Each year hundreds of festivals bring together like-minded people to share their passion for everything from music, to flowers, to barbeque. For attendees, it’s a magical journey to share something they love.
Behind the scenes, a remarkable number of details are planned. From lighting to wristband distribution, and everything in between, festivals are meticulously planned months in advance.
There is one thing even the best event planners can’t control, the weather. Weather has a significant impact on an audience’s mood, attendance and overall program success. Yet, there is no crystal ball that can guarantee good weather when selecting an event date.
When it comes to festivals weather impacts many facets:
• Travel conditions to the venue – Even indoor events have to consider the weather’s impact on attendees’ ability to get to the venue.
• Safety first – While many activities can continue rain or shine, high winds, lightning or downpours can make some things dangerous. Rides, stunts, and even the use of some equipment might not be possible.
• Attendee mood – A sunny, comfortably cool day will put festival participants in a good mood. While a cloudy, humid day may dampen spirits.
• Attendance levels – Die-hard fans will attend an event regardless of the weather, but those who are more casual attendees may opt out if the weather is not ideal. Too much heat, excessive cold, and rainy conditions can deter people from showing up regardless if tickets were purchased in advance or not.
• Health concerns – Even a nice weather day can present challenges if the temperatures rise. The risk for dehydration or heat exhaustion requires extra care.
What’s a festival planner to do? It’s true we can’t control the weather but smart festival organizers can build a plan to manage a variety of weather conditions. As Matt Kourie, Owner NY Best Wings Festival explains, “As a festival organizer I’m always taking weather into account. However, we schedule events weeks or months in advance and can’t weather proof 100%. So, we’re always prepared for the unexpected. For example, if rainy weather is predicted we’ll proactively communicate to our ticket holders Festival is rain or shine, chicken wings are great all the time.”
Monitor the short & mid-term weather forecast and be ready to make guests comfortable & safe:
1. Plan a rain date. It’s always easiest to prepare in advance. If you have an outdoor event with little or no covering, document an agreement with the venue for a rain date and clearly communicate it to ticket holders and the community.
2. Be ready with extra hydration, shade & medical staff for exceptionally hot days. Even “nice” weather can be uncomfortable for your audience. Avoid heat stroke & sunburn to keep attendees enjoying themselves, but have medical staff on hand to accommodate needs as they arise.
3. Proactive communication. Rain or shine, communicating with your attendees is crucial. Use local press, radio and targeted SMS & email communications to spread the word. You may even want to consider geo-targeted advertising within a weather app.
4. Consider insurance protection for extreme scenarios. In rare instances cancelling an event is your only option. When that occurs the financial loss is painful. Insurance policies can protect you against the financial hit.
“You’d be surprised how many festivals don’t purchase contingency insurance coverage until after they’ve had a terrible loss. Although we can’t control the weather, we can prepare for its impact. I advise any organization expecting thousands of people to attend a venue that weather may significantly disrupt to explore insurance options that protect their investment.”
5. Address transportation delays. If the weather is forecasted to interfere with travel to the event adjust your schedule to accommodate late arrivals or consider a new start time.
Rain or shine be prepared to festival on!