festival venues

Have You Considered Golf Courses as Festival Venues?

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Golf courses have become a hot trend in festival venues. What makes golf courses great venues for music festivals? Wouldn’t a stadium, arena, or large event center be a better place for a music festival? They have a history of hosting many music events, including superstar concerts.

Music festivals differ from local community festivals in that they tend not to have a lot of exhibitors and the music is the only entertainment. No need to deal with all the other activities you would find with a typical community-themed festival. What is the thinking that makes golf courses more attractive than large indoor venues for music festivals?

What Makes Golf Courses More Desirable as Festival Venues?

Certainly, the pandemic forced event producers and music festival organizers to rethink in-person events. Moving events that traditionally took place in large, crowded arenas was no longer possible due to health restrictions. Even without the public health restrictions, performers didn’t want to be possibly exposed to the Corona virus and promoters didn’t want to expose those attending their events either.

According to Stacy Vee, Vice President for Talent at Goldenvoice which produces major festivals such as Coachella, Stagecoach, Cali Vibes, etc., it’s a preference. The festival experience includes the ability for attendees to move around and be more engaged with the venue as well as the bands performing. She sees golf courses as a good place for such festivals. She states that golf courses have the flexibility to “marry the vibe of whatever festival with the venue.”

“It’s not one size fits all,” according to Vee. Using a golf course as a music festival venue makes perfect sense “because it feels different at each of these festivals. It’s the most beautiful kind of blank canvas.”

To get you thinking more about this type of venue for festivals, here are several examples of different kinds of festivals utilizing golf courses for their events.

Seltzerland: a national touring hard seltzer festival

The pandemic forced the event organizer, Cannonball Productions to rethink this festival tour as it had been planned for large indoor venues around the country. Moving outdoors made the event safer for attendees while meeting most public health restrictions that were still in place. Their concept is creative and unique. As the festivals kicked off, they included precautions to prevent large crowds from gathering at one spot on the course. That included festival goers who were encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes to walk the 2 to 3 miles of the course, experiencing different hard Seltzer brands along the way.

seltzer festivalFestivalgoers purchase tickets for a designated “tee time;” the time slots are spaced out every 10 minutes with roughly 10 to 20 attendees scheduled for each interval to avoid crowding. The fairways are lined with the brands’ booths, allowing attendees to walk a one-way route. “It feels like a natural flow instead of forcing people into specific areas with barricades,” Kate Levenstien, CEO of Cannonball said, adding that the courses offer plenty of space without lines or bottlenecking.

Two ticketing options are available for Seltzerland: General admission and VIP, which includes access to premier time slots, a full-sized can of hard seltzer, a specialty cocktail, complimentary food, and free parking. Attendees can sample over 50 hard seltzer brands during their stroll down the 18 fairways the golf courses hosting the events.

That’s certainly a great approach to food or drink festivals where you want to spread out the crowds involved.

What if most of the seltzer vendor were replaced by other brand booths, vendors, food trucks, etc.  What if you had festival entertainment taking place every three fairways or so?  Think about it and be creative.

This Ain’t No Picnic Festival

Last month you could have found top alternative rock acts such as LCD Soundsystem and the Strokes playing the first hold of the Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena, California.  Post-hardcore band Turnstile and hip-hop duo the Ying Yang Twins were on the ninth hole. They were playing as part of the This Ain’t No Picnic Festival.

Since 2017, Brookside has hosted a number of multistage music festivals, starting with Arroyo Seco Weekend. And so far in 2022, the golf course has been home to new wave and goth fest Cruel World, early ’00s alt-rock-themed Just Like Heaven, country festival Palomino, 88rising’s Asian-focused Head in the Clouds and last month’s This Ain’t No Picnic.

Goldenvoice is also the promoter for these festivals as well.

Papago Music Festival

papago music festivalNext month the Papago Golf Club in Phoenix will host the Papago Music Festival. Produced by T2 Presents and Phoenix Music Group, the Papago Music Festival will take place on the Papago Golf Club practice range, with the beautiful Papago Buttes as the backdrop. VIP tickets start at $150 per person and include VIP seating, two beverages and VIP restrooms. The festival features six tribute bands on Saturday, October 8th.  Proceeds from the festival will benefit the Arizona Alliance for Golf.

The idea of golf courses as blank slates for festivals was certainly accelerated by Covid restrictions on indoor events. Now the idea has really caught on and expect to see more and more festivals taking place at golf courses. In many large urban communities, public parks and golf courses are the only green, open spaces in the community. Golf courses offer an alternative to public parks in these cities.

Related Posts:

Festival Production: Takeaways from Successful Music Festivals

Outdoor Event Production: 5 Critical Safety Concerns


About the author

Picture of Robert M. Brecht, PhD.

Robert M. Brecht, PhD.

Doctor Bob brings a diverse background in production, marketing, and business management to his position as Managing Partner of TSE Entertainment. His responsibilities include overseeing TSE’s services other than talent booking. He also manages the marketing and business operations side of TSE.
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