Festival Venue Infrastructure

Introduction 

Outdoor venues and event production always present a gamble, especially with vagaries of our climate. It is the responsibility of the festival organiser to ensure that the strength of the infrastructure and integrity of the operational staff at the venue are able to effectively support and plan their event. This responsibility means prioritising the funding of the fundamentals of the festival, rather than overpaying a headlining act. In many cases, evidence would suggest that this duty has been neglected, and festival organisers have suffered consequences, both financially and to their reputation. 

Securing the right venue for your festival means considering the scope of what that venue can offer you. Exploring the different types of venues and what facilities they have can determine what you, as a festival organiser, can offer your festival attendees. The checklist below highlights what some festival locations have to offer. 

Key

 

The venue has that facility

The venue does not have that facility

✓✕

Some venues may have that in some capacity

 

Type of Venue

Land

Power & Water

Toilets / Showers

Purpose built buildings

Internal roads

Wifi infrastructure

Showground

Field

Farm

✓✕

✓✕

Manor House

✓✕

✓✕

Beach

✓✕

East of England Arena

19 separate locations:

- 141 ladies toilets

- 57 gentleman toilets

- 151 urinals

- 16 disabled WC’s

- 13 baby changing facilities

- Ladies showers

5KM of internal roadways.

A reputable, ‘big-name’ act means nothing if the infrastructure and services are underfunded and disorganised. Choosing a venue which does not have all the necessary facilities means using temporary structures, which may be temperamental - especially in bad weather. This heightens the risk of safety for the staff and festival attendees.

Poor infrastructure can lead to:

  • Infrastructure collapsing
  • Not enough safety exits
  • Not enough security
  • Health and safety risks

These risks can lead to festivals being cancelled or abandoned as a consequence, resulting in both loss of profit and ultimately a damaged reputation.

Infrastructural Blunders

Festival blunders and disasters aren't hard to find: from the infamous dystopian nightmare at Fyre Fest to the inclement weather conditions at TomorrowLand where the 8,000-acre farmland turned into a giant pool of mud, people were stranded with no transportation services, and others were forced to sleep on the side of the road with no water or food.

Bloc Weekender 2012, saw festival organisers site their festival on wasteland with asbestos contamination in the ground, requiring the entire site to be laid with aggregate. Temporary marquees and tents were provided for a capacity of thousands, yet could not withstand that many. The entire festival was evacuated.

With the 2019 festival scene in its prime season, there have already been some notable on-site tragedies and mishaps, All of which could have been avoided had the infrastructure of the venue been adequate for the number of festival attendees.

We are FSTVL presented festival-goers with three hours queues in extreme heat with no access to shade or water stations. Ill-equipped staff were unable to provide sufficient wristbands for the number of tickets sold, and the patrons' justifiable frustration led to a stampede and several hospitalisations as a result.

All easily avoided, had the venue been equipped with the appropriate infrastructure to provide shade and sufficient water stations. Ineffectual infrastructure leads to chaotic incidents such as this, damaging your reputation as a festival organiser. Festivals' version of ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ is increasingly being defined by evacuation from the festival ‘warzone’, flooded out of the venue or being crushed in a stampede.

Showground

Cancelled acts, long queues and extreme weather conditions are capable of transforming the merry festival-goers into enraged patrons questioning how the costs of their ticket do not justify the quality of the festival. Choosing a purpose-built event venue, such as a Showground, as your venue for a festival, will significantly decrease the chance of all the above occurring.

With solid infrastructure designed purposely to provide organisers with a prime location for their events, a long and successful history of hosting events and equipped, and competent staff with expertise of running large scale events, a showground is a perfect combination for a successful event. Furthermore, venues are always investing in their own infrastructure and a long term partnership with a venue for an organiser should include discussions about future infrastructure upgrade work.

This will have a significant long term cost-benefit to the organiser as this is a permanent investment in the site rather than a temporary one which it would be on a green site. Prioritise the quality of your venue and you will reap the benefits.