How to Organise a Mini-Festival
Attending a Festival has got to be first placed on the bucket list for a truly Great British Summer. Whether it be Glastonbury, Crufts or even Cheese Rolling, us Brits love a Festival. So why not have a go at organising your own?
If you're a festival lover, but you're after something a little more intimate for your celebrations, why not organise your own mini-festival?
This is an ideal party idea for joint birthday celebrations, anniversaries and fundraisers. Our festival planning guide can help you every step of the way, from the original idea right down to the final touches that will make it truly unique.
An Exemplary Mini-festival
Pozfest, held in the Isle of Wight as a tribute to Paul Simon Brewer, is a great example of how to organise a mini-festival.
The Festival Venue
For those of you who, like Michael Eavis, can accommodate a modest 200,000 people in your back garden, the venue choice may be obvious, for everyone else a little more planning may be involved.
- What type of venue do I want? I.e. Indoors, Outdoors, Pub, Field etc.
- If remote, how will your festival go-ers travel to and from the venue?
- Will there be sufficient parking at the venue?
- If planning on camping, how many tents can you pitch?
- What are the toilet facilities?
- What are the on site food and drink facilities?
- How much space is available for you to set everything up?
Create a Festival Committee
Get people involved at an early stage to help out; you can't do everything on your own.
- Entertainments Officer - In charge of finding and booking bands and hiring DJs.
- Logistics Manager - Responsible for setting up and running the festival.
- Head of Promotions - Responsible for making sure invites get sent out and tickets are sold.
Before You Start
Before you get into the nitty gritty details of starting your own festival, carefully consider the following:
- Audience - Who do you plan to invite and how many people do you expect to attend?
- When & Where - Consider potential dates and hosting locations, but prepare to be flexible.
- Budget - How much do you realistically want to spend? Will you be paying for it yourself or will you charge friends a small amount for tickets to cover the costs?
Define Your Festival Concept
The more powerful your vision, the more likely it will come true.
Brainstorm anything and everything you could possibly want in your ideal festival. Maybe sketch out a few plans of how your festival would be laid out... 3 Stages of music, a firework finale, some enormous projector screens with your face on, stocks with Piers Morgan and that guy from the Go Compare advert doing 30 minute shifts...whatever you feel would work.
Quite an important bit, this.
Music defines any festival, make sure you get this sorted as a priority. Local bands will often play for free especially if you promise them a good time at your festival, just don't offer them too many free drinks before they've performed!
If you want to party all night (and we're sure you will) without getting in trouble, then why not have your very own silent disco. Headsets can be rented from just £2 a pair. View our Silent Discos page for more details.
Aside from the music, there are other great entertainment options which will make your festival complete. Here are a few ideas:
- Entertainers - Comedians, Magicians, Contortionists, Poets, Am Dram, Morris Dancers
- Activities - Bucking Bronco, Bouncy Castles, Duel, Table Tennis, Giant Jenga
- Exhibitions - Art, Photography, VR Hire
A good festival always needs a few stalls and attractions so invite friends to run a stall. Think fancy dress, face paints, cupcakes, tombolas and anything else that fits with your festival theme.
Logistics & Planning
Let's all calm down for a second and think logistically.
Temporary Events Notice
If you're selling alcohol and/or playing music late into the night you may need a Temporary Events Notice (TEN).
This isn't as difficult as it may sound. You normally just have to fill out the form and send it along with a fee of £21 to your local council and also send a copy to the local Chief Officer of Police.
View GOV.UK's guide to find out more details about getting a TEN in your area.
Make sure you have first aid equipment on site and that the festival site is easily reachable by ambulance in case of emergencies.
Whilst the ”My dad is bigger than your dad” method of security will work fine for a back garden festival, most venues will need security to ensure the event runs smoothly.
Make sure you check with the venue for recommendations.
Power to the People
If your festival is in a rural location and you're not planning some sort of eco-friendly people powered festival then it's likely you'll need a generator to power your electrical devices.
There are all sorts of different types available so get in touch with a generator hire company to find out what you'll need.
Make sure you have enough bins and a clear recycling policy.
Cans, plastic cups and glasses can be the biggest problem when clearing up. Providing re-usable cups and charging a deposit can really help reduce this.
'Cater for You' have a range of re-usable cups or if you'd like to create some personalised ones for your festival check out Promo Catering's custom printed cups with a minimum order of just 100.
It goes without saying that this is pretty essential. Get into the festival spirit with local ales and ciders to go with your food, or add a modern twist with some extravagant cocktails or artisanal gins.
A Cask of Dudbridge Donkey please..
Get into the true festival spirit and get in some local ales and ciders. Search for breweries or 'micro breweries' in your local area, here's an example of a local brewery offering casks and boxes. Make sure the beer is 'racked bright' so you don't have to wait for it to settle.
Vintage Ice Cream Tricycle
A stunning vintage ice-cream bike is a great addition for an outdoor themed event and will keep those with a sweet tooth very happy!
For an outdoor event, mobile caterers are a flexible and cost effective option and what festival is complete without a food van?
Top Tips & Ideas for Your Mini-Festival
Almost there... here are a few great additions that will take your festival to the next level.
- Hay Bales make great seats when you need a rest from dancing - you should be able to pick them up from your local farm for around £3 a bale.
- Lighting is a great way to inject some festival fever, whether it be strobe lighting, UV lighting or laser shows. Check out the options in our production section.
- It wouldn't be a real festival without wristbands. Print-a-bands are a good cheap option for customised wristbands with a minimum order of 100.
- Selling tickets and handling all that money can be a daunting task. Create an event with an online ticket seller such as Event Brite and guests will be able to purchase their tickets online through your personalised event page.
- Every proper festival needs a good chill out area. Think cool drinks, chai tea, beanbags, deckchairs, newspapers, cushions, board games and anything else that fits with your festival theme.
When and what to promote.
Get the word out ASAP
Once you've got your mind set on organising a mini-festival, take a long run up; put the word out there as soon as you can and suggest some potential dates to gauge interest.
Notify guests once dates are confirmed
Let people know the date so they can keep it free - you don't need to give full details at this stage but just enough to get them interested.
Get tickets selling two months before
Make sure guests commit to attending by purchasing their tickets at this stage.
Generate a buzz two weeks before
Create some excitement around the event by letting everyone know the full details including line up and entertainment.
Seal the deal days before
Remind guests of times, transport arrangements, sleeping, what to bring etc.
Naming your Festival
No need to tell you that this is a big decision.
There are a number of approaches you can take to this, some just go for the place the Festival is held... Glastonbury, Nibley Fest, others go for something relating to the festival... Secret Garden Party (it's in a secret garden), Truck fest (the main stage is a truck)... Others have plumped for edgy words (Latitude, Sonisphere), states of mind (Big Chill) or even misspelt particles (Oxegen). Be creative, make it memorable.
Promoting your Festival
Your festival is nearly ready to go. Now it's time to let people know about it!
Creating a Facebook group is a great way to invite people and keep the information together but you need to work a bit harder if you want to ensure your festival is a sell out.
Start by inviting a small group of friends who you know will attend and drum up some excitement on the group wall. Then invite friends in batches and make sure you speak to key members in the group directly so they get behind it.
You also need to try to get friends to commit and buy tickets as early as possible so consider offering a discount or special prize for the first x number of people to buy tickets.
Have we missed anything? We'd love to hear from you with your own tips and advice for putting on a mini-festival.