How Can We Travel More Sustainably to Festivals?

This article was first published in Standout Magazine’s Green Column, Feb 2019 Issue.

Transport is the largest single source of emissions globally, and accounts for 26% of emissions in the UK. Travel and transport of audiences, artists, crew and suppliers has consistently been found to make up at least 80% of an event’s carbon footprint so it’s a priority area for events aiming to reduce environmental impacts. 

In a nutshell, reducing travel impacts means fewer private cars, higher vehicle occupancy, and more festivalgoers using shared forms of transport, or using sustainable fuels. Carbon balancing has also become common with events.

Many events have successfully trialled initiatives to reduce travel impacts in these ways. In 2011, Glastonbury’s Green traveller initiative set aside a percentage of tickets for combined coach and entry packages, providing incentives such as food vouchers and discounted merchandise. Boomtown literally doubled their coach numbers in one year between 2016 and 2017 using ‘entry + travel’ packages, reducing the car parking space required and CO2 emissions produced. Many events such as Latitude, Boomtown, and Shambala have offered guided cycle rides with partners. Festivals such as Kendal Calling are working with train service providers to offer discounted deals, and city events such as Redfest in Bristol have provided serviced cycle parks and mechanic services for festivalgoers arriving by bike. Car share initiatives have been around for a long time, and continue to provide mostly younger audiences an option to travel cheaply and sociably. 

In 2018 we started to see electric car charging emerge as a service at many festivals. The number of coach providers dedicated to the festival sector is expanding. Operators such as Tuned In Travel are balancing their passengers travel emissions on their behalf, and the Big Green Bus Company have developed an electric bus run on solar energy form their depot

Other events have charged car passes onsite only to cars which are not full or have less than 3 people travelling, and 37 festivals are working with UK charity Energy Revolution to balance travel miles.

Energy Revolution works with event promoters, audiences, venues, artists and their agencies, ticket platforms and the industry supply chain to measure and balance the emissions from festival and tour travel miles. To date they have balanced over 8 million travel miles, with 100% of all donations going directly to projects that generate clean renewable energy, including wind turbines in India and the UK, and community solar projects in the UK. These projects directly prevent fossil fuel based energy being produced, reducing emissions, and creating an energy infrastructure fit for the future.

We will see radical changes in the coming years. Electric car sales are exponentially increasing and the future of travel is almost certainly efficient grid-connected public transport systems, and local transport links using battery or sustainable fuels. 

Event organisers can take practical steps to reduce travel impacts, working with their audiences and suppliers. More detailed advise about travel can be found in the Energy Revolution Guide to Sustainable Travel for Festivals and Events at