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Food/drink trading at music festivals

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by InsaneBoarder234, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. InsaneBoarder234

    InsaneBoarder234 UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 6 Likes: 0
    Hi there, I'm just interested to hear if anyone has any experience of selling food or drinks at UK music festivals particularly bigger ones such as Download Festival and Leeds (Carling Weekend). I'm interested in rough guidelines of costs for setting up and running a stall as well as a rough idea of what you were selling and how successful it was.

    I have an idea that proved to be very successful at a place I once worked. I took this idea and did a small trial of it at Download festival last year by wandering around 2 of the 30 campsites selling it (I sold out very quickly!). This year I'd like to attend some festivals as a proper trader and see how things work out.

    I was thinking about attending a smaller festival first as the costs would be less and it would allow me to get a better idea of how my sales might go at larger festivals. I'm currently speaking to a number of festival organisers about doing so and my first estimate for one of these festivals is that it would cost me around £350 (before stock and transport) for the stall and one extra staff member to help run things along. There would also be around £200 in one off costs that would last over several festivals such as insurance. At this rate I'd need to sell quite a lot to be able to begin making a profit so I'm not sure whether it might be better to go directly for larger festivals because of the increased sales volume that I'd be likely to achieve.

    If anyone has any information or would like to share their experiences it would be much appreciated! For the record I have begun contacting the organisers of some larger festivals in order to gather information on pricing of stalls, it would be very helpful to hear from others' experiences though!
  2. vvaannmmaann

    vvaannmmaann UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 12,462 Likes: 3,204
    I doubt you will get into the bigger festivals.These are normally bought well in advance,and the pitches go for huge amounts of money.Your idea of starting at smaller shows should work well,and is more realistic.Good luck.
  3. phenoptix

    phenoptix UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 20 Likes: 7
    I worked at several of the larger festivals as a teenager. The potential for making money is massive, but I think the pitches are very hard to get and certainly cost. As far as I know there is a very long waiting list and there is pretty much a one in one out system.
    The potential sales are fantastic, but it depends on the festival. Festivals like V are packed with polite people with crisp £20 notes, Reading and Leeds are a bit more earthy, there's a bit more trouble and a few more "characters". That too is part of the fun. Taking 20 minutes out of selling burgers to fight with customers using the ketchup and mustard are part of the festival work experience. Depending on how you want to work you may want more than one employee as no matter what you pay them they'll want to see some bands.
    Having experienced the V festival for the last few years they have bought in some higher quality food and drink outlets that have been very successful, more akin to something you'd find on a farmers market than a fairground. There may be more scope to make inroads if you're offering something new.
    Stock can be a problem, standard items are kept by a wholesaler on site but I've noticed the more specialist shops at festivals tend to sell out.
    That's just my take on things.
  4. InsaneBoarder234

    InsaneBoarder234 UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 6 Likes: 0
    Thank you for the responses so far, keep them coming! :)

    I figure stock will be a key problem with larger festivals. Take Download festival as an example, with the numbers I've managed to find there's anywhere up to 100,000-120,000 people who could potentially come across my stall (campers and day ticket holders). If even 5% of these were to buy from me that's 5,000-6,000 sales and to deal with that I'd need to take a car full of stock. On the other hand if I did manage to get a space at a bigger festival then stock wouldn't be as much of a problem as the increased sales volume would easily cover everything.

    This week I'm going to get busy calling the organisers of some smaller festivals to enquire about setting up stalls and also work out estimates of how many people will be attending the festivals.

    While we're at it, is anyone able to recommend any small-medium sized festivals that might be good to begin trading at? I've come across a large listing of festivals online that I'll be working through but it's going to be a difficult task to find suitable festivals and not miss out good ones having no experience with any smaller festivals whatsoever!
  5. carole2

    carole2 Guest

    Posts: 10 Likes: 0
    Through a friend i might be able to get a couple of prices for you.

    Rs

    Carole
  6. cinddy

    cinddy UKBF Contributor Free Member

    Posts: 147 Likes: 15
    Well selling your products in music festivals etc is very good way to attract direct costumers.. if you made detail plane about it then it will be more benificial for you...
  7. trendy kid

    trendy kid UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 81 Likes: 13
    been in the festival trade for many moons. I have a coffee and crepes stall. The festivals you mentioned are run by central catering services. Bunch of shysters. pm me and its best to have a chat.
  8. gr8tballsoffire

    gr8tballsoffire UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 1 Likes: 0
    This may be a bit late, but I am organising a music festival in July and will be looking for food outlets. Please PM me
  9. andrewvx

    andrewvx UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 4 Likes: 0
    just like to say good luck mate.
    also what were you selling and how much stock did you sell out off.
    i myself am planning on going around the campsite at reading festival, and would be greatfull for any tips or how you got on.
    cheers
  10. antpal

    antpal UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 18 Likes: 6
    Hi Guys,
    First post :) I'll visit the introductions area later, but i had to jump on this as i've been searching for anything in the way of info for the last couple of days.

    I run a small catering outfit with a friend, we are in our first year and are finding it difficult to get bookings.

    I have a problem today though... I applied for several festivals just to see how it went, and have been offered a pitch at the Isle of Wight Fest, V Fest and Leeds - these are all CCS controlled events, and i cannot find any info online from people who have done this kind of event before, and whether there is good money in it.

    To give an outline, the costs for each one average out at 6k. I believe i may get away with a product price of between 4-5 pounds.

    But, like i said, i have no idea at all! Any advice would be massively appreciated!

    Thanks!
    Ant
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  11. seanheather

    seanheather UKBF Contributor Free Member

    Posts: 203 Likes: 39
    I've been attending Download every year (as a punter not trader) since 2004 and have spoken to many of the stalls there, I spoke to one of the burger vans near our camp site last year and he said they had to pay £30,000 for their spot, I don't know how accurate that is though or if he was lying (which he may well of been) but it wouldn't suprise me.

    You'd definatley not get in this year though since it's in the 2nd week of June but see what happens next year.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011
  12. antpal

    antpal UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 18 Likes: 6
    Hi Sean,
    Not sure i'd want to get in there for 30k :-/
    Just wondering if its worth taking the plunge on the three i've been offered.
  13. seanheather

    seanheather UKBF Contributor Free Member

    Posts: 203 Likes: 39
    As I said i have no clue how accurate that was, he was probably lying.
  14. Jarule

    Jarule UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 2 Likes: 0
    Hi there,

    I've just joined so this is my first posting!!

    I have been doing small beer festivals for 2 years now as a way of making extra cash.
    I have just set up a small business with 2 friends doing outside bars selling Local Ales 'n' Ciders, and are looking to do V. small music festivals this year. I have found that a lot of these fests. are in towns and therefore use the local pubs as watering holes.
    But then you have some that are on local farms, has anyone got any experience of working these type of events as a trader??
    Are they profitable, is there good footfall are they expensive to trade there??
  15. antpal

    antpal UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 18 Likes: 6
    Hi Jarule,
    I've not any real experience of the type of event you mention. However, i've seen a lot of application forms for catering with Bars mentioned, and usually in addition to the site fee they're looking for a percentage of takings too.
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  16. pureindulgence

    pureindulgence UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 91 Likes: 12
    I know quite a few food vendors who do Leeds/Glasto etc, and one I know remortgaged his house to do Leeds and Reading last year, havent seen him since to ask if it was a success but I noticed on his website hes doing them all this year so must have paid off, have also heard figures being talked about up to 25k for a food vendor!

    I have looked into it myself this year but I just dont think I can make enough stock to make it worthwile, I am however doing a couple of smaller music festivals around me (folk festivals can be quite good, did one last year, not so much fun if you dont like folk music!)

    If anyone would like any advice on smaller festivals or other trading oppourtunitues for food vendors, PM me ill be happy to help.
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  17. antpal

    antpal UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 18 Likes: 6



    Hi, i don't have the facility to PM for some reason.
    Consider this a PM
  18. Jarule

    Jarule UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 2 Likes: 0
    Hi Pureindulgence,

    I am doing outside bars so not really food and I find that with smaller festivals the organisers use the local pubs, but I maybe wrong, any advice at all would be really helpful..???
  19. Marksb89

    Marksb89 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 36 Likes: 7
    I have a friend that sells Venison at a lot of festivals, not sure what ones but I know hes done T in the Park for the last few years, will try and find out how much its costing him
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2011
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  20. Foreverdreaming

    Foreverdreaming UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 4 Likes: 0
    I would like to get some advise form you lovely people on how to get started as a food vendor at festivals. I think I have a great idea but I am not sure how realistic it really is. Does anyone know if you have to pay a premium for the campsite pitches? Do you have to have done it before to realistically get a pitch? I am currently writing a business plan for my idea and it is difficult to gauge how much finance I would need, and the return on investment. If I only do the smaller festivals, investors may not be so keen as the return is going to be less so ideally I would want to do the larger festivals but don't have the contacts/experience so may not get a pitch. Chicken and egg scenario. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. thx