How to organise a street food festival

How to organise a street food festival

Street food festivals are a great way to bring a host of people together with one common shared passion, food and drink. Street food festivals have become even more popular over the recent years with people’s ever-growing love of new, tasty, good food served in alternative urban environments. 

To organise a street food festival, first plan all of your logistics (particularly road closures), set your budget, find your traders, plan the marketing and ensure you have all of the relevant paperwork in place.

So, what is the difference between a food festival and a street food festival? Although in principle they are exactly the same, it comes down to location and style of food. Street food suggests being served on a street (but not always) and the style of food tends to be takeaway style and more artisan.

Due to the nature of the event often being outdoors in public space e.g. roads, pedestrian walkways etc., there are a host of differences when it comes to planning, managing, and organising a street food festival to ensure it can go ahead safely.

You will find another article here that I have written on how to organise a food festival. This will be more generic for when you are looking to host a food festival at a more conventional venue.

Although I have touched on marketing, budgets, and general organisational tips this other article will give you a greater depth of information. This blog post will focus more so on the key logistics in getting a street food festival up and running on roads which are typically used daily by vehicles and pedestrians.

Step 1: Planning and logistics for a Street Food Festival

Typically, street food festivals are held in public venues/spaces and in some cases roads. Although they are unique and often have high footfall passing the location, the organisation becomes a little more complex. 

When starting to plan, have a think about the following key things to help you:

  • Will you need to close roads and or divert traffic to activate your event?
  • Traffic management plan
    • How will you protect participants from live traffic and other dangers for the whole of your event?
  • Will your event interrupt any public transport e.g. buses, trams, trains etc.?
    • If so, you will need to contact these services
  • Do you need the Police to provide traffic management e.g. stopping traffic?
    • If so, do you have funding to cover this?
  • Contact emergency services for support on the event day(s)
  • Event insurance (Public liability)
  • Have you spoken to residents/businesses to gauge their opinion/how they could benefit?

Find your location

I have seen some amazing street food festivals set off quieter streets (that typically have little traffic) or even in pedestrian areas in city centres. 

These are great locations in terms of footfall and add a little quirky edge to your location – not your run of the mill place!

There are some things that prevent you from obtaining permission to use roads/public space that needs to be closed these include:

  • If it’s a main commuter route
  • If it’s already being used as a diversion route due to other events and/or work
  • If it would prevent emergency services from gaining access to stations, depots, other key roads or local businesses.

Make contact with the local authorities

Once you have decided on a location, it would be advantageous to start contacting local bodies (council, emergency services etc.) to even see if you can get permission for your event to go ahead

You will need to give details similar to the information included below in your traffic regulation order. Once you have done this you may get further questions, or just an acknowledgement, to show they have received and agree to your event taking place. 

Top tip: You will need to leave plenty of time to contact the council and emergency services with your plans (at least 3 months) as not only does it take time to put plans in place, but details will need to be published in newspapers and transport links will need to plan if they are going to be affected.

To obtain permission you will also need to submit a temporary traffic regulation order to the local councils traffic management team if you plan to close the road for any period of time. This should include the following:

  • Organiser name and contact details
  • Event details, programme of the event, the expected number of attendees, size of site needed
  • Proposed location/venue (helpful to attach a map to prevent any confusion)
  • Event date(s)
  • Road(s) that will be affected and for how long
  • Plan for road closure signing and implementing
  • A description of alternative routes
  • Insurance details (public liability)
  • Risk and method statements that covers the below (plus anything else you feel relevant to your specific event)
    • Crowd control
    • Application and removal of traffic management controls
    • Erection and dismantling of any structures/stands
    • Emergency vehicle access
    • Disabled access
    • First aid
    • Fire safety (due to the nature of cooking food)

Top tip: You will need to provide all the necessary signs, cones and barriers in order to close the road to traffic and/or pedestrians. The traffic team will be able to help advise on what you need and there are numerous specialist contractors that will be able to help you with this. 

Will I need emergency services on site?

As mentioned above you need to give the emergency services a heads up. They will attend your event if there is an emergency however, if you would like police officers on-site to help manage traffic, this will come at a cost.

If you don’t have a trained and confident first aider, it is worth paying to have an external first-aid organisation like St. John’s Ambulance representative at your event to step in if there are any medical emergencies. You can work out how much first you will need using our first-aid calculator.

Step 2: Budget; so what will I need to pay for?

You will need to allocate money for the following:

  • Charge for hire of land/space
  • Temporary event notice cost
  • Traffic management specialist
  • Waste management
  • First aid provider (if you don’t have qualified first aiders on site)
  • Charge for preparation and advertisement of any temporary traffic closures or changes/suspensions.
  • Any additional Police Officers that you want to help with road closures or crowd management
  • Insurance 

Each council’s costs will differ when it comes to using space e.g. roads. Previous experience has put site space anywhere between £500 and £2,500 depending on scale, number of road closures needed and popularity of location.

This then will obviously go up depending on how many days you plan for your street food festival to take place.

What facilities will I need?


Due to the nature of the venue being on a road or public space, this often lends itself to needing toilets installed. The number of these can be relative to the number expected to attend and/or the distance to any public toilets.

Although the number of toilets vs people isn’t a requirement, there is nothing worse than long queues for a toilet at an event so the more you can accommodate the better.

As a rule of thumb, I have added the below table to give you a rough guide when planning:

Events less than 6 hrsEvents more than 6 hrs
Females1 toilet per 120 1 toilet per 100 
Males1 toilet per 600 + 1 urinal1 toilet per 500 + 1 urinal
Disabilities1 disabled toilet2 disabled toilets


You will have one of two options when it comes to supplying power for the site. Your local council will be able to guide you through/work with you on this one. Your first option is to use a power source from the surrounding area and run extension cables to your site.

This is on the basis the council have a power source close to your site and isn’t so far away that you have to have lots of unsightly and potentially dangerous cables. Your second option is to use generators. These then can be positioned within your site in a chosen safe place.

You will need permission from the local council to use them and will need to be safely cornered off as well as monitored regularly throughout the event.


When serving certain food and drinks hand washing facilities or cleaning facilities will need to be made available. Again, you will have two options which the council should be able to advise you on.

You will either be able to hook up to a mains water source (depending on the location of your chosen site) or get water tanks with fresh water in to connect to street food traders.

Sometimes your traders will come equipped with water tanks for their specific needs, so definitely make this a topic of conversation when booking in your street food traders

One thing to note is both water and power will come at a cost. Don’t be afraid to pass on some of that cost to your street food traders (write this into a contract) as they will typically be the ones who are consuming these resources the most.


Being an open event (in public space) it makes it a lot harder to secure off your event site especially when you are loading in and out the various stallholders, toilets, any seating etc.

Not only does this add an extra layer of risk to any passers-by but also is a security risk if anyone were to pass and either damage or steal anything from you and/or your vendors. This is mind, from experience, it’s advisable that you have some simple tape and/or post and rope in order to corner off areas.

Accompanying this it’s good to have some security guards. Not only can they protect the site but also direct people away from danger. Security is something you then may want to keep on, instead of using police etc. to ensure the site is safe. They are also typically cheaper than the police too!

Step 3: Find your traders

Finding traders isn’t actually as hard as you think. Most of the good traders will have a good web presence and on social media, allowing you to easily contact them. If you run repeat events you will usually find that they approach you. 

The key is finding the right balance of traders for the event you want to hold. You should give some serious thought to the type of people who will attend your street food festival, what traders can you put in that will offer a wow factor. 

Start your search at

Remember, people love unique experiences.

Step 4: Plan your Marketing

The marketing tools you use predominantly will need to be tailored to your target audience and how they best consume advertising and find out information. Below I have highlighted a few key ways to help market your event.

Social media is such a valuable and cost-effective resource when marketing an event. The power of Facebook and other social channels can help reach volume both by consumer shares and paid for adverts. 

Partnerships are a great way to get marketing out there. For example, partnering with a well-established company will help give you further marketing reach and further event credibility helping to entice more people in. 

PR – have an event stand out element. This could be as simple as trying to set a small world record and inviting the local newspapers down to getting a minor celebrity on board to be a special guest. 


Starting your planning with a budget is paramount. Setting out your outgoings, income and projected profit will give you a clear oversight from the start as to what you can and can’t afford. This also will help to highlight where you could most use sponsorships, partnerships, or donations.

When budgeting don’t forget there are a few ways to generate income. These include some of the following:

  • Stallholder fee
  • Ticket/entry fee
  • Partnerships & Sponsors
  • % cut of stallholder’s profit

You then have the option to either charge an entry fee or let people come and go for free. Although a paid-for ticket definitely has its place boosting income and helping to predict attendee numbers, from experience, due to the nature of street food festivals often being in open roads/public spaces, it makes it very difficult to fence off/police a ticketed system. 

Step 5: Paperwork to consider

Alongside your  temporary  traffic regulation order, that you will need to submit to gain permissions before even planning the event, you will also legally need the following to ensure your street food festival is as safe as possible.

Pre-event paperwork

Risk assessments and safety are a major consideration especially when you are opening up to the public. Correctly identifying, assessing, and mitigating or reducing any potential risks is key both when setting up the event but also during and after. 

Safety and risk assessments can seem a daunting thing. However, there is plenty of guidance and ways to educate yourself on this to equip you. A great starting place or even a refresher is here. *please note this is for UK event safety and not necessarily correct worldwide.

Public Liability (PLI) is an essential cover that you will need. Think of it as an insurance policy for your event if damage or injury were to take place on-site. Your stallholders will have cover of their own (it’s good practice to ask for a copy of this).

In regards to cover for the event as a whole, this will either need to come from you (the event organiser) or the venue where the event is taking place, depending on who owns it. 

Food Safety is an essential check. All stallholders by law have to hold health and safety, food hygiene and licensing documentation from the Food Standards Agency. It is good practice to obtain a copy of this when confirming their place at your event. Every food business in the UK should have a star rating from 0 to 5.

There are also a series of food safety rules and regulations that your stallholders need to abide by. They should know these already as they are regularly selling food, however, it’s good to know these to ensure that they are following these rules.

A good place to find these is on the Food Standards Agency website.

Post-event steps

Finally, always do some form of evaluation. Seek 360 feedback from your attendees, your traders, and suppliers. In some cases, it can feel like ripping off the plaster when you gain any bad or constructive criticism after working for months on your event, but it will continue to help you progress and grow as an event and professional. 

Feed this feedback into future events!


To sum up, although planning a street food festival has many similarities to a general food festival, there are some key differences when it comes to securing a location/venue due to the nature of street food typically being held on active roads/pedestrian areas. 

Leaving plenty of time to plan will really work in your favour, especially as there are quite a few more stakeholders that will need to be part of the event in order to get it off the ground. Councils, emergency services and traffic management will all be a pivotal part in your event and will need to be included in the planning of your street food festival from the off.

Another significant document you will need to include is your temporary traffic regulation order to ensure you can get access to roads and/or pedestrian areas for your event. Remember, when filling out that document, the more information you can add the more chance you have of getting the site you desire.

A lot of the other planning involved in organising a street food festival is very similar to any other events when it comes to marketing, staffing, budgets etc. so is very transferable.

References and Useful resources (UK only):

The Purple Guide (Health and Safety)

Food Standards Agency

The Nationwide Caterers Association

What Does A Concert Promoter Do And How To Get Started

Concert Promoter

Being a concert promoter isn’t necessarily for the faint-hearted. You have to have a passion for the music you want to promote and a good work ethic to succeed in this highly competitive industry.

Music Concert

I was a successful concert promoter for over ten years, promoting a variety of live music and club night events, and I’m going to share with you some of the skills I picked up along the way.

A concert promoter is responsible for “putting on the show”, that is to say they perform the following functions: 

  1. Booking venues
  2. Negotiating with agents
  3. Booking the bands, 
  4. Arranging ticket sales
  5. Advertising the show
  6. Arranging all of the technical requirements
  7. Setting sound check and performance times

Most concert promoters aren’t tied to a venue, but sometimes they can be.

Concert promoters book or hire venues where they want to promote shows.  If they already work at a venue, the roles are still very similar.

I was a venue manager for over 10 years (I didn’t own the venue), and promoted countless live shows, club nights and other performances. No two shows are the same, and concert promoter jobs can be hard work.

It’s often sold as a glamorous role, but the reality is a concert promoter will spend hours sitting at a computer or on the phone arranging a multitude of different things such as venue operations or press releases. 

BUT….it’s worth it all when the show has sold out, you’ve made your money, and you can see people having a good time. That’s the passion that drives a concert promoter. 

So let’s delve into that role a little deep to see exactly what a concert promoter actually does.

What does a concert promoter do?

A concert promoter may be an employee of a venue, own the venue, work for a concert promotion company or be a freelancer who uses different venues. Some concert promoters start just by hiring small venues and promoting local bands before moving up to buy their own venues. 

Concert promoters work with venues of all sizes, from small events doing open mic nights to 10,000+ capacity arena shows or major outdoor festivals for companies like Live Nation.

There are plenty of similarities across these different levels, so let’s dive into this in more detail to understand what some of the concert promoter jobs are. 

Working with agents

The one thing you need to realise about booking agents is that they work for the band, not the concert promoter. They usually get a % commission from the booking fee you pay.

Music Agent

When bands are looking to build a fan base, their agent will try to ‘route’ a series of gigs in succession. This might form the basis of a larger tour. 

A concert promoter needs to understand where any particular band is in their journey. Are they playing 100, 300, 1,000 or 10,000 capacity shows? Correctly identifying this will save you from wasting the agent’s time.

Negotiating with agents is a tricky business. Be careful of just asking what the price is, the answer you get will be determined by a number of factors: how well the agent knows you if you have booked previous shows, the potential to ‘route’ a band tour your way and the popularity of the band. There may still be some wiggle room in that price if you have some good haggling skills. 

Negotiation doesn’t just end with the price. A concert promoter must also sign off on the band’s rider requirements.

After all of this has been agreed, a contract is signed. Once you pass this point, there is a legal commitment to delivering everything agreed, so make sure you are happy and can deliver it or there will be trouble ahead. The agent may have a representative on-site at the gig to ensure everything goes off as agreed. 

Working with bands to get them to play.

If you’re aiming to just host local bands with a small capacity venue then you may find that you need to deal with the band directly or (if they have one) a local manager. It’s not uncommon for that manager to be a parent or a close family friend, in my experience!

In this situation, negotiation can be much more informal. However, everything should still be agreed upon in advance and a simple contract or agreement signed to avoid any unnecessary confusion or issues on the day.

Arranging the tickets

Once the venue and bands are confirmed, then, the tickets need to be put on sale. Concert promotion is all about selling tickets, well for the most part. Ensuring the number of tickets sold covers the cost of putting the event on is crucial.

If the concert promoter knows there will be demand for the tickets, they may want to spend some time building up the sale date, using it to their advantage to build things like their email list in exchange for priority access. 

If tickets are likely to be in demand, then a robust and trusted online ticketing platform needs to be used. When deciding on which ticketing system to use for a live show, consider the following factors:

  • The price of the tickets
  • % service charge by the ticketing platform
  • % charge by payment fees 
  • The delivery method of the ticketing platform 

Ideally, a system that has the lowest charges, is robust and automates ticket delivery is going to be the best option. Do some research to find out those that best suit your needs, you can find some of the best ticketing platforms on our resources page. 

Advertise the show

Advertising a show is probably the most important job that a promoter does. A lot will depend on the size of the show, the location and the resources available. 

One key thing to know about advertising it’s that if you’ve thought you’ve done enough, you probably haven’t! Many people underestimate the amount of work and time needed to promote a show correctly. 

Another word on agents here is that they will often want to sign off on the artwork to ensure correct logos and agreed positioning (headliner/support act, etc.). 

For large shows (10,000+), the lead time for promotion and advertising could be up to or over 12 months. 

Clearly, in today’s world, marketing events online is the key place. However, there is a big difference between being a prolific USER of social media and being a COMPETENT promoter on it.

Concert promoters must be very good at understanding how to use social media for business. Here is another post on how early you should start to promote an event on social media.

It’s really important first to understand who your target audience is, then serve them relevant and timely advertising and promotion in places they will see it. That goes for both online and offline advertising. 

If there were three general areas to focus on, they would be: 

  1. Listing on the venue website and included in the venue email drop
  2. Building your own email list (if not the venue owner)
  3. Build hype on your social media channels.

Arranging the riders

There are two types of riders that most concert promoters will be concerned with, the technical rider and the entertainment rider. Both should have been agreed upon in advance with a band’s agent or other representative. 

Mostly the technical rider should be fine; a concert promoter should have a good sound engineer to hand. Many of the technical staff in the industry work as freelancers, so it pays to maintain a good relationship with a handful of the crew, so they always have people to call on. 

Most of the fun comes from agreeing to the entertainment rider requirements that will include food and drink for the band and their crew, alcohol requirements, number of dressing rooms and much more. A good concert promoter should not be afraid to push back on the agent if they think anything is unreasonable. 

Again, with both of these, failure to provide the detail agreed upon will result in major headaches for the concert promoter on the day. The key is being organised in advance to ensure everything is taken care of.

Set soundcheck and performance times

The concert promoter will need to specify the set time in accordance with the venue’s curfew times. This varies depending on their license and, in particular, if the venue is outdoors (likely to be earlier). 

Concert promoters will also set things like the band ‘get in’ time, sound check times, opening times and running order. There may be a requirement on finishing times due to licensing or noise restrictions.

What skills do you need to be a concert promoter

Being a concert promoter is a tough job, but potentially hugely rewarding. . But those opportunities are often few and far between, so what other skills are important? 

A concert promoter needs the following skills: negotiation, organisation, excellent personal communication, financial management and marketing.

How to become a concert promoter

You can search for concert promoter jobs online, (set up a job alert on major job websites), but in my experience you should seek work experience with a local venue or concert promoter, offer to help, have a flexible schedule and be open to learning new skills.

You do not need a bachelor’s degree to be a concert promoter, most of the skills you need you can learn through experience.

As you gain more experience you may want to try promoting your own events. Start small and then grow from there.

Do promoters make a lot of money?

Discovering the next big thing and booking them just as their profile is taking off can help to really earn a concert promoter good money.

How to organize a gin-tasting event

Gin cocktail

Hosting a gin-tasting can be an enjoyable and easy event to organize for your friends or colleagues. All it takes is some delicious gins, the perfect glassware, flavorful garnishes – mixed with a sprinkle of knowledge about each drink – for you to create an evening that’ll tantalize their tastebuds!

Organizing a gin event requires the following components; Introduction, Education, Tasting & Mixing, Make You Own followed by Questions

There is a vast range of gins and ways to drink, enjoy and learn about this spirit. Cocktails, on the rocks or with a mixer, are all great ways to showcase the drink and allow people to understand, taste, and identify different gins and what makes them unique.

In the last few years, gin has seen a massive spike in popularity with record volume sold in the UK with sales surpassing £2bn in 2019. Gin has left behind the ‘old fashioned’ image and has become one of the trendiest drinks to sip. The popularity of this drink does not show any signs of slowing down anytime soon, with it being declared as ‘a nation’s firm favourite’ in the drinks industry. 

This makes the humble gin a great focal point for an event, whether it be for just amongst family and friends or whether it’s a larger scale ticketed event. Like gin, no two events are the same. 

Make sure your next gin-tasting event is spectacular with these creative tips and tricks! From organizational pointers to helpful hints about making it a truly unforgettable occasion, we’ve got you covered. So raise those glasses – the perfect G&T awaits!

What happens at a gin tasting event? When it comes to the exact plan and running of a gin tasting event, it can vary depending on your preference and ideas. There is no right or wrong way to run, plan a execute a gin tasting event. However, I have set out a rough template and some key things you could include when mapping out the running order for your event.


Start by giving your guests an introduction to your event and gin as a whole:

  • What is the schedule for the night?
  • What gin(s) you are presenting and why


Although you don’t want to bore your attendees, some short, punchy facts and figures always go down well, helping to add credibility to what you are saying and doing at the event:

  • History of gin
  • Recent popularity
  • Distilling process
  • Botanicals
  • Overview on flavours
  • Mixers and garnishes


It’s a good idea to taste both gins and mixers separately showcasing how they work both alone and with each other (the craft gin club have lots of tips to help you with this).

  • Show your customer a range of gins, e.g. pink gin, fruit flavoured, floral, fruity etc.
  • Let them sample, smell and taste them.
  • Do the same then with mixers, e.g. tonic, soda, juice etc.


It’s nice to taste and learn about the spirit but even sweeter if you get to have a go yourself. 

  • Let your attendee choose their favourite gin(s)
  • Allow them to create either a cocktail or spirit with mixer and garnish. 
  • To add an extra element of fun you, as the host could judge these and pick a winner (perhaps win a bottle of gin).


Swot up on critical facts or get an expert in to cover any detailed questions on the spirit.

Other ideas

You also have the option to choose to disguise the spirits and do a blind tasting to prevent people from making their mind up based on a brand, description, or aesthetic.

Simply decanting each gin into a jug or carafe can help keep the gin looking classy but removing any other information. (Just make sure you label them well so you can quickly identify which gin is which!).

As with any event, a gin tasting event is very much up for individual interpretation so, although the above offers a rough guide, don’t feel you are limited to this. 

How do you start a gin tasting event?

An excellent place to start is to have a think about what kind of gin tasting event you plan to run.

To start a gin event, you need to consider the target audience, the venue, the pricing, marketing and licensing and which gins to showcase.

  • Is it for a special event, e.g. hen do, birthday etc.? 
  • Is it just for family?
  • Is it to make money, e.g. for charity or as a business?

Once you have this streamlined, it will help you to focus on the tone of the event and level of professionalism you will need, as this will vary depending on whether it’s for family, friends or paying customers.

Target Audience

A great starting point is identifying your target audience. Who is it that you are planning this tasting for? This is an essential factor, especially as different people’s preferences will vary. For example:

  • Family and friends (more casual and low key)
  • Charity event (professional and seamless event needed)
  • Hen-do/private gin tasting (higher expectations and standards)


It’s a good idea to get your venue booked in from the start. Not only is it a critical piece of information ticket holders will want, but also gives you a focus and a starting point. You can pretty much hold a gin tasting event wherever you desire (within reason when you have alcohol present) as the event requires little specialist equipment.


Buying alcohol isn’t cheap, so you will need to consider that. Saying that though, most consumers would expect to pay more for an event where you are sampling alcohol.

You need to consider your out costs and from then work out a ticket price to ensure you breakeven and more so make a profit. 

Example out costs:

  • Spirits, mixers and garnish
  • Venue
  • Staff
  • Glassware and equipment. You can hire these at a low cost if you don’t want to invest. 

Say your overhead costs come to £700 and you aim to have 40 people attend, if you charge £40 per ticket that’s a total revenue of £1,600. Remove your out costs and your net profit is £900.

*Please note this is an example only and not a pricing guide.

Although you always need to break event, be sure you have a look at other similar events and what they are charging. You don’t want to overprice yourself and not sell tickets. See our guide to pricing event tickets. 


Getting the word out about your event depends on who you are targeting and why you are running the event. 

For example:

  • If you are running a gin tasting event to raise money for charity, a great way to market is to utilise the charity’s connections, social and media channels. 
  • On the other hand, if you are marketing your event for the broader public in order to make money and run a business, simple and cost-effective techniques including word of mouth and targeted Facebook adverts (based on location, age, demographic etc.) can be really useful. 
  • Another great way to market your gin tasting event is to look into a partnership. Teaming up with a local distiller or event glassware provider can help widen exposure when it comes to spreading the word and selling tickets. 


  • If you are doing this in your own or a family member’s home for an informal tasting, you don’t need any form of licensing. 
  • You will need a licence to cover the serving of alcohol for paid-for events.
  • This depends on where you hold the event. E.g. if it’s at a venue with a premises/licensed bar you will be covered under that. 
  • If you are going to a non-licensed premises, you will require a licence for serving alcohol.

Which gins to showcase?

Identifying and writing down the best gins is very subjective. What you might like and see as the best gin, another may hate!

One piece of advice here is variety! Make sure you have a range of gins on hand to help suit all taste pallets and preferences across the event. 

Broadly, gins typically fall under the below categories. Depending on budget and availability, it would be advantageous to have at least one gin from each of these.

  • Classic dry gin
  • Citrusy gin
  • Floral gin
  • Spiced gin
  • Savoury gin
  • Fynbos gin

Although many of these gins can be purchased simply and easily at most supermarkets, this leaves little guidance for you when picking them out. Heading to an independent bottle shop or store selling spirits will mean that you can tap into and utilise an expert’s knowledge. This also will help you swot up on crucial information to present at your tasting event. 

What’s more, using an independent or standalone bottle shop often then means you can buy the gin on a sale or return basis. This will mean that if you go a little overboard on the gin order, and are left with a lot of stock, you can get your money back and not lose out.

It’s not just the gin spirit itself you should consider when planning. Below I have set out a few things that really help make a gin tasting event fly. 

Using the right glassware and pours

  • Serving the spirit neat lends itself well to a tumbler. However, if you plan to use the same glassware to subsequently add in garnish and mixer, a gin glass, stemless wine glass or brandy balloon glass works best. (This is because it means you can get your nose in to smell the gin!).
  • It’s advantageous to use the same style of glass across the evening as changing the glass can improve the flavour and then the experience for your guests.
  • How much you want to serve someone in ml is up to you. However, on the whole, 25-30ml per serve is a good size.
  • Make sure you use a drinks measure to ensure everyone is getting the same (you don’t want squabbles over who got more!).

Garnish and presentation

  • Like the gins itself, variety is also essential when it comes to garnishes as these can enhance and change the gin when drinking,
  • It’s often a good idea to try the gin without a mixer or garnish first to see what flavour notes you can taste before adding.
  • Think outside the box. Don’t just stick to a slice of citrus, herbs and spices also work really well in a gin-based drink. 
  • As a rule of thumb, you are usually trying to enhance or compliment the botanicals used in the gin. E.g. a citrus gin add some lemon rind.
  • Finally, don’t forget your ice! You always see drinks filled with ice, and there is an excellent reason for this! The bigger the ice cubes and the more of them, the more effectively they will work to cool the drink, melting slowly so as not to dilute the gin. 

A few tips:

  • The zest of a fruit will lift any drink with tonic, but having a slice can sometimes make the drink a bit too bitter.
  • When using herbs (like when making cocktails or cooking) make sure you manipulate/bash them a little (not so much that they fall apart) so they release their aroma and oils. This will help enhance the flavour and smell when drinking.
  • Spices work perfectly in a savoury gin but, by nature can be quite overpowering so use sparingly.

How do you host a gin tasting event?

When it comes down to hosting a gin event, you have two principal options. Either you recruit the guidance and expertise of an event manager to plan, manage and organise the whole event for you or you take it into your own hands, and design it yourself.  

If recruiting someone to plan it for you, there are a few things to have in mind to help them make the event everything that you desired. These include:

  • Number of attendees
  • Time of day/year
  • Preferred setting/venue
  • Budget 

The event manager will then guide you throughout the process, touching base regularly to ensure that they are providing and planning what you want and need.

Hosting an event yourself can seem daunting but is relatively straight forward. If you decide to host your own gin tasting event, there are a series of critical steps you should consider and follow to make your event successful. I have broken these down below into rough sub-headings to help you plan out your event efficiently and effectively. 

Do your research!

There is nothing worse (especially if you have paying customers) than someone running and or hosting an event with little to no knowledge. Not only does this look very unprofessional, but it will leave you feeling embarrassed, and the event experience being lowered significantly.

You don’t have to be a trained expert to know all the essential facts. You also don’t have to know everything! If someone has a question on the night, you can’t answer, tell them you will follow up after seeking advice or researching. 

You have one of two options. An easy option is to get an expert in (contact a local distillery who, for a fee, might come along and spread their knowledge). Alternatively, do it yourself. No two gins are the same, so tasting, researching, and learning about gins can be a fun way for you to expand your knowledge and prepare for an event.

Top tip: Ginventory is a useful app you can get up on your phone, which has over 5000 gins inputted with recommended garnishes and mixers. Saves lots of time and have been tried and tested by gin experts! It’s also free – extra bonus!

Glassware, mixers and spirits

  • It’s easy to underestimate the number of glasses you will need for a tasting. 
  • As a rule of thumb if you are serving six samples work on six glasses per person. To cut down glassware, you could do 3 per person as 6 requires a lot of space. This means doing the tasting in 2 rounds and thoroughly washing the glassware in between.
  • Make sure you use a ml measure (we have all been tempted to free pour!). This will mean you can work out, depending on the number of attendees, how much gin you will need in advance. You don’t want to be running out at the event.

Tasting – the main event!

In the drinks industry, there is actually a right and wrong way to taste gin (who knew!?). It will add an extra layer of professionalism if you guide your attendees through how to correctly taste the gin.

  • Serve up a shot of gin over ice and encourage your attendees to swirl the spirt around the glass (this allows the initial notes of alcohol to evaporate and is easier on the nose!)
  • Next suggest a gentle sniff and a small sip, encouraging them to swirl it in their mouth before swallowing (this helps them get a good taste of the botanicals in the gin).
  • Next, you can get them to add a tonic or mixer and taste again.
  • Finally, add in the garnish to top it off and taste again. This will then allow your attendees to see how the flavour profile of the gin changes as you add in the extras. 

Final Tips:

  • Providing a jug (to spit in if they really hate it) is advantageous.
  • Having water on hand to help people cleanse their pallet is also a good thing to have.
  • Having some plain water biscuits also helps clear the pallet between gins.
  • Having paper and pens for people to write down notes is a great addition, especially as alcohol is involved and memories might start to blur!

Hopefully the above has given you an insight into what goes into a gin tasting event and has helped you with a good starting point to organise your own!

How to organise a food festival

Food festivals are a great way to bring a host of people together with one common shared passion, food and drink. Despite the recent pandemic, food festivals have gained a pace in popularity lately with people’s ever-growing love for food.

In this post, I will set out a simple outline to help you kick start planning for your food festival.


I have planned and executed numerous food festivals and one thing that is always at the forefront of planning is ‘added value’, not just for your attendee but your stallholders. What can my event offer or do that others may not, or how can I offer more?

With the increase in popularity of more specialised food and drink categories and a hike in demand for convenience food there are a range of food festival themes or categories to consider – just a few to inspire you below:

  • Vegan and meat-free
  • Free From (Gluten and Dairy)
  • Artisan and Craft producers
  • Sustainable food and packaging
  • Gin bars and cocktails
  • Cake and bakes
  • Local producers
  • Cuisine type (e.g. Thai food, Indian etc.)

The more exposure consumers have to these types of events, the higher their expectations. The challenge is, how can you keep people coming back for more?

Planning and logistics (Pre and during)

A solid starting place is pulling together a top line document setting out the following:

  • Event name, purpose/aim and mission, type and unique selling point
  • Where, when and what time
  • Contact details

This will save you a lot of time down the line as you will need this information to share with suppliers, staff, stallholders, local authorities etc.

Once the parameters of your event are set out, a timeline is always useful. This timeframe does not have to be extra detailed, but I have found it’s a handy way to keep you on track and ensure you are not missing deadlines or vital elements out of organising. There are plenty of templates online that will help with a basic outline and get you started.

So who will come to my event?

Target audience is key to have decided from the off. It can be a costly and time-consuming thing to change later down the line so it is advantageous to nail this first time. There are a few things you should consider when profiling your target audience:

  • Age group (and sometimes gender)
  • Behaviour (disposable income/spending habits)
  • Geographical base (are they close to your venue, if not what’s going to get them there?)
  • Socio demographics/stage of life (are they groups, couples, families etc.)

Once you have that outlined, you need to work out how they tick? What would make them want to come, and how will you reach them? Below are some examples of how you might tailor your event to your chosen target market:

  • Age 25 – 50
    • Target that age bracket when setting up paid-for adverts online and research where this age group socialise to aim marketing correctly.
  • Target come as groups, couples or some families.
    • Have event open Friday and Saturday for adults then focus more on families on the Sunday.
  • Has a reasonable level of disposable income to spend at events
    • Consider charging for the event or having a few more premium stallholders where your target would have money to spend.

Where are you going to have your event?

Location is a core thing to get secured from the start. Food festivals can be held both inside and outside in which there are pros and cons to both.


  • Often have higher capacity/more space.
  • Easier to load event equipment in and out as there are fewer building limitations
  • Can be beautiful in good weather but can deter people if it is wet
  • Perfect for any stall cooking on needing to extract cooking fumes


  • Perfect for a wet/cold day
  • More challenging when getting vehicles in and out of the venue to build the event
  • Need to install ventilation for cooking fumes.
  • Often power and water and any Wi-Fi needed is already installed.

How do I choose my size of site?
It can be daunting working out what you can fit in the size of a location or venue. Below is a list of things I always consider and work out when looking at a potential venue’s capacity capability:

  • Number of stalls/site spaces that will fit
    • Have a couple of site space sizes in mind, e.g. 3x3m and a 5x5m. As a starter add 30% to calculated total to include required fire spaces and contingency
  • Cooking demo area
    • Again, I’d allow at least 5x5m space add 30% for audience space.
  • General event services (offices for the event manager, cashier, security, cash collection, vehicle parking areas, toilets, first aid, police, refuse collection area)
    • Allow at least 15% of the site depending on how much can be housed off-site.
  • Access (you will need roads wide enough for emergency services)
  • Car parking/public access (if this isn’t available onsite look into park and ride)

Weather is one of those completely uncontrollable factors which can change the event experience in a flash. Although in some cases high wind and treacherous weather means the event can’t go ahead a bit of rain won’t stop you!

There are a few things I always have in my back pocket to help enhance the experience when it’s raining:

  • Make sure you have planned in covered areas for people to congregate. This could be covered tents for food demos or covered seating areas.
  • Look to offer an incentive to attend your event when it’s raining. This could be as simple as money off something or free/discounted entry.
  • Look to work with a company that makes umbrellas or ponchos. They can brand these and can be handed out for free or low cost in bad weather (umbrellas work as a perfect sunshade too if its great weather!).
  • Have some hardstanding matting/tracking you can put down (especially if outdoors) this makes it more pleasant underfoot and safer.

Wind is a harder one to tackle and the one in my career, which has caused me the most grief. There have been times where my events have had to shut early due to strong winds. However, there are some best practice ways to be prepared for this. Whether it’s having sandbags, water weights or extra-strong tents with supports, it will save you a lot of hassle if you have these to hand and ready. 

Finally, don’t forget the sun! Working on event sites abroad has taught me the need for shade, so just as you would prepare for rain with a cover you can’t go too wrong with this for sun cover too!

So what about the Stallholders?

They are at the heart of any Food Festival, so it’s vital to get them on board from the start. Once you have decided what type of food festival you want to host, you will need to look to get your stallholder or vendors on board. 

From experience, it’s also essential to have a tasty variety and mix of stallholders and offerings. Although you have selected your target audience, it doesn’t mean they all like the same thing.

When reaching out to potential stallholders, its key that you have a clear plan in regards to what the benefit is to both parties. I’d recommend you have in mind the following:

  • What’s in it for you?
    • Will you make a profit on their site fee?
    • Will you ask for a certain % of their sales?
    • Will they compliment your event and do they fit with how you want people to perceive the event?
  • What’s in it for them?
    • What’s your expected footfall? If it’s a new event, use others of a similar scale as an example as well as consideration of your site size.
    • Will the % of sales be fixed or go up or down depending on factors on the day? E.g. poor weather or perfect weather
    • Will attending this event look good for their brand, and why?


Social media is such a valuable and cost-effective resource when marketing an event. The power of Facebook and other social channels can help reach volume both by consumer shares and paid for adverts.

Incentivise and encourage your stallholders. Think of all their social channels and marketing feeds. This can prove very lucrative in regards to footfall, especially if your stallholder popular.

Partnerships are a great way to get marketing out there. For example, partnering with a well-established company will help give you further marketing reach and also further event credibility helping to entice more people in.

PR – have an event stand out element. Good PR could be as simple as trying to set a small world record and getting the local newspapers down to getting on board a minor celebrity to be a special guest. 

Event imagery is critical, especially as we judge with our eyes when that’s all we have. Make sure you post regularly on social media, so it shows you are active and again credible. Share some behind the scenes pictures or insights to help keep people interested and engaged. 

One final golden rule I have learnt, which makes all the difference is to treat potential attendees well, be responsive and helpful and informative as this goes a long way.


Starting your planning with a budget is paramount. Setting out your outgoings, income and projected profit will give you a clear oversight from the start as to what you can and can’t afford. Planning also will help to highlight where you could most use sponsorships, partnerships or donations.

It is essential to know my payment terms and how much money is going out before the event. Get deposits upfront from your stallholders and paying only a deposit of % cost to your venue, suppliers etc. will mean better cash flow ensuring you are not running out of cash before you even start the event.

Cost tracking – although not the most fun part of the job, it’s vital. Like anything in life, you can sometimes get an un-expected cost or save along the way. Tracking costs will help you to have a proper oversight of how much money you have rather than having an awful shock post-event!

Income – Free VS ticketed
As an organiser and attendee, I’ve experienced both free and ticketed events; both have their merits. At any event, irrespective of entry fee, you will need to have crowd control measures in place to ensure safety. It’s essential you know the capacity of your venue so you can safely manage the numbers coming in and out of the event (if you don’t have this to hand 6 square feet per person is a good rule of thumb for a standing crowd).

Free events

When creating a new event, offering free entry can be a great way to get a volume of people to come. What is the consumer missing out on if they attend – nothing if it’s free!

The nature of a free event often then means you can either up-price items for sale slightly or simply use this as a tool to wet their appetite for the future where you could look to introduce an entry fee. 

Paid for
The advantage of paid-for events is that you then often get people who want to be there. If people have paid, they will often feel inclined to stay longer (and therefore spend more).

With anything in life, however, if you pay for something, you expect something in return. Charging someone an entry fee without giving them anything or showing them value in their purchase doesn’t often go down too well unless the price is very low or gifted to charity.

There are lots of cost-effective ways to add value for your consumer, see a few tried and tested below:

  • Offer a money off voucher for a future visit (e.g. 15% of tickets for next year)
  • A goody bag (this could contain event collateral, info booklets, free samples)
  • Stallholders (are they a well-known and in-demand business? Do they have a unique and popular product)
  • Voucher to redeem against a food or drink item
  • Branded cup to use and then take home
  • Entertainment (is there a celebrity, a live band, comfy seating areas etc.)

Both ticket methods have their places when it comes to entry for attendees. Make sure you also consider:

  • The geographical location (how much will it cost people to get there, are there transport links etc.)
  • Prices of events, food and drink can vary throughout the country so ensure that you are in-keeping and do not overprice yourself for the area.

Having stallholders also means you can make an income to help pay for the event and infrastructure. You can choose just to charge them for a site space, but also can request a % of sales they make as well as charge them for power if they require it. Do consider keeping the price lower, especially if it’s the first year the event is running to keep the offer to stallholders appealing.

Having an event partner or some sponsors are a great way not only to create a relationship with another company(s) but to generate an income source. I’ve listed a few ways they can help below:

  • Cash (giving you money to help fund the event).
  • Prize (giving you an asset or item to give as a prize to consumers attending).
  • Venue (offering the site space at a free or discounted rate).
  • Media (offer free advertisement, prints, collateral etc).

can be a great way to staff your event with minimal spend. One idea is to look for volunteering forums or even getting in touch with local colleges and universities. Students are keen to gain experience and exposure so simply will often give up their time for free. Having been a volunteer many times before I know a little goes a long way. Even a simple food voucher or discount tickets for a family member would encourage me to work hard!

So how much does it cost to be a vendor at a festival?

Unfortunately, there is no set answer as the cost is determined on numerous factors. I have organised events with site fees around the £200 mark but also events where a site is in the thousands. Below are a few things to consider and an example of cost.

  • How popular is your event and expected footfall (the higher this is, the more space costs).
  • Does the stallholder require power (if they do again usually this is charged out to help you fund generators per kilowatt)?
  • Site space size required. (the bigger the space needed by the stallholder, the more expensive.
  • Stall location (is it in a busy area where lots of people will pass and see it? The more exposure, the higher the cost)

Paperwork to consider

Risk assessments and safety are a major consideration, especially when you are opening up to the public. Correctly identifying, assessing, and mitigating or reducing any potential risks is key both when setting up the event but also during and after.

Safety and risk assessments can seem a daunting thing; however, there is plenty of guidance and ways to educate yourself on this to equip you. A great starting place or even a refresher is here. *Please note this is for UK event safety and not necessarily correct worldwide.

Public Liability (PLI) is an essential cover you will need. Think of it as an insurance policy for your event if damage or injury were to take place onsite at your event. Your stallholders should have PLI of their own (it’s good practice to ask for a copy of this). In regards to event insurance, this will either need to come from you (the event organiser).

Food Safety is an essential check. All stallholders by law have to hold health and safety, food hygiene and licensing documentation. It is good practice to obtain a copy of this when confirming their place at your event.

Council permission: Numerous elements outside the event need to be controlled. Traffic, road closures, footfall to the town all will need to be discussed with the location’s local authority.

Police, fire and ambulance: all need to be informed of the event. Having St. John’s Ambulance or some trained first aiders on site is a must. The other departments just need this on their radar in case of an emergency. (Your local authority can help you with questions about this).

Post-event steps

Finally, always do some form of evaluation. Seek feedback from your attendees, your traders, suppliers. In some cases, it can feel like ripping off a plaster when you gain any adverse or constructive criticism after working for months on your event. Still, it will continue to help you progress and grow as an event and professional.

One final tip is making notes, edits or tweaks to your documentation or processes as soon as you have finished the event. Although this can seem a difficult task after putting lots of hard work into your event, I can guarantee your future self will thank you hugely when it comes to re-planning the event.


Although there is no real right or wrong ways to organise a food festival, the above tips will help save you time and resources by starting with a straightforward foundation.

One thing I have learnt is that a lot of things until you have done them are just down to common sense. With events you will require contractors, local authorities, and other parties to provide services for you so ask them questions! Utilise everyone and keep up regular communication. Remember a problem shared is a problem halved.

Good luck with your food festival!

Useful resources (UK only):

The Purple Guide (Health and Safety)

Food Standards Agency

How to organise a film screening

Film Screening

Film screenings are a great way to fill a quiet night in a venue, raise money for charity or even to launch your own event business. In this post I’ll look at some of the key things you need to think about.


I have organised countless film screenings in the last 20 years and there is one piece of advice that I would always give to anybody looking to organise a film screening and that is the choice of the film and alignment to your target audience is key.

I have had free-entry film screenings where I’ve had audience members on the floor because it was so busy and others where I have allowed my own ego to pick the film but the room has been remarkably empty!

Compared to 20 years ago competition now exists from the likes of Netflix and Amazon along with other streaming services that are able to provide a wide range or films six months or even earlier after they’ve been in the cinema. It is not always possible to gain a license to show such films any earlier and you’ll need to consider properly licensing each screening.

A word of caution (here in the UK) you are NOT allowed to simply raid your home DVD collection and play a film of your choice to a group. We will get into the legalities of film screenings later in this post.

You may be hosting a film screening for a few reasons, such as:

  • Community Cinema in local libraries
  • Film societies in Universities
  • Film Festivals
  • Charity fundraisers
  • Pop-up events
  • Experiential cinema events

Who is your target audience

Film Screening Target Market

As with all events, starting off by considering who is your target audience is important. Doing enough market research at this stage can save you time and money further down the line and it will help to ensure that your event is a success. You should try to think about the kinds of people who would be attracted to the film or films you want to show.

For example not everybody will want to attend a film screening of an offbeat indie film, but a wider audience may want to attend the latest Hollywood blockbuster. This is not too say that that the indie film doesn’t have the potential for a great event (indeed whole film festivals are based on this!). What you must consider is who the audience is and how to reach them and how you will add value before, during, and after the film screening.

A great resource you might want to look at here in the UK is the ‘Audience Finder’ tool from The Audience Agency. It’s totally free to use and provides some great insight and pre-made target profiles within arts and entertainments in every post code across the UK.

What will be your added value?

As always providing value is key. In the world of online streaming video services where people can watch from the comfort of their homes, delivering a remarkable and memorable experience is key to the success of any film screening event.

There are some great examples of companies such as Secret Cinema making fantastic experiences out of films . No doubt the production cost of such experiences are huge, so you’ll have to balance this with what you feel that you’re able to charge in terms of ticket price if you go down this route. Be careful not to oversell the experience and then underdeliver on the actual event.

It may still be possible to pick out certain elements of the film and translate this into a live experience on the event. For example, organisations like Secret Cinema use actors as attendees are entering the screening who are in character from the film. This adds a completely different dimension to the experience of going to see a film. You are no longer simply a passenger but an active actor in that experience.

You should consider how this value can be delivered during three phases of the event delivery; before, during and after. Much of the before will be connected to your marketing and promotion for the film screening so try to think about how you can pick out elements of the film and deliver those as valuable touchpoints to your audience before they buy a ticket. Here are some of the ideas used by film screening companies to engage on a deeper level with their target audience:


Think about the following touchpoints that an audience member is likely to experience in the build-up to buying a ticket and attending your film screening:

  • your website,
  • your social media,
  • your ticketing page,
  • your emails.

You should endeavour to deliver a consistent experience as customer through each.


During the screening you should think about touchpoints from the moment the customers arrive to the moment they leave and how you can take them on a journey that ties into the film. This doesn’t require huge amounts of money and try to be creative in the way that you bring the film alive on the evening!

I would advise consideration is given to how to serve food and drink during the film, what kind of seating is provided (note try not to use hard seats!) and the kind of service that they will receive from your staff or volunteers. Giving a good experience at this point helps to build your reputation especially if you’re considering future film screenings.


Depending on the film screening and the amount of time and money you have available, it may be worth attempting to do undertake some evaluation with your audience to enable you to get feedback on how to improve future events.

This doesn’t have to be an onerous task. You could send an email survey to all the people who bought tickets from you or you could simply look to do something creative at the end of the event.

One example I came across a few years ago was during a film screening for the film Seven (with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman). At the end of the event the organizers had somehow located large quantities of doll heads and each person was asked to place the head in one of 10 boxes. This is quite a creative use of what is a well-established evaluation tool known as The Net Promoter score. Essentially, they were asked to rate if they would recommend this film screening to a friend you can check out the theory behind this at this link.


When considering how you’re proposing to promote the film screening you should always reference back to your target audience. This is key in understanding how to reach them and what will resonate with them to help build a desire to attend your event.

Consider which social media channels your target audience uses and how likely it is that any posts you add will be seen by them. Remember that the algorithms on social networks like Facebook are weighted heavily against organic natural posts. It may be worth giving some consideration to a small budget for paid advertisements on these networks.

Try to tap into any community groups local to where your film screening is taking place and if you’re choosing to use the event to fundraise consider tapping into any groups or mailing lists that your charity may have.

You may be undertaking the film screening as part of a University or College film society so be sure to communicate the information through any social media groups or email lists.

If you’re considering this as a business idea, with plans to run more film screenings in the future, you should consider starting an email list as this one of the most effective ways to sell event tickets.


Film Screening Tickets

The first thing you’ll need to consider with your budget is how much you need to pay for the screening of the film. In the UK there is a requirement under Copyright Law to ensure any film screenings for entertainment purposes require a license.

Luckily there are organisations that license film screenings. One such organization in the UK is a company called Filmbank Media. They license film screenings in several ways. If you are simply showing one screening, then you can buy something called a Single Title Screening License or STSL. This allows you to show the film to an audience once. Within the STSL there are non-commercial screenings and commercial screening options.

Non-commercial screenings are those where the audience attends for free and you pay a fixed fee from £83 pounds for indoor screenings or from £139 pounds for outdoor screenings.

Commercial screenings allow you to charge the audience a ticket price but the difference here is that you are required to pay a percentage of your box office takings if they are greater than the non-commercial fees.

For an indoor screening you will be required to pay from £83 or 35% of your box office (whichever is greater) and for outdoor screenings from £139 pounds or 40% of your box office takings (whichever is greater). These prices are illustrative of the price you could pay and the fees increase with the venue capacity. (prices are correct as of April 2020)

You can find further information on the Filmbank Media website.

The choice to pursue the non-commercial or commercial routes is therefore dictated by whether you feel you need to charge for entry to the film. You may consider that you can make up the revenue through other avenues at the screening such as selling snacks or drinks or by offering additional experiences that tie into the film. These are fine as long as entry to the venue is free.

You will also need to consider costs such as venue hire, staffing (before and during the event), the cost of any marketing materials or advertising, any website hosting fees or design, and any theming you wish to include with the venue.

Picking a venue or location

External Cinema

The choice of venue or location will play a huge part in the experience you deliver. As I mentioned earlier you should consider how the audience will watch the film. You will need a large screen and projector along with a suitable sound system for the size of venue you have chosen.

Many smaller independent cinemas allow you to hire out their screens. This may be the easiest solution if you are looking to host a charity film screening that will fundraise but if you are considering a more in-depth experience then you might want to consider a more bespoke venue.

The previous example of the Seven film screening that I mentioned was actually screened in a disused retail outlet and careful thought was given to the ambiance, lighting and decoration to match the dark nature of the film.

If you’re considering screening the film outside, then you may want to consider using specialist audio visual company to provide the screen projector and sound. You will also need to consider other infrastructure that is needed such as seating fencing and lighting. you should also check if any additional licenses or permits are required wherever you are planning to host the event.

In the UK a Premises Licence is required only if you aim to generate a profit from the tickets being sold. Please check the Licensing Act 2003 for more information.

You should make sure that your venue or location is completely accessible to all people who would want to attend your event. This may also include:

  • Subtitles or sign interpreters,
  • ensuring people are aware of any flashing lights used in the film,
  • preferential seating for those who are partially sighted,
  • ensuring the venue has wheelchair access.

Other paperwork to consider

As with most events you should consider any other paperwork such as insurance and safety documents (such as a site plan) as key elements of your event plan. Check with your venue for any procedures to do with fire safety they may have and what your role would be in any emergency such as an evacuation. It’s very important to work with the venue if you are planning to include props and theming to ensure this doesn’t become additional hazards during the event.

Best of luck with your film screening!

Some other great resources:

UK Film Screening licenses:

Making film screenings accessible for communities:

14 Festival Sponsorship Ideas

Event Sponsorship

Sponsors can add an important revenue stream to your festival that helps to keep it open year after year so this article looks at some of the ways you could increase potential opportunities for your event.

Firstly, it’s worth mentioning that sponsorship doesn’t fit all festivals and events and you should carefully consider how it might impact or be perceived by all of your stakeholders.

Be sure to provide a website or pdf document that has all of your sponsorship offers and information about your event such as footfall, ticket sales, media coverage, number of programmes or any other economic data that you may have. Sponsors will use this to help make a decision about partnering with you.

Try to see this from the sponsors perspective. What value will they get for their business from partnering with you. Sometimes that is exposure, production distribution or customer information.

Yes, there are the usual sponsorship of marketing materials and programmes, which are all very important. But in this post, we wanted to look at some different ways you could offer sponsorship opportunities at your next festival or event. Also remember that not all sponsorships involve the transfer of money. Some arrangements can be “quid pro quo” if the agreement offers value for both sides.

Festival Sponsorship idea #1 – Patreon

So this is a quirky idea and not strictly sponsorship (certainly in the traditional sense) but Patreon does allow for creators of festivals to offer tiered support prices. If you’re not familiar with Patreon, it is an online service where members give money to support projects that they feel connected to.

If you already have a community for your festival or event this might be a route for you to tap into some of the goodwill that you have built up to enable future funding for your event.

Patreon works by allowing you to set different levels that people contribute to. This can be as little as a few pounds per month upwards and for every tier you offer something in return. Contributors generally sign up to give a certain amount on a monthly basis.

Those contributors then receive something in return, which could be as little as a thank you through to a ticket for your event, a festival t-shirt or right up to something like VIP access to the artists who are performing.

There is a fee for using the service, but this avenue may be really useful for smaller, cultural, arts or community events that have largely social outcomes where you can tap into the goodwill of your local community. For example the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF) has four tiers that allows supporters to help fund/sponsor the Festival.

Festival Sponsorship idea #2 – App Sponsorship

Many festivals now produce their own apps for smartphones that allow attendees to navigate and customise their experience. Perhaps you already have one and can offer this. If you don’t already have an app, it can give a valuable opportunity to connect with your audience before and during the event.

Using an app, festival experiences can be customised and live feedback captured in real time. For any potential sponsor, access like this to your audience is hugely valuable, enough to perhaps contribute towards the cost of producing the app. Apps like Eventee offer the ability to monitor and manage all of the information.

Consider approaching local technology firms who specialise in producing apps to see if they would consider partnering with you. This may lead to them producing the app for a discounted price or for free in exchange for sponsorship.

You should prioritise the privacy of users on the app and limited the amount of data that you collect to only what you need. This should be as transparent as possible to ensure you have the confidence of the attendees who will use the app as any data breach could damage the reputation of your event and any future sponsorship partnerships.

Festival Sponsorship idea #3 – Sponsored Live Stream

This idea will largely depend on if you can identify elements of your event that can be broadcast. Music and performances are great as they tend to be continuous throughout the event. Don’t discount demonstrations, live circus or talks as well.

While the concept of live steaming your event on Youtube or Facebook Live may seem daunting, there are companies that can help with the technology and this medium offers the ideal opportunity to add some value to any potential sponsor.

Live streaming has the power to reach a much wider audience than just those who attend your event in person, plus there is a huge opportunity for the footage to be reused and reshared on social media. All of this provide potentially huge value for a sponsor.

Festival Sponsorship idea #4: – Fitness and Wellness Sessions

Ok, ok it might not be the first thing that come to mind where you’re at a music festival but there are certainly many events and festivals that might lend themselves towards some “get up and go” fitness activities. There are some great examples of fitness and wellness festivals appearing in the United Kingdom such as the Wilderness Festival, The Big Retreat or Soul Circus.

Any festivals that celebrate food, nutrition or sport could offer sponsorship opportunities to sports clubs, gyms or salient food and nutritional products.

Even if your festival doesn’t fit into any of these categories, running wellness sessions could still add value for your attendees. The Love Fit Festival in Kent combines partying, fitness and well-being!

Festival Sponsorship idea #5: – Sponsored Phone charging stations

You need and want your attendees to interact with you, so keeping their phones topped up with power is a top priority. There are numerous companies who can supply phone charging lockers and potential activation points through vinyl wraps.

Offering this to a sponsor will be of value as there is likely to be a higher dwell time and so more opportunities for the sponsor to interact with you attendees.

Also consider an option that allows your attendees to book a takeaway charger (power bank) so they won’t miss any of the action if their phone run low on power. Companies like Charged Up offer apps that allow your attendees to locate and self-manage access to power banks

Check out some of these companies offering charging facilities for Festivals and outdoor events: Charge Candy, ChargedUp and ChargeBox

Festival Sponsorship idea #6: – Sponsored ‘play area’

While your attendees may spend a lot of time online at your event sharing their experiences, what about creating an offline play zone with classic or large games like chess, Scalextric or Jenga to them some respite from the online world.

There are numerous companies who are able to supply these games and you could consider placing a sponsor’s brand on some of the game pieces, which will then make it into people’s social timelines through photos?

Taking this idea a step further you could have a sponsored leader board for specific games like Batak or a cash cube for some more competitive fun!

Check out some of these companies offering charging facilities for Festivals and outdoor events: ES Promotions, Novel Events and Garden Games Hire

Festival Sponsorship idea #7 – Free Wifi

Providing strong public WiFi is often a challenge when you have a high number of simultaneous users and you can expect to pay a high cost to install a temporary WiFi system. Being able to offer free WIFI to your end users would be a higher valued asset for you and a potential sponsor, particularly if you have a bespoke app for attendees that needs a good data connection to function.

Very often the system will allow any registration page to be branded to your event and sponsor. If you have an event with high footfall, this opportunity could be very lucrative.

Check out some of these companies offering charging facilities for Festivals and outdoor events: Noba Event Wifi, Simpli-Fi and Event Wifi.

Festival Sponsorship idea #8: – Sponsored craft area

This idea taps into your attendees’s craftiness! They are highly likely to share their creation on their social network of choice so consider how any potential sponsor could add and derive value from this.

This could take the form of the sponsor providing something that the attendees must then decorate or providing a photo frame for that final completed shot. With a move to more sustainability there could be numerous opportunities for attendees to use upcycling as part of this activity. Try to avoid using cheap decorative materials that contain micro plastics such as glitter.

Festival Sponsorship idea #9 – Naming Rights

If it suits the objectives of your event, then consider offering some sort of naming sponsorship deal. If you have highly social outcomes or objectives it may not be appropriate to use this. If you have a more commercial focus, then it may be appropriate.

The amount you can charge will largely depend on the number of people attending, the profile of any acts and your social media reach.

You should also consider how salient the brand is with your event. You’ll want to avoid upsetting regular attendees or stakeholder of the event by bringing in a sponsor who is seen to be a competitor to other trades appearing at your event. For example, imagine brining in a supermarket to sponsor an independent food festival, obvious right?

Festival Sponsorship idea #10 – Artist announcements

Most festivals will at some point announce their line-up. Most of these announcements will take place on social media and often will garner quite a lot of interest particularly if you have an event that has been running for a number of years.

With this in mind consider if you integrate a sponsor’s logo or information into an artist announcement. This would work particularly well if you breakdown the announcement over several days or weeks therefore lengthening the opportunity for the sponsorship.

Festival Sponsorship idea #11: – Sponsored Photobooths

Photobooths are a very popular addition to many events in recent times, people seem to love dressing up and posing! Clearly you need to consider if it is appropriate to have a photo booth at your event but they’re great for bringing people together in a fun way and the photobooths themselves can be branded for your events and include any sponsors logo or information.

Photobooths usually have the option of either printing the photos or allowing users to post the photos directly onto their social media timeline. If the latter is true, this offers an opportunity for sponsorship to reach wider beyond your event as users share humorous content on their own timelines.

Festival Sponsorship idea #12: – Swag bags

Swag bags a great way to add value to your event attendees either as they arrive or leave your event. Sponsors could either contribute towards the cost of producing the bags which can be branded with their logo or they could contribute towards the contents of the bag.

One of the great things about this idea is that it has a guaranteed reach as everybody entering or leaving your events can be given a swag bag. People will typically then look at the contents in detail at a later time ensuring that the sponsors brand or product is directly viewed by them.

What to charge for Festival Sponsorship

It is possible to undervalue your sponsorship assets. Getting the pricing right of your sponsorship takes time and research to ensure that you are charging the correct rate for your event but also the correct rate that the sponsor is happy to pay and feels value. This last point should always be in your mind when considering your rate card. You should undertake market research for at least three competitor events to see and understand how and what they are charging for their sponsorship. You should do this methodically and then consider how this looks from the sponsors perspective. Remember that sponsorship is a business investment for them and they will want to see tangible outcomes and value before they’ll even consider meeting with you for less commit to sponsoring your event.

How to organise a music concert: Top Tips

Live Music Events

Organising music concerts is a challenge and there are a variety of issues you’ll need to take into consideration. I was a music venue manager for the best of ten years and was involved in hundreds of music concerts.

This post is designed to be a helpful guide to the steps you should consider when planning an event like this.

But, before you do anything, think about why you’re putting the event on and what do you want to get out of it? Maybe you’re looking to help build the reputation of the band or artist, perhaps you’re looking make money from this, build your own reputation or maybe as a fundraiser.

Once you understand why you are organising the concert, consider the following ten steps to sucess:

1. Set a budget

One of the first things that you’ll want to do when planning any music concert or gig is to set a comprehensive and realistic budget that covers how your event makes money and how the event spends money.

For most music concerts or gigs, income will come from tickets, but you might want to consider other alternatives such as sponsorship and online fundraising platforms like gofundme or patreon if you’re just getting started and this is something that you’re thinking of doing regularly.

Within your expenditure you will need to consider what are the fixed costs and what are the variable costs. A fixed cost is a one that doesn’t vary as the number of people increases.

For example, a fixed cost could be your basic venue hire fee. This is a fixed cost because normally it won’t change anything different if you have 10 people or 100 people. Here are some examples of more fixed costs:

  • Basic venue hire
  • Band or artist fee
  • Technical cost of putting the show on

In addition to fixed costs you need to also consider the variable costs. These are costs that will alter depending on the number of people that you have in the venue.

So, let’s say that you start off planning for 50 people to attend your event. You may think you only need two members of security at this point. Now imagine ticket sales go really well and you expect 100 people to attend.

Now, this cost has varied and potentially you may need 4 security staff. Here are some examples of other variable expenditure:

  • Ticket printing
  • Staff (security/bar staff)
  • Promotional materials

A final word on this topic, don’t forget to account for any taxes you may be liable for depending on the country you operate in.

2. Identify your target audience

One of the single most important things that you can do to ensure the success of your music concert or gig is to identify who your target audience is through the creation of a target audience profile.

Now you might think: ‘this is easy, it is simply the fans of the bands that are performing’. And yes, you would be right in one respect this is true.

But knowing this doesn’t give the full picture and it certainly will not always help you to market and promote your music concert or gig successfully.

You should try to consider both geographic and demographic elements that make up your target audience. If you are based in the UK, a good free resource for this is Audience Finder.

This will pay dividends and save you money because you will not be advertising in those geographical areas, on websites or on social media platforms that your target audience just isn’t looking at. So how do you start this process?

Geographic elements are those which describe where people live. There are many ways to do this and it depends very much in which country in which you live.

You may decide to restrict advertising to just your local area, and this may be largely dictated by the artist appeal for who is playing. The bigger the artist the wider the advertising radius you may need to consider.

Demographic elements describe those characteristics of your target audience which help you too target them better with your advertising. Demographic elements include things like:

  • gender
  • age
  • income
  • educational level
  • ethnicity
  • family life cycle

…and many more.

Using these elements, you can create the ideal profile of a person most likely to come to your event and therefore be highly precise with your marketing (see marketing below).

3. Book your artists

This step may be undertaken in parallel with step 4. There are several ways that you can approach booking artists or bands for your music concert or gig. Having contacts can be key, but reaching out to artists or their respresentatives will require good communication skills.

If the event is a local band night, it may be as simple as reaching out to the band through their appropriate social media channel. If the band has a slightly higher profile this route may still work but it is likely you will need to speak to their management or booking agent.

Sometimes this information is included in the footer or about us page on the band’s website, but other times this may not be readily available and may require further investigation using Google or another search engine. Check out Showcase for agents in the UK.

You will want to negotiate a fee with the band. This is highly dependent on the bands current profile and standing. Be prepared to negotiate and to haggle and don’t be surprised if the band fee is higher than you expected.

Many bands now rely heavily on playing live events as their income through music sales has declined in recent years with the move to online streaming services.

It is not untypical for booking agents to attempt to charge a higher fee to new promoters over ones which they have worked with for years, something to watch out for!

Bigger bands can command multiple thousands of pounds to perform, so you should do some research to understand those bands available in your price category.  

One possible tactic to help reduce the fee that you pay (and this works particularly well for festivals) is to buddy up with another event, so the band effectively gets 2 dates rather than one.

A small word of caution here you will need to make sure that both events all within reasonable travel distance and consider any other technical requirements of the band playing two gigs in quick succession.

Once negotiation is complete you should agree a contract with the artist. For local bands and artists this may be an informal agreement between you although it is good to have it in writing.

Larger bands will have pre-made performance contracts. It is important to read these through thoroughly before signing as you are committing yourself to paying the fee and providing all technical and refreshment riders that are included with it.

4. Find a venue

When you set your initial budget, you will have an idea for the number of people you expect to attend your event, and this should be the first thing you look at in any potential venue.

Search the local area for venues with the required capacity and then check that the venues have the capabilities to host live music concerts or gig. Here are some examples of the criteria you need to check with any venue to see if it is suitable to host live music

  • What is the venue capacity?
  • Is there a stage or raised platform big enough to accommodate the bands you want to book?
  • Are there changing rooms or dressing rooms with direct access to the stage? Most bands usually require these.
  • Is there sufficient electrical power for a sound system or PA?
  • Does that the venue have its own PA set up for live music? This is typically two banks of speakers either side of the stage in a stereo format.
  • What other technical equipment does the venue have to mix live band?
  • Is there stage lighting?
  • Is there a bar if required?
  • Does the venue have the correct licences for hosting live music?

5. Set a date

Once you’ve set the budget and found your venue then you will need to set a date. You should allow for at least four to six weeks to market and promote the music concert or gig.

Any less than this and you risk the event being unsuccessful. Ideally you should book the date in many months in advance to allow for enough marketing and promotion.

It is likely that bands and venues also book months in advance, so you’ll need to be on top of your game in this aspect.

Many bands will tour indoor venues through the autumn and winter while playing outdoor events during the spring and summer months when the weather is better.

Of course, this is true only for the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the opposite for the Southern Hemisphere!

6. Organise tickets to go on sale

You will want to put tickets on sale as soon as possible. Before you do, consider what your ticketing strategy as this may encourage some early sales, which can be particularly useful when cash flow is tight.

One technique to get early ticket sales is to offer an early bird ticket price. This is a lower ticket price which is set either for a limited time or for a limited number of tickets.

You could decide to offer a free number of tickets in exchange for users sharing your event on their own social media. This will help with the reach of your event especially if you are just getting started.

You may want to have different pricing levels for different target audiences such as Under-18s, students or other concessions.

A final suggestion is to use the countdown clock strategy. This is like the early bird strategy, but you will need to set further price tiers and then display or notify attendees of any impeding change in price. Letting people know they have a limited time to buy a ticket at this price often works quite well in selling more tickets.

7. Promote the Event

One of the key reasons for considering your target audience before considering any type of marketing is that now you know which channels are likely to have the most effect in selling tickets for your music concert or gig.

You should allow for at least four to six weeks for promoting any event. In the case of music concerts or gigs and with long booking lead times you may be spending several months marketing the event.

To start, you should consider the target audience profile or profiles that you have drawn up.

It is perfectly acceptable to have more than one target market for an event. In fact, this allows you to operate several different efficient marketing strategies to reach each of your target audiences.

For example, one target audience may use Facebook as their social network of choice, while another chooses to use Instagram. You, therefore, need to consider different strategies for each of these two target audiences to have the most effect.

One marketing plan will focus on Facebook while the other will focus on Instagram and each of these social networks have very different content and presentation.

It is highly recommended that you then draw up a marketing plan to cover the time you will promote the event.

Often the simplest way to do this is to use a spreadsheet to identify the weeks and the different marketing channels you need to use for your target audience.

The different marketing channels should be based on the profile of your target audience.

7.1 Promote the Event on Social Media

Social media is the undisputed king of promoting events (although lets not totally rule out using local press still).

Saying this is only scratching the surface and digging deeper you need to understand how often you will need to post and what you will need to post.

Each social network will have different requirements.

Also consider that most social media platforms have algorithms designed to promote paid content over organic free content.

This means that if you have a Facebook group or page then not every member who likes that page or post group will see every post that you make.

You should, therefore, give some consideration to spending some advertising money on your social network of choice.

What you post is also key. the type of content should relate to your event and the artistes that are playing.

You could engage potential attendees with snippets of artist material, videos or shorts interviews.

One tactic that seems to work quite well is showing behind the scenes footage. The aim of this is to get people excited about your events before buying a ticket.

In recent times one of the more popular methods for promoting any event is to engage with influencers on social media networks.

In the case of music concerts and gigs you should engage with your bands or artistes who may have a following already on social networks but also try to identify influencers in your local area.

You could do this by offering them a free ticket to your event in exchange for some promotion to their audience.

7.2 Promote the Event in Local Press

While most of your promotion may take place on social networks, do not dismiss the power of your local press either in print or on listing websites.

Very often these will have their own email databases and are regularly sending out new events that they have listed and so this becomes an additional opportunity fee to increase the reach of your event.

8. Filming & Photography at the Event

You should consider having someone come to film or photograph your music concert or gig especially if you plan to run more events again in the future.

A photographer with a high-quality camera (DSLR etc.) should be used to ensure that the photos look professional. It can be difficult to photograph live music in dark lit venues so check they have experience in these areas.

The photos or video that are produced can then provide you with social media content after the event and for promoting your next show.

The concert photos and video will also help to build your own social media profile as people will be keen to like and share them after the event.

9. Health and Safety for the Event

Ensuring the safety of your event attendees, staff and performers is paramount. Not only to your business but also that of the venue.

You should familiarise yourself with the health and safety legislation in the country or region in which your event takes place.

In the UK the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have a great website that gives an overview of responsibilities in this area.

It is likely that your venue will have overall responsibility for the safety of attendees during any event, but it is equally important that you familiarise yourself with their risk assessments and procedures in the event of an emergency.

You should also work with the venue to make them aware of all activities you will be undertaking as part of the event as it is likely that these will also need a risk assessment and method statement.

Safety in the UK is covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1979 , but there are also numerous other laws and regulations that you may need to consider, these include:

  • Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002
  • Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
  • Noise at Work Regulations 2005
  • Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015
  • Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

10. Running the Show On the night

Before the event you will need to liaise with the band or the band’s management to decide what technical requirements are needed for the gig.

This is commonly referred to as a technical rider and will detail all of the setup requirements for the various instruments and vocals that the band needs to perform.

If your venue has an in-house technical team it is your responsibility to liaise this information to them.

The same goes if you are providing the technical sound system for the venue.

You should also consider where you might store any equipment such as flight cases and boxes while not in use. This is particularly challenging in small venues with little or no backstage area.

The post will not cover the specific technical requirements of mixing live music, but you should employ an experienced sound desk operator who will be able to mix the live concerts.

Larger bands often provide their own sound engineer for familiarity purposes.

You should draw up a plan of the day with a detailed timeline of when you need to be at the venue and when you require artistes to be at the venue.

You should allow some contingency time in this as it is not uncommon for artists to be running late. All artistes performing will require a sound check before they play at the event, this can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.

You will also need to provide any additional food and drink riders not only for the artist members but also for any of their technical crew.

This is likely to be included with the booking contract and you will be given this information in advance.

Depending on the band and or the band manager present at the event there can be issues if the correct rider items are not provided!


So, there you have it a short overview of how to run a musical concerts or gig. These types of events are not for the faint-hearted and many people who operate in this sector have a passion for music that helps to drive them and their events forward.

The margins on live music can often be slim, especially where local bands are involved so you need to keep and grow your business acumen if you want to make this a regular business.