3 Great Ideas from the Top Summer Festivals

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festivals, meetings
Burning Man is held every August in the Nevada desert.

Summer festival organizers have it down when it comes to managing massive crowds, entertaining and feeding them and keeping them safe—as well as building a passionately loyal following. Here are some ideas from three top events.

Burning Man

Burning Man is an annual gathering that takes place at Black Rock City—a temporary city erected in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Its 10 pillars are admirable, including self-reliance and self-expression, community cooperation and civic responsibility. This August, the desert will become home to no less than 30 different shrines and host massive art installations such as Bogota artist Juan David Marulanda-López’ Aluna, a structure that sits on its own reflection with two pairs of seesaw swings hanging from the ceiling that invite viewers to interact in a game of balance. Burning Man’s organizers put together a “survival guide” that would be invaluable for meeting attendees. Event planners should consider it as a model: The PDF includes extensive safety information: fire guidelines, emergency services, personal safety information and much more.


Bonaroo was just held in early June in Manchester, Tenn., featuring dozens of bands and headlined by U2 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Bonaroo is more than just music, it’s a celebration including art, yoga, a fun run and even gourmet food. To engage participants, the organizers build a wall around the central area (known as Centerooo), which is treated as a canvas for two dimensional artist expression of all kinds. It’s a Bonnaroo tradition and an ever-evolving effort. It’s also something that could easily be integrated into a meeting—a blank wall or huge canvas with a theme and art materials, inviting attendees to create as they learn.

Earth Garden

Situated on the island of Malta, Earth Garden takes place in early June and features bands from all over the world. After just celebrating its 10-year anniversary, the festival is now being launched internationally. The festival has a culture all its own, with healing fields, an ethnic market and holistic area and healthy and diverse food. Its mission is community, green awareness, healing, creativity and inspiration. Many Millennials share these values and corporate events could easily incorporate some of them into the mix. Whether that be yoga or meditation, activities in the outdoors, or inspiring speakers, there’s something to be learned from Earth Garden.

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.