Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tourism & Technology Thursday - Festival Trends...

Ever wonder how your local festivals are fairing - here are the latest trends from North and South Carolina.

Overall, festival attendance in the two states is up significantly on average (fig. 1).

Fig. 1 - Average Attendance by Year

In this respect, local festivals may have benefited from the downturn in the economy.  Instead of taking a weekend away, many are deciding to stay in town and go to the local festival for their new and different experiences.

While total attendance is up festival budgets have been generally either held steady or reduced.  This is particularly due to sponsorship's becoming increasingly challenging.  Festival's have therefore had to become more judicious with their spending.  One of the ways they are reducing costs is by compacting the event into a shorter time period (fig. 2).

Fig. 2 - Average Length of Festivals (in Days)

As festival's have become leaner in their budget management and as a result of increased attendance, we have seen the average spending per guest decrease from over $7.00 to under a dollar today (fig. 3).

Fig. 3 - Average Spending Per Guest

So what does this mean for the festival attendee over the next year (fig. 4)?  There is a feeling of cautious optimism in the air.  For instance, while 57% of festival project an increase in attendance, only 12% are planning to raise ticket prices.  In another example of cautious optimism, while over 40% of festival directors are projecting an increase in revenue but only 30% are projecting an increase to their operating budget.

Fig. 4 - 2012 Projected Trends
Overall, this year can be described as one of hopeful transition from a down-turned economy to a more positive environment.  The festival directors all told are taking a more conservative approach to managing festival than in previous years.  It will be interesting to see how an industry previously known for taking changes will now unfold in a more conservative environment.  To view the report in its entirety, please click here.

Acting Balanced


  1. This is interesting! I know the few festivals that have been here in the last couple of years have been much shorter and prices have stayed about the same. They are still really expensive and overpriced in my opinion. Visiting from Thirsty For Comments Thursday...Thanks for the information!

  2. Very interesting insight into a topic I would have otherwise not thought much into. I definitely fall into the category of attending more festivals than in the past, but I think I did so more for the community, growing my knowledge of local culture, and networking than for the reasons of saving money to stay home. If anything I find festivals to be quite costly to attend. Granted, I also have children... so $7 would be a definite field day for me if I could get away with it! :) Thanks for sharing! =)