How beat the crowds, save your sanity and get the most out of Brisbane Events

If you’ve read my about page (go on if you haven’t… I’ll wait until you get back 😉 ) you’ll know that one of the reasons I started this blog was because I felt I was missing out on so many of the amazing events in Brisbane simply because I didn’t know about them.

And the thing is… I’m not alone. It seems like the entire city is keener than ever to get out and get amongst it at music festivals, food truck fairs, cultural events… I could go on I’m sure you get the idea. 

So here’s the deal. Recently I’ve noticed that there has been A LOT of feedback about on social media about couple of widely publicised events.

The Story Bridge 75 event was one of them. There were comments on Facebook. Tweets a plenty. Even a whole news story on Yahoo 7. And for every “We had an awesome day” comment there were probably another 5 something along the lines of… 

“I can’t believe we had to, like, LINE UP! Such bad planning guys”

“It was really crowded. With people. And I’m just not really a fan of people so, you know, SUCKS!!.” 

“We were there at lunch time and EVERYBODY wanted to get food when I wanted to get food. So annoying!”

… again I could go on but they can really be summed up by big old fashioned Waaahhhh!

Look I’m not saying some of these comments weren’t justified OR that people shouldn’t have made them. Far from it.

Feedback is crucial for event organisers – how else can they improve their events in years to come?

What I am saying is… well you as the punter have to take at least SOME responsibility for your own good time. Especially if you’ve PAID for the privelege! Because odds are if you’re excited about attending some fabulous event then so are another 10,000 of your fellow citizens. 

I’ll admit I was one of the people who had a fabulous time at Story Bridge 75. Not only did we get plenty to eat we also managed to snag a table by the side of the bridge so we could enjoy what was pretty close to a perfect afternoon. 

The thing is, this didn’t just happen by accident. Some days prior to the event I had developed “The Plan”, one that was based on the successes and failures I’ve had at a multitude of other events.

And the best part was – it worked!

Now at this point you may be think I’m a bit smug. But the key thing you need to know about that statement is…

The only reason I know that the steps in this plan work is because I personally have fucked up every single one of them. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. 

And not even in the distant past – I’ve made rookie errors as recently as a couple of months ago. 

But since I did manage to pull it off once I thought I’d share “The Plan” with you so you can use it to get the best out of the next event you go to. 

The Plan

Step 1: Determine the “shit-fight” factor

The title pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this step. Basically, take the time at some point prior to the event and is a basic assessment of how much of a shit-fight you are going to encounter getting to and during the event.  

Things to think about when trying to determine the shit-fight factor of the event you’re attending include;

  • Is the event you’re going to being heavily advertised?
  • Is it getting a lot of coverage in the media (both social and traditional)?
  • Is it a once-off, extremely rare or extremely niche event?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes then you are probably looking at at least a moderate to high level of potential shit-fight, so make sure you plan accordingly. 

Step 2: Select your strategy

The next thing you need to do is select one of two strategies. Yes there are only two. They are… 

1. Go Early

To clarify going early does not mean arriving at your destination 5 mins prior to the start. Big events generally mean a line to get in once you arrive so what the “going early” strategy really means is traveling, parking and then arriving at your destination up to 30 minutes before the official start time.

I’m aware this sounds nuts but by employing this strategy you are actually making a conscious decision to do your waiting before the event so you can enjoy it as much as possible once you’re inside. 

2. Go Late

Again this one sounds nuts but it isn’t. What you’re doing is making a conscious decision to potentially sacrifice the amount of time you get to experience the event in exchange for a more comfortable experience once the lines have dissipated. 

Which strategy you choose will depend on your personal circumstances, but I personally tend to lean towards Go Early. Some things to consider when making your decision include…

  • Have you paid to go to this event?
  • Do you have children with you.
  • Is this a food based event?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes then a Go Early strategy is probably best. If you’re a little more at leisure and it’s a free event then Go Late could work for you instead. 

Step 3: Event day prep 

Once you’ve chosen your strategy it’s time to prep. 

Plan your schedule 

If you’re aiming to be at the venue 30 minutes or an hour prior to opening work back from there and plan when you need to leave home.

Plan your travel 

Not just how you’ll get there but also parking and any further walking you’ll have to do. I screwed this one up big time recently and ended up walking 2 km in my highest heels on gravel to get from Eat Street Markets to Hamilton Wharf to see Cirque du Soleil.

Blisters for days after that my friends. Blisters for fucking DAYS! 

Have you eaten?

Again this one may sound counter intuitive if your heading to a food event. But what you don’t want to do is get to the point where you’re “hangry”. There’s a reason this word has quickly become part of our modern language and that’s because it speaks to the immutable truth that there’s a foul-mouthed Betty White from the Snickers ad that lives inside all of us when we get hungry.

So if you’re heading to a mid-afternoon food truck event have late brekky or mid morning snack to keep you going. If you’re going for dinner have a late-ish lunch to see you through. Simple stuff but critically important because if you cross the line into hangry territory you are almost guaranteed to have a crappy time at whatever event you’re attending. 

Get cash before you go

Many vendors at events have EFTPOS facilities these days but there are still those stubborn hold-outs that don’t. So it’s best to make sure you get some readies from an ATM affiliated with your financial institution BEFORE you go. Otherwise you’ll pay top dollar for cash at a privately owned ATM.

Like I did at the Abbey Medieval festival last year. Lack of planning meant I ended up getting two lots of cash out at the princely sum of $3.50 per transaction, paying a whopping $7.00 just to access my own money. Even the Sheriff of Nottingham would be impressed with that kind of profit-making scheme.

A word about children…

As you will have noted from the pictures in this post I have three children, aged 7, 10 and 12 years. They love going to events and I love taking them. But the key thing to note is their ages. They are old enough (just) to understand delayed gratification – in other words if they can put up with the lines and other frustrating things it will be worth it.

Kids under six have really struggle with this concept. They also have small tummies that need filling often, short squishy legs that tire easily, a low tolerance for crowds, and an even lower tolerance for standing around in queues.

I can’t say I blame them – it can’t be fun when your head is basically at the same height as the buttocks of all the grown ups around you. 

So depending on the event it’s probably worth thinking about whether it’s something they will really enjoy. Because there is one thing I can tell you for certain – if you have a miserable toddler at an event then you will DEFINITELY not have a good time. 

So the upshot is if you’re going to take them then you REALLY want to make sure you’ve followed The Plan and that your pre-event prep is rock solid. 

So that’s The Plan, and I hope it helps you get the most out of the future Brisbane events you go to!

I’m not saying it’s perfect – but then very little in life is! Also if there are really serious flaws in the basic organisation and planning of an event it won’t entirely make up for that either. 

But what it can do is help you get the most of of the experiences you have at big events, and at the very least that has to be worth a crack right?

Rachel – Ed. xx

Rachel - Ed

About Rachel

Thirty-something Brisbane lover, trying to find the balance between FOMO and YOLO. Semi-retired party girl who loves planning itineraries for big nights out. Often found dragging 3 boys around your local farmers markets or attempting to sneak out for dinner with my husband, The Chef.

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2 Responses to “How beat the crowds, save your sanity and get the most out of Brisbane Events”

  1. I *hate* crowds. Really hate. It has to be something I like for me to go. I am a HUGE go early fan – it lets me wander somewhat without a crowd to see if what I wanted to see looks worth it IRL or if I need to change plans. I also always keep food and water on me.

    • Rachel - Ed
      Rachel - Ed Reply

      Yeah I must say going early is my preferred strategy. I don’t mid the crowd so much but I do like to be able to wander around and get the lay of the land before it all fills up with people!

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