How to make your outdoor event sparkle
Remember, remember the fifth of November…or at least that’s what they tell us! If you’re hosting an outdoor event this winter, there are quite a few other things you won’t want to forget on the night. Hosting an event outdoors can be tricky, particularly as there are lots of things you can’t constrain, including the weather. You’ll probably be catering for much larger crowds than an indoor event too, and this can take a bit more planning for safety beforehand. Naturally, this includes having an access plan for disabled visitors. From bonfire celebrations to New Year spectacles, there’s nothing more satisfying than watching your exciting event unfold smoothly; so we’ve plotted eight treasonous ideas that will ensure your event sparkles!
1. So what’s the plot?
Your guests can’t predict what’s going to happen, and they certainly won’t know what to expect at your event other than what you tell them. So make sure you can give them information that is helpful and relevant. Pre-event information often includes parking and public transport directions, as well as toilet locations and first-aid spots. But if you really want to make it easier for your guests to plan their trip, consider including information about special effects, loud noises, wheelchair viewing platforms and more. This kind of information is what disabled people and their friends and families may want to look for before deciding to attend your event. Don’t forget you can add your event to your listing on Euan’s Guide!
2. Have your guests whizz by in a private shuttle bus
Is your outdoor event going to be located somewhere that is far from disabled parking or public transport? Consider organising a shuttle bus for guests who have difficulty walking far. Be sure to organise this well in advance and let guests know how they can use it beforehand.
3. Catherine wheels aren’t the only wheels
At events with large crowds, it’s important to think about the vantage points of your visitors. Nobody is going to enjoy your event if they can’t see it! So whether your putting on a firework show, a bonfire, or a lighting display; consider how your guests are going to experience it. A good thing to think about is whether there is a space that you can designate as a platform for wheelchair users and those with mobility requirements. If practical, construct a wheelchair viewing platform. Don’t forget it's also a good idea to lay down wide wheelchair-friendly walkways such as rubber paths or ground guards over grassy or uneven terrain.
4. Give your event some flare – think outside the box
When it comes to toilets, make things easy for your guests by locating accessible toilets near to wheelchair viewing platforms or next to disabled parking spaces. Aim to make these toilets as spacious as possible, and if they are going to be locked let guests know where they can get a key in advance. When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go!
Batteries don’t last forever, so if possible it's a good idea to install electrical charging points at your first-aid spots for guests to plug their own power chair chargers into. If you're providing this kind of facility, don't forget to include it in your access statement so people know it's there. Other things you could have ready for guests include folding seats, blankets and assistance dog bowls with water. These small features will have a lasting impact on guests who need to use them and will make your event even more memorable.
Top tip: think about your set-up time and make sure disabled access features aren’t the last to go up – disabled visitors might choose to arrive a bit earlier to avoid the crowds.
5. Candles won’t cut it
Bright lights are a must at night-time outdoor events, especially where there are pathways and signs. Make sure your routes and hazards are properly illuminated for all guests, and secure any stray cords or wires as a safety precaution. Speaking of signage, how clear are your signs? Double check that your signs will be visible to all of your guests and that they don’t cause confusion, especially where there are big crowds of moving people.
6. What a great Guy
Most of the time, good customer service can make a big difference to how our reviewers rate venues and events. Train your event staff beforehand and make sure they are easily recognisable in high visibility jackets. It’s the small touches that can make a big difference; for instance, Euan once received a hot chocolate from a member of staff while he was waiting in the cold at an outdoor event. Don’t forget that customer service often begins before the event, especially if your display is ticketed!
7. Rainy day strategy
It happens, and you really can’t avoid it. You can, however, prepare for a mighty November downpour by having tented areas or ponchos and umbrellas available for guests.
8. Dazzle with your photographs
Get prepared for next year now; take good pictures during your event to show off your spectacle. This is also a good opportunity to photograph your disabled access features such as walkways and viewing platforms for your listing on Euan’s Guide!