How to Choose a Stage For Your Outdoor Event

Vancouver Festival Stage

Are you planning an outdoor event and looking for a stage? We’ve put this article together to help guide you through the most important factors that should be considered while selecting a stage and a stage provider.

Vancouver DJ Festival

Stage Size

There are several important factors in deciding on the size of stage for your outdoor event. Many event organizers simply want the biggest and best, while other organizers need a stage to fit in a tight space, or appear to fit with the scale of it’s surroundings.

The size of the stage will change if you are having a DJ performance, band concert, yoga festival, or if you are just using the stage to kickoff  a community fun run/race. If you are having a large band, group of presenters, or an entertainment group that requires space (dance, etc), you will need a large stage surface.

Ask yourself two questions:

  1. How much space do I require?
  2. How big do I want the stage to appear in its environment?

You may want to the stage to look very large, but do not need much stage space. If this is the case, we can build structures that are very large in appearance and fill the space with banners, graphics, and screens. We can also make the stage very wide (left to right as you look at it), but not very deep (from front to back).

Squamish Production Company

To cover, or not to cover your stage

This one is fairly obvious. Do you plan on being ready for all types of weather? Outdoor events have a lot of variables and covering your stage is a great way to make sure that you’re ready for rain.

Unfortunately we’ve seen events where the client wanted to go with a basic outdoor stage, only to have their event rained out and presenters soaked. At the very least, consider adding a portable tent to your stage to protect yourself from the elements.

There are other benefits such as providing a structure for light & sound, but we’ll get to that further down.

Environment, Terrain, & Obstacles

Every outdoor event brings its own challenges. One of the biggest challenges is dealing with natural terrain and obstacles. Most of these can be covered with a single site visit before the event. Here are some things that you should be looking for and be aware of.

  1. Level ground
  2. Trees, lamp posts, and other immovable objects
  3. Firelanes and pedestrian paths
  4. Access for trucks to load equipment/staging in.

Engineering & Wind Rating

Stageline SL100This is a major factor that should influence who you select to provide the stage at your outdoor event. Unfortunately we’ve seen many self-built stages around Vancouver and surrounding areas that are essentially held together with gravity, zip ties, and ratchet straps. None of these self-built solutions are rated for a dynamic load (aka wind).

Any stage provider should be able to send you engineered drawings stamped by an engineer from the Province/State that your event is being held. If they cannot produce stamped, engineered drawings they should immediately be excluded as a potential stage provider. Yes, they will be less expensive – But at what cost?

In terms of wind rating, it’s a good idea to be rated for 60+ MPH. At 30-40 MPH winds, the event attendees will start noticeably feeling uncomfortable, and you need to start thinking about cancelling or delaying your event when winds reach 50MPH for the sake of safety. There should be a pre-defined chain of command and a clear communication plan in the unlikely event of bad weather.

Sadly, there has been a string of stage collapses across the world in Indianapolis,  China,  Indiana, Ottawa, Oklahoma, Toronto, France, Atlantic City, Belgum, and in our own back yard at a church in Abbotsford. Tragically, most of these stage collapses could have been prevented by knowing the rating these stages and have resulted in unnecessary loss of life.

Stage lights at a concert

Bells & Whistles

With an engineered outdoor stage, you are afforded the luxury of being able to “fly” your lighting and sound equipment. This will provide you with all of the benefits of an indoor concert, but in the outdoor setting that you choose.

What does this mean?

At Kettner Creative, we feel very accountable and responsible for the equipment that we recommend to clients. This is why we offer a pre-engineered solution like the SL100 Outdoor Stage which has a 80MPH wind rating and is certified to operate in any North American district.

Our outdoor stages are always accompanied by a certified technician for the operating hours of your event. Our technicians are trained and certified to know the safe operating conditions of each stage that we provide (environment, wind, weight/load, rigging, deployment, etc).

For more information, please use the contact form on the right to contact us. One of our account managers would be happy to recommend a stage that fits your needs.