A Checklist for Planning a Christmas Festival (14 To-Dos)

Are you planning a Christmas festival in order to promote local businesses, brands, or even your own organization? Are you new to the prospect of planning a Christmas festival, or do you simply want to make sure all the planning involved is done right?

Anytime you are in the process of planning a Christmas event such as an outdoor festival, keep the following checklist in mind to ensure you are on the right track at all times.festival-2

1. Create an Online Presence

Whenever you are planning an event during a major holiday such as Christmas, it is essential to develop and launch an online presence.

Creating an event website that includes event details, maps, and even vendor information can help encourage members of the community to attend. Additionally, launching an event website and establishing event pages on social media can also help with making your event searchable via search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Visibility matters when it comes to planning events during major holidays, especially ones that are typically flooded with many different types of events.

  • Event website
  • Registration page
  • Social media
  • Event calendars 
  • Digital news or blogs mentions


2. Online Registration for Payments and Event Registration

With your event website and ticket registration platform, you can permit attendees the ability to register for an event or reserve tickets ahead of time. You can also provide the ability to purchase tickets directly online, which can drastically increase the number of tickets you sell for your event and the overall event attendance.


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3. Permits and Licensing

Before you can plan a Christmas festival of any kind, you may need to pull local permits or inquire about licensing. This is often necessary for events being held outdoors or in public spaces, especially with vendors and live entertainers present.


4. Booking Performers, Vendors, and Live Entertainment

Working together with local vendors, artists, entertainers, and live performances can also help drum up ticket sales while getting members of the community to talk about your upcoming festival. The more talent your event hosts, the more attendees it is also likely to attract.


5. Hiring Staff or Recruiting Volunteers

Consider who will be assisting you through the planning and managing processes of your Christmas festival. Will you need to hire a crew to manage the event, or will you be recruiting local volunteers?


6. Activities and Event Itinerary

When planning your Christmas festival, create an event itinerary for guests and for staff to help with management needs. Include your event itinerary on your event's website, ticketing platform, as well as social media pages related to your event. Some events and activities to feature in your event itinerary include:

  • Meeting with Santa/Sitting on Santa's Lap
  • Skating Rink
  • Live Performances (Artists/Musicians/Dancers, etc.)
  • Local Vendor Highlights and Features
  • Free Samples
  • Hot Cocoa Stand
  • Adult Holiday Beverage Bar


7. Secure a Venue (Avoid Double-Booking Issues)

Securing a venue for a Christmas festival is one of the most important tasks to tackle as quickly as possible. Because the demand for venues during Christmastime skyrockets during the holidays, reserving space months in advance is sometimes necessary. Securing your venue as quickly as possible will also eliminate the risk of double-booking an event or booking an event on the same day as another popular festival.


8. Create a Marketing Plan

Creating a successful marketing plan for your Christmas festival is also key to a massive turnout.

  • Traditional media (flyers, newspapers, etc.)
  • Vendors
  • Event website/online blog
  • Talk to your local media 
  • Social media
  • Videos/sneak peeks 
  • Ticket contest and giveaways
  • Charity fundraising
  • SMS marketing (go mobile)
  • Partner with businesses and sponsors 


9. Choose an Exciting Christmas Theme

Choosing an exciting Christmas theme for your festival can help you find the lighting, signage, and decor that is most fitting for your event. From classic and luxurious gold and silver to traditional red and green, there are many different Christmas themes and color schemes to consider for any type of Christmas festival, indoors or out.


10. Define Your Festival Goals

Hosting a successful Christmas festival is not possible without first defining your festival goals. Are you hosting a Christmas festival to bring holiday cheer to the community, or to promote local vendors and small business owners?

Are you attempting to raise awareness for a special cause or charity, or do you want to drum up sales for your own business?

Defining festival goals ahead of time can prevent you from feeling overwhelmed once you begin implementing your festival itinerary. That being said, remember, your goals should always be centered around your target audience. 


11. Hosting a Single-Day or Multi-Day Event

A Christmas festival is not just limited to single-day events.

If you intend to host a multi-day event, you will need to consider the logistics required for the venue you choose and the type of vendors you intend to host. If you are hosting a multi-day Christmas festival event, you may also want to implement a ticketing system that allows guests to purchase tickets for one day or for all the days the event is available (multi-day passes, group ticketing, family options, etc.)


12. Know Your Target Audience

Knowing the audience you intend to attract to your Christmas festival can go a long way when marketing and promoting the event. If you are planning kid zones or hosting activities designed for children, it is important to note where kid-friendly areas are located while promoting and mapping out your event.

If you intend to promote adult-only activities, such as alcohol shot luges or holiday drink bars, you can do so on any map, social media page, or website you create for your event as well. Designating zones, special activities, and events can also spark the interest of those who may be on the fence about purchasing a ticket and attending.


13. Planning the Decor

Whether you are planning your Christmas festival outdoors or inside, plan your decor, lighting, and signage ahead of time. Brainstorm Christmas color schemes and themes that suit your festival based on the type of goods, services, or vendors you intend to feature.

Common holiday decor items that are suitable for a Christmas festival might include:

  • Garland
  • Ribbons
  • Tinsel
  • Mistletoe
  • Christmas trees/pine trees or replicas
  • Tree skirts/hanging cloth banners
  • Ornaments (these may be themed to suit the color scheme you choose for your festival)


For a more modern touch, consider LED signage with red, green, silver, and gold colors to promote snack bars and hot cocoa stands. Use decorative arches and lit fences to guide visitors through your festival, especially if you are hosting it outdoors.


14. Make Your Christmas Festival Accessible

Any time you are planning an event in general, it is advisable to do so at a venue that is as accessible as possible. Choose a location that is accessible for those with handicaps or physical disabilities. Inquire about accessibility features when coordinating your event planning to ensure the venue you choose is the best option available. The more accessible your event is, the more likely it is to appeal to broader audiences, including larger groups and families.


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Planning a Christmas festival is not just a way to bring members of the community together to celebrate the holiday. When you take the time to plan a Christmas festival using a proper checklist, you can provide a memorable and joyful experience, while also spreading the word about your business and the products or services you have to offer.

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