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Pushing Boundaries, PULLING CROWDS

Summer is a great time to attend a music festival, but have you ever considered holding one in your back garden when your parents are out? FYM talked to the founder of LeeFest who did just that

back garden, including the police. This was the start of

what is today known as LeeFest, an independent not-for-profit music and arts festival. Today the festival attracts around 2,500 revellers to a small

working farm on the outskirts of Kent and donates all profits to charity.

Lee goes to show that not every festival has to be

Lee Denny breaks the rules

B 28

ack in 2006, Lee Denny’s parents were going on holiday and had decided to leave

him behind. There was just one rule the 16-year-old Lee was given to stick to while they were away: no house parties. Okay, thought Lee, I’ll do the logical thing and host a festival in the back garden instead.

His parents had been gone for just four hours, and Lee had already booked a line-up of local musicians. A week later 150 people descended on his

Glastonbury. It IS possible to start small if you have vision, energy and courage. Here he shares some of his top tips.

Plan,plan, plan!

Focus time and energy on

creating your idea and vision but make sure you plan for… the weather, for a riot, for an accident, as well as the practicalities like relevant

licences (p23). As Lee says "you have to plan for it to not to go to plan". Although we can’t control the weather, you need to plan for any eventuality. An outdoor event could be a wash out in heavy rain, so have a back up. In

2011, as the London riots broke out, Croydon’s main transport hub was on fire. With some quick thinking and planning, which involved talking to the police, Lee managed to pull the festival back from the brink of disaster, while making it as successful as any previous event. This helped to restore his faith in humanity.

Tap your network

Even the smallest festival isn’t a one-man job; it takes a team of people - from security to catering staff and the musicians

themselves - to pull it off. You’ve also got to have awesome people attending, because a festival is essentially a celebration of people coming together. If you have friends in a band ask them to play for free to get it off the ground. They will gain publicity and your festival will too. After moving the festival from his back garden, Lee needed a new venue. Again he tapped his network by asking his head teacher if he could use a school field until he had the money to

find his own space. Call on anybody willing to help.


creative If your festival is a great

experience, people will want to come back. While word-of-mouth marketing works wonders, there are other ways to raise

awareness. After Lee's fourth festival, the local council banned the event because it was too noisy. So Lee dressed for the countryside in a fake Barbour jacket and headed out to convince a local farmer to lend him a field. These unconventional methods helped kept LeeFest alive, while supporting and advertising the brand at the same time. The event is now held on a small working farm on the outskirts of Bromley and Croydon in Kent.

Choose wisely

As your festival grows, you’ll need more than just friends. Get

fresh young millionaire

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