Summer and Autumn is a peak period for festival-goers. Reading, Leeds, Bestival, Download and Glastonbury are just some festivals that make the news and create a buzz on social media for weeks. People won’t just be talking about the performers, they’ll be discussing their experience. Was it easy to get to? How well-organised was it? Was it safe? Was it fun? Was it even worth it!? A successful event relies on excellent planning, and that means getting the logistics spot on.
Crunching the numbers
A typical music festival may need:
- 5 stages, weighing a combined 278 tons
- 57 articulated trucks, to carry the stages
- 5 miles of scaffolding and 1.5 miles of trusses (for 30,000 sq ft of stage)
- 160 tons of lighting, sound and video equipment
- 5,500 man hours to build the stage
As well as:
- 8,600 festival employees, 1,800 of whom will be security guards, with 520 medics being on duty, and
- 120,000 people (on average) who’ll need to be fed an estimated 650,000 burgers, washed down with 650, 000 litres of water. Wow.
Location, location, location
You’ll need to think about the accessibility of the festival. Is the land public or private, and will you have to apply to use it? Is it easy to get to? And if not, how will you help your audience get there? Will you provide parking? Think about permissions regarding noise levels, selling alcohol on the land, and whether there are any special requirements to be aware of specific to your location. For example, how close are you to residential or historic areas?
The basics have to be covered: food, water, toilets, and shelter, if the weather turns. Will you have enough food and drink to feed everyone for the days the festival is open? Do you have backups should anything fail or sell out? Are bathroom facilities plentiful? Planning on how a large number of people will access these amenities in a safe way, as well as dealing with cleaning up after them, will be key.
Consider lighting and security cameras for risky areas, if any, and easy access to qualified medics and security guards. Ensure you hire enough to look after your festival-goers, should an unforeseen emergency arise.
Big acts are always in high demand, so securing them early – even booking them two years in advance – is a good idea. Dealing with their teams of agents and managers looking to secure the best deal, as well as copyright issues for broadcast and the sale of merchandise on site, are just some of the logistics to consider.
These are just a handful of things to consider when organising your festival. Don’t overlook the basics, such as generators, electricity, and contingency procedures should anything go awry. The logistics for a successful music festival are complex and vast, but the best organised ones are festivals where no one is aware of the sheer amount of manpower that goes into preparations. When no one wants for anything, and they’re having the time of their lives, then you know that your festival logistics skills really ROCK!