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Festivals Toolkit: Health & Safety: Licensing

What Will I Need A Licence For?
Licences will be needed whenever regulated entertainment is performed in front of a live audience or spectators for the purpose of entertaining that audience.

You will need either a Premises Licence (with or without the sale of alcohol) or a Temporary Event Notice.

You will need a Premises Licence if you use premises for:

  • The sale or supply of alcohol
  • The provision of regulated entertainment where the entertainment takes place in front of an audience such as:
    • The performance of a play
    • An exhibition of a film
    • A performance of live music
    • Any playing of recorded music
    • A performance of dance
  • The provision of late night refreshment – i.e. hot food or drink between the hours of 11pm and 5am.

You will need a Personal Licence if you wish to sell alcohol from premises.

You will need to give a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) for small, short events that are not covered by an existing Premises Licence.  These are applicable for events attended by fewer than 500 people and running for up to 96 hours.  Events such as small outdoor concerts will be covered by this provision.

Temporary Event Notice (TEN)
This involves an event organiser giving a temporary event notice (TEN) to the licensing authority and copying this to the police.

TENs can be used to authorise relatively small-scale ad hoc events held in or on any premises involving no more than 499 people at any one time. The premises user (i.e. the event organiser) must, no later than 10 working days before the day on which the event is to start, give duplicate copies of the notice to the relevant licensing authority, together with the prescribed fee – £21.  A copy of the notice must also be given to the relevant chief officer of police no later than 10 working days before the day on which the event is to start.

Each event covered by a TEN can last up to 96 hours and no more than twelve TENs can be given in respect of any particular premises in any year, subject to a maximum aggregate duration of the periods covered by TENs at any individual premises of 15 days in any year. There must be a minimum of 24 hours between events notified by a premises user or associates of that premises user in respect of the same premises.

Provided that the criteria set out above are met, only the police may intervene to prevent an event covered by a TEN notice taking place or agree a modification of the arrangements for such an event and then only on crime prevention grounds.

There are comprehensive briefing notes available on this topic from the Voluntary Arts Network (sign-in to access briefings):

  • VAN briefing no 79: Licensing Act 2003
  • VAN briefing no 101: What’s happening with the Licensing Act 2003?

Legislated matters such as licensing need to be dealt with carefully in order for a festival to operate within the law. It is always advisable to seek legal advice and/or discuss the nature of your proposed activity/event with the local authority responsible for licensing in the area. Local authorities as the licensing authority often pay for the licensing of public spaces such as parks and public squares which can then be used by festivals for their events. Your local authority will be able to advise you on this and any other queries you may have concerning for example processions and carnivals and the Licensing Act 2003.

Further information:

Obtaining an entertainment/premises licence:
Contact your district or borough council. In Derbyshire it is the district and borough authorities which have responsibility licensing premises, not the county council.

The process for applying for an entertainment/premises licence is straightforward but do allow enough time for your application to be processed. Councils vary in their speed of processing applications (the minimum is 10 working days but it can take up to 8 weeks), and familiarise yourself in advance of submitting your application with the requirements/conditions that may be applied to your licence.  You can also refer to the information on this site about music licenses.

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