If you’re thinking of holding your very own festival or festival themed party, planning is key.
The most important thing you’ll need to consider is the entertainment. After all, it’s one of the main draws – which is why you need to spend time carefully curating your line-up to provide a mixture of performers and styles to suit a variety of tastes.
However, there is far more to arranging an event of this kind. Without thorough organisation, the process can be stressful at best and a total disaster at worst (we’re looking at you, Fyre Festival).
So how do you organise your own mini festival and make it a success? Luckily, the experienced artist bookers at Twisted Entertainment have put together a simple festival checklist to help you on your way.
Size of event and budget
It’s often best to start by considering the size of the event you wish to run. To a degree, this will be dictated by your budget.
Before you settle on the number of attendees for your festival, you’ll need to think about the costs involved in hosting a crowd of that size. You should also consider venue hire prices (if applicable), licensing fees and the maximum capacity of any spaces used.
Your budget should be broken down into the following areas:
- Food and drink
- Insurance and licenses
- Staging and equipment
Include a contingency in your budget just in case of unexpected costs.
If attendees are required to buy tickets, how will these be priced? Will you be able to cover your costs? Will there be a tiered ticketing system? Will you have a concessionary rate, deals for carers, families or any other discounts?
The running times of the event should also be taken into account. Will it take place over multiple dates? Is it a daytime or nighttime event?
Another vital point on our festival checklist is location.
The venues you can use will depend on size and type of your event – for example, if there is an indoor element to your mini-festival, you’ll need to adhere to any official capacities for purposes of fire safety.
The type of entertainment you wish to book may also restrict your options. Unamplified acoustic music may require a more intimate space – but for bigger, louder bands, you’ll have to take noise restrictions and curfews into account.
Indoors or outdoors?
Whichever is the case, you’ll usually need to work closely with the owners of the premises (unless it’s on your land) and notify the local authorities of your plan. You may need to apply for permits and licenses.
For an indoor festival, you should consider:
- Noise restrictions
If your festival is taking place in the winter months, it’s more likely to be indoors. Summer festivals are more likely to be blessed with good weather and so the great outdoors becomes an option – but all organisers of British festivals understand the risk of a washout!
Organisers of outdoor festivals should plan:
- Shelter (Tents or marquees? Will there be an option to move the party inside?)
- Electrical equipment (Will it work outside?)
- Local residents
When seeking out the perfect location, you should consider transport and nearby parking, accessibility, fire escape routes, the positioning of facilities and sightlines to the stage or performance area.
Types of festivals and entertainment ideas
Below, you’ll find a few thoughts to add to your festival checklist depending on the theme of your event – along with suggestions of great acts you might consider.
These events are always popular and well-attended (as long as the marketing is well done!), so a space with access to a sizeable bar will work well. Licensing is vital here, as is space to circulate and socialise.
This type of festival usually has a Germanic “Oktoberfest” feel, and you may consider entertainment that reflects this. BrassTax is a lively oompah band with plenty of European beer festivals and events under their belt! They provide a great sing-along (and sway-along) experience that everyone will love.
Raising money for a cause you care about? You’ll need to create a friendly, relaxed atmosphere that is perhaps a little more family friendly. You’ll probably want a few different acts in your lineup – both bands and soloists – playing music that everyone knows.
Roaming performers playing upbeat pieces – such as our own award-winning Ben on Sax – are great fun and will always be enjoyed at intimate local festivals of this kind.
Cool cover bands like Joe H and the Players with stripped back versions of old school favourites and Talk Back Brass, who provide a totally new twist on the tunes you love – will also go down extremely well.
Festival themed wedding
If you want to organise festival-style nuptials, you’ll want to impress! A classy vibe with a thrilling party atmosphere is always the best way to go.
Are you thinking of a daytime drinks reception or an opportunity for your guests to let their hair down and dance way into the night?
For an elegant event in daylight hours, you might consider a solo harpist (we love the romantic music created by the highly experienced Elinor Harp) or a string quartet (such as the much sought-after Twisted Strings, specialising in both classical pieces and fun covers) while photos are taken and the guests are circulating and chatting.
You may want your evening do to be a little wilder, so why not opt for a club vibe with a sophisticated twist accompanied by Femme on Sax (complete with light-up saxophone!), dance floor fillers courtesy of the explosive Masquerade or even some joyful brass from our superb ten piece band Twisted Tubes?
Depending on the size of your event, you may need to come up with a few more festival party ideas to keep everyone entertained. Great musicians are important, but what about ensuring that the little ones are having fun too? Top activity ideas for all ages include:
- A bouncy castle
- Face painters
- Costume performers
- Games – like giant jenga or table tennis.
Professional photographers are also popular at any kind of event, so why not keep the spirit of the event alive long after it ends by hiring someone to take a few beautiful snaps? Your guests could make their own memories too if you set up a photo booth with fun props and costumes.
Food and drink
It’s easier to provide a wide range of food options for an indoor event, and some venues have their own caterers, so you could arrange a deal with combines the two.
Food vans, huts and stalls are always popular when it comes to outdoor events.
It’s vital to ensure you cater to all dietary needs, including allergies and intolerances (gluten free options are important), vegetarianism and veganism.
Think about the length of the festival and the number of people, and ensure you have enough food to last. You could manage this by having snacks and meals available at different times, or you could make sure that food is accessible throughout the event.
A few final – but extremely important – points to think about are:
- Security and first aiders – will you need to hire your own or will the venue provide it?
- Bins and recycling points
- Signage – not just for the event but for all facilities
- Toilet facilities – does the venue have toilets or will you need portaloos?
- Decorations – these need to match the festival party definitions and themes you have set out
Marketing your event
In some ways, we’ve saved the most important until last.
It’s extremely easy for festival organisers to fall at this hurdle – after all, if no one knows about your event, no one will come.
Depending on whether yours is a private or public event, you may wish to use a combination of exciting social media posts on a dedicated event page, distribute posters and flyers or display banners.
You could also set up a mailing list (remember to adhere to GDPR if relevant) to send occasional email updates, and you may wish to contact local listings and radio stations to make sure you’re mentioned in any “what’s on” sections.
Remember to clearly direct everyone on how to buy tickets. Will you have a website or online ticketing provider, or will they buy them in person. Will any be available on the door?
Start your marketing a couple of months in advance and keep promoting right up until the opening day. If you want to keep the festival going, you should record footage and take photos of the event itself to use in next year’s marketing!
So, there you have it. Simply put, our top tips on how to organise an event of this kind are:
- Consider the size of your festival and its budget
- Choose the right location
- Book the right entertainment
- Think of other activities if needed
- Plan your food and drink thoroughly
- Check what extras you may need
- Market everything properly
If you’ve ticked all these items off your list, it looks like you’ll have a great festival on your hands!