The Halo Group


August 11, 2017

10 Creative Festival Production Tips

In this week’s Halo Group blog, we offer our top 10 tips to create the ultimate festival experience. With so many different ways to create impact, entertain and amaze, sometimes it can be hard to budget or invest in the right areas. Here’s our take on the things that matter most. 

1.The Devil’s in the Detail 

Festivals come in many different sizes. From the city sized scale of Glastonbury to the boutique Festival No.6 and everything in between. For some smaller festivals, often budget can dictate the scale of the creative festival production onsite – but it doesn’t have to. The Halo Group is well established on the festival scene and well known for our creative festival production, so we have seen many different concepts over the years. One of our favourite ways to put a creative spin on an event is to pay attention to the fine detail. Anything goes from creative sign writing and typography to up-cycling lampshades, decorating trees and even simple arts and crafts touches. With a little love and attention to detail, you can bring character and charm to your site design regardless of budget.

(Photo Credit Nick Caro) 

(Photo Credit Nick Caro) 

(Photo Credit Nick Caro) 

(Photo Credit Nick Caro) 

2. Think Big with your Creative Festival Production

At the other end of the spectrum, there are the big budget installations and huge creative festival production features. They are not for everyone and not for every purse but you can’t deny the sheer impact they achieve. There are literally 1000s and 1000s of examples out there but one of the best in the business is Bloc 9. Their oversized, highly creative and often edgy designs are second to none. Over the years, their showpiece projects at Glastonbury have produced some incredible results, drawing people in across the festival’s gigantic site. If space, budget and tastes allow – thinking big can really pay dividends.

(via Timeout, Photo Credit Bloc9) 

3. Create a Focal Point on Site

In a similar vein, stage design is one area promoters and festival organisers invest a huge amount of money into, and for good reason. With headliners usually featuring on the main stage, naturally they become “the” iconic image of any festival – appearing on TV, in the press and so forth. Creating a memorable focal point is a great way to achieve your goal and there are some incredible examples out there. Stage production can often be a very important aspect for the artists themselves too. Although they didn’t invent the concept of stage production, when Daft Punk performed at Coachella in 2006 they set the standard making their stage design an integral part of that now legendary show. So much was its impact, in the process they upped the anti and as the flood gates opened others followed suit. Today, the sheer scale of production can be literally out of this world.

(Photo by: TomorrowWorld)

Our favourite stage designs and one of the best examples of creative festival production are those of the Bregenz Festival. Now in its 72nd season, this Operatic production features some of the most elaborate and breath taking stage designs in the world.

(Photograph by Karl Forster © Bregenzer Festspiele) 

(Photograph by Miro Kuzmanovic for Reuters) 

(Photograph by Karl Forster © Bregenzer Festspiele) 

4. Use Nature

Whilst the huge productions and mega money designs certainly pack a punch there are more cost effective ways to make your mark. Floral, foliage and other natural materials represent a great way to achieve impact and appeal but on a much more affordable scale. Furthermore, wood, plant matter and similar materials are also recyclable, thus making them the ideal building materials to achieve your creative festival production vision. The Halo Group specialises in this technique. Our work with the BBC at Glastonbury is an excellent example. The BBC Music Tepee (behind the Pyramid stage) has become one of the most recognisable features at the festival over the past 3 years. Each year we create a different set design which forms the backdrop for their unplugged sessions – where main stage artists perform acoustic sets which are then streamed online around the world. Because the audience is amplified many fold by this activity we understand the importance of making the most of the space, materials and budget. This project is at the other end of the spectrum compared to most main stages, but in its own way is equally impactful.

5. Take the Scenic Route

Scenic production is another one of our fortes here at The Halo Group. This is a really effective way to achieve impressive creative festival production results. The Halo Group’s “Bunker” concept which featured for 2 years at GlobalGathering is a good example of this. Using a simple steel frame clad in plywood, our art team applied scenic techniques to create concrete effects and other ageing finishes to give the illusion that the ‘Bunker” had been in situ for 50 years. The venue quickly gained popularity on site, becoming one of “the” destination areas at the festival. This is a great way to add character to an event as it really ignites peoples’ imaginations.

The real benefit of scenic production is you can create almost any effect you want, from rusted metals to concrete, marble and more. The sheer number of possibilities make this one of our top tips to help create a truly memorable set design at your festival at a fraction of the cost!

6. Expect the Unexpected

As fantastic as the main stage can be, today festivals are as much about creating your own personalised experiences and journeys. By design, the main stage is all about a communal experience with a shared focal point.  Today people have come to expect the unexpected at festivals. Often these occurrences are as memorable as any performance on stage as they are highly personal, often experienced in smaller groups of close friends. Perhaps you wander off to get away from the crowds and you stumble across an incredible, intimate installation off the beaten track. What began as a short reprieve from the mosh pit has now become a memory because you didn’t expect to find what you did. The unexpected truly delights people, whether that’s an impromptu theatrical performance, an art installation or a simple hammock in an unexpected place to rest your weary wet feet.

(photo credit aLIVE coverage for Electric Forest)

(photo credit aLIVE coverage for Electric Forest)

(Photo credit Skyler Greene for Electric Forest)

7. Immersive Experiences

Ok so it’s a not a new concept and the words immersive experience do get banded around  a lot in the industry but there is a good reason why. It’s easy to immerse yourself at a festival and those who recognise the potential of creating engaging experiences around this often do well. Make people feel part of the story you are trying to tell and often they will have a superior experience. Fractal Forest at Shambala Festival is a great example. Set deep in the woods, Fractal Forest features a stunning array of neon, lighting and vivid production. People who come to Fractal Forest are enveloped into the very fabric of the festival in a fully immersive experience.

(Photo Credit Xavier Photography)

Burning Man is another of the great immersive festivals. Its isolated location lends brilliantly to this, creating its very own world for the duration of the festival. It’s easy to get lost in this alternative reality with all of the creative festival production ideas, installations, stages and random attractions.

(via: Burning Man Website) 

8. Art Installations

Art Installations and bespoke props are a really great way to enhance a festival. Festivals are full of creative people from every walk of life. Festivals are known for their expression and often artists, even established artists will be willing to contribute. Take Nick Bartlett for example. His website states “Nick is an innately conceptual artist with the ability to see his wildest ideas through to reality. His vision is proving boundless as he grows from painting and sculpture to complex set design. Nick has worked with the likes of Wilderness, Lovebox, Glastonbury, Electric Picnic, Secret Garden Party & Bestival to name a few. Nick is the visionary behind the giant taps for example which run endlessly into the lake at Secret Garden Party. He also heads up the overall aesthetics of the site as well as the creative department at SGP. He’s a great example of how artists can really enhance a festival and is someone we really admire here at The Halo Group.

(Photography, Nick Caro) 

9. Be Subversive

Following on neatly, even the worlds most famous artists such as Banksy contribute to festivals. The artist, never shy of controversy, raised some eyebrows with the location of one particular piece of his artwork at Glastonbury which was situated in the “Sacred Space” field. The piece featured a replica of  Stonehenge constructed from portable toilets. Subversive statements can divide opinions but there is no doubt they can generate a buzz around an event.

(Photo credit: Rodw, Wikimedia Commons) 

10. Unusual Temporary Structures

Using unusual temporary structures is a great way to make a real statement. Once you have seen one big top tent you had seen them all and in todays festival market consumers demand more. Whether you are a brand activating or a festival organiser, temporary structures can add so much to the experience. It’s all about creating a destination area where people really want to be. The Halo Group specialises in temporary structure design and build. We have built many different structures over the years for many different purposes.

For example, if your festival is a dance music event you might want to create an arena for your big name DJs and shipping containers offer an ideal solution.  They can be easily stacked, modified and arranged in different formations. We created a dance arena for GlobalGathering entitled the “Container Stage” for this very use with stunning results.

Other popular temporary structure formats include VIPs, backstage areas and hospitality zones. If you want to elevate the experience for your artists and special guests, temporary structures are a great way to achieve your vision. The Halo Group uses a unique modular steel build system to create amazing VIP experiences at festivals such as our delivery at the inaugural Ramblin’ Man Fair pictured.

Another big advantage of using The Halo Group’s temporary structure system is the ability to gain height. People love to get a vantage point at a festival so our mezzanine structures are very popular as a result. By creating multiple levels on your site, you enhance the experience, increase the usable footprint and create alternative aerial views of the event for people to enjoy. This is something you simply cannot achieve with marquees, big tops and other traditional festival structures.

Brands can often be an integral part of festivals. Experiential marketing, activations and campaigns are as common place as the main stage these days so it’s more important than ever to stand out. Unusual temporary structures are a great way to achieve a real point of difference. Using our modular system we are able to create almost any design. One of its biggest benefits is that we can clad and finish our structures in almost any material. This versatility means we can answer most briefs and always produce an end product that is on brand.

We hope you have enjoyed our creative festival production top 10 tips blog. For more news, views and highlights from Halo HQ, visit our blog next week. We look forward to seeing you all again soon…

The Halo Group

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