DIY Festivals: The World In Your Backyard

Article by: Chip Conley|@ChipConley

Tue November 05, 2013 | 00:00 AM

You don’t have to travel halfway around the world to be culturally curious or experience a festival. Luckily, I live in a city with no shortage of neighborhood festivals. And in San Francisco, one of the year’s highlights is the Mission’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration on November 2nd.

My Fest300 team a la Dia de los Muertos

The Fest300 team a la Dia de los Muertos

This year, instead of simply heading over after dark to watch the procession of tens of thousands of skull-painted faces honoring the dead, we held an intimate pre-festival party in my backyard first. We invited about 50 folks from the Fest300 community to come over, connect, and get painted!

With the help of the talented Air Bené, we were all transformed into the living dead for one night. And we shared in the collective effervescence of the kind of group experience we’re cultivating…the “in real life” joy of meeting friends, old and new, in celebration.


Whether it’s face painting before Day of the Dead or beer tasting before a local Oktoberfest celebration, invite your friends — and their friends — over for a pre-party that gets everyone into the mood and theme.


Learn about a festival in the world you’ve always wanted to go to: Carnival, Mardi Gras, Diwali, Burning Man. Then find out if there’s a local version of the festival and, if so, start planning your themed event at home. You can use social media and Meet-Up like we did to invite like-minded souls to gather ahead of time, then head over to the local festival as a group. It’s easy, fun, and a great way to create community.