People ordering at a food truck

In 2019 (pre-COVID), over 5 million people attended festivals in the UK and Glastonbury alone welcomed 210,000 revelers. The AIF reported that a typical festival attendee spends £466 (incl. ticket cost) and food makes up a big portion of that figure.

Done right, the summer festival season could provide the majority of your annual income and profit. So, what do you need to consider when planning to cater your first UK festival?

  1. Which festival is right for me?

A girl dancing at a festival with a drink in her hand

The bigger and higher profile the festival, the more you’ll pay for a pitch and that cost usually has to be paid to the organiser up-front. Pitch costs can range from a couple of hundred pounds up to £10,000, so some festivals may be out of reach if you’re just starting out.

Of course, the bigger the festival, the more opportunity you also have for footfall and profit, but the more competition you may have. It might be that a smaller festival of 1000 people only has 2-3 food trucks and offers you plenty of opportunity for business. If you’re new to catering, consider starting smaller while you gain valuable experience.

Look at the kind of crowd a festival attracts? Search online or request information from festival organisers on their demographic. Is there a crossover between your target customer and the type of people who are attending? For example, artisan food with a higher cost might not sell well to students with limited budget.

  1. What kind of food should I sell?

A child squirting ketchup onto festival food

Your basic burger and hot dog vans and pizza trucks are always going to be popular, but being unique and standing out from the crowd can also serve you well. For example, the hunger for tasty vegan food is growing, so perhaps explore the trend or add some plant-based dishes to your menu. Identify a niche area, e.g. offer puddings for those sweet cravings and boost of energy!

Speak to other vendors about their experiences at the events you’re hoping to attend. Who is your competition? How many other vendors are there and what are they selling? Consider how you will fit and, more importantly, stand out.

Smaller, less-complicated menus will allow you to predict stock levels better and make it easier for customers to choose quickly when they’re overwhelmed with options.

  1. Get into the detail: Will you need a catering generator?

Options lined up on a food truck’s counter

Once you’ve identified your list of preferred festivals and you’re ready to book, then it’s time to get into the detail:

  • Where should you pitch up your food truck?
  • Are you near the campsite where breakfast will be buzzing but empty during the afternoon and evening?
  • Are you near the stages which will get the most footfall in the evening?

Choose an area that works well with the menu you’re offering.

Ask the important questions and double-check your contract, like whether there’s a power source available to you. If not, you’ll need a reliable mobile catering generator to support you and you may want to consider taking a back-up generator for your food truck in case the festival-supplied power source goes out.

To understand how much power you’ll need from your food trailer generator, take a look at our Wattage Calculator. Then you can identify which generator would best suit you from our range of catering generators.

Consider the design of your truck and how you can attract customers with signage, uniforms, and marketing material. What fits well with your brand? Handmade and friendly? Colourful and loud? Chic and sophisticated?

Think longer-term than sales at the event. You can turn festival-goers into loyal, long-term customers by marketing yourself. Print your social media accounts on your packaging and post pictures throughout the festival – if something you post is picked up by your festival’s Instagram page then it could further boost your business!

Don’t forget that your fellow caterers are also customers so you may want to offer a trader discount.

  1. Do the math: Is festival catering a good fit for you?

People waiting at a food truck

It’s important to get a clear idea of how much you could make at your chosen festival(s)…

What kind of sales could you make based on how many people are going to be there, how many vendors you’re competing with, your costs and how many hours you can trade?

Work out the maximum possible profit and then decide if it’s a profit-making venture. Give yourself wiggle room so that you don’t have to rely on maximum trade to make reasonable profit.

Total costs might include:

  • Cost of pitch
  • Festival cut of profits if applicable (some take 20-30%)
  • Generator or renting power
  • Stock
  • Staff wages
  • Fuel costs
  • Insurances
  1. Enjoy festival catering!

A bright blue food truck selling fish and chips

Get into the spirit and have some fun!

Festival-goers will be naturally drawn to friendly vibes that match the good time they’re having. Prepare properly and you’ll be able enjoy your experience all the more.

If you decide you need a catering generator to make your festival food truck dream come true, remember our wide selection of portable, silent catering generators are waiting for you.

Need some help choosing a generator? Find out all you need to know in our Generator Guides and Tips section.