As anyone who visited in 2023 will know, our baby MAD//Fest has gotten kinda big, attracting top tier brand and agency leaders from across the globe. Here’s a quick video if you missed it. 

On one hand, this is a fantastic story that finally gives London the destination marketing and advertising festival its global importance deserves. It shows the enthusiasm of people to get out there, meet in-person, build relationships, explore ideas, discover innovation, and generally feel a greater connection to what they do.

On the other hand - and being totally frank - the demand to accommodate so many brands provided some growing pains in 2023 in the shape of queues. Now let’s be honest, even though we’re British, spending too much time in a queue sucks.

That’s why in 2024 we’re taking a number of steps to increase capacity, better manage daily attendance, and deliver an even more ambitious festival experience. Here’s a heads up on some of the things we’re putting in place:

1. We’re getting a bigger boat!

Don’t worry, we’re not planning some kind of cruise ship experience down the Thames. We'll be back at The Old Truman Brewery in 2024. But there’s a twist…

We are taking a much larger space to create a connected festival experience across the Old Truman Brewery site. In addition to the footprint you saw in 2023, we’re expanding the festival by adding Dray Walk (where the Big Chill Bar is!) to the floor plan and building a brand new stadium-style simultaneous main stage and town square in Ely’s Yard (more on this below). 

The enlarged space will not only increase capacity - it will also enable us to feature more topical theatres, activations, networking areas, relaxation spaces, and an after dark programme so you can continue networking and having fun long into the evening!

2. Simultaneous Hexagon Stages - that’s right, MAD//Fest London 2024 will feature dual main stages that will bring together the industry’s most exciting brands, disruptors, celebrity entrepreneurs and agency bigwigs to create an innovative hybrid experience across two massive theatres. The two stages will work hand-in-hand, sharing the action, and making all of our big stage content available to the masses through an innovative hybrid setup.

3. Central registration area

The additional space we’ve acquired for the first time gives us the opportunity to create a central registration area where we can get you badged-up and into the show much faster. The space means we can triple the number of self service printers. This means no more bottlenecks getting into the show and vastly reduced queues. The functional beauty of this new space is that the Central Registration area is, as it sounds, very central. Exit to the north and you have direct access to everything you saw in 2023. Exit to the south and you’ll be immediately transported to the cool new things happening on Dray Walk and Ely’s Yard.

4. Day tickets

In 2024, we’ll be asking attendees to register for individual days and re-confirm their place (just like you’d do for a restaurant reservation on an app like OpenTable). This will mean we can more accurately manage daily attendance across the three days whilst ensuring the festival is accessible to as many industry leaders as possible. 

We always said that our aim was to disrupt the event industry with an invite-only ‘audience first’ approach. Introducing day tickets means we can continue this ethos rather than introduce a fully paid ticket or free-to-attend expo-style model, both of which would inevitably lead to there being fewer top tier brands and agencies. 

5. More food vendors, food/drink partnerships and digital tokens

When you’re serving up on-the-house food and drink from brands of the calibre of Dishoom, Sticks ‘N’ Sushi and Heineken, it’s always going to be popular. But the new enlarged footprint of the show means that we can add several new service points where you can get food or your favourite tipple fast. 

One of the things we didn’t envision when we set up MAD//Fest was the fact that there would be so many food and drinks brands looking to partner with us and get their products out to the masses. More space means that we can accommodate more brand partners and expand a diverse offer for your delectation. 

You’ll also see digital tokens on the app which means we can feed everyone much faster and stop queues forming as a result of people getting a bit excited and ordering like they’re visiting an all-you-can-eat buffet!

6. New stages, bigger capacities, more topical conversations

Including the aforementioned simultaneous Hexagon Stages, MAD//Fest 2024 will feature 9 (yes 9!) topical stages for you to immerse yourself in the most relevant content to your role and interests. From the creator economy, AI and emerging tech to creativity, attention and digital advertising, we’ve got the hot issues covered (click here for the full list).

7. And relax…more spaces for you to take a breather

MAD//Fest will always be a busy, vibey show (it’s a festival rather than a boring conference!) But one thing we’re able to do with the new space is to create more spaces where you can take a break, catch up on a few emails, and sit down somewhere comfortable for a relaxed conversation away from all the hubbub. Our new MAD//Chill spaces will be an oasis of calm for tired feet and people who want to attend the festival whilst making sure everything is tickety-boo back at the office.

As MAD//Fest grows from being a plucky challenger to a show that’s firmly in the diary of and trusted by industry leaders across the globe, as a founder-owned business, we think it’s important to share how we’re managing this growth and making the festival experience more enjoyable, entertaining and enlightening.

We hope you’re excited by our plans to expand the festival as much as we are and look forward to seeing you on 2-4 July 2024…look out for our event theme announcement in the next couple of weeks!