Hiring a marquee

However large or small the event, from a dinner party for 30 people to an exhibition hall catering for hundreds of exhibitors, hiring a marquee has become a practical and popular solution for providing a comfortable environment and a unique atmosphere in which to hold your event.

With the introduction of Modern flooring, and heating systems you are no longer confined to holding your event within the summer months.

Where to start

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How much space do I need to accommodate the marquee?
  • Which kind of marquee should I choose?


The two most commonly used marquees are frame marquees and traditional marquees.

A frame marquee does not need any additional space for guy ropes and as a rule, so long as you have the space available for the size of structure you require, it will fit into the site. A traditional marquee (or more modern tension tent) can be more aesthetically pleasing, but requires a minimum of 1m / 1.5m (3ft / 5ft) all round, in addition to its size, to allow for the guy ropes. If the only area available is a hard standing surface then a frame marquee is the sensible choice (however it is still possible to use a traditional marquee if you prefer).

In addition to these kinds of marquees - a whole range of alternative tents are available to hire. Things like Yurts, Big Tops, Wigwams, Bedouin Tents, Stretch Tents, Capri Marquees, Moghul Tents and Tipi's are becoming more and more popular. To learn more about these types of alternative tents or to contact a supplier near you - please click here.

What size do I require?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How may people do I wish to accommodate?
  • Are the guests formally seated at tables or is it a buffet with occasional tables?
  • Is it standing only? Or seating only (auditorium)?
  • Do I need a service tent?
  • Am I having music and a dance floor?
  • Do I require space for an initial reception area?

The marquee size guide is designed to give you an approximate indication of the size of marquee you may require, in order to help when making an initial enquiry (it is not a definitive guide).

Size of Marquee, Number of Guests

(Seated at Tables)
(Seated at Tables with dancefloor)
20 x 20 feet 6 x 6 metres 45 32 -
20 x 30 feet 6 x 9 metres 67 48 32

Seating is based on 8 people sitting around a 5’ table with table service (it does not allow for any buffet tables). 5’6” tables which can take 10 people are also available and although a little more cosy, they can be used in place of the 5’ to give you a greater capacity.

A 20’ x 20’ dance floor should be suitable for approximately 100 people. Much Larger sizes of marquee are available in clear spans of up to 30m / 40m wide and to any length.

Questions / Advice:

When hiring a marquee you should expect professional advice from the company at every step of the event process – from initial contact to consultation on the day. A good hirer will listen to what expectations and boundaries you have for your event – and then give you advice and suggestions that are specific to your requirements.

Questions to ask the hirer:

The first thing to establish is where and when your event will take place – and whether the hirer covers your area and has availability on your chosen date. Click here to make an initial enquiry to a large selection of hirers who work in your area.

After this, you should ask for advice on the size of marquee you need (see size chart above) – it is very important you get the size correct – too small a marquee and your event could be crowded, too big a marquee and your event could feel empty.

The hirer should also be able to offer advice about the best internal layout of the marquee for your particular event.

Another thing you need to discuss before the hire is confirmed, are the timescales for erection and dismantling of the marquee and who will be cleaning up the site. You should have a detailed description of what you are getting for your money and what isn’t included in the price (if anything) e.g. travel expenses, VAT etc.

Most hirers should be able to supply referrals and recommendations from past customers – and this is something that can be discussed along with details of the hirer’s past experience.

Other questions include:

  • What insurance does the marquee hirer hold?
  • Does the company offer lighting, heating and power (see below for further details)

Heating and power


Indirect Blower heaters are the most efficient form of heating for a marquee, and would normally be provided by your marquee hirer.

Heating is obviously essential during winter, however even during the summer months it is still advisable to have heaters on standby, as the weather can be inclement and the evenings chilly. (Book heaters in advance - don’t rely on leaving it to the last minute as hirers only have a limited amount available).

NB: You should make your hirer aware of any underground or overhead services that might affect the positioning of your marquee.


Power requirements are a very important consideration. Catering, bands, interior / exterior lighting and heating can require a large amount of power. Things can get very messy and dangerous if you try to run lots of separate extension leads to various parts of the nearest building in order to split the load.

Most reputable marquee hirers use qualified electricians who specialise in installing power for outdoor events. They can tap into the main fuse board of the nearest building and run a high capacity power cable to the marquee with a distribution board on the end. Make sure that whoever performs this operation is a qualified electrician.

For larger events it is sensible to consider the hire of a back-up generator and even a standby electrician for the evening, because if there was to be a power failure your event could be ruined.