Monday, May 27, 2024

Fixing a date for your next event – all the things you forgot to think about

I ran a singing day in London recently. I had booked the venue nearly a year in advance. The day went brilliantly with a full house of singers.

What I hadn’t reckoned on was that West Ham had a home game that day so my journey back to Suffolk was a complete nightmare! What can you do to avoid things like that?

When we book events in advance — concerts, singing workshops, choir festivals, away days, choir celebrations, etc. — we think of the best suitable dates that don’t clash with anything else.

However, no matter how hard we try, it’s easy to forget things.

Here is a brief guide to things you should think about when fixing dates for your next event. This is focused on the UK, but the principles are the same wherever you’re based.

why you need to think ahead

If you’re running an event, you want as many people to come as possible — both punters and contributors (singers, workshop leaders, audience). You need to make it as easy as possible for people to get to the event (so avoid days with train strikes, road works, congestion, or limited public transport) and you don’t want to clash with any other events that your attendees might also be interested in (other music events for example). You also want to make sure your event venue is available, especially if it’s a popular one. Some venues get booked up over a year ahead.

what we know well in advance

There are several fixed dates that we can know at least a year in advance. Things that tend to happen annually on around the same date.

bank holidays – Easter and Christmas are the obvious ones, but there are also May and August bank holidays (here in the UK), and additional bank holidays for special occasions such as coronations and Royal funerals. Bank holiday weekends might be a good time to put an event on as many people will have the Monday off work. However, Friday travel can be horrendous and many people will be spending the long weekend with their families.

school holidays – especially half-term holidays. Be aware that different parts of the country have school breaks at different times. There will be more kids around and more traffic on the roads during the week. Children on a break from school will be available for child-oriented events. However, adults at the same time might be busy with their grandchildren.

festivals and touring bands – many of the big music festivals are booked way ahead. Festivals like Glastonbury, Reading, Edinburgh, etc. Similarly, bands touring the country need to set up dates well in advance. But don’t limit it to music events as other events (like major sporting events) can disrupt travel.

birthdays – big celebrity birthdays can have big events connected to them. But also if a soloist at your concert or workshop leader have a significant birthday, they might not want to work on that day.

what we usually have a few weeks’ or months’ notice of

other similar events – many areas have concert clash diaries to ensure that local choirs don’t put their concerts on at the same time. Similarly, you can ask around your singing leader colleagues to see if any of them are planning to run a workshop on the same day as you.

football matches and other sporting events – fixtures tend to be set a good few months in advance. Match days can affect parking and travel. Also, sports supporters might not want to go to a music event on the same day as a match.

train and tube strikes – there have been a lot of these in the UK over the past year or so. Usually a few weeks’ notice is given for strike days, However, overtime bans, etc. can have unpredictable last-minute effects on travel.

music concerts and singing workshops – as mentioned above, many localities have concert clash diaries, although many choirs aren’t that methodical about filling them in. Contact other colleagues in your area who might be putting singing workshops on. It’s not the end of the world if your workshop clashes with theirs, especially if you’re in a big city and/or offering different kinds of songs.

road works – these can be put in the diary several months in advance and notified to local residents. However, schedules can change and works get cancelled or brought forward.

elections – possibly not that disruptive (although voters who pop in after work to vote might not get to your evening event in time), but local and general elections need to be announced at least a month in advance.

new babies – fairly predictable dates (!) that may affect your soloists or workshop leaders. Try not to schedule anything a few weeks either side of a due date.

hospital operations – some important individual may have an operation booked (although, like road works, things can get delayed or brought forward). Again, avoid scheduling anything a few weeks either side. Or find a replacement.

what can happen unexpectedly

There are so many “known unknowns” that can pop up unexpectedly. It’s not possible to plan ahead for these, but always useful to keep an eye out and have a contingency plan. Things like bad weather, venue cancellations, illness, traffic delays, rail problems, deaths in the Royal Family, demonstrations and marches, etc.

have I missed anything?

I’m bound to have missed something important out. Do leave a comment and let us know what your experience has been.

other posts

You might find these older posts useful too.

Plans are worthless, but planning is everything

How to put on a successful concert 1: planning

Don’t stress about things you can’t control

10 ideas to help you balance stress with enjoyment when putting on a singing event

Chris Rowbury


Get more posts like this delivered straight to your inbox!

Click to subscribe by email.


found this helpful?

I provide this content free of charge, because I like to be helpful. If you have found it useful, you may like to ...

... to say thank you.





Monthly Music Round-up: