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 birthday celebrations, anniversaries, weddings, corporate events and fundraisers. Our festival planning guide can help you every step of the way, from the original idea, catering & entertainment, right down to the final touches that will make it truly unique. And, once you've learned everything you need to know, you can start setting the ball in motion with our list of recommended suppliers.
Before you start booking suppliers for your mini festival or festival-themed celebration, you need to do a bit of planning.
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, or a range of circus performers moving around your venue...whatever you feel would work.
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.
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.
Planning Your Mini Festival
Once you've defined your concept, you're ready to start planning & making your vision a reality. Start with the venue first.
1) The Festival Venue
The venue is the most crucial aspect of any festival. Think about your answers to the following questions:
- What type of venue do I want? I.e. indoors, outdoors, pub, field, marquee etc.
- If remote, how will your festival go-ers travel to and from the venue? Will you provide transport?
- Will there be sufficient parking at the venue?
- If planning on camping, how many tents can you pitch? Will you provide these or will guests bring their own?
- What are the toilet facilities? Will you opt for luxury loos or standard portaloos?
- What are the on site food and drink facilities? Are you providing street food vans and mobile bars?
- How much space is available for you to set everything up? Will you have room to provide extras like giant games or fun fair rides?
Quite an important bit, this.
Music defines any festival, make sure you get this sorted as a priority. Do you want to showcase local bands & musicians? Are you throwing a 60s-themed festival and searching for authentic cover bands? Or are you looking for a top DJ (make sure to take a look at our DJ hire price guide)?
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.
Aside from the music, there are other great entertainment options which will make your festival complete. Here are a few ideas that'll level up your festival:
- Entertainers - Comedians, Magicians, Contortionists, Dancers, Fire Breathers
- Activities - Bucking Bronco, Bouncy Castles, Duel, Table Tennis, Giant Jenga
- Exhibitions - Art, Photography, VR Hire, Photo Booths
- Children's Entertainment - Face Painters, Temporary Tattoos, Clowns, Animal Parties
A good festival always needs a few stalls and attractions so see what you can find to make your mini festival stand out - perhaps you'll even go as far as hiring some fair ground rides or putting on a circus workshop.
3) Food and Drink
It's not a festival without some great food.
We know when people are dancing and having the time of their lives at your mini festival, they're bound to get hungry - and likely want a few drinks. So you need to consider the type of food and drinks you'll present to them:
- Street Food Vans - think gourmet fast food, with anything from fish & chips to thai food or even a taco truck.
- Mobile Bars - are you showcasing local craft beers & gins, providing cocktails, or offering a little bit of everything?
- Water - in the height of summer, every good festival needs water coolers. Are you providing fountains/refill stations for your guests to stay hydrated?
- Snacks - depending on the length of your festival, you may just want to order a few fun snacks like candy floss, popcorn, or an ice cream van to keep your guests happy.
When thinking about food, make sure you know the amount of space you have dedicated to catering set ups - you don't want to have to park 5 food vans on the dance floor!
And, if you're serving alcohol, make sure to check the regulations with the venue & bar supplier to keep everything under control.
Logistics & Planning
Right, you've thought about the aspects to make this a GREAT mini-festival. So, let's all calm down for a second and think logistically.
2) 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.
You may even wish to have event medics on site depending on the scale of your mini festival.
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.
5) 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 to hire a generator to power your electrical devices.
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 as well as providing water fountains or refill stations.
7) Fencing & Shelter
We all know in the UK great weather is never guaranteed. If you're hiring a field or outdoor venue, you may wish to think about hiring fencing or a big top marquee to keep everyone together and protected from the elements.
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.
Here's our suggested promotional timeline...
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.
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 Eventbrite 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, hammocks, deck chairs, cushions, a glitter bar and anything else that fits with your festival theme.
- Styling is another important consideration. Make sure your event is memorable by adding flower walls or quirky Instagrammable decorations that'll have people raving about your festival (think Coachella's Popsicle Installation).
Have we missed anything? We'd love to hear from you with your own tips and advice for putting on a mini-festival.
Now you have all the information you need to start planning your mini festival so why not started requesting quotes from our fantastic suppliers and locking in your big ideas.