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Licences and insurance for large events

Large events often include activities that need a licence.  Depending on your event's activities, you may need:

  • a premises licence
  • a designated premises supervisor with a personal licence and
  • proof of insurance

You should allow at least three months to organise these.

Licensable activities

Under the Licensing Act 2003, you will need either a premises licence or a temporary event notice if your event includes any of the following:

  • Plays or films
  • Indoor sporting events, boxing, wrestling
  • Live or recorded music
  • Dancing, performance of dance
  • Facilities for making music or dancing
  • Sale or supply of alcohol
  • Provision of late night refreshment (hot food and drink between 23:00-05:00)

Premises licences and temporary event notices

A premises licence isn’t just for pubs or indoor events.  Large outdoor events involving 500 people or more, generally require a premises licence, such as:

  • street fairs
  • carnivals
  • circuses
  • outdoor music festivals
  • agricultural shows
  • fireworks

Smaller events involving less than 500 people usually need a temporary event notice (TEN).

It normally takes one to three months to process a premises licence application. Make sure you submit your application well in advance of your event.

Designated premises supervisor

If you will be supplying alcohol at your event, you will need a designated premises supervisor (DPS) in your premises licence application.  The DPS must give their written consent. You will have to hold a personal licence to sell alcohol by the time your event takes place.


You may need to provide proof of insurance as a condition of some licences.

It is recommended that you have a minimum of £5m public liability insurance cover.  This will protect against claims by anyone who suffers injury or loss at your event.  If your event is held on Council owned land, or requires a road closure, this is compulsory. Policies are usually issued in the name of the organisation running the event.  They automatically cover the actions of any volunteers carrying out duties on the organisation’s behalf.

Organisations that employ staff are required by law to provide employers liability insurance for their employees.

Contractors employed by event organisers also have to carry similar insurance cover. You should check that this is in place before awarding any contracts.

Make sure you have copies of any relevant insurance certificates available for inspection on the day of your event.

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