Hangout Fest plans begin in Gulf Shores

Government Editor
Posted 3/1/23

GULF SHORES — Organizers are preparing for the start of the 2023 Hangout Music Festival set for May on the Gulf Shores boardwalk.The Gulf Shores City Council was scheduled to vote Monday, Feb. …

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Hangout Fest plans begin in Gulf Shores


GULF SHORES — Organizers are preparing for the start of the 2023 Hangout Music Festival set for May on the Gulf Shores boardwalk.

The Gulf Shores City Council was scheduled to vote Monday, Feb. 27, to approve an assembly permit for the four-day festival.

Grant Brown, city recreation and cultural affairs director, said the festival is tentatively set to kick off at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 18 and continue through Sunday, May 21.

Mayor Robert Craft said the city will continue to work with organizers to put on the festival.

"Every year since 2010 this has happened," Craft said. "We have modified and grown and shrunk and done everything we could to work together to get to this point, so this isn't our first rodeo so to speak, but we've made improvements as necessary with cooperation from the Hangout and we're back again this year."

"We're excited about the opportunity to do this one more time and see how it goes," he added.

Brown said organizers do not plan any major changes to the layout of the event.

"The stages are in the same location as they were in 2022 and everything else pretty much remains the same," Brown said.

He said the first acts are now planned to begin performing at 5 p.m. on May 18 and continue through 11 p.m. that night. The festival will continue from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. for the following three days.

Brown said the sound systems will be set up to keep as much noise as possible from going out to surrounding neighborhoods.

"The festival professionally contracted sound companies to help control noise and vibration," Brown said. "They implemented different processes last year. It helps direct sound south to the water, so it doesn't spill out into the neighborhoods. Try to reduce the impact to the local areas and amplified sound ceases each night at 11 o'clock."

He said organizers are also setting up an ambassador program to allow residents to contact people with questions or concerns. Contact notices will be sent to local residents before the festival.

The festival has a capacity of 40,000. Brown said current site plans have helped improve the movement of people around the event.

"Site changes that were implemented in the past have really improved the crowd flow and alleviated a lot of the congestion periods during heavy crowd movement," Brown said.

He said a shuttle program will be in place again to allow festival participants to get to the site and leave after they are done.

The assembly permit will allow work on the site from May 1 through May 25. Brown said most work will not begin until after the National Beach Volleyball Championship Tournament concludes, which will have events on nearby beaches.

"When the beach volleyball is finished cleaning up and moving out, that's when the music festival will begin building the cabanas at the West End and putting in their large restaurant tents at West Gulf Place parking lot and then start the building of the main stage on the west end of the beach," Brown said.

He said current plans call for the area around The Hangout to be closed May 10 to allow stage construction to begin. The public beach area will be closed from May 15 to May 25.

During a council work session discussion of the event, Councilman Steve Jones said the only complaints he received about past festivals concerned crowds during bad weather.

"There was some inclement weather last time and the site had to be evacuated and there were a number of residents in the area that wound up with a lot of goers just underneath their homes," Jones said. "I don't know if there's a way to plan for something like that where if they're told to leave the site, they're not told where they can go to seek shelter. If there's a way to mitigate or give them information, tell them don't go under people's houses, go to Surf Style, go inside Dollar General, I don't know."