Festivals often times include entertainment, food, drink, music, art and games. The very best festivals intertwine a sense of friendship and camaraderie. Check out our step-by-step tutorial on how to organize a festival in your community.

Organizing a Festival Planning Team

It will take a large number of people to pull off a successful event. Think ahead of everyone that should be involved to ensure they are on board and fully informed of all details. You will likely need someone to focus on organizing the events/task schedule, an on-site venue manager, possibly a publicity representative, a talent agent, musicians, event staff and/or volunteers.

Determine your Festival Site

When selecting the festival site, there are several things to take into consideration. One of the most important is the type of event you plan on hosting. Geographical location and local population, in addition to estimated attendance numbers will also help you decide which locale is best. Lastly, consider the site’s services and ease in transportation of vendors and attendees in getting to the location.

Obtain Festival Licenses

Once the event manager has decided on the venue, type of event and date, an entertainment and alcohol license must be acquired.

Book the Festival Entertainment

Most events of this nature have a promoter who will select, negotiate and eventually book the talent. This person will take many things into consideration before deciding on the best acts to pursue. A good indicator is record sales and if the group was able to sell a decent amount of tickets at any nearby venues in the recent past. Musical preferences differ by region and the promoter will be aware of current trends for your area. The promoter will often times work with the bands’ agents in order to negotiate contracts for live performances and ensure the bands have all of the requested accommodations onsite.

Festival Publicity

Formal event publicity is a large undertaking and can be done by a few individuals or a team, dependent on the size and scope of the event. The following is the best way to promote a festival event:

  • Web: Create or update website, blog, Facebook and any other relevant social media sites
  • First Invite: Send out direct mailer “save the date’s” to your target audience
  • Event Calendars: Post event to local event calendars in community newspapers, magazines and websites
  • Mass Email: As event details emerge, continuously email contact lists to provide updates
  • Posters/Fliers: Put up posters around town and hand out fliers at community events to spread the word

Festival Activities

The next thing to consider is the food, drinks and other activities that will take place throughout the festival. It is important to incorporate as many components as possible to attract a wide variety of attendees. Perhaps the musical headliner will appeal to a younger crowd. However, if you offset that by providing children’s games and rides, you may be able to also appeal to older attendees with children. An antique car showcase or art gallery may bring in an even more diverse population. Try to include as many diverse offerings as possible to increase the number of participants that will be interested in attending the festival.

The Day of the Festival

It is important to be extremely organized the day of the event. From ticket sales to parking, everything needs to be considered in order for things to run smoothly. Volunteers and event staff should be briefed prior to the festival, as well as the day of so that everyone knows their role. Parking and clearly labeled signage for the event will need to be in place to ensure successful arrivals. The entire event should have a comprehensive production schedule with all event components, lead volunteers in each area and a clear timeline and schedule of all simultaneous activities.

Festival Post-Event Evaluation

There’s only one way to make sure that next year’s festival is even better…and that’s by evaluation and feedback of the event’s success. The entire team should reconvene post festival to discuss what was effective and what should be altered in the future. You may even place “comment cards” and boxes for attendees to fill out throughout the festival with their feedback. A mass email can also be sent to the event staff and volunteers thanking them for their service and asking for their input in regards to evaluating the event.

There are many necessary factors to guarantee the festival is triumphant. Consider hiring an event planner with specific festival planning knowledge to aid you in your preparations. Share your festival stories and photos with us on Facebook or Twitter!


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