min read

Gen Z Events: The Generation Redefining Festival Culture

Written by
Izzy Hall
Published on
June 21, 2023
Last updated
January 18, 2024

What this article covers

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Festivals and events have long been a favourable spring and summer activity amongst Gen Z. They offer a chance for young people to get together, relax and party, and offer brands the chance to get on their radar and win their loyalty - everyone's a winner!

Voxburner, the Student Beans insights agency, recently revealed that 44% of Gen Zers from the UK and 41% from the US expect to spend money on entertainment this summer. 25% from the UK and 24% from the US are planning on attending a music festival, with 19% and 30% from the UK and US respectively saying they might do.

So what's the attraction, and how can youth marketers get involved? In this blog post, we'll be looking at the face of festivals and Generation Z events, exploring how this sector is developing, and sharing how brands tap up these young partygoers

The changing culture of Gen Z festivals and events

Traditionally (and perhaps stereotypically), festivals have been the place for young people to embrace their freedom and party with friends, with the latter fuelled by alcohol and drugs. However, Gen Z isn't any old generation - this young cohort has previously been dubbed 'generation sensible' and isn't prioritising the party lifestyle that previous generations may have embraced.

Three students sat down facing a stage

Voxburner's research shows that 27% of Gen Zers from the UK and just 17% from the US plan on consuming alcohol and/or drugs at a festival this year, whilst a significant 60% (65% from the US) responded with a firm 'no'. In fact, only 5% of Gen Z are most excited about drinking when they get to a festival. Whether it's due to their health-conscious attitudes, advocacy for mental health awareness, or simple fear for their safety (just look to recent incidents at Brixton Academy and Astroworld), Gen Zers are less inclined to take part in drinking culture.

So, after years of lockdowns and social restrictions, is Gen Z rejecting expectations and embracing experiences...?

The new wave of festivals: What does Gen Z want?

As we've previously discussed at Student Beans, this generation is one which understands the importance of connection and wants to authentically engage with other people their age and/or those with shared interests.

When asked 'What are you most excited for about attending a festival?', the most popular answer across both the UK and US Gen Zers was 'hanging out with friends', with 43% and 50% respectively choosing this option. Not only does this change the way they approach festivals and events, but it also diversifies the types of festivals and events they are interested in attending.

young Gen Z woman on someones shoulders at a music festival

Festivals that tap into a range of their interests are increasingly becoming a popular choice for young people. Things like ComicCon, food festivals, film/TV conventions, and influencer-run events appeal to Gen Z because they're a chance to have conversations with others who share the same interests. Contrary to popular belief, 62% of students attend conventions and conferences, so don't neglect these types of events when conducting your student marketing strategy.

What are the Gen Z music festivals of summer 2023?

So, what are the music festivals that Gen Zers will be heading to this summer? Here’s a round-up below:

  • Glastonbury Festival
    The festival of legends. Headliners include Lizzo, Arctic Monkeys, and Lil Nas X. 
    21 - 26th June, Glastonbury (UK)
  • Rolling Loud
    The largest hip-hop festival in the world. 
    21 - 23rd July, Miami (US)
  • Kendal Calling
    A star-studded lineup hosted in one of the most scenic areas of the UK. 
    27 - 30th July, Penrith (UK)
  • Lollapalooza
    Shot to fame last year thanks to Joseph Quinn (Eddie in Stranger Things) appearing onstage with Metallica. 
    3 - 6th August, Chicago (US)
  • Creamfields North 
    Featuring huge Gen Z names such as Calvin Harris, Peggy Gou, and Camelphat. 
    24 - 27th August, Chesire (UK)
  • Leeds Festival
    Every young person’s favourite celebration to the end of the academic year.
    25 - 27th August, Leeds (UK)
  • Reading Festival
    Starring Sam Fender, Billie Eilish, and Wet Leg.
    25 - 27th August. Reading (UK)
Glastonbury music festival

How can brands get involved? 

Festivals and events are a great platform for brands to market themselves. Becoming an event sponsor, securing a stand at a festival, or providing goodie bags at an event are all great opportunities for brands to increase their exposure to Gen Z consumers.

For organisers, offering a student discount is an effective way to draw students in. In fact, a significant 86% said they would attend events more often if there were more student discounts offered.

The appeal of events is only growing amongst Gen Zers, and they can't wait to spend time with their nearest and dearest whilst forming relationships over shared interests. And with so much demand for a summer of sun, spending, and fun, the right incentives are a sure way to help students decide where their brand loyalties lie.

Want to know more about Gen Z and events? Subscribe to Voxburner+ and access bespoke research to help you tailor your offering and better engage with young people.

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