What Activities to Have at Your Festival?
Before you dive in, if you are interested in festival sponsorship, check out these titles in our “sponsorship for festivals” series:
How to Plan a Festival the Complete Guide to Starting Growing and Perfecting Your Festival
Festival Activations to Make Your Next Event Amazing
How to Promote a Festival: Event Branding, Marketing, and Social Media
Sponsorship for Festivals: What You Need to Know for Your Event to Be a Hit
What Companies That Sponsor Festivals Are Looking for in a Partnership
Whether you’re hosting a major music festival, a smaller community festival, or any other type of event in between, no festival is complete without activities. What kind of activities should you plan to incorporate into your festival?
Here are 7 activities every festival needs:
- Photo areas
If you’re wondering which of these activities would slot nicely into your festival, then this is the guide for you. Ahead, I’ll go through each of the 7 activities above and explain their importance in festivals. You’ll also learn how to plan and measure these activities, so check it out!
7 Activities to Have at Every Festival
The Purpose: Why host a contest or giveaway during your festival?
That answer is simple. People always have and always will love free stuff.
Contests are a perfect opportunity to loop in your sponsors. They can provide the prize and then receive all the contact information when your audience enters their submission forms.
Your sponsor collects new sign-ups, people could win a car, and everyone is happy.
How to Plan: Before you can decide on what kind of giveaway or contest you’ll do, you need to know your festival audience.
Depending on how diverse that audience is, you might decide to have several contests, such as those for the kids and then another contest for adults.
Next, you need to choose the prize as well as who will provide the prize. No matter who’s ponying up for the prize, it should be valuable.
A car is a foolproof prize, but it’s expensive. Lower-cost prizes that you know appeal to an audience’s interests could be just as exciting to win as a car.
Make sure to promote your contest on social media, on your website, and in your festival app if you have one. Present the contest before your festival and build up hype.
How to Measure: You can determine whether your contest was successful based on how many entries it received.
If you do another contest or giveaway next year, you can compare the number of entries for that year versus the first year and then tweak future contest ideas from there.
The Purpose: Even in a chill setting like a festival, people love to know who among them is the best. Thus, they’ll be naturally drawn to a competition that tests their mettle.
A competition can encompass nearly anything and everything depending on your festival genre.
You could host a sports contest, an eating competition, an arm-wrestling contest, a dance-off, an art competition, or even a video game tournament.
The possibilities are practically endless!
How to Plan: As you did when determining what kinds of festival contests you want to host, you need to dig through your segmented audience data when planning for a competition.
Based on your audience’s age, interests, and activity levels, what kind of competition would appeal to them?
More than it just being appealing, what kind of competition would make an audience member want to say, “yes! I’m going to join in on that?”
If yours is a large festival on a sprawling event space, then I would recommend trying out several types of competitions all at once.
Space out each competition so it’s in a different area from the last, and maybe host them at different times so that if people want to spectate each one, they can.
A competition doesn’t always need a prize. Sometimes it’s just the doing of it that’s satisfying enough.
That said, for those festival goers who are on the fence about whether they want to join in, prize money or another fabulous reward ought to get them off the fence rather quickly.
How to Measure: As was the case for measuring contest success, you can gauge how successful your competition was by how many people participated.
App data might be able to determine who was a bystander at the competition, but you’d need sophisticated app software for that sort of thing.
The Purpose: Another must-have activity at your festival is shopping.
Even if your event ticket costs a lot of money, people are still ready to throw down more of their hard-earned cash on all sorts of shopping that your event offers.
Whether it’s a festival t-shirt, exclusive merch from their favorite bands or artists, or other trinkets, festival goers will want it.
At the very least, they have a fun souvenir to remember the day by. At most, they now own limited-edition merch like a band festival poster or a unique piece of art. This becomes a treasured keepsake.
Of course, some people will sell the exclusive item they bought on sites like eBay for thrice or four times the value, but those kinds of situations can’t be helped.
How to Plan: You want to make it easy for festival goers to spend their cash.
Your event app should detail where all the merch stands will be on the festival grounds.
If you don’t have an app, then you should print maps all over the site of the festival so people can find the merch stand.
All merch stands should be clearly labeled. Have enough merch stands so that no matter where on the grounds your festival attendees are, they can buy what they’re looking for.
Hire enough staff to man merch stands and anticipate that at certain times (like right after the gates open and before the festival ends), the merch stands can get incredibly busy.
Your festival app might allow users to link their credit or debit card or even PayPal so they can utilize cashless payments.
At the very least, please have plenty of cash readers. When you force your audience to go to an ATM to take out cash, you can make shopping so inconvenient that some people will decide not to do it.
Plus, with thousands and thousands of people around such as at a large music festival, the ATMs can quickly run out of cash!
How to Measure: Tracking merch sales will tell you how well you did in this department. You can track whether certain types of merch outsold others. For your next festival, you’ll want more of that merch at your stands.
The Purpose: People need to eat and drink, and when they’re spending 12 or 16 hours at your festival (or even several days if your festival has overnight lodging), then they’re going to expect you to provide them with both food and drinks.
How to Plan: Your festival needs a variety of food and drink options that appeal to festival goers of all ages and diets.
Decide whether you want to serve alcohol, and if you do, then you’ll likely need a permit.
Next, plan the types of cuisine you want to offer at the festival and how you’ll obtain these foods. Is it better to hire food vendors or food trucks? More than likely, your event will have a combination of both.
Based on projected attendance, calculate how many food vendors and food trucks you’ll need. You don’t want so many that some vendors don’t make a dime, but having too few means you’ll have hungry, angry festival goers.
Finally, you have to decide where on the festival grounds the food options will be installed.
As was the case with shopping vendors, you want food options spread out evenly across the festival grounds so your attendees can always grab a bite to eat or something to drink no matter where they are onsite.
How to Measure: When your festival wraps up, you can calculate the earnings per vendor or food truck. This will be a good litmus test to determine which types of cuisine were the most popular. Make sure you try to secure a recurring deal with that vendor or food truck for next year’s fest!
The Purpose: Whether it’s a music festival or an art festival, there will be what amounts to hours of downtime before the next act starts. Games are a great opportunity to keep people engaged and active during the festival.
A game can encompass nearly anything you can think of (and that your budget allows for, of course). You can have basketball hoops, the aforementioned video game arcade idea, foosball tables, whatever suits your festival.
How to Plan: Budgeting is your first order of business. With contests and competitions already planned for, you might not have a huge games budget for your festival.
That’s okay. You’re only trying to provide festival goers with entertainment between sets, so it doesn’t have to be too extravagant, especially not in your first year.
As was the case before, when planning games, allow your audience data to be your guide. You want to select activities that will be enjoyable for them.
How to Measure: Measuring who plays which games is a bit hard to do, admittedly. Perhaps if your festival has badges or RFID bracelets that festival goers wear for entry, you can track how many people entered the games zone that way.
The Purpose: Chilling out in the hot sun for hours standing around and rocking out to one’s favorite songs is going to leave any festival goer exhausted.
Providing areas where they can lounge will allow your festival goers to have some pep in their step even once the sun goes down and the main event is on.
How to Plan: Decide what a lounge area at your festival will look like. Will it be outdoors or indoors?
What kind of amenities will you offer? You might provide comfy seating such as plush couches and chairs.
You could add a phone charging station so that attendees who have been snapping lots of photos and taking plenty of videos can recharge their dying phones.
An air-conditioned cooling zone is a great idea, as is a refreshment area, especially if your festival is in a warm region or during the summer.
How to Measure: As was the case with hosting games at your event, it’s hard to determine how popular your lounge zone is unless you require specific access via an RFID wristband or event app.
The Purpose: Last but not least, a great activity to have at your festival is a photo zone…or 20.
It’s no secret that people love to snap, snap, snap away on their smartphones. Besides your aesthetically pleasing festival grounds, give festival goers something to photograph by providing photo booths, appealing backdrops, and other photo areas that are perfect for the ‘Gram.
How to Plan: As with everything else involving your festival, you’ll have to budget for photo zones or photo walls.
Take a tour of your festival grounds to determine where the most optimal place for photo zones will be. You want areas that aren’t in the thick of things but aren’t too far away from the action or no one will want to take photos.
Keeping festival goers engaged with activities is a great way to make the festival experience a more memorable and well-rounded one. I hope the 7 ideas I presented to you today give you a great starting point for planning your festival!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Baylis is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective and a self-confessed sponsorship geek.
After several years as a sponsor (that’s right, the one investing the money!) Chris decided to cross over to the sponsorship sales side where he has personally closed tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals. Chris has been on the front lines of multi-million dollar sponsorship agreements and has built and coached teams to do the same.
Chris now spends his time working with clients to value their assets and build strategies that drive sales. An accomplished speaker and international consultant, Chris has helped his clients raise millions in sponsorship dollars.