Let's Talk About Outdoor Events

Published on 24 April 2024 at 17:52

After surviving another stressful weekend at Elfia, I've made the definite decision to quit doing outdoor events. Let's talk about the pros and cons of outdoor events, why I decided to quit doing them and let me give you some tips if you do want to try them out!

My experience with outdoor events

The first outdoor event I ever attended was in early September 2021. It was located in the woods not too far from my home. It was a sunny day and a calm event that had short opening hours. It was the perfect outdoor event except for the fact that the sales were terrible.



At the start of 2022 I then applied for Elftopia in August. This one was quite different compared to my first experience with an outdoor event. This time it was a full weekend, located at castle grounds and my stand was inside a bigger tent - a tent that housed multiple different artists. It was sturdy and we didn't have to worry about rain because it got closed off every evening, had a wooden floor and so on. My only enemies that weekend were the sun, the heath & bad internet connection. 

It already made me hesitant to sign up for it again the year after. Not because sales weren't good, but because of the 'enemies' I mentioned before. It wasn't until after Castlefest that I realized how much of an 'easy' outdoor event Elftopia truly was.



Let's go back to last summer, at the start of August. I remember signing up for Castlefest and being super excited about it. It's a medieval themed festival with lots of fairytale influences and I'd heard many good things about it from friends. I didn't really prepare anything special for it, thinking that the market stall I was getting for the weekend would be enough. Fortunately, my friend Jossie from Ayame Design messaged me a week prior to the event to ask if I had extra sails and clamps to secure to my stand - which I of course didn't have. Turned out that I was super unprepared for the weekend, but fortunately I managed to get my hands on everything I needed before we were leaving. I felt confident and properly prepared when we were on our way there, but things quickly turned. It rained the entire weekend; causing the sail beneath our feet to flood and my postcards to become damp. Despite having good sales, we were nearly freezing behind our stand and very tired because of the long opening hours. On the 2nd evening of the 3-day event I even broke down and cried the entire way back to the hotel. I immediately knew that Castlefest was going to be a one-time experience for me.



Already being pretty much done with outdoor events after that dreadful weekend, I wasn't really looking forward to Elfia in September anymore. I also had another Elftopia weekend in between, which ended up being completely fine except from the sun being a bit annoying every now and then. 

I'd tried to apply for Elfia multiple times prior to my first time in Arcen in 2023, but they'd always declined me. So at first I'd been very excited about going when I got accepted, but knowing what Castlefest had been like really spoiled my mood. And Elfia turned out to be as bad or even worse.


Let me start with the whole build-up and build-down situation that Elfia has going on. First they let you wait for (sometimes) hours next to the registration tent, outside in the (possible) rain, before you can enter the terrain with your vehicle. They try to manage it as best ast they can, but being honest they do a pretty shitty job at it. I've been extremely lucky that both in Arcen as well as in Haarzuilens last weekend, we didn't wait more than an hour until we could drive onto the terrain for setting up our stand. In Arcen I set everything up the day before because it was sunny and warm, thinking that would stay the same way during the night - but of course I was wrong. It rained a lot during the night, and the market stalls that Elfia uses have the most terrible rooftops for rain. The water on top gets too heavy after a while and creates a kind of bulge, which you then have to try and get off. In Arcen the water ended up flowing on one half of my table - soaking my tablecloth and a few of my creations. Fortunately I was able to save most of it and it became a warm day so everything dried pretty fast. In Haarzuilens we also had a lot of rain but it came in soft showers rather than heavy rainfall. On Friday during set-up it did however rain quite a lot which made me unable to set-up everything the day before. During the weekend there was some water stuck on the roof every now and then but we were able to easily get it off. Sometimes however the wind would go underneath the stall and flip the roof over - causing the water to just fall on my poor customers and soaking them... Also not ideal of course...


Haarzuilens unfortunately was just as extremely cold on Saturday just like Castlefest had been. When it turned 9pm we therefore decided we were going to close a little earlier as we were all frozen to the bone by then. There were no more vistors anyway - they were all watching the last performance of the night. However as I was putting up the last sail at around 9:30pm, I was met with an annoyed volunteer from Elfia that nearly demanded that I kept my stand open and running until 10pm. Listen, I do always respect the opening hours and almost never leave early - but when it's so cold and there are no more visitors anyway, then please be a little more kind and let us close the half hour early. Jokes on us though, they basically kept us locked inside the venue until 10pm exactly. They kept the gates to the parking lot closed until it was officially time for us to leave...


Elfia has almost the same method of entering terrain when building down as they do when setting up. Only this time they give you an exact hour on Sunday morning and at this hour you need to be at the parking lot's registration point. For example; the event ended at 7pm and I needed to be at the parking lot at 8:15pm, I then received a number (31) and had to wait until they'd call my number to enter terrain. Once again I'd been extremely lucky with the location of my stand - I was able to enter terrain within an hour after going to the parking lot, but a lot of my friends were less lucky and had to wait until 9pm or 10pm before they could leave. I totally understand that they need to organize it this way to get all vehicles lined up and running smoothly, but it's just so much hassle and stress that I'm unwilling to face for a third time. Not to mention how rude the volunteers can be...


So that was kind of my experience when it comes to the outdoor events that I've participated in. They've all been really good to me saleswise, but when it comes to stress-levels and the weather - they've all definitely tested me!

I might keep Elftopia in August on my event calendar, but I'm not sure yet. I'll definitely be there this August though, so do come visit because it's a very fun event to attend!


Things to bring along

  • Bring a lot of sails. You will need these to cover up your items but also to 'wrap' up your stand against rain, wind, cold, sun, heat etc. 
  • Bring a lot of clamps. You will need something to fasten the sails to your market stall - and clamps are the best option for this. 
  • Bring a long extension cable (20m at least) if you can use electricity at your stand. Especially with outdoor events like Elfia in Arcen and Castlefest it's a must to bring extra light to lighten up your stand during the late opening hours. 
  • Bring extra lights. See the above!
  • Bring extra layers of clothes, fleece blankets or even a kettle to make warm tea!
  • Bring waterproof bins to store your items in at night or during the day when there's heavy rainfall.
  • Invest in a card terminal that works on 4G/5G etc. instead of Wifi. A lot of outdoor places have terrible connection, and a card terminal that works on its own is definitely a must!


Popular outdoor (fantasy) events in Belgium & the Netherlands and their pros & cons

  • Castlefest - August
    • Pros: very large venue, lots of different kinds of stands, good food, decent roofing on the market stalls, easy to enter the terrain with a vehicle, lovely acts & performances
    • Cons: no wooden floors underneath the market stalls, very late opening hours, 3 or 4 day event, either rainy or very hot with a lot of dust
  • Eallum - May
  • Elfia - September & August
    • Pros: large venue, nice performances, good food, wooden floor under the market stall
    • Cons: terrible to enter terrain, long opening hours on Saturday, bad roofing on the market stall, they ask for a deposit when signing up, selection of vendors could be better (especially at Arcen), terrible parking situation for visitors (in Haarzuilens), lots of mud, very expensive
  • Elftopia - August
    • Pros: large tent for vendors with wooden floors and good roofing, don't need to bring a lot of extra sails, easy to enter terrain
    • Cons: difficult to hide from any sun, small event, not a lot of food options
  • Mysteria - May


Lots of love,

♡ Celine


Add comment


There are no comments yet.