The aftershock of Covid-19 – Making mental health at boutique festivals a top priority

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Spring 2021

Events in a Covid-19 world

Due to Covid-19, moving events online was a vital move to sustain the  industry, however with lockdown being lifted and festivals being announced it is crucial to encourage the public back. 

As a result of the ongoing pandemic, consumer behaviours and attitudes towards boutique festivals have changed due to many people’s concerns regarding their safety due to mental health struggles. As event managers it is important to tackle these issues and reassure your attendees to provide a safe return to your festival.  

Currently, coronavirus resulting in millions of consumers turning to virtual events, 57% of which would prefer to attend these events virtually whilst social distancing measures are in place.  

Therefore, with major festivals currently opening up in the UK, it’s time to market your event so that you gain even more attendees.

Why would people be worried to go to events?

There are many reasons as to why people may be nervous to return to festivals with individual attitudes being a contributing factor. 44% of people have said they will be attending fewer events once safe to attend.

With Covid-19 having a significant impact on people’s mental health it is important to identify the attitudes that may occur towards festivals. The once accepted norm of crowds at festivals was celebrated, but in a post Covid-19 world it could in fact make people extremely nervous.

With most events over the past year being delivered online, many people have enjoyed these from the comfort and safety of their own home. The change in behavioural patterns may have resulted in consumers feeling indifferent towards physical events. 

Will people cope without safety measures? Are people able to move past these issues? With these questions in mind it is of great importance to evaluate the beneficial aspects to raising awareness and developing strategies in order to move forward and allow individuals to feel more at ease.

Here are some recommendations that event managers can implement to satisfy customers and put their safety first;

Supporting mental health at your event

With the government’s advertising of “hands, face, space” which has been widely enforced over the past year, many have used this as a new behavioural norm. With social distancing being relaxed in the near future it is vital to acknowledge that some consumers may still have significant mental barriers due to their personal attitudes or behaviours. As event managers you need to plan in order to overcome these mental barriers and measures which will need to be implemented to protect both the physical and mental health of attendees.    

Mental health is becoming ever more prevalent due to the strict enforcement of social distancing. Within festivals there are many worries of the attendees and their surrounding of others even with social distancing protocols of the increased security measures of stewards. The idea of providing a ‘mental health’ marquees will provide a safe environment for those that are anxious at the event and will be able to express their worries in a comfortable space, as well using the marquee as a time out zone.

Hosting a Q & A session prior to the main event

Example of Q&A invite. Adapted from Google Images.

Prior to hosting your event, hosting a Q & A session will allow potential attendees to raise any concerns that they may have about the event.  The pre-conference will also outline all precautions that will be in place when attending the festival, this will aid in reassuring the attendees that they will be safe when in attendance.

This will be extremely beneficial for those that may suffer from anxiety related to the pandemic, or in general and will reaffirm that their safety and comfort is paramount. 

Changing the layout of your event

Spatial awareness is more crucial than ever which is why the choreography of the event must be mapped within an inch. Obvious signage for certain areas will prevent bottlenecking in areas with high footfall such as the toilets also, increasing the toilet and handwashing facilities will be necessary. 

Consider creating one-way systems in correlation with one person in and one person out. You should test these potential routes and techniques beforehand to avoid any issues. 

The use of contactless and self-service has been accelerated due to COVID-19: therefore it is essential to embrace the use of technology, and with the recent announcement of contactless payments limit being increased to £100 that is due to be released later in the year, the following could be of great use to your event, facial recognition, event app.

Provide rapid testing

Photo by Medakit Ltd on Unsplash.

Many events around the world have been using rapid Covid-19 testing before entry, for example Swallow Events have partnered with a healthcare company to provide rapid testing service to the events industry. 

It has been mentioned that providing a rapid testing service prior to entering the venue will ease doubts of someone entering with the virus. These tests have been proven to give 98% accurate results within 10 minutes. However, the tests come with a cost (approximately £25 per kit), this can be factored into the ticket price as it will ensure attendees are negative before entry to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading throughout your venue. 

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Along with the suggestions above and government guidance there are no shortages of ways to make your festival safer in a post Covid-19 world. What would you recommend as an event planner? Leave a comment below.


Char says:

I really think all 4 of those attributes should be massively important to include in regards of a festival . It’s such an important topic especially with mental health

Jordan says:


Thank you for reading through our ideas! We agree mental health is such an important issue, especially in the current climate.

Blog Authors.

Sacha Mazloom says:

An interesting article. Condition of entry should be a negative test with rapid testing also available on site. However even with these measures in place we also need to look at how crowds will be controlled as it will be almost impossible to enforce a 2m social distance in front of a stage for example. Also has anyone looked at if part of a festival is held in a tent is that classed as being indoors due to the roof restricting natural airflow

Georgia says:

I think that providing a negative test result to enter an event is a good way to improve the confidence of event attendees and encourage them to return to events. In this blog: they also talk about this matter, but also that if events are requiring a covid vaccination to enter then this could be discriminatory, what do you think of this?

Blog Authors says:

Hi Georgia,

Thank you for your comment.
We agree that only letting entry to people that have had the vaccine could be classed as discrimination and we did consider this factor and do think it could be a possibility for event managers to consider when creating events, especially considering the current debate of people having a ‘vaccine passport’. However, because of the potential backlash of discrimination we believe that rapid testing was the ‘next best thing’ to ensure attendees are negative, especially from a mental health and ‘safety of others’ perspective it is mainly on reassuring the attendees that the event is safe and have a lower risk of catching the virus to settle their nerves and concerns.

Blog Authors.

Steve says:

Great blog and a really useful guide as to what organisers should consider as the event industry reopens. Life needs to get back to pre Lockdown 1 but things have changed perhaps for ever and people need to adapt to a changed future.

Jordan says:

Hi Steve,

We are glad you enjoyed our blog and ideas. It would be great for life to return to how it was pre-lockdown but as you say it looks like our ‘normal’ has possibly changed forever.

How do you think people can best adapt for the future?

Thank you!

Blog Authors.

Tony says:

Hopefully the roll out of the COVID vaccine will help bring things back to normal, however in the long run a mental health area is never going to be a bad idea!

Jordan says:

Hi Tony,

Yes hopefully with the speedy rollout of the vaccine and high uptake we will getting back to a better state of normality soon if everything goes to plan. With mental health as you say, it will be beneficial going forward if we look to focus on this more and how we can incorporate measures into our events to aid those who may struggle – what suggestions would you have for improving this going forward?

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog!

Blog Authors.

Alex says:

We just need to get out, the festival will be good for my mental health

Maybe they should just let anyone get the vaccine before they go?? Even if they have to pay a bit more for it!

Jordan says:

Hi Alex,

Hopefully when lockdown begins to end and people are able to get out more and see friends and family it will help those struggling, but we can always look to do more as some may have a harder time adjusting to the new ‘normal’. It would be good to allow only vaccinated attendees in to reduce the risk of transmission but there could be significant issues with this so we will have to see what the government stance on ‘vaccine passports’ will be.

Do you think the rapid testing, pre-event would be beneficial if vaccine passports aren’t enforced?

Thank you for commenting on our blog!

Blog Authors.

Kirsty B says:

This is a really interesting article. Mental health is a huge priority and I’m glad the message is getting out there and support is a priority!

Jordan says:

Hi Kirsty,

I’m glad that you enjoyed our blog and ideas! We agree that support should be a top priority, do you have any ideas of how best to provide this?

Thank you for your comment,

Blog Authors.

Jody says:

I think rapid testing is a good way to reassure people who plan on going to festivals. Also, increased event mapping is crucial but incredibly difficult to put into practice in crowds of people.
Event organisers will have to have people’s safety as their number one priority and think about the possibilities of an inaccurate rapid test too (very unlikely but not impossible).

Jordan says:

Hi Jody,

We are glad to hear that you believe testing is a good way to reassure people when returning to events but as you say, the chances of an inaccurate test is still an issue that would need to be planned for.

Do you have any ideas of how to successfully implement event mapping, even with large crowds?

Thank you for your comments!

Blog Authors.

Tara says:

I think that rapid testing is a good idea going forward, with lots in the news regarding people refusing / deciding not to take the vaccine it is a good way to reduce the risks of spreading it whilst festivals reopen.

Within the mental health aspect, I think it would be extremely advantageous in reassuring people who may struggle, or those that have been isolating for a while now that event organisers are caring more for their safety rather than just rushing people back into festivals in order to remake money quickly.

Jordan says:

Hi Tara,

Thank you for reading through our blog, we are glad you enjoyed it. What other ways do you think we could help reassure people when returning to festivals?

Thank you!

Blog Authors.

Mel says:

People’s Mental health has massively been affected during this pandemic and really think more support would be brilliant, I really think this would benefit more people

Jordan says:

Hi Mel,

Thank you for sharing your opinion with us. We also agree that it seems many more people are struggling in some forms due to the pandemic, so focussing on this will be beneficial. What measures do you think could be put in place to help?

Thank you!

Blog Authors.

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