Music festival campsites


After planes, trains and automobile; eventually the overjoyed festival customer turns up at the entrance, ready to pitch that tent, crack open a beer and party.

One small thing stands in their way, they have to get in first.



You may have one entrance or multiple entrances. All should operate in the same manner and process. I guess the first part is in gathering all the information you need to make your ingress plan.

  • How many are coming?
  • Are you doing tickets and wristbands ?
  • What is allowed in and what is not, in other words searching the customers
  • What type of customers are the expecting – Metal heads, hippies, clubbers or families.

It would be lovely if everyone complied with the rules and did not try to take anything onto a campsite that was not allowed; but there are always those that do not listen. Searching takes up a great percentage of the time in passing through a campsite entrance, so creating the QUEUE! (Video Link)

Queuing systems

We know how many to expect at our campsite entrance and we have put transport systems in place that are going to gradually feed in the arrival of the customers; so preventing them all turning up at once.

At some point you are going to have a queue and this means queue management and barrier systems and all the fun that goes with that. So what are you going to go for; Disney? Pens? Big straight lines? ( Video Links)

Disney barrier system


Pen barrier system


Big straight line

If you need a drawing of that; stop reading and head over to


Whatever system you have decided to adopt, it must be able to process all the customers attending. We can pass this through the DIM model to better understand what is require

Queue management system design

  • There is sufficient space to queue the waiting customers?
  • The queuing system can be evacuated in case of an emergency?
  • The customers understand how to use the queuing system?


We could spend a large part of this blog talking about crowd density and flow rate; but for this part I am hoping you understand what these two things are and we can move on. If not can I suggest you read Fruin’s Levels of Service or head over the Prof G K Still website; Crowd Risk Analysis and Crowd Safety.

After reading the information on queue theory you will accept that people queue in an orderly fashion and to a comfortable level of density; this being 4 persons per square meter. As such we can calculate out the how much space we need to contain all the customers. Job done and onto the next bit.


Have you paid attention to your average festival customer when they arrive at a campsite entrance?



Now do you think that 4 of these people will be able to fit into 1 meter square? How about 3? Maybe 2 if they stand as close as possible and don’t move? If they do have to move maybe 1 person per square meter?

You have to consider all the things that a person is going to bring with them to a festival campsite.

  • Tent ( 1 between so many)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Clothes
  • Beer and food

This could be considered the basics of what you need for the weekend. We will not add on all the extras or luxuries; this will be covered later on.

Now we have an understanding of the amount of stuff that is brought to the campsite, we can see that the person bringing it is going to take up a lot more space. This has to be accounted for; instead of 4 persons per square meter, maybe only 1 person.

We then have to look at the weight of all the stuff being carried; as it is fair to say they are going to bring far too much with them and it is going to be heavy. This changes a person’s mind set. They just want to get in as quick as possible so they do not have to carry it anymore. They will be tired, sweating, out of breath and this leads to frustration and in extremes anger.

We have to make the journey to the campsite through the queue management system as easy and stress free as possible. Do not make them go through an empty system just because it is built. Make short cuts available that can be used when the time is right. Don’t make the journey look harder than it needs to be.

Next we have to consider the flow at which people move when they get to a campsite. It is nothing like anything that you read about in a book; you might as well throw that away just now. Things that should be considered; the ground is uneven, the amount they are carrying, the volume of people bumping into one another, the start and stop of the queue and they may not be sober? All this can lead to a very slow moving queue.


Queue management information

To assist the customers you have to provide them with information, this will assist them from getting frustrated and making the experience as smooth as possible.

  • Provide directional information of how to arrive at the entry system.
  • Do you have electronic signs that can pass information?
  • Do you have a PA system to pass information over a large group?
  • Do you use social media to pass on information that is up to date?
  • Do you record how many persons have entered, how quickly are they entering, how many left to go?
  • Do you track the transport systems – bus arrival times, car parks level of fill, traffic jams?
  • How about playing low volume music to keep the customers in a good mood?

All this information will assist how the customers feel  and they are moving as fast as possible. It is not wrong to tell small white lies when passing on information. If it is taking the average person in arriving at the queue 20 minutes to pass though the system; tell the customer it is taking 30 minute. Then when they get through the system quicker they feel as though they have won.

If you are telling the customers the campsite opens for entry at 2pm the customers will start arriving that morning to get in first and start the party.Also the transport systems will be running and delivering customers.

Have you ever considered opening early? Don’t advertise that you will be doing this, just do it. You are preventing the queue building up and giving yourself a longer time line to process the customers.

Queue management Management?

Now that sounds complicated and somehow does not look right. What we are basically saying is that every system we put in place we have to ensure that we manage them.

  • Sufficient stewarding to direct customers through the system
  • Stewards observing the queue in case of emergency


After the customer gets to the head of the queue there is normally a ticketing process or wristband exchange and a search process.Searching can be controlled in speed, to either strict or soft. This means we can control the speed at which the customers pass through the search area. The ticketing system will be consistent and depending on the complexity and reliability should be a fixed length of time; so cannot be changed.


After that……..freedom, it is time to camp up and crack open the beer.



Loading the campsite>>>>>>>>>>


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