There’s no doubt that music festivals have increased massively in the UK over the past decade – some of them even make a profit. So if you’re convinced your estate could be the next Larmer Tree or Bearded Theory, here are some of the key elements to consider when thinking about hosting a festival.
Who will run your festival?
If you intend to run it yourself, you must have a thorough knowledge of the festivals market. In addition, you will need good contacts, an understanding of licensing and legal requirements for contractors, and knowledge of practical issues such as parking/loos/camping facilities. You will also have to be well-versed in the ticket sales process to ensure good cash flow.
The alternative is to outsource the running of your festival and leave all of the above to the experts. Outsourcing may also give you scope to scale up quickly, leading to greater income, though clearly it will eat into whatever profit you make.
Have you covered every base?
There is a whole host of other things to think about, including:
- Site security for festivalgoers and to keep out trespassers.
- Noise mitigation.
- Access to the site and traffic control.
- Conflicts with other Estate activities (sporting enterprises, sports clubs, and so on).
- Considerations for farm tenants (finding alternative grazing, Basic Payment claims, conflicts with Stewardship agreements).
- Cash machines for the site.
Is the local community on side?
You must have the on-going support of your local community – bad feeling can damage ticket sales and could lead to objections in the future. Where possible use local businesses for services such as portaloos, waste management and catering. Invite locals to meetings where they can voice their concerns – this will also ensure that you and your organisers are aware of all the obstacles and issues.
Also think about supporting the Parish, with donations to the Church and invitations for Parish groups to have stalls at the festival.
Will your festival meet expectations?
Festivalgoers expect far more than they used to in terms of food and accommodation, even at non-premium festivals. Fresh, healthy food has become commonplace and choice is vital. Campers also expect to have space, well-managed facilities and even showers. They will also need a supply of drinking water.
As for ‘glamping’, treat it with an element of caution. While it has certainly found a place at some festivals, it's still seen as an expensive option and is unlikely to grow much further at non-premium events.
It’s not just about the music
As competition from smaller festivals increases, festivals have to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Great music is obviously crucial, but you must think about other forms of entertainment, such as theatre, film, comedy, arts and crafts, activities, even banquets.