The clear dividing lines between an informative conference and an entertaining festival have been broken down more and more in recent years. No wonder, after all, every event goes down much better when the participants are having fun! In the age of hybrid events, sober event locations and, apart from catering, no supporting program attract only a few people out of their own four walls. As an organizer:in you are asked: How do you create additional added value without this added value taking the limelight? This is where the trend towards festivalization of events could be the perfect approach for you. But what actually constitutes this festivalization? What do visitors and exhibitors get out of it, and how can you use it to add value to your next event? We talked to Marcel Eschborn, project manager at C³ Chemnitzer Veranstaltungszentren GmbH and the main person responsible for makers united, and found out how you can use the festivalization approach for your next event!
Festivalization Definition - What is it actually?
Basically, the festivalization of events describes two synchronously developing trends: events are increasingly accompanied by a supporting program that promises a rousing experience, and this supporting program is placed as close as possible to the actual event, both in terms of location and time. We can therefore speak of a simultaneous extension and centralization of events. The after-show party three hours after the end of the event on the other side of town just doesn't have the same effectiveness as the after-show party on site, directly after the presentation has ended. Modern events are relying less and less on a rigid program and a paced schedule. Give your guests the time and space to discover. At the same time, the possible elements of festivalization are extremely variable. Live music, interaction in the form of discussion panels, fishbowls, barcamps or "do it yourself" tutorials, gamification, after-show parties, walk acts, highlights of regional culture and many more. In addition, you can also take up the trend of hybrid events and think about digital possibilities of festivalization.
Why you should include elements of festivalization for your next event!
This all sounds quite interesting at first, but what is your concrete benefit as an organizer? The ultimate goal of these elements of festivalization is to make visitors stay longer on the event site. In addition, there is a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere, which promotes an open exchange between the visitors. A diverse program prevents boredom. Artists awaken the guests' thirst for discovery - after all, you don't want to miss anything great! Gamification and interaction possibilities not only create a longer stay, but also strengthen the bond and emotionalization with the visitors. Last but not least, the festivalization of events creates real eye-catchers and experiences, which also make the response of guests on social media much stronger and much more positive.
The makers united: best case example for the festivalization of events
makers united takes up a central theme of the European Capital of Culture 2025: The makers:inside who shape our cities, regions and the whole of Europe. Often unnoticed by the public, they work in their basements, workshops or at the workbench. We, the C³ Chemnitzer Veranstaltungszentren GmbH together with the Industrieverein Sachsen 1828 e.V. and Kreatives Chemnitz wanted to offer them a stage! The European Maker Festival took place from July 7 to 10 and included on the one hand the "beam! - be a maker", the format for young researchers between the ages of 10 and 16, and the "Maker Faire Sachsen", where a wide variety of exhibitors presented their creative work at numerous booths. Around 50 creative booths in the Stadthallenpark and the Stadthalle Chemnitz invited visitors to participate. The exhibitors came from Germany, South Korea, England, Estonia, Austria and Slovenia. The H2Ooh stage was set up in the Stadthallen fountain, where a diverse program ranging from artistic experiments to music could be marveled at. The festivalization of "makers united" is already clear from the event area alone. Three different stages, almost 50 exhibitors:inside, areas for gastronomy and highlights like the 7th Space VR bus, the reed sailboat DILMUN S or the ABORA exhibition. They all invite visitors to discover and offer them real added value.
The concept of a festivalized event
According to the project manager of "makers united", Marcel Eschborn, festivalization was already an issue in the conceptual development of the event. Since the event was free of charge, the aim was to prevent most of the visitors from just quickly scurrying across the grounds and then disappearing again. Exactly what the elements of the festival will look like in the end does not have to be decided in the conception phase. The organization of the festival requires a lot of time and effort. For the time planning, however, it is extremely important to know whether elements of festivalization are desired or not. According to Marcel Eschborn, a major advantage of the trend towards festivalization is flexibility. Through the modular structure of the individual acts, participatory actions, artists, exhibitors and catering, you can put together your event according to your taste. From thematic support of individual speakers for one evening to an event the size of "makers united" or even beyond, everything is possible in theory.
The program must fit the actual event!
Not every element of festivalization can be unreservedly recommended for every event. According to Marcel Eschborn, for example, there was a realization at "makers united" that not every music act is suitable. Either the music should come from the makers themselves or at least have a handmade character in order to fit thematically to the event. The same applies to all other non-musical artists. Make sure you think in advance about what could enhance your event and at the same time fit perfectly to the theme. Music acts, gastronomy, gamification, discussion rounds and all other possible highlights are to be understood as supporting the actual event. Make sure the spotlight doesn't shift.
Timing for festivalization
It is very important to Marcel Eschborn to emphasize that you should plan quite a bit of lead time for such a festivalization of events. Exactly how much is difficult to say. After all, one of the biggest advantages of festivalization is its modular structure. Whether you plan with two or twenty additional elements is up to you in the end. However, as the number increases, so does the complexity of planning and the associated lead time. In the case of an event the size of "makers united", the project manager recommends at least 3-4 months. In this time before the event all acts and the complete supporting program should be fixed. This also includes all organizational issues such as accommodation, catering and arrangements for the space and the required technology. The reason for this is that experience has shown that changes always have to be made at short notice. Planning as well and as early as possible minimizes the additional expense at short notice.
Quick tips: How to make the festivalization of your event a success!
To help you understand exactly what is required for successful festivalization, we have made our Quick Tips available for download here.
Festivalization makes your event a real eye-catcher!
As you can see, the trend towards festivalizing events is a fantastic way to add value to your next event. It allows you to increase the length of time guests stay and strengthen positive feedback. At the same time, you have flexibility in how much you want to festivalize your event. So it's perfectly fine to start small and then evaluate to what extent festivalization should be expanded. Using "makers united" as a practical example, we've given you some first-hand impressions to help you with your planning and implementation. Make use of our insights! If you need further support, feel free to contact us!
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