A staple of the British summer and a rite of passage for many people, the festival landscape is now becoming more about the experience and less about the line-up. A big name is no longer enough of a pull – especially after the disaster that was Fyre Festival. It’s the experience, the food they eat, the friends they make and the memories they create.
If someone looks back fondly on an event, it could be the difference between whether or not they return. There are now hundreds of festivals in the UK, so there is plenty of other choice for them if yours isn’t up to scratch.
Whether it’s the music, the venue, the special effects or a little something extra, atmosphere is the thing that creates the moments and memories, it doesn’t matter if it’s Cheltenham Jazz Festival or Creamfields. But why?
Every venue has an atmosphere of sorts, but it’s not always a good one. In a comedy club you can tell the vibe in the room by the amount of laughter, while in a nightclub if people aren’t dancing, you know something needs to be changed.
Atmosphere is similar to personality – it’s not something that you can buy. Some festivals may be able to use light and fog to create it and set the mood, while others may need to use music for ambience. You know when you’ve got an electric atmosphere, and it’s an unbeatable feeling for any events manager. It’s the perfect mix – the personalities, the music, the attitudes, the location, the special effects – that make up an atmosphere which ultimately creates memories.
Location Makes a Difference
If you choose the wrong location for your event, or your biggest signing cannot easily access the stage, you’re going to face an uphill battle no matter the line up.
Find an area that works for you – there’s a reason so many festivals are in fields – after all, it fosters creativity. The wonders of nature mean that waterfalls, ponds and even forests can create a natural ambience and sanctuary which festivals like Lost Village in Lincolnshire capitalise on. If you can choose the right location, you might even save money on extra props and let nature do the hard work. That said, it doesn’t mean man-made festivals can’t have atmosphere, you might just have to use more special effects…
It Sets the Mood
Strobe, neon, LED. You don’t want to blind your guests, but you can take advantage of lighting technology to build up to pivotal moments in the set which supports the artist and their performance, and creates a bigger sense of excitement than their voice alone can provide.
Theatrical fog can also be used to create atmospheric effects. Both outdoor and indoor festivals can benefit from fog, which is used to create and build on specific senses of mood. It accompanies the musicians and artists by creating suspense in their performance, or enhancing drama by shrouding them in a haze. Some theatrical smoke machines also have LED lights built into them to add coloured smoke effects. An added bonus is fog can be used for crowd comfort to make sure the public are regularly cooled down in an otherwise hot, dense environment.
It Creates a Narrative
Storytelling concepts are becoming more commonplace in the advertising festival landscape than ever before. Whether you want people to come each year for a different “chapter of the story” or offer an immersive experience for 4 nights, they can further create a sense of community. Smoke, lights, and even a bonfire can contribute and further boost the chances of a positive experience that feels authentic.
Great festival narratives can give people a sense of place – they meet people who share hobbies, culture, community, interests and even geographical areas. People often use festivals as quick money makers but that’s not how it should be – there needs to be a unique reason for people to choose your festival out of the other hundreds, and a well-built atmosphere can provide this.
It Accompanies the Music
Music is of course the biggest draw to a festival. Every artist is different, but without the music, the atmosphere would not be anywhere near as powerful. Atmospheric music is completely different to everybody. One person could imagine Kate Bush, the other Foo Fighters. Whether it’s EDM or classical, music helps us to feel less stressed, drained or even bored, and it’s all of the components above that help create the atmosphere that collaborates with the music to create experiences that go far beyond being stood in a field.
Line ups sell tickets, but the atmosphere makes memories.