outdoor events

Regulating outdoor events: what are the laws?

You see them all over the place and at every time of the year. Whether it’s a Christmas market in the winter months, a festival or carnival in summer, or a sporting event throughout the year, outdoor events are extremely popular. However, while many of us simply turn up to such events, have you ever thought about the planning that has to go in to make them a success?

Here, alongside Inn Supplies, who offer a range of disposable catering supplies, we look at the laws you must adhere to if you are planning an outdoor event.

Food safety

In the same way that a restaurant must, outdoor events have to make sure they comply with food safety regulations. This is exactly why the Food Safety Act of 1990 was introduced. This is the framework for all food legislation in Great Britain and means you must make sure all food is labelled, advertised and presented in a way that won’t mislead the consumer.

In England, you must also comply with the Food Hygiene Regulations of 2006. Introduced on 11th January 2006, the legislation means that there is a clearer duty for food business operators to produce food safely, thus improving public health.

And this is just for starters! On top of this, The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has put together a helpful guide titled National Guidance for Outdoor and Mobile Catering. If you plan to organise an outdoor event where food is involved, this document will cover every step of the way in great detail to make sure you’re well prepared and legally covered.

Risk assessment

If you’re planning a large outdoor event, don’t be fooled into thinking you can just plough as many people as possible into your space. Just like if you were to host it indoors, each area will have a maximum capacity you must adhere to. Failure to do so will mean it could be a potential fire risk and lead to the local authorities shutting you down. Factors to consider include emergency exits, exit widths and gangways. For a free fire safety risk assessment checklist check out the government’s version.

You must also take into consideration what aspects of your event may involve an element of risk. For example, will there be fayre rides or fireworks? You must make sure that any possible risk has been fully assessed and everything is in place to prevent them – or to act fast if needed.


Of course, this all depends on the kind of activities you are planning. For example, if you a planning to serve alcohol and your event will hold less than 500 people, you are required to obtain a Temporary Event Notice (TENS) and you have to apply for it at least 10 days before your event is set to take place. For anything that will involve over 500 people, a Temporary Premises Licence is required, and this must be submitted at least two months before your event.

If you want to sell goods, then you must seek the permission of your local council. It goes without saying that you aren’t entitled to sell any illegal goods or weapons. It’s also prohibited to sell animals.

Any raffle that is planned and will bring in more than £20,000 requires you to register with the gambling commission.


For your event to go ahead, you’ll need to organise your own public liability insurance – even if your chosen venue is already insured. This is often a confusing scenario for event organisers. However, while the venue’s own public liability insurance policy will cover them for any accidental injuries involving the property’s equipment, you’ll be held responsible for any injury caused by negligence on your behalf. This could include objects lying around that have caused a guest to trip.

If you intend to pay staff to work at the event – this could be anything from waiting tables to cleaning the venue – you’ll also need employers’ liability insurance. This is a legality for anyone hiring staff in the UK.

For the larger events, you may want to acquire insurance incase you need to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances, too. This is known as either ‘cancellation and abandonment insurance’ or ‘contingency insurance’. It is used to protect your budget and profit which makes up your revenue. This is important for any event organiser who would be at risk financially if the event didn’t take place.

Traffic management

You should look to incorporate traffic management system that includes a one-way system if you are expecting an influx of vehicles to the area. This will make it easier to keep vehicles and pedestrians apart. You should also try to minimise reversing and ensure you have correctly planned your entry and exits for emergency vehicles.

You should also speak to the police, local highway authority and transport providers about any external traffic management that may be required in the event’s surrounding areas.


Planning an event is hard work and, to do correctly, is time consuming. By following the above points, you’ll be well on the way to making your outdoor event a law-abiding situation. However, be sure to check with your local authorities for any possible local laws that you must adhere to.




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