Festival planning is a complex team effort
requiring a massive amount of coordination—
regardless of the event’s size.
Festival season used to be relegated to the summer, when the weather was good and people took vacations. Then it started sliding into spring and fall before rolling into winter. Now fes- tival season is year-round, and every year there are more festi- vals for fans of any persuasion to choose from. Consider this: 32 million people attend at least one music festival per year, per Nielsen Music, and of that number, 14. 7 million are millennials. It’s reasonable then to think that younger generations consider festivals the norm rather than a
special event, unlike 20 or 30 years ago. This raises the question of how to appeal to a generation expecting large-scale events and how to
properly plan them to meet those expectations.
“The planning process, if done right, is extremely detailed,” says Jennifer
Forkish, vice president of corporate communications for Caesars Entertain-
ment. “The producer and their team has to think of everything from securing
talent to marketing strategies and deciding what type of experience they want
to give their guests. The operational standpoint is equally as detailed, talking
to stage designers, health and safety providers as well as coordinating with the
venue, elected/government of;icials, local law enforcement and members of the
And all these steps can take up to a year.
“The timeline can also be impacted by factors like permitting, if you’ve already
produced a show at the same venue and the size of the crowd,” says Forkish, who
has an extensive background in producing and marketing festivals. “It’s a team
effort that can require the coordination and planning of hundreds, or even thou-
sands, of moving parts and individuals.”
Team coordination is a top priority when organizing festivals, as outlined in
the blog post “The Real Truth About Event Logistics and Festival Management” by
Ryan Kirk, CEO of Propared, a New York-based production management company.
“If you do a lot of event planning, you’re likely comfortable working with multiple reps and points of contact,” wrote Kirk, who has more than 15 years of experience producing live events. “Festivals are similar but also add the dimension of how
you assign roles to your internal team. But you always assign roles, right? Yes, but
festival work is a whole other level of autonomy within your team. I’ve worked festivals where I might not see two of my fellow production managers for several days.
We’re on opposite sides of town, overseeing load-ins at different venues. You’ve got
to know how to match up your team’s skills with the needs of the venue or slate