A Line Clearly Divides Indoor and Outdoor Events

In this post:  outdoor events will return sooner than indoor events, including holiday festivities. Socially distanced outdoor events will succeed such as concerts on stages and flatbed trucks and some simulcast. Find helpful insights on sponsorships, date selection, weather, date availability, single day events, entertainment, stage crews, advertising, port-o-lets, volunteers, ticket sales, food and beverage sales and merchandise.

Outdoor festivals and outdoor events will be the first to return. Already we’ve seen creative ways to organize parades and Halloween activities. Holiday festivities are being planned in a similar manner. Reverse events with parade floats standing still while the participants travel past them highlight how nimble event organizers are and can be.

For those who missed drive-in movies the first time, the present-day concert settings are much the same – a stage or a flatbed truck out front with a big screen behind or to the sides of the artists, and cars parked socially distanced apart so ticket holders can enjoy the event within their pod. Keith Urban held a concert for medical workers on the back of a flat-bed truck in May. Blake Shelton, Trace Adkins and Gwen Stefani also did a drive-in concert in July at 300 locations simultaneously.

Things to consider when planning an outdoor event:

  • Sponsorship dollars may be more difficult to secure during the pandemic and recovery.
  • Previous year sponsor contacts may have opted to retire or have taken an exit package making it difficult to find a new point person.
  • Time of year and weather conditions should be a major factor in date selection. Dates often reserved for sporting events, such as college football, may suddenly be an option as teams and schedules move from go to no-go.
  • Multi-day events will likely be scaled back to a single day event.
  • Interactive outdoor events such as wine and beer tastings and food events will be nearly non-existent.
  • Single focus events – musical entertainment playing to a well-spaced outside audience – will lead the way.
  • Musical acts, consisting of fewer socially distanced artists, will be featured and will help keep entertainment costs down.
  • Sound, lighting and stage crews will be reduced in number with all wearing masks; and if possible tested before being permitted to be involved.
  • Self-contained functions such as BYO chair, blanket, food, drinks, etc., will be the most viable option.
  • Will event-goers be interested in using port-o-lets? The answer appears to be yes but with hand washing and hand sanitizing equipment and more frequent servicing by the vendor.
  • Perhaps digital ad dollars, pulled from Facebook when businesses boycotted their corporate practices, could possibly be put to better use in a local community.
  • The volunteer world has changed drastically. Your volunteer team may never look the same. Those you could previously count on may now be split between work and homeschooling and may no longer be available. Older volunteers may be worried about their health and avoid raising their hand to help.
  • Naming a non-profit as a benefactor can be win-win. Many are short staffed, unable to meet demand and desperately in need of revenue to meet operational costs.
  • All ticket sales and purchases will likely move online. Merchandise will be shipped or can be picked up onsite during using a six-foot queuing system.
  • As has been in the past, weather will be the determining factor in advance ticket sales for any outdoor event. Consumers will continue to wait for a favorable weather forecast before buying tickets, unless tickets are limited and talent is often inaccessible. Discretionary income is much tighter now.
  • Bar codes and QR codes will be presented at the gate in a socially distanced manner for scanning and allowing admission.
  • For the near-term and because of tight quarters, we may see less onsite food and beverage outlets due to CDC guidelines.
  • Concessions who can meet safety standards will move to card readers and contactless payments. To learn more, click here, here and here.

Cancelling a Festival or an Event – What’s Involved

How Long Before Festivals and Events Can Return?

Finding Sponsors and Volunteers During the Pandemic

The Role of Travel Research in Recovery

Obstacles Lie in The Road Ahead

Indoor Events Will Face the Biggest Challenges

Meetings & Conventions … the Last to Recover

Visit Indy Accepts the Event Challenge Head On

How Long Before Events Can Return?


To learn more about event and festival management, check out “Secrets to Successful Events:  How to Organize, Promote and Manage Exceptional Events and Festivals.” For those with event planning experience, consider, “Secrets to Successful Events Resource Guide: 42+ Easy-to-Use Tools and Resources.” Both are written by internationally known author and speaker Lynn Fuhler and are available on Amazon and at major booksellers.

To obtain a copy of The Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide, click here.

Skip to content