The ECC Webinar #4: ‘Responding to Lockdown’ for Festivals

In the final webinar of The Event Creator’s Collective series on responding to lockdown we focussed on festivals of all shapes of sizes.

Full webinar recording: 20th May 2020

Festivals face some unique challenges as an industry which makes them particularly impacted by social distancing measures. This webinar featured a panel from a diverse set off events to understand how they see the next 12 months playing out.

On this week’s panel we were joined by:

  • Jon Walsh: Shambala festival and Kambe events
    Shambala festival is a household name on the UK music festival scene. It’s famous for their independent vibe and unwavering commitment on community and creating an intimate event. Shambala is a guaranteed sell out and attracts 20k festival-goers year in year out.

  • David Mountjoy: Wilkswood Roots Reggae Festival
    Wilkswood Festival is a 5k capacity family friendly reggae festival by the beautiful Dorst coast. The event attracts leading reggae artists from around the world, exceptional food and an environmentally-friendly site.

  • Michael Johnston: North Leeds Food Festival
    The North Leeds Food Festival is a family friendly celebration of international and local talent, expressed through food, drink, live music, arts and charity. The main weekend will see 20k local food fans descend on the festival.

Shambala Festival

Each panelist shared how the lockdown is playing out for them. Though there was a shared sense of uncertainty and a feeling that they are lacking guidance from regulators, there were also some fascinating hypotheses on factors festival organisers should be considering in the coming 12 months.

Be prepared to invest in additional facilities

Whatever the new normal looks like it’s likely that attendee expectations around cleanliness and social distancing is going to be increased. Given this, festival creators should be thinking about additional access points, toilet facilities and general facilities.

Detailed festival layouts

Extra time, care and attention will be required to ensure crowd management is smooth and the number of pinch points are reduced.

Prices may have to increase

With higher safety regulations, increased risk for festival organisers and a difficult year behind us, it’s likely festivals are going to have to increase prices to ensure they survive the next 12 months.

Focus on building consumer confidence

Whilst regulations may relax and large events be permitted, organisers have the responsibility to build consumer confidence that they are making their event as safe as possible. A large proportion of customers are desperate to be outside, enjoy the festival vibe and be part of their communities - but others will be looking for clear signs it’s safe to do so.

Virtual events don’t make sense, but digital content might be more important

You cannot replace the atmosphere of being in a field listening to your favourite artists with a group of your closest friend. No zoom call can offer that feeling unfortunately. That said, with smaller crowd sizes, limitations on travel and portions of society being more vulnerable - there is definitely an opportunity to extend the reach of your festival with the use of online content.