Outdoor Music Festival Planning Tips

Group of friends hanging out on grassfield
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Planning an outdoor music festival is such an exciting process: the music, the atmosphere, the weather, the people.

To make sure that your music festival is a complete success, follow these tips for a festival that rocks.

10 Tips for Planning Outdoor Music Festivals

  1. 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. We 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.  
  1. 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. We recommend giving yourself months (if not years!) to plan the festival from start to finish if you don’t want a last minute panic.
  2. Plan the space well: The festival will need enough open space for the stages you need, plus backstage areas, catering vans, portable bathroom facilities, 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.
  3. 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.
  1. Get the right permits: You may not realize this, but if your festival is being held on public land, you’re likely to need a permit from the city. The last thing you want is to get shut down on the day because you don’t have your paperwork in order.
  2. Organize entrance: How will 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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 theater players, kids’ activities or comedy acts.
  3. 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 fansites as well as your usual outlets.
  4. 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.