How to make your first festival a success

Posted: 27 August 2019

You’ve landed a spot on the newcomer stage, that’s the hard part over with, right? Not quite. Now you need to put on a killer show and prove that you were the right choice. Even to experienced giggers, playing a festival can be a shock to the system. So how can you prepare and make it a memorable experience?



Unlike a local show, a festival will ask for your tech information in advance and probably in more detail. Time to get familiar with two terms: stage plan and input list. A stage plan (or plot) is a visual representation of how you position yourself on stage, the gear you use and how it’s set up. The input list details all your outputs from sound equipment through to vocals. You can use the tech spec to confirm what equipment you’re travelling with, your mic/DI preferences and any specifics about your mixes. Once you’ve provided this information, try not to change it unless you really have to.


In all the excitement, it’s easy to forget about packing the essentials. Be sure stock up on drumsticks, guitar strings, plectrums and other breakables. Prepare for extreme weather with wellies, spare clothes and sunscreen—sunburn isn’t very rock n’ roll.

On the day

trust the techs

Don’t worry if your soundcheck is short—or if you don’t get one at all—trust the fact that the techs know what they’re doing. It’s their job to get your levels right in a short space of time and that’s part of the reason why they ask for an input list in advance. You sound may feel different to you on stage, especially as you’re in a big outdoor space, but the audience won’t be aware of any of that.


If you’re lucky enough to get access to a VIP or artist area this can be a great space to connect with other musicians. You’ve earned the right to be there so don’t be afraid to say hello to your favourite band or exchange contacts with artists you want to collaborate with. Although you might not have any interviews planned, introduce yourself to the press and invite them to watch your set. It’s also worth looking out for label reps and managers.

As fun as the VIP area can be, don’t forget to get out and mingle with the other festival goers. It’s a great chance gain new fans and people will love the fact that you’re so down to earth and approachable.