Outdoor Events Pt. 1: How to Plan a Large Outdoor Event
Updated: Oct 10, 2022
Outdoor events are a fun way to liven up a traditional indoor event. Plus, when hosting a large event of any kind, considering outdoor venues will widen the scope of size-eligible venues.
There’s nothing like the great outdoors to offer ample space for your next large event!
With the options and excitement of outdoor events, also comes additional factors and planning steps to ensure your next large outdoor event goes off without a hitch.
Types of Outdoor Events
First, let’s cover the common types of large outdoor events.
Community Events. Community events are events that are sponsored by public or private agencies or individuals, typically with the purpose of raising the profile and accessibility of local businesses.
Examples: fairs, bazaars, socials, picnics, parades, organized sporting events (players include community members, not professionals)
Sporting or Race Events. Sporting events refer to any professional sport or athletic event, amateur sport, collegiate athletic event or motor racing event.
Examples: marathons, 5k race series, or soccer tournament.
Concerts. A concert is a live music performance in front of an audience. This will usually take place at a large arena, park, or stadium and include a stage setup for the performer(s).
Festivals. A festival is an event celebrated by a community that is centered around religion, culture, music, art or some other aspect of that community.
Example: Carnival (Spain), Coachella, Burning Man
Things to Consider While Planning
Outdoor events, whatever type you are planning, are a great way to take advantage of nature and put a unique twist on your event. While they may lend themselves to being more casual, the planning process is anything but easy. You will want to carefully consider six main elements unique to outdoor event planning as you begin.
Venue – Is there a suitable outdoor venue and will you need to acquire permits to host an event there?
Weather – know the weather conditions for that season and develop a contingency plan if necessary.
Power and Equipment – consider special accommodations for equipment in regards to weather. When hiring an AV team, clearly communicate the setup plan, possible weather outcomes and make sure they are equipped to operate given the conditions.
Sanitation – consider access to restrooms or if you will need to bring in portable ones. While indoor venues will be required to have ample restrooms, outdoor venues do not definitively ensure this. This is especially a consideration if you are using a public venue (i.e. a public park).
Health Precautions – depending on the exact size of your large outdoor event, you will need to consider having medical personnel on-site in case of an emergency. As with any large event (indoor or outdoor), the sheer number of guests lends itself to a slew of additional considerations. Having medical personnel on-site will guarantee you are prepared for anything they may occur among your large number of attendees.
Guests – consider how you will keep your guests comfortable for an outdoor event (specifically in regards to weather). Take into account the time of year and weather history, and whether you will need tents, heaters or other accommodations to make guests comfortable.
10 Steps to Planning a Great Outdoor Event
While outdoor events are anything but simple, with the right event planning team, the process can be straightforward and smooth with proper preparation. Follow these ten steps to plan a great outdoor event.
Find an outdoor event venue. Not every event can be hosted outdoors, so consider the core function and main objectives of your event and make sure both can be accomplished with the outdoor venue you select.
Hire an experienced event planning team. A team of professional event planners like The Wynning Experience will ensure you consider all of the important and unique aspects of your outdoor event, as well as guarantee your event runs smoothly on the day.
Hire an experienced caterer. Catering food for a large group of people, not to mention in an outdoor setting, is a challenge. Make sure you hire a catering team that has successfully executed a large outdoor event before and ask for references to confirm your choice.
Get the right permits. Ideally in the venue selection process, understand the required permits for any enue you select. Acquiring the appropriate permits will ensure your event doesn’t get shut down.
Know the rules of the city or venue you’re hosting at. Once you have selected your venue, work with site management to understand the amenities and limitations of the venue.
Source the right equipment. Using equipment outdoors can be a bit more complicated than an indoor venue. You may need to provide a generator (or ask your venue if they can provide one), and also consider use of extension cords, duck tape and synch cords to ensure there are clear pathways for guests over power cords.
Consider how to keep guests comfortable. Find out the amenities your venue offers and from there consider the following for guests: tables and chairs, lighting, shade structures, cooling agents (i.e. electric fans), sanitation facilities, bathrooms, drinking water supply and food.
Consider guest accessibility. While ADA will be a guarantee at an indoor venue that is up to code, you will need to consider this for your outdoor venue and make sure there is proper wheelchair access.
Make sure you have the right tools and technology. This is where hiring the right vendors makes all the difference! Working with vendors that have experience at outdoor venues will ensure they have the proper equipment and technology to support a large outdoor event. Ask this in the vendor vetting process.
Plan for setup and breakdown. Setup and breakdown is more involved for an outdoor venue. Make sure you have communicated with local sanitation departments for setup and cleanup.
Develop a backup plan. Weather is the bear in the room when it comes to outdoor events. Regardless of the time of year and historic weather, make sure you have a weather contingency plan in case the weather is worse than expected.
Hire a Team to Help You Plan Your Next Outdoor Event
No matter your event size or location, WE know how to bring successful outdoor events to life. With the right team behind you, you’ll experience expert event management, experiential design, and elite experiences that will surpass your event vision.
To get started planning your next outdoor event, connect with the Wynning team today. firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312-800-3605. Let’s make your event a Wynning Experience.