Organising a festival may seem complicated, but with the help of proper planning, it can be much easier.
Find out in this article how to effectively plan all aspects of your festival, from the initial stages to the programme, venue layout and communication. We will also give you tips on the organisation during the day of the event and post-festival.
Following these steps, you can create a successful and memorable festival for all attendees!
1. Building the framework for the festival
Like any other event, organising a festival requires previous steps that will significantly help the subsequent organisation.
So start by defining the goals of your festival, its name, the venue and the date.
You must also ensure you have all the necessary permits to hold the event. Contact your local authorities to find out what formalities you need to complete.
2. Create a global organisational plan
It is essential to spend some time detailing the planning schedule of your event. Make it as precise as possible and describe each stage as much as possible. This step is long and tedious, but it gives you an overview of your festival.
A complete schedule allows you to control the correct development of everything and to adapt quickly to unforeseen events. Write down all deadlines in a calendar (physical, digital or both). You can find inspiration in our festival organiser schedule, available for free by clicking here. Don’t forget to adapt the specific deadlines to your festival!
3. Planning the festival programme
To concretise your overall festival idea, define your festival’s different activities and highlights. Will there be concerts? A round table or conferences? Activities for children? Each point of the programme will involve specific steps you must foresee in the event’s organisation.
Leave enough time in your schedule to contact the speakers you would like to invite. The better known these people are, the further in advance you will need to plan their participation. Sometimes it will be necessary to contact their agents.
4. Creating the perfect venue layout
Once you have defined the highlights of your festival, it’s time to think about the layout of all areas of the festival site.
List the areas required. Consider, for example, the following:
- A management/production area (from where you will run the festival).
- One or more stages.
- Toilets (sufficient).
- One or more drinking water points.
- A rest area for your staff and volunteers.
- One or more bars and food trucks or food stalls area.
- All other areas that make sense to make your festival unique and enjoyable.
Once all zones have been defined, you can list and integrate the steps to create them into your global schedule.
It is also essential to plan for staffing needs, whether they are volunteers or employees necessary to run the event. You will also likely use external professionals to meet your needs (food and beverage providers, ticketing, security, etc.).
5. Planning comunication
It is essential to plan your communication well in advance to attract as many people as possible to your festival.
You can start communicating up to a year before the festival and keep it up until D-Day! This way, you will be sure to target all types of festival-goers: those who plan ahead and get organised early, but also those who buy their tickets the day before or even on the day of the event.
1. Using an online ticketing service
It is necessary to plan how to sell tickets. We recommend selling tickets online as it is much easier for attendees to buy online and download them to their mobile phones than having to go to a physical place to get their tickets.
To increase your sales, you can complement your online sales with ticket offices to sell tickets on-site or entrust a sales area to a partner (company, municipality, sponsor, etc.).
2. Creating different types of tickets and sales moments
Don’t hesitate to optimise ticket sales by creating other sales moments. For example, you can create early bird tickets with lower prices for early bird buyers.
You can also take advantage of special occasions like Black Friday to offer discounts.
Finally, consider rewarding your most loyal attendees by sending them a promotional code by email.
3. Communicating across channels
Depending on the target audience of your festival, it may be interesting to communicate more on one channel or another. For example, for young people focus on social media. For other audiences, and depending on your resources, it may make sense to create posters, radio or TV spots, or send press releases to local and specialised journalists.
Your festival communication does not have to end abruptly at the end of the event. Include in your plan to continue to feed your platforms (website and social media) with post-event content to maintain the relationship with attendees and encourage them to attend your next event.
5. Organising the day of the festival
Draw up a detailed schedule that includes the arrival of suppliers and artists, the set-up of the facilities, the opening and closing times, the highlights of the festival, and all dismantling and clean-up that will take place on the last day.
You can provide a tailored version to each person involved in your festival so that they know what is expected of them and whom to contact in case of need (not forgetting to include their contact telephone number).
Your role on D-Day will be to monitor and control the different aspects of the festival set-up and ensure the activities’ smooth running. Avoid over-tasking yourself, as you will probably be busy dealing with unforeseen events (cancellation of an artist, bad weather, etc.).
6. Planning post-event steps
Your schedule doesn’t have to end when the festival gates close. There are still many steps and tasks to be tackled and planned.
For example, include in your agenda:
- Thanking the attendees.
- The stocktaking phase, getting the attendees’ opinions and analysing the data collected.
- Actions to build loyalty with your audience.
- Organising a meeting with each service provider and managing payments.
- Any other action you consider helpful to improve the next edition of your festival.
Tip: Organising a festival requires attention to detail and effective coordination between departments, so working with a competent team and maintaining constant communication is essential to ensure the event’s success.
You already know all the key points that will guide you in organising your first festival. Now it’s your turn!
To find out more, download the free Practical Guide for Festival Organisers. A free white paper to guide you through the different stages of creating your festival!