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Managing Power Outage at Music Festivals.

Andy Robertson

Despite meticulous planning the power supply for a music festival can fail causing a multitude of issues for organisers, artists, technicians, vendors and festival-goers. What steps can festival organisers take to mitigate the impact of a power outage during a remote site multi-day festival with up to 50,000 festival-goers. 

The consequences of any power outage at a music festival can be disastrous, the atmosphere goes quiet and if it’s night-time everything can be plunged into darkness. Power outages can be caused by generator failures, adverse weather or even lightning strikes. All electronic equipment ceases to work so even vendors are unable to sell food and beverages and Wi-Fi could stop working too. Any power outage (and reboots) can also seriously damage sensitive equipment used for the stage backline and any associated audio-visual equipment so even when power is restored there may disruption to schedules as equipment is checked. If a festival site is plunged into darkness this adds to safety concerns for staff and festival-goers too. 

Set up.
For remote festival sites power will be delivered by generators, diesel or increasingly hydrogen powered, alternative greener power sources unfortunately just cannot deliver the kind of juice required by stage backlines and audio-visual equipment so only generators will suffice. Power delivery can be up to 600 volts across kilometres of cabling and as a general rule generators should only be run at 60% capacity to avoid reliability issues. A mirrored backup generator system should be installed and thoroughly tested for load and easy transfer switching from a failed generator to the backup. The installation should be carried out by professionally qualified electricians who ensure the correct layout and testing procedures are used to comply with safety requirements. Refuelling of generators needs careful planning as diesel generators consume about 40 litres per hours for example. Hydrogen generators similarly need to be refuelled at regular intervals. The contractor responsible for power supply should provide 24/7 support coverage on-site to keep the generators going and be prepared for any potential outage.

Contingency Planning.
The key to managing any potential power outage is having a robust contingency plan in place before the event. This plan is circulated to all appropriate parties with clear instructions indicating transfer switching procedures and the testing and re-booting of sensitive equipment for example. Such plans should also include instructions to be given to staff and festival-goers in the event of an outage to ensure the safety of everyone on-site.

The life and soul of any music festival is the light and sound generated so any power outage that plunges a festival site into darkness and silence will kill any atmosphere. With great planning and using professional contractors' festival organisers can be safe in the knowledge that their festival is fully prepared for any unforeseen power outage and if one does occur there will be a relatively seamless transfer to a back-up system. 

For organisers planning their music festival using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their festival 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.

Image by Mehmet Demirli from Pixabay

Andy Robertson
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