How to Plan a Successful Design Festival

Every year, thousands of people travel to cities like Madrid for design festivals. Although there are lots of companies that host these events, there is still space for new companies to come in and start their own festivals. Below, we will look at how you can plan a successful design festival and make it an annual festival.

How to Plan a Successful Design Festival


The first step is to do your research, Research entails finding out:

  • How other companies do it if you are new
  • Which city is the best one for your festival
  • How much it is going to cost
  • Any legal issues or directives you need to know about

Your research should go as far and as wide as possible. Try to talk to other companies to see how they do it. If they do not want to talk to you, you can attend a few festivals yourself and see how they organize everything.
Also, talk to insiders to find out how much it is going to cost. This will depend on the city you choose for the festival as well as the activities you plan for the festival.

Run the Numbers
Before you take any concrete steps, you must run the numbers on:

  • How many people will attend
  • How much it will cost
  • How much you will make

Running these numbers is very important because not having enough people at the festival could mean not making enough money to justify the cost of the festival. Also, hosting a festival that is too expensive might not be worth it.
When running these numbers, this would be a good time to decide how much you will charge. Again, this will depend on the number of expected people and the expenses incurred.

Plan Everything
Once you run the numbers and know that it is going to be successful and profitable, you can start planning things. You can start by listing out the activities you will have like:

  • Showcases
  • Music
  • Different designer spaces etc.

By the end of this process, you should have a rough idea of what your festival will look like and what will happen during the festival.

Get Approval
A festival cannot happen without the approval of the local government. After doing your research, you should have an idea of what is required of you when it comes to getting approval for your design festival.
Talk to the person in charge and let them know that you would like to host a festival in their city. This might take some time to get approved and you might even have to pay some licensing fees for your festival. Your research should have shown how much it is going to be so be prepared.

Get Financing
Once you have the approval, it is time to get financing. A design festival can be very expensive to organize, especially if you have never done it before. There are several ways of getting the financing you need:
Talk to a lender - Lenders will want some collateral because you may be asking for a huge sum of money.
Personal loan
Unsecured loans
A loan on your property
It is unlikely but if the lender does not ask, do not let them know that you will use the money to host a festival as they may see it as too risky and refuse to give you the financing.
Once you have the financing, it should immediately go to the things that need to be done like:
A deposit on the space
Licensing fees
Payments to designers and artists

Talk to Designers
The next step is to reach out to designers. Before you do, you must decide if you want to work with known designers, unknown designers or a mix of the two. It might cost a bit of money to get known designers to come to your festival, but it might not for newer and relatively unknown designers.
You can start on social media. Most designers showcase their work on social media so this might be the best place to get started. Reach out to them through their official channels or their phone numbers. Be sure to get their numbers from a legitimate source so that you do not push them away from the very start.
A good rule here is to get in touch with them a few months before they have to get prepared for the festival. This is so that they have enough time to decide if they would like to participate and also enough time to prepare their pieces. As an extra incentive for designers who need a push, you can offer to transport their pieces for them.

Get the Space
Once all of the above is complete, and you know how many designers, artists and people to expect, it is time to get the space. You want enough space for designers to showcase their pieces and with lots of room for people to walk around. You do not want the place to feel crowded or claustrophobic because people will judge you on your first appearance. Try to find a space that allows every designer to have their own space to fully showcase their work. After all, it is the art that people will come for!
High ceilings, large windows and lots of light make a huge difference when trying to find a good place to host your festival.
You might have to pay a cash deposit for the space but that should be fine as you have it all planned out.

Involve Like-minded Companies
If you feel like you cannot do it alone or need a lot more exposure, it would be a good idea to involve companies with the same thinking as you. You can try to see if another company wants to co-host the festival with you and bring them in. If you decide to bring a third party in, your costs might be halved but so will the amount of money you stand to make.
Local design houses in the city you choose should be the first companies you ask because they already have a local presence and might be able to bring some people though the door. If you are planning on going big, go with a design company or agency that has a global footprint so they can spread the word for you.
Try to go with companies and brands that align with your brand and that have a good reputation so people do not have any issues stopping them from coming to your festival.

Leverage Social Media
Getting the word out is the best way to get people to come to your design festival. Start with common platforms like:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

All of these platforms are visual platforms so you can post some of the pieces on there and see how people react to them. You might even want to hire a social media manager to manage your social media and ensure that your message is reaching the right people.
If you need elite offline marketing, you could hire someone with a master's in business administration. People with a master's degree usually have great marketing skills and can even advise on other aspects of your business. Click here to learn more.
In addition to social media, you could try traditional media like radio and TV. It is surprising that there is still a sizable number of people who still listen to the radio. Try to find some time slots on the radio stations most listened to in the city of your festival. Try to get some ad time on TV too if you have the cash.

Should You Host a Design Festival?
If you are a new brand with the ability to attract designers and artists, it is a good idea to host a design festival. It will help get your name out there and can open doors to getting other companies to work with you.
The only thing to keep in mind is that it might be a very lengthy process to organize your design festival so if you are thinking of hosting one, start planning for it 12-18 months beforehand. This will give you ample time to get the financing you need, to get artists and designers on board, as well as give them enough time to prepare their pieces.
If you can, you should try hosting your festival in a city that is famous for festivals. Such cities usually have the necessary infrastructure like airports, transportation and accommodation to host a lot of people.

Hosting a successful design festival can be challenging especially if you do not have the experience. Planning everything beforehand and getting the right people in your team will go a long way in ensuring the success of your festival. Your use of social media and the ability to get the word out are also immensely important. If you do decide to work with different brands, ensure that their views align with yours and that they have a good reputation. Finally, run the numbers before taking any concrete steps because the number of people, artists, and designers that come to your festival will determine its success. 

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How to Plan a Successful Design Festival Every year, thousands of people travel to cities like Madrid for design festivals. Although there are lots of companies that host these events, there is still space for new companies to come in and