The Mighty Coe

An on-snow ski and snowboarding festival for backcountry exploration fans.

The Mighty CoeHeld at the Glencoe Mountain Resort, The Mighty Coe’s format was a UK first. We talk to organiser Neil Dalgleish (experienced mountain bike festival organiser from Hillside Outside) and production partner Jamie Fallen (Event Production Group) about creating a start-up event in the snow.

The Mighty Coe FestivalDescribe your event and how many people it attracts?
Neil: The Mighty Coe is the UK’s first on-snow ski and snowboard festival. It offers participants the opportunity to try new kit, see next year’s gear and learn new skills. It has a focus on backcountry exploration, which took off during lockdown, giving people an insight into what’s involved to make the most of Scotland’s amazing winter mountains.

The venue limits are around 1,000 per day, plus 250 on film/party night.

Explain a bit about your venue
Neil: Glencoe Mountain Resort is Scotland’s oldest ski centre (1954). I am a part time resident in Glencoe and have loved the whole area for a long time. The ski area has the most exciting lift-served terrain in Scotland.

The Mighty Coe festivalWhat made you decide to run the festival?
Neil: This was the first year. We had the idea while on backcountry ski mission during lockdown. We at Hillside Outside already run one of the UK’s biggest mountain bike and cycling festivals, and realised there was nothing similar for snowsports. We did some research and realised there was enthusiasm in the industry and among the public for something like this.

How does the relationship work with the venue you hold the event at?
Neil: This event was always going to have to be a partnership as its success is totally dependent on the co-operation of the venue, for use of its facilities and operational staff.

The Mighty Coe FestivalJamie: Working with the Glencoe Mountain team had to be hugely collaborative; we had no idea how snow over winter would change the natural shape and layout of the site and they very much did! There was no way we could get the required level of equipment to the top of the mountain if we didn’t work together.

How is your relationship with the local authority and community?
Neil: The local authority signed off safety and licencing permissions etc. and we had a series of meetings with its events group and safety advisory group. The local community is largely tourism-centric and we provided a welcome visitor and publicity boost in the winter season.

The Mighty Coe FestivalWhat entertainment did you offer?
Neil: We offered films, DJs and an afterparty. We sourced everything through snow industry partners and our own contacts.

Jamie: The in-house DJ looked after the entertainment for the weekend but we had to ensure that we could handle all of the possible technical requirements while still packing extremely light.

The Mighty Coe FestivalHow did you publicise the event?
Neil: Mostly through social media – it’s a fairly specialist market for this event. Authenticity is everything as we’re marketing to and providing an event for a tribe who love their particular sport, its values and style.

Did you make any money?
Neil: Year one – no profit expected nor delivered! But it worked very well; we’ve learned a great deal about venue choice, programming and partnerships. Next year will be a little different, but it should also be bigger and more profitable.

The Mighty Coe FestivalHow did you plan the layout and what structures did you use?
Jamie: We began by meeting on the mountain last autumn to plan a site layout and to see what was physically possible to build in such a remote location.

We planned the site with what we all agreed was the best guess at how deep the snow would be. Ironically, the more snow we had the more space would be available (once it was shaped and groomed).

The Mighty Coe FestivalWe used in-house rental assets to create a stage as a focal point and a bar/merch structure was also used as the base of operations. We clad the front of the bar structure with scrap cladding sourced locally to Glencoe to reduce transport. The cladding has since been recycled by community groups based near our HQ.

Lastly, we used recycled printed air mesh to brand a pyramid structure, which made for a great Instagram moment over the weekend.

The Mighty Coe FestivalHow did you work with creatives to make these spaces work?
Jamie: We worked with Hillside Agency to design the branding for the pyramid and the DJ stage. All the branding can either be recycled or re-wrapped for a future event, nothing needs to go to landfill.

How did you manage the festival infrastructure?
Jamie: We knew anything that went up the mountain would need to be small enough to go on the chairlift if the snow prevented vehicles making it to the top, therefore nothing went that wasn’t absolutely required. We made use of battery equipment which we could charge overnight at the main festival site and used ground anchors to secure structures where we might usually use water or concrete.

We worked with sponsors Salomon and The North Face to ensure we made provision for the structures they brought.

 The Mighty Coe FestivalWhat provisions did you make for power, lights and sound?
Jamie: We wanted to avoid the environmental impact of using generators so worked with Glencoe Mountain Resort to have a three phase power supply installed close to the main site. Being able to easily bury cables in the snow was a great alternative to cable ramp.

We tied three PA systems together so we had site wide control from a central point but could also run them as separate systems when required.

How did you manage admissions?
Jamie: Admission was included in the price of a lift pass so we could run a totally open layout with no restrictions on accessing the main festival area.

The Mighty Coe FestivalTell us about any logistical challenges
Jamie: The access road to the top of the main chairlift was slightly more challenging than we had experienced before winter. We had two 4x4s on standby to tow trailers loaded with vendors’ equipment and tow out any stuck vehicles. Being split over multiple sites on the mountain meant we could pack for each site individually then use smaller vehicles to deliver the equipment directly.

The Mighty Coe FestivalAny special team members you’d like to mention?
Jamie: I’d love to mention Ross who built all the cladding for the bar onsite, as well as being our medical cover for the build and break.

What are the plans for next year?
Neil: To build on this year and find ways to make the event more commercial – the social side is probably most important for this. We’ll also obviously make sure the venue is prepped and ready for any changes we make.

Jamie: We would love to help Hillside Outside build on the success of the last event. The style of The Mighty Coe has huge potential!

The Mighty Coe Festival


Hillside Outside

Event Production Group

Hillside Agency

The Mighty Coe Festival

The Mighty Coe
Glencoe Mountain Resort
Argyll PH49 4HZ

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