Outdoor Event Planning Tips | Music Festivals

Music festivals have a long history of popularity, from the wide-ranging festivals of the 1960s to today’s energetic multimedia experiences. Festival fans flock to these events because they love to hear favorite bands and new discoveries. Festivals are also bonding experiences where fans can interact with friends and make new ones.

In 2020, as the world faced the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizers canceled their festivals, while other events faced indefinite postponement. The future of music festivals requires organizers to keep health and safety in mind, while still creating an exciting experience that festival-goers will remember for years to come. 

Planning ahead can add to the success of your outdoor music festival for artists, fans, and your bottom line. Arm yourself with these top tips for planning an outstanding outdoor festival post-COVID-19. 

Incorporate Testing

In addition to the health screening measures that ticket buyers should expect upon arrival to the festival — like temperature checks and requirements for face coverings — you can employ testing for COVID-19 to ensure that all attendees who enter your festival grounds have tested negative for the coronavirus. Newly approved rapid testing kits can deliver results in as little as 15 minutes, although experts have expressed their concerns about the accuracy of rapid testing. Politely turn away any ticket holders who test positive or exhibit symptoms and issue them a refund. 

Test kits may certainly add expenses to your festival planning, but the added measure of peace of mind and responsibility to not contribute to the spread of the coronavirus is worth the expense for you and for the ticket buyer. 

Employ Creative Audience Seating and Social Distancing 

As the world emerges from quarantine, many people have wondered whether music festivals can still give attendees the power of music and community. Experiences from a socially distanced September 2020 concert in the UK suggest that it’s possible. As you plan your festival, it’s imperative that you consult and follow local regulations regarding crowd sizes and social distancing.

Create “bubbles” for families and parties who have purchased tickets together. Set up areas for five to six family members or those who bought their tickets together, and place barriers that allow them to congregate and enjoy the music as a group. A six-foot space between each “bubble” allows both for social distancing and easy access to restroom, concession, and merchandise areas. Require festival attendees to wear face coverings whenever they leave their bubble, such as to use the restroom, visit concessions and leave the event space at the close of the festival.

Don’t Leave Food Out of the Equation

Everybody needs to eat, so why not get creative with food and beverage sales in your festival planning? Combine technology with an extra measure of customer service by allowing festival-goers to order food via an app, and have staff deliver the food directly to each party as they enjoy the event in their bubbles. The UK’s Virgin Money Unity Arena has successfully put this idea into practice for concerts and festivals there.

If you decide to go with a more traditional foodservice route, you can give the festival a local flair by bringing in food trucks or providing a place for local restaurants to show off. Just have plenty of tables for serving, and be sure to spread them out. It’s crucial to have clear communication that festival-goers must stand six feet apart as they wait in line. You can also set up picnic spaces for people to sit on the ground to eat together, as long as you make sure that parties can socially distance as they eat.

Consider a Drive-in Festival

You can create a fun experience that’s both innovative and nostalgic with a drive-in festival. Set up a parking area with spaces distanced at least six feet apart. Festival-goers can sit in their cars or on top of them to enjoy the music. Broadcast the music via an FM transmitter, and attendees can listen to the artists on a designated FM frequency or from the speakers in front of the stage. 

If you choose to have restroom, merchandise, and food vendor areas, be sure that festival-goers maintain social distancing and health protocols in those spaces. Country star Keith Urban played a successful show at a Nashville drive-in theater, while several Seattle-area gigs have demonstrated that the concept can work well.

Go Digital With Your Festival

If local regulations are prohibitive to your festival or if you can’t make the logistics work, you can always host a digital festival. Ticket buyers enjoy their favorite music from the comfort of their own homes, and you can even allow them to watch it again later for a limited time. If you’re live-streaming a festival, make sure that your technology is robust enough to handle the load of your digital festival-goers.

Organizers have experimented with online music festivals in 2020, and even though each one was a success in its own way, these festivals looked remarkably different. The Tomorrowland festival relied on green screen technologies to have artists perform in fanciful CGI stages. The EscapeTracks festival live-streamed its content on YouTube and raised money for charity. The Online Old Time Banjo festival crowdsourced its musical content, calling for fans to submit videos of themselves playing their favorite tunes. With so many possibilities, you have loads of options for creative content.

Maintaining Proper Protocol in Other Areas

You should also make sure that your backstage spaces and other areas adhere to proper health and safety guidelines. Your backstage area should be an ideal place for artists to relax and prepare for their sets while social distancing from others with properly placed furniture and creative space layout. You can also create properly distanced seating bubbles for VIPs like sponsors, special ticket holders, and contest winners. 

VIP, Merch, and Additional Areas

It’s nice to reward people like sponsors and others who are crucial to your event’s success. Set aside a VIP lounge to make them feel at home. Ensure that VIP attendees are related or normally work closely together. Otherwise, set up separate VIP areas similar to seating bubbles. Arrange for easy access to food, drinks, and restrooms, and make sure your VIPs have a great view of the stage from their lounge area.

Provide a quiet place for fans to get away from the crowds to rest or make phone calls. Festival-goers can recharge themselves as well as their devices when you provide furniture with USB ports for charging. Arrange seating that’s six feet apart for individuals as well as family groups. You can also stage first aid and hydration stations in these areas. 

Your merchandise areas can conform to safety protocols as well. Set up dividers to separate different merch tables and cord off areas for people to wait in line for the right merch provider with proper social distancing signage. Encourage vendors and festival-goers to wear face coverings in the merch area, or require it if local ordinances mandate it. Organizing your merchandise area can make the customer experience much smoother.

Other Tips

You should plan for more bathrooms and trash receptacles than you think you need. It’s always better to have too many than to experience the regret of not having enough. Plan ahead with mapping traffic flow and routes for emergency evacuation. 

Consider having first-aid areas throughout the festival grounds as well. Make those areas easily identifiable to guests. Put some thought into the placement of your customer service areas as well, and make them inviting and friendly. Plexiglass barriers allow for easy communication while protecting both your employees and festival-goers

Make all your planning and setup for your outdoor music festival even easier by renting the furniture. CORT Events makes it easy for you to make your festival a rousing success. One of the biggest advantages of event planning with CORT is that you can have everything you need without having to buy and store items.

CORT has tons of creative and clever ideas, and you can count on us for the latest styles and designs. CORT makes the delivery, setup, and assembly a breeze, and furniture rental is sustainable and great for the planet. When the time comes to plan your outdoor music festival, give CORT a call. You’ll be glad you turned to the experts for your furniture needs.


Photo by Chad Kirchoff from Pexels