How do European festivals communicate about sustainability and what do they already put in practice?


Almost all European festivals aim to make their organisation and activities more sustainable, especially when it comes to material and waste management and catering. Although this is the case, festivals still experience challenges in order to become more sustainable. These results are part of the research ‘Harmonizing Sustainability’ which was done in collaboration with ESNS Exchange (initiative by ESNS, Yourope and the professorship of Transformational Media and students of the Music Business Minor of NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences. The research consisted of a content analysis and a survey that was sent out to all the ESNS Exchange partner festivals.

The content analysis was done by looking at the websites of 39 ESNS Exchange festivals The analysis showed that larger festivals tend to prioritise sustainability communication more than medium-sized and small festivals and the most commonly addressed topics were energy and water management, transportation, and strategy.

The survey results demonstrated that in general, music festivals communicate about their sustainability efforts. The main findings are:

  • Communication in the areas of food and beverages, material and waste management as well as travel and transport, receives the most attention.
  • The primary challenges to become more sustainable for music festivals includes inadequate support from local authorities, limited supplier options, and a lack of financial resources.
  • Most festivals use their websites and social media to communicate about their sustainability efforts or they communicate at the festival itself. Advertising about sustainability topics is not common. Information about travel and transport, material and waste and strategy are mostly communicated via the app, social media and website.
  • Festivals do not clearly indicate encountering challenges that hinder communicating about sustainability. The only challenge mentioned by the respondents is that the already substantial amount of content that festivals need to communicate sometimes hinders them from conveying sustainability efforts to their audience.

Although many tools are available to support festivals in their sustainability strategies and communication, the awareness of these tools is limited, and often not used. This shows that communication efforts to promote these tools could lead to beneficial results for festivals to become greener. Please visit for the European Green Festival Roadmap 2030.

Find the full research report here and please contact for further information.