The Future Of Festivals: As Told By The Pros

Co-Written by Mia Nissen & Andrea Hnatievych

2017 festival season…where do we even begin? You were one for the books. It is hard to believe that it is possible to top the magic that we got to witness as a collective this year, but prepare yourselves: the future is coming and it looks even brighter.

Festival Squad had the great honor to take on XLIVE in Las Vegas this season, a conference centered around cultivating great ideas and what truly makes an event outstanding. A weekend full of inspiration and learning, we spoke with festival industry leaders that were on a mission to create something unheard of and make their events absolutely unforgettableSure, festivals are pretty awesome already, but how could they get even better?!

After spending the weekend listening to moving speeches, we made it OUR mission to relay back to the community up-and-coming event advancements for 2018 and beyond. So from the squad to you, the future of festivals as heard at XLIVE…

The rise of cannabis in the US cannot be ignored.  So how will this affect festivals? 

Normalization. In the coming years, expect to see more focus on the onsite consumption and education of marijuana. As cannabis brands expand, they will be given more money to advertise in festivals and at live events. This may sound taboo to some, but it will be no different than the current state of alcohol. And, for those that are into cannabis-culinary pairings, expect to see dinner events with edgy hosts like Anthony Bourdain. Yes, please.

The festival circuit is oversaturated, how will festivals look to stand apart?

Disneyfication. Expect festivals to continue looking for ways to go all out with pleasing our 5 senses. No.holds.barred. Each festival will continue looking for its own unique way it can carve out an eclectic experience that leaves you with the lasting sensation equivalent to a week spent at the Happiest Place on Earth. This means that bigger festivals (think, Coachella) will start to embrace hosting more small, curated events within the larger festival. Smaller festivals, (think, Desert Hearts) actually have even more freedom to go big because they are catering to one specific niche of festival-goers. And, expect to see even more amazing immersive activations from your favorite brands. Free stuff, anyone?

Computer-related technology, such as VR and AR, is such a hot topic right now. How will this affect the festival realm?

Reminiscence. The feels are so real, especially after the event you have been excited for all year long comes to a close. What if you could relive these precious moments from the comfort of your home, through the push of a button? Festival organizers are working through the details to make this possible, so you can catch your favorite sets over and over again and relive the awe-inducing art installations. And even better yet, experience the magic even if you weren’t able to make it in person.

How can I do my part to change the future of the festival scene?

Participate. When your favorite festival asks for lineup suggestion- give them. When festivals send out the surveys after the festival- fill them out! I promise you, they actually look at every single one and take what attendees say to heart. Also, make an effort to clean up after yourself and encourage those around you to do so as well. After all- you are the festival!

All in all, everyone will be looking to “do more of the good shit, less of the bad shit.”

Russel Ward, The Confluence.


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