Getting Started

There is a lot of government legislation that applies to events, and as a result getting permission to hold one can be daunting at the first attempt. This Toolkit is a practical resource to help you through this process, and sets out the key principles and procedures for making an application to your Borough. It aims to keep you abreast of current legislation, provide all the information, resources and templates you need to deliver your event, and to promote best practice.

Before you get to grips with the detail of your event, you need to think about the following key questions which will underpin all of your planning. Careful planning is the secret of a successful event, and this means starting well in advance – whether months ahead, or even years, if your plans are very ambitious! Start with these points and you will be in a great position to begin making your application.

What is an event?

An event is an organised activity that invites members of the public to attend, either for free or for a charge. There are many types of events and many places and venues where events take place on either public or private land. For example, an event can be a:

  • Community celebration – such as a street party
  • Sporting event, such as a marathon or fun run
  • Food themed event – such as a farmers market
  • Charity fundraising event – such as a fete or fairMusic festival or concert
  • Road based activity- such as a parade, procession or march
  • Firework display or bonfire
  • Funfair or circus
  • Marketing event – to raise profile for business or corporate company
  • Brand and product launch – such as an experiential marketing campaign
  • Exhibition or
trade fair
  • Conference or convention

These events may take place in the streets, a park, a community centre, a performance venue, a church hall, or even a school.

Why are you holding an event?

Before you can begin to get started on the detail, it’s a good idea to think about why you are planning to run an event, as this will influence many of your decisions further down the line. It is important to have a clear idea of goals and objectives for your event.

Try to answer the following questions;

  • When will your event be held? This will affect the audience you are likely to attract and any competition with other events.
  • Where will you hold your event?
  • What is the theme or key message your event is trying to convey?
  • Who is your event being aimed at?
  • How many people do you want to attend?
  • How long will the event last?

You can use the template ‘Getting Started’ document in the download area on the left hand side of this page to record your responses to these questions. When considering these questions, you may find it useful to read the Programming and Know Your Audience sections for further information.

How will you deliver your event?

Running a successful event takes time, preparation and experience.  You will most likely need to assemble a team to help you, so will need to clearly define your roles and responsibilities. Questions to consider;

  • Who will be involved in the planning and execution of the event?
  • How much time will you need to set aside to plan your event?
  • Will you need the help of professional contractors?
  • Will you need to recruit any volunteers?
  • Will you need to set up an organisation or register a company?

For further advice on how to deliver your event and set up an organisation, please read the Your Team page of this section.

How will you fund the event and how much will it cost?

Depending on your ambitions for your event, and how much support you have from the local community, you may need to fundraise to cover your costs. An event can cost anything from under £100, to upwards of £500,000, depending on the nature and scale of your plans.

For help with the key considerations for funding your event, and for information on how to set up a budget, see Managing Money.

How do you apply to hold an event?

If you are holding an event in a public park or street, before your event can take place, you need to contact your Borough to apply for and be granted permission to use the site. This permission is likely to be granted through an application process, such as a Site Licence or Park Permit. This will usually be issued by the Events, Arts, Licensing or Parks section of your local authority.

You can find out the key contacts for your Borough using the Borough Guide.

You can read more about the process of applying for permissions here.

If you are holding an event in a venue, speak with the venue directly about the process of booking and confirming your booking, and check that they have any licences in place that you may need for your event. For information on the different types of licence applicable, please read the Licensing section. If the venue regularly holds events it is likely that they will have this covered – but it is always worth double checking that this is the case.

When should you apply?

Before you make any of your plans concrete – make sure you have enough time to complete any applications forms that may be required and allow enough time to gather permissions, complete your planning and to market your event. This could require anything from a few months to upwards of a year. You can get a good idea of the timescales required to plan your event in the Timescales section here.

Its worth remembering that some Boroughs will have fixed timescales for applying that you will need to adhere to. Once you have decided on your location, have a read through the Borough Guide for further information on the requirements of your local authority.

What activities will you have at your event?

The content of your event will affect what equipment you need, the type of licence you may need to apply for, and the appeal of your event for your target audience. Some questions you should consider;

  • Will you have entertainment – if so, what sort?
  • What other attractions would you like to have?
  • Where will you find your artists or attractions?

For further advice on planning the activities at your event, please read the Programming page of this section. You may also find it useful to read Knowing your Audience in the Marketing section.

How will you ensure your audience can attend?

Ensuring your event is as accessible as is reasonably possible is an important part of your planning for several reasons;

  • To ensure that your desired audience can attend your event.
  • To make sure that you are not inadvertently excluding anyone from attending.

Read the Accessibility page of this section for further information on how to make sure that your event is open to all.

How will you know if your event was a success?

Having worked hard to plan and deliver your event, it is worth investing some time in evaluating how your event ran. To do this, you need to find a way of monitoring your event to observe what went well, and what could be improved for next time. This will help you improve your skills as an event organiser, and the quality of your event for your audience.

Read the Monitoring and Evaluation page of this section for further information on how to make the most of the opportunity your event provides to learn and improve.