Steve Heap, general manager of the AFO, urges organisers to forgo turkeys for equipment


As we hit December, festival organisers around the nation are doing what everyone else does, thinking presents, cards and turkeys.

However, with The Showman’s Show already behind us, the contractor’s diaries and booking sheets are filling at a rapid rate. In recent years, it has been noted that contractors for festivals will try to achieve three-year deals and certainly early bookings.

If the festival scene stretches from April to October the equipment and artists booking period must be at least October to April.  But it reaches its height in December when suddenly festival organisers realise that the New Year is just around the corner and they have yet to sell a ticket.

My advice is get your planning done early and if you haven’t already booked big tops, tents, roads, toilets and showers, then you need to get a move on.

Some of the best deals are secured by booking early. It demonstrates commitment. However, you will be asked for a deposit to secure credibility and help the contractors’ cash flow through the winter months.

Whether you have written your budget or not makes very little difference to the fact that if you are running the event in 2017 you will still need the equipment. And, as always, you need to push for the best possible deal you can get, so give yourself time to get two or three quotes and choose the best for you.

On behalf of festival organisers, can I just remind contracting companies “we are not cash cows”. Most festivals are run on a shoe string, quite often by voluntary organisations that may not have the buying power of the big boys, but do have the honesty and commitment. Fuel prices may well have started to creep up but not much, wages have been on standstill for a long time. Try and price your product in line with inflation. Help to keep the ticket price sensible and preserve for the long term the internationally renowned UK festival scene.