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Your Festival Production Timeline Template

Whether it’s a free community event or a large multi-day music festival, creating a festival production timeline is crucial to ensure a successful event. Here's a detailed timeline that covers the key stages from initial planning to post-event activities:

12-18 Months Before the Festival

Concept and Planning

  • Define the festival's vision, theme, target audience and goals.
  • Research and select potential dates (look out for clashes with other events in your region).
  • Create a budget outline (be realistic - over-budgeting and under-spending is the best case scenario).
  • Form the core team and assign roles (look for experience in festivals).
  • Set reasonable break-even scenarios and ticket price ranges based on your budget (have a look at your competitors’ pricing).

Venue and Permits

  • Research and book the venue/location (be on the lookout for good access and reliable people).
  • Apply for necessary permits and licenses (this can take time, so be prepared to wait).
  • Start discussions with local authorities and emergency services.

Sponsorship and Partnerships

  • Identify potential sponsors and partners (look for people that align with your brand).
  • Prepare sponsorship packages and proposals.
  • Reach out to potential sponsors (always consider using a sponsorship agency with experience in this field to assist with this).

Start looking for talent

  • Outline your budget for talent.
  • Contact agents well in advance and be willing to make early offers.
  • Be realistic about who you want to book.

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9-12 Months Before the Festival

Marketing and Promotion

  • Develop a marketing and promotion plan and budget.
  • Design festival branding and logos.
  • Start social media campaigns and website development (focus on dates and earlybird tickets).

Ticketing strategy

  • Research ticketing providers (consider allocating tickets with multiple providers).
  • Set up a pricing and sales strategy (tiered pricing is very common for festivals).
  • Release early bird tickets (consider a small allocation at a very good price to stimulate interest and help cashflow).
  • If you’re producing a free event, develop a registration process for attendees.

Programming and Line-up

Vendor and Contractor Engagement

  • Identify and reach out to vendors (food, merchandise, etc.).
  • Select production companies for stages, sound, and lighting.

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6-9 Months Before the Festival

Logistics and Operations

  • Plan site layout and infrastructure needs.
  • Arrange for security, medical, and sanitation services.
  • Book accommodation and transport for artists and staff.

3-6 Months Before the Festival

Public announcement and ticket sales launch

  • Announce the festival line-up (remember to coordinate with agents, ticketing providers, partners and sponsors for maximum effectiveness).
  • Launch main ticket sales.
  • Intensify social media and online marketing.
  • Launch the PR campaign (consider a PR consultancy for this).
  • Distribute flyers, posters and physical marketing materials.

Detailed Planning

Volunteer recruitment

1-3 Months Before the Festival

Operational Readiness

  • Hold regular production team meetings to review progress.
  • Finalize security and emergency plans.
  • Conduct training sessions for staff and volunteers.

Announcements and marketing

  • Launch further lineup announcements (doing this in waves helps spike ticket sales, especially when timed around paydays).
  • Organize PR push and media engagements.
  • Depending on ticket sales, consider increasing ticket price or running a special offer.

1 Month Before the Festival

Final Preparations

  • Confirm all bookings and contracts.
  • Advance artists and talent (set deadlines for information from agents and tour managers).
  • Push those final ticket sales (don’t worry about getting to a sell out before the event, you can always sell more on the door).
  • Perform final checks on logistics and infrastructure (don’t forget a rigorous health and safety protocol).
  • Finalise volunteers and crew.
  • Order wristbands and passes.

1-3 Weeks Before the Festival

On-site Setup

  • Begin on-site setup (stages, tents, booths, etc.).
  • Test all equipment (sound, lights, AV).
  • Ensure security measures are in place.
  • Set up accreditation offices.

Last-Minute Coordination

  • Final walkthrough with production team and key stakeholders.
  • Distribute final schedules and key contact lists.

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Festival Day(s)

Event Management

  • Ensure key personnel and equipment are on site for example, crew, artists, backline etc. (having accreditation offices are crucial for this).
  • Implement the event schedule (delays are inevitable, so be prepared).
  • Monitor and address any issues promptly.
  • Ensure clear communication among all team members.
  • Work closely with security to ensure a secure event.

Logistics

  • Keep close contact with the local authorities to stay on top of traffic delays.
  • Ensure contingencies are in place for important things like power and water.
  • Ensure health and safety protocol is adhered to.

Attendee Engagement

  • Provide excellent customer service.
  • Manage social media updates and live coverage.

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Post-Festival (1-2 Weeks After)

Breakdown and Cleanup

  • Oversee site cleanup and breakdown.
  • Ensure all vendors and contractors are paid.

Evaluation and Reporting

  • Conduct debrief meetings with the team.
  • Gather feedback from attendees, crew, volunteers and partners.
  • Analyze data and prepare a final report.

Thank Yous and Follow-ups

  • Send thank you notes to sponsors, volunteers, and partners.
  • Maintain engagement with the community for future events.
  • Launch early bird ticket sales for next year’s event.

This timeline is designed to be flexible and should be fine-tuned and adjusted based on the size and nature of your festival. Remember, regular reviews and adjustments are crucial to address any emerging challenges and opportunities. Happy festival planning!

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