Create your own festival!

By Hannah, editor of the brilliant GoFestival Guide 2011

Like a good festival but a bit strapped for cash? Why not have your own?

Gather some friends, find a piece of land, back garden or corner of a campsite. Decorate with flags and bunting, borrow a bell tent, round up a bunch of musicians and your very own festie could be born.

10 easy steps to get your DIY festival off the ground….

1. Name your festival.  This should be fun. You could include your name ‘Julie’s Big Weekend’ or use a theme like ‘The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ where everyone has to come in a crazy hat. Look for inspiration in a magazine like the There are some weird and wonderful names out there like ‘Magic Loungeabout’,  ‘Bearded Theory’ and ‘Just So Festival’ so be as adventurous as you like.

2. The guest list. This is your chance to create a perfect festival. What could be better than a festival with a hand-picked guest list including all your nearest and dearest. Just make sure you mention that there may be an entrance fee if you want to cover your overheads. But don’t go crazy and invite the whole town – it’ll only end in tears.

3. The site. Your back garden would be the simplest option but if, like most of us, you can only stretch a picnic blanket in yours, you’ll need to think again. Many campsites take group bookings and would cordon off a section or you could book a whole site, which would be perfect. Most campsites do have rules regarding late night noise so if it’s going to be a success go campfire-accoustic after dark.

[Try asking a local farmer or woodland owner too – perhaps offer a nominal ‘donation’ to the costs of maintaining the land if they are worried about the legalities of renting?]

4. Decoration. What could be more ‘festival’ than the sight of flags fluttering in the breeze? Decorate with lovely spinners or streamer flags hung from telescopic poles and stretch multicoloured bunting between the tents and trees. Gogogloglo has a large selection of wind art, flags and banners to choose from at Simple signs will add to your setup – nothing fancy just paint your festival name above your stage, add a sign above the bar and an arrow in the direction of the toilets.

[How about collecting jam jars and running a lantern-making workshop? Cover them in scraps tissue paper with watered down PVA glue, tie on a string handle and pop a tea light inside.  Voila! Entertainment AND decoration in one!  Or if you are worried about having glass on site how about these lovely reusable Garden Lanterns?]

5. Food and booze. You could simply get everyone to bring a bottle and something to chuck on the barbie. Or you could go fancy – spit roast a pig, get in a few kegs of cider, persuade someone to make a giant paella, hire a popcorn machine… the sky’s the limit.

6. Sounds. Why not book a local band by asking around or looking online – it’s usually quite easy to find some local talent. Try and invite a few musicians, and get some impromptu jamming going. Or if you’d rather, make a Spotify playlist from this year’s festival headline acts and play them off your iPod.

7. Under cover. Even if you’re not camping, try and get hold of a bell tent – it’s a great tent that really gives the festie vibe with it’s big-top shape. You can use it for storytelling, facepainting or hold circus workshops for the kids. Or if you have the space try a tipi or yurt. Yurt Events will come and erect one in your garden for approx. £350 – well worth the money if you have it.

[It’s always a good idea to have some shelter whether for rain, wind, sun or just chilling out]

8. Stage and seating. You could do as they do at Truck Festival and hire in a flatbed truck to use as a stage. But plywood laid over wooden crates or old tyres would be far easier and cheaper. Gather deckchairs or scrounge hay bales from a local farm for seating, create a bar under an awning and bingo: you have an arena!

9. Entertainment. As we know, festivals aren’t solely about music. It wouldn’t be a festie without the odd fire-eater, stiltwalker or art installation. If this is too tricky, why not find someone willing to do some storytelling, juggling, crafts or face painting for the little ones. Alternatively you could make it a prerequisite that everyone does a star turn on the ‘cabaret’ stage!

[If you know a Yoga or Pilates instructor, persuade them to give a morning workshop – it’s a lovely way to start the day and brings everyone together]

10. Night time. Round off the evening with a campfire singalong – get all your musician friends to bring along their instruments for an acoustic jamming session, launch a bunch of sky lanterns that the kids have decorated in their ‘workshop’ and talk ‘til dawn…

[Make sure you buy 100% bio-degradable sky lanterns with no nasty wire parts to harm animals!  And please don’t set them off if it’s breezy… they can come down again in wind]

Getting out in the open to enjoy the fresh air, music and fun of a festival with your mates is very easy – why not give it a try this summer. You never know, in 10 years yours could be the next Glastonbury!


If you get your skates on, you could do it for Oxjam, Oxfam’s month-long music festival. It runs all through October with hundreds of events around the UK, all organised by volunteers who know and love their local music scene, all raising money to save lives around the world.  Go to the Oxjam website and once registered, they’ll send you their event toolkit in the post, which has everything you need to know to get started. You’ll also be able to download it online, along with loads of other useful bits and pieces. Everyone who is registered as an event organiser will also receive an invitation to one of their exclusive training events, run in partnership with LiveNation and the Academy Music Group.

But if you’d rather go to one of the hundreds of organised festivals the UK has on offer, take a look inside the GoFestival Guide 2011. It’s a fabulous FREE to view and download festival magazine covering all types of music festivals in the UK.

Alternatively, for family-friendly festivals check out the Festival Kidz Map.

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