Setting Up your Festival
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Simple Site Map

Laying out
your Festival
The U shape

The key elements of the design of an Open Crowd festival is the layout in what we call the U shape or the horseshoe.  It invites and draws in those coming to your Festival.

A site Plan you could use!

The U shape activities

Enables people to see each other and to see what is happening at the Festival. 

Provides an open, welcoming feel to your Festival.  People feel safe. 
The reason for this is that a U shape produces both openness and belonging.  

The wide opening helps people to feel free to become involved at the level they want to participate. 
A measure of an effectively designed U shape structure is that standing at any point you should be able see every other person who is part of the festival.  This enables the sense of “us” to build.

The main reason people are attracted to an Open Crowd Festival is the very real sense that they can be a part of something; they can belong.  Belonging matters and it doesn’t happen by accident.

The positioning of the U-shape activities does significantly affect the feel of the Festival.  It helps to have at the opening “attracting” activities like a bouncy castle, human statues, clowns or bubble blowing that children in particular can run to when they first arrive.

Once you are there and part of it there is a sense that you are in a group.  It is welcoming and people are able to enter it and leave, as they want. 

When you are setting up your Festival it is a good idea to not spread out the U shape too much.  As the crowd grows so the U shape can move out.  It is easier to do this than to start a long way apart and then have to move in.   A sense of intimacy builds if you all work closer together. 

While we say the centre games are the heart and soul of an Open Crowd Festivals, the U shape is the structure to have a life.  Without the safety, invitation and belonging of the U shape design, it is far less likely that people will be drawn in to be part of the Centre games.

3 activities to try to have in your U shape  

Sports Zone

Sports Zone particularly appeals to those in the 12 – 18 age group but also invites people from a number of other age groups. Sport is often a significant part of local communities.

The Sports Zone doesn’t take place outside of the festival U rather it is becomes an integral part of all the other activities and adds excitement and competition. It often acts as an ‘entry point’ to other parts of the festival for those who may at first be cautious of becoming involved.


An opportunity for young parents to gather and build relationships.  It provides a safe area for small children to play.  It’s helpful if the Toddlers Play area placed near refreshment area. If at all possible have a Church Toddlers group that you can invite parents to. See link to the U Shape


Hospitality plays a major part at Open Crowd Festivals.  Offering everything for free invites many responses from the public, allowing us to serve with love and generosity.  Consider the time of your Festival and whether you want to offer afternoon tea - cold drinks, tea, coffee, cakes or a barbecue with sausages & bread or hot dogs & rolls etc..