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Festival-Goers Bringing Food and Drink into Music Festivals.

Andy Robertson

Allowing ticket buying visitors to bring their own food and drink onto a music festival site has always been a contentious issue. Traditionally festival organisers have been quite strict with festival-goers insisting that visitors must purchase food and drink from on-site vendors but is it time for them to be more flexible.


The current economic crisis is driving more people to cut back on their spending, particularly disposable income. Festival-goers keen to attend a music festival in 2023 may be finding it difficult to justify spending hundreds of pounds on a festival ticket but those that do are perhaps being forced to cut back on other expenses related to their attendance. One area that many visitors complain about is the inflated prices charged for on-site food and drink from vendors and many festival-goers are now considering bringing their own food and drink to events. 

Current Status. 
There is a mixed picture currently of what is and is not allowed onto a festival site. A few decades ago, it was not uncommon for security to confiscate all food and drink at the entrance gates including water. With increased awareness about staying hydrated water is no longer confiscated, however, many festival organisers still insist that no food and drink can be brought in, the only exception being those with specific dietary requirements. Some of the larger festivals have started being more flexible in recent years with Glastonbury for example, allowing festival-goers to bring in their own food and soft drinks.

Publicising Rules. 
Whatever rules festival organisers decide on they should be clearly communicated on their website. Almost all festivals publish lists of what is and is not allowed to be brought on-site and this should include clarification regarding bringing food and drink in. It is vital that these rules are also communicated to security staff and volunteers assigned with entrance gate duties. This ensures that there is a consistent approach so that reality reflects organisers communications to ticket holders. 

Impact on Vendors and Sponsors. 
Vendor pitches at popular music festivals are almost always oversubscribed as they present great revenue streams for food and beverage suppliers. Whilst some may complain about organisers allowing external food and drinks to be brought in by festival-goers the impact on volume sold is likely to be negligible. As so many key sponsors of music festivals are alcoholic drinks companies, they may insist that organisers maintain the ban on bringing in alcoholic drinks. This is reasonable considering the money invested by the sponsor in supporting the event and the potential sales revenue generated.

When planning for 2023 music festival organisers should consider having a more flexible approach to food and drink restrictions. Irrespective of any published rules there will always be festival-goers intent on sneaking in banned items particularly alcohol often disguised as water, although the number of visitors doing this is probably insignificant.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Photo by Ron Lach via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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