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Travel Options for Festival Goers to Reduce Carbon Emissions.

Andy Robertson

Music festival organisers are endeavouring to reduce their overall carbon emissions as part of sustainability policies but this is challenging when they have little control over emissions produced by festival-goer travel. What can organisers do to reduce carbon emissions produced by travel to and from a festival venue.


The most common venue selection for large scale music festivals are often fields in remote locations which provide space to allow for larger capacities and reduced impact on noise pollution experienced by residents. Whilst there are huge benefits of a remote location for organisers the downside is the increase in travel required by festival-goers.

Remote Site Access. 
By selecting a remote site for a music festival, it is unlikely that there will be an adequate local train service that can bring festival-goers onto the site without substantial connecting services from buses for example. This lack of public transport infrastructure leads many visitors to opt for travel by car and the result of this is the production of carbon emissions. Travel by festival-goers to and from a venue can account for up to 80% of the entire carbon emissions attributable to the event (Data from Vision2025 - The Show Music Go on Report 2020).

Sustainability Statements. 
Every music festival entity will have a sustainability statement that pledges their commitment to a variety of initiatives to protect the environment and reduce waste and carbon emissions. Organisers back this up with action on the elements they can control including waste management, using sustainable materials and cleaner energy production. For the aspects they cannot control organisers invest time and effort in communication campaigns aimed at all site visitors about their sustainability obligations.

Finding Usable Solutions. 
Determining the carbon emissions from festival-goer travel is usually done by measuring the CO2e/Passenger km travelled so it’s not surprising that the lowest number will be from dedicated coaches and trains. These numbers start rising once cars are used even when they are shared with 3 or 4 people with the highest coming from cars with one person. This indicates that organisers should be doing their utmost to encourage festival-goers to use trains and buses where possible. Where high numbers of visitors are anticipated organisers should explore all opportunities to collaborate with train and coach companies to provide increased services perhaps at discounted prices. The cost and time spent on public transport to get to a festival site can still be a major disincentive, a car shared by 4 people is likely to be the cheapest travel option with the added convenience of door-to-door transport. Organisers have been encouraging festival-goers through online campaigns to ditch their cars and move to public transport. To help make public transport more attractive some organisers have been increasing the charges made for parking. Combining financial incentives and discounts for using public transport or EVs can help address the financial burden of moving away from cars.

Measure and Report. 
Critical to ongoing sustainability is the accurate measurement of the carbon emissions produced by music festivals and more specifically how much can be attributed to festival-goer travel. Data should be published after each event to demonstrate that progress is being made along with plans for the forthcoming festival season.

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 Ketut Subiyanto via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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