Fests and Cons: When & Why People Gather (Business of Fun #16)
Music, comic books, sports, porn, movies, food, pets…
What do they all have in common? These and other passions draw fans together. From Woodstock to Burning Man…from Play Fair to the Lowville Cream Cheese Festival, millions of people flock to tens of thousands of places to eat, drink, and be merry with like-minded consumers. Comic Con draws close to 170k attendees. That’s a whole lotta fans!
The festival probably has its roots in the days of seasonal celebrations — when people gathered to honor harvests, moon, sun, and weather changes, religious occasions, and even witch-burnings. The Emperor August may have actually been the first documented festival producer. His combination of free food and gladiators was a big hit with the plebs.
Fast forward to present day. An association of festival organizers meets annually at its own business festival to share best practices. Festivals have become a huge enterprise, attracting celebrities, brand sponsors, and international guests. Coachella generates $47 million. Here’s how festivals make money.
Positive crowd behavior can be uplifting, according to scientists. Not all festivals are huge. I attended a “really cool little event just this week. About 100 people gathered to watch “Groundhog Day” on beds provided by Casper Matress. The venue (The Standard High Line) even provided comfy socks, popcorn, and candy as part of the ticket price. They created a fun and quirky environment. (I didn’t need a scientist to tell me that.)
Ready to become a festival crawler (or sponsor)? Here are some insights:
- World’s best music festivals (according to Thrillist)
- The ultimate website for finding a festival that matches your fandom. (Of course, it’s called Everfest)
- The most unusual festivals (including Frozen Dead Guy Days and the Monkey Banquet)
- Part science fair…part country fair. Maker Faire is “the greatest show and tell on earth.”
- Like to watch people lift heavy stuff? Then the Arnold Classic Worldwide (Yup, that Arnold) is for you
- Or would you rather watch a good film? Or just a new film. Here’s where to find movie festivals
- Feeling intellectual? The New Yorker Festival is one of my personal faves
- Want to get your pagan on? Yes…there’s a festival for that too. But be sure to follow pagan etiquette when you attend! Nothing worse than an unruly Druid
P.S. If you have an idea for a festival or business-to-business event (or want to showcase your product or service at a festival), please get in touch! We have years of event production and sponsorship experience, working with the world’s biggest brands. No witch-burnings, however.
Stay tuned for the next installment in our “Business of Fun” series. Subscribe here or you’ll miss all the fun!