Lesson of 2018’s event season: Expecting the unexpected

Now we’re firmly in Autumn, it feels like the perfect time to take stock on what has been a very busy, eventful summer, and consider the lessons learnt from this year’s abundance of events….

One of the summer’s resounding memories for everyone will be the endless hot weather and sunshine we were lucky enough to enjoy – from an event attendees’ point of view, going to your favourite festival in the sun is somewhat more pleasant that the muddy, wet weather we’ve come to expect at festivals in the UK. And actually, from an organiser’s point of view, I’d rather have the dry and warm weather over rain and mud any day of the week – but the warm weather does bring its own challenges and this summer’s hot weather has certainly had an impact on the way outdoor festivals and events have been planned and managed by organisers and safety teams. 


The record temperatures and continuously dry weather we’ve experienced has brought a whole new set of challenges to event planning. For the first time in my 16-year career, I’ve written dry weather contingency plans to deal with the extreme dry ground and grass conditions, talking to colleagues in Australia to understand how they deal with such high temperatures and the fire loads / risks that dry grounds present.

We’ve had to consider the possibility of grass fires and monitor the fire severity rating on site, we’ve also co-ordinated specific fire induction for the crew members, introducing a ‘hot works’ permit for any works onsite generating heat and over combustible grounds / areas.

 It’s not just the heat and dry ground conditions that have had an impact on this summer’s events. Perhaps linked to the ‘heatwave’ or just another weather anomaly, SQUALL like weather conditions have also been an added challenge at Team Redwood’s events. We’ve had two particular instances in the last couple of months when sudden, intense and often unpredictable weather arrives onsite with little time for the team to react.

SQUALL weather conditions can seriously disrupt an event with high level wind, rain and lightning seemingly coming from nowhere. Whilst we continuously monitor the weather conditions when on site, every now and again an unexpected weather system can arrive unannounced. At Pub in the Park in Tunbridge Wells, we had 18mm of rain in 10 mins – that’s a month’s worth of rainfall! Combined with 35 constant and 45mph gusting winds. The system popped up to the south of site and then hit us within two minutes. At that point, you have to make very quick decisions to preserve the site and ensure everyone on it knows how to deal with it.

So, for me, the resounding lesson from 2018’s summer season is to expect the unexpected. We did not anticipate the endless warm weather which led to a change in practice from years gone by. And there is no way you can predict SQUALL weather conditions which in their very nature have no rhyme or reason and appear unannounced. But it’s our job to ensure these unexpected challenges have as little impact on the show as possible, because as they say, the show must go on….

(Photo credit: Will Bailey)