Bournemouth 7s Festival takes us about 11 months to plan which, in any normal year, is ideal! It gives us a month to chill out and recover after the paperwork is processed from the previous celebration of grassroots sport and music. Our amazing team take the opportunity to check out a few other festivals and gather some ideas for improvements we can make as we continue to evolve our product.

Once we’ve scouted out the competition and recharged our batteries, planning for the subsequent festival beings in earnest. 3 months after the gates close, we relaunch our website and entry for the 400 sports teams re-opens to great clamour. Rugby, netball, hockey, dodgeball and volleyball teams from up and down the country like to get ahead with their plans and secure a place at the #PartyOfTheYear.

From there, general admission ticket sales launch, ops and safety planning and commercial discussions ramp up and our team expands exponentially until we’re back in a field doing our thing – all over again.

The UK is crammed full of world-leading event expertise; we’re incredibly lucky to have some of the very best outdoor event operators in the UK – many of whom are NOEA members. Despite this, the policy makers at Westminster seem to lack knowledge or appreciation of our sector and the intricacies of event planning.

As I write this today, we’re deep into planning for Bournemouth 7s Festival 2021, we’re committing deposits, taking customer money and – ultimately – taking business risk. We’re doing this against a backdrop of a roadmap which seems about as secure as any political promise. We’re doing this despite considerable uncertainty about the mitigations which will come out of the Event Research Programme.

To be honest, we’re thankful for the ERP, we’re delighted that after months of campaigning, the government is listening to powerful industry advocates about our value to society both financially and culturally.

Moving forwards though, we need to work with government to entrench the value of outdoor events and festivals in the UK. We need the certainty of insurance and the respect that an industry of our size deserves.

Once we’ve secured that I, for one, cannot wait for a normal festival planning cycle!

Craig Mathie

MD – Bournemouth 7s Festival

Vice President – National Outdoor Events Association