbands.
- Customer Service Staff: This team can handle ticketing, but usually answers attendee queries, and helps resolve any issues (lost items) that arise during the festival.
- Clean-up Crew: Responsible for waste management during and after the festival, this team helps keep the festival grounds clean and organized.
Volunteers are an invaluable resource for festivals, often bringing a lot of enthusiasm and community spirit to the event. They can help fill roles in areas such as customer service, setup and teardown, and they can serve as greeters or guides for festival attendees.
Finding volunteers for your festival can be done in several ways:
- Community Outreach: Reach out to local community groups, colleges, and universities. Students, in particular, might be interested in volunteering in exchange for free entry to the festival.
- Social Media and Website: Use your festival’s social media channels and website to call for volunteers. Be sure to highlight any perks such as free admission, meals, or festival merchandise.
- Volunteer Matching Websites: Websites like VolunteerMatch can connect you with individuals in your area who are looking to volunteer if your festival has a charitable component to it.
- Previous Attendees: People who have attended your festival in the past and had a great time are often willing to volunteer. They already love your event and may want to contribute to making it a success.
Remember, it’s important to treat your volunteers well. Provide them with clear instructions, necessary training, and show appreciation for their hard work. A well-supported and happy volunteer team can significantly contribute to the overall success of your festival.
When planning a festival, vendors are a vital component, providing food, drinks, or merchandise. Contact vendors well in advance, make sure they fit with your festival’s theme and audience, and arrange all the necessary logistics.
Sustainability should be a key part of any festival planning checklist. Plan for waste management during and after the festival, offering recycling and composting options. You should also focus on the human waste component if there is not already on site bathrooms for the guests. Be sure to calculate the proper number of porta-potty’s that you need—no one wants to wait forever to get into one. Partner with a local waste management company to handle this professionally.
A more detailed look into the on-the-day logistics involves a variety of tasks. First, you’ll need a reliable team handling different areas of the festival, such as stage management, vendor coordination, security, and guest services. A master schedule, detailing the setup times, performance schedules, breaks, and tear-down times, should be provided to all staff and volunteers.
Ensure that all technical requirements, such as sound checks and stage setups, are completed well before the festival begins. For food stalls and vendors, confirm they are ready for service with adequate stock.
Traffic flow management is another critical aspect. This includes both vehicular traffic for parking and foot traffic to avoid overcrowding in certain areas. Clear signage and guidance from staff or volunteers can help manage this.
Lastly, have a contingency plan for any unforeseen issues. This might involve backup equipment, additional staff or volunteers, and emergency protocols.
The last thing you want after a successful festival is to leave your location in a mess. Plan for a post-festival cleanup, either with volunteers, hired staff, or a professional cleaning company. This not only helps maintain the venue for future use but also shows respect for the local environment.
Your festival planning checklist doesn’t end when the festival does. Gathering feedback from attendees, staff, and volunteers will provide invaluable insights for future events.
Your Festival Planning Checklist
To make this process a breeze, here’s a simplified version of the festival planning checklist:
- Understand Your Vision: Define the type of festival you’re planning.
- Budgeting: Outline all expenses, set a contingency budget, and factor in sponsorships and in-kind services.
- Sponsorship and Partnerships: Identify potential partners and sponsors that align with your festival’s theme and values.
- Selecting the Perfect Location: Choose an accessible location that aligns with your festival’s theme and ensure all permits and insurance are in place.
- Accessibility and Accommodation: Ensure the venue is accessible to all attendees and consider accommodation options for multi-day events.
- Safety and Security: Establish a safety and security plan, including crowd control, emergency medical services, and security personnel. Consider event insurance.
- Event Programming and Scheduling: Decide on performers or artists and create a well-paced schedule.
- Marketing and Promotion: Use a mix of marketing strategies to promote your festival before, during, and after the event, and set ticket prices.
- Use a Social Wall: Create an interactive social media experience for attendees with a live feed of posts using your event’s hashtag.
- Staffing and Volunteers: Recruit staff and volunteers, assign roles, and ensure everyone understands their tasks.
- Vendor Management: Contact vendors that align with your festival’s theme, arrange logistics.
- Waste Management: Plan for recycling, composting, and human waste management during and after the festival.
- On-the-day Logistics: Have a detailed plan and team for managing the festival day, including setup, traffic flow, and contingency plans.
- Post-festival Cleanup: Organize a cleanup after the festival, showing respect for the venue and local environment.
- Post-festival Evaluation: Gather feedback from festival goers, team members, and volunteers.
Planning a festival is no small task, but with this festival planning checklist, you’re well on your way to creating a memorable and successful event. Happy planning!
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