Information for Event Organisers

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Important Information for Event Organisers

Stay Local - Events are not currently permitted, find out what you can and cannot do 

The Government Covid-19 Response – Spring 2021 plan outlines a four step roadmap for easing Covid-19 restrictions. It states how the Government and industry representatives are exploring how events with larger crowd sizes and less social distancing can resume safely. Starting in April, the Government will carry out research to include a series of pilots using enhanced testing approaches and other measures to run events with larger crowd sizes and reduced social distancing to evaluate the outcomes. The aim is for a consistent approach to lifting restrictions on events and depending on the outcome of this research, the Government has stated that it hopes to be able to lift restrictions on events no earlier than 21 June 2021.
There are other important dates which will impact upon events this year and full details of the Government's roadmap are contained in the Covid-19 Response – Spring 2021 plan and the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Organised events guidance for local authorities but we have outlined below the main points from the four step plan in relation to events.

Step 1: From 29 March
The majority of outdoor sports and leisure facilities are permitted to open and organised outdoor sports are permitted to take place. People will be able to meet outside in groups up to a maximum of 6 people (the Rule of 6) or with one other household, though people from different households will still need to socially distance from each other. The rules on social contact outdoors will apply in these setting
Step 2: No Earlier than 12 April
Outdoor attractions including outdoor hospitality, such as zoos, theme parks are permitted to open and drive-in cinemas and drive-in performance events permitted to take place. The rules on social contact outdoors will apply in these settings. Outdoor gatherings must still be limited to 6 people or 2 households as in Step 1.

Step 3: No Earlier than 17 May

Remaining outdoor entertainment such as outdoor theatres and cinemas will be permitted to open.
Controlled indoor events of up to 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower, will be permitted, as will outdoor events with a capacity of either 50% or 4,000 people, whichever is lower.
Large, outdoor, seated venues where crowds can be safely distributed, allowing up to 10,000 people or 25% of total seated capacity, whichever is lower will be permitted. For example, a football stadium.
At this stage, the Government aims to ease limits on social contact and it will be up to each individual to make informed personal decisions although gatherings of more than 30 people outdoors will remain illegal. COVID-Secure guidance will remain in place and premises must not cater for groups larger than the legal limits.
Step 4: No Earlier than 21 June
Large events to be permitted with higher than the previously set capacities subject to the outcome of the Scientific Events Research Programme and potentially using testing to reduce the risk of infection. This is subject to further evaluation.

It is important to note that these dates are subject to change and depend upon data relating to:
1.The continued success of the vaccine deployment programme.
2.Evidence showing vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
3.Infection rates that do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
4.The Government's assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

Whilst this roadmap provides a useful indication of the direction of travel, the dates in the four step process are not definitive and could change.  So it should be remembered that any events planned are subject to postponement / cancellation even if it has been given permission, if it is necessary to help prevent the spread of infection.

For all event applications, see the event application process information below and note that this process can take up to 12 weeks.



For all updated government information -

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Organised events guidance for local authorities

Covid-19 Response - Spring 2021

Guidance for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) sectors in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) 

NHS Test and Trace 

Create a coronavirus NHS QR code for your venue 

Events Industry Forum: Keeping workers and audiences safe during COVID-19 in the Outdoor Event Industry in England. Download document

Guidance for people who work in performing arts, including arts organisations, venue operators and participants 

Guidance for the public on the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation 

Working Safely - The Visitor Economy

Meeting Others Safely - Social Distancing  

Event Application Process

Southampton - The Ideal Location for Events and Promotional Activities
From small scale community events to large one-off national and international events, Southampton really is the ideal city for your next event. The city boasts more than 50 parks and green spaces and some of these are located right in the heart of the city centre.  
Southampton’s Guildhall Square is well known as the Cultural Quarter of the City and the space itself plays host to many events, installations and exhibitions.
Above Bar Pedestrian Precinct, Bargate Monument and Guildhall Square are popular locations for promotions and experiential marketing activities. 


The Process
It is useful to send Southampton City Council’s Events Team an email and briefly describe what it is you would like to do, where you would like to do it and when. 

They will then do a quick check to make sure that your proposed event or promotion does not clash with something else that is happening in the city at the same time and that the location you would like to hold your event is available and suitable.

Image: ABP Marathon

Lets ride image2

How much notice do you need?
Ideally, contact the Events Team about your event as soon as possible as the more notice they have, the more chance there is of being able to overcome any potential problems which may arise.

As a general rule, a minimum 12 weeks’ notice is required. Applications received within this period may not be able to be considered and processed in time, and large-scale or complex events may require even more notice.

Image: Let's Ride Southampton

Lets rock southampton crowd

Event and Promotions Application Form
If the location you would like to use is available and suitable to organise your event or promotion, you will be asked to complete and submit an Event and Promotions Application form to
The form is designed for all types of events and promotions, so please complete as much information as possible that is relevant to your event, you can always attach supporting information. If you have any questions or are unsure about anything, contact the Events Team for assistance. It is advisable to keep a copy of your completed application form together with the terms and conditions for your own records.

Image: Let's Rock Southampton

As well as completing and submitting the application form, you also need to submit -

  • Site Specific event risk assessment
  • COVID-19 risk assessment to take full account of the measures proposed to prevent and control the potential for COVID transmission.
  • Fire risk assessment
  • Public liability insurance
  • Site plan /route plan
  • Event Management Plan (EMP) to include event overview and schedule, traffic management plan and emergency procedures.
  • COVID ESAG Event Checklist*

Note that your plans and assessments may need to be reviewed and amended to comply and adhere with any changes in government guidelines and local restrictions in place at the time of your event.

Download and complete the * COVID ESAG Event Checklist as this will be used to assess your risk assessment and event plans, to ensure your documentation includes all the relevant information required before submission.  


  • If there a risk to local population health, taking into account local trends in the prevalence of coronavirus.
  • The relevant COVID-secure guidance and that all mitigations be operated effectively.
  • The impact on the local area and other adjacent areas.
  • Engaging appropriately with neighbouring businesses, transport operators to assess and mitigate risks arising from pressure on local and public transport.
  • Engaging appropriately with with local accommodation providers in the area in the event of overnight stays, including for event staff, workers and contractors.
  • The impact of increased footfall on the surrounding area and infrastructure including queue management and crowding outside of a venue.
  • If the attendees be primarily local, or will there be additional risk factors created by attracting a national or international audience for the event.

Event Organisers should take into account factors beyond the confines of the event site, including the cumulative impact of many venues re-opening or event sites being used in a small area at the same time; the impact the event might have on local community facilities; and the impact on transportation to and from the event.

Event Organisers must consider what COVID mitigations could be put in place for the specific event, the audience, the venue and the venue location, to alleviate risks such as -

  • Ensure social distancing between audience, performers, staff. 
  • Ensure audience are attending within legal gathering limits and that groups can be kept separate within the event. 
  • Ensure cleanliness in all areas. 
  • Demonstrate how good ventilation in any 'indoor 'spaces will be maintained. To be considered ‘outdoors’, shelters, marquees and other structures can have a roof but need to have at least 50% of the area of their walls open at all times whilst in use.
  • Encourage the support of the NHS Test and Trace system.
  • Encourage symptom-free testing for staff, performers, contractors and audience, timed to enable a test no more than 24hrs before attending event – see Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptom-free testing ( for how to get a test. 
  • Reducing the number of attendees to allow full social distancing and minimise any burden on local transport systems. 
  • Staggering entry times with other venues and taking steps to avoid queues building up in surrounding areas. 
  • Arranging one-way travel routes between transport hubs and venues.
  • Advising patrons to avoid particular forms of transport or routes and to avoid crowded areas when in transit to the venue, travelling on quieter routes where possible, sanitising hands regularly, wearing a face covering unless exempt, social distancing where possible.

Download an Event Management Plan template - this example can be adapted and can assist you in the whole planning process of your successful event.
Download a Guidance to Emergency Planning and Incident Reporting.
Also see - Guidance : Voluntary and community events a 'can do' guide


What happens next
Once your completed application and documentation has been received, it will be distributed to the Southampton’s Events Safety Advisory Group (ESAG).
This group consists of representatives from the Police, Fire and Ambulance services as well as other relevant Council departments such as Licensing and Highways.
Other agencies are also consulted as necessary depending on the nature of the event. 

Image: Southampton Mela Festival

In light of COVID-19, the City Council’s Public Health Team has recently joined the ESAG to review the COVID-19 risk assessments submitted with applications and provide advice from preventing the spread of infection (PSI) perspective; taking into account the current national guidance and the local context. This will assist Event Organisers to incorporate mitigating and control measures into their event plans to help prevent the spread of infection.

Event applications will be considered on a case by case basis.

The Grid 2

Activities associated with the event or incidental parts of it, will affect the risk of transmission of infection e.g.
- multiple day events.
- proximity of crowds.
- where a large proportion of the attendees and/or event staff will not be Southampton residents.
- where a large proportion of attendees and/or event staff are in a vulnerable risk group (older adults, BAME, disabled, etc).
- the behaviours the event promotes.
Assessment of the risks will include the event itself and the wider impact.

Image: The Grid Experience

Depending on the size, nature and duration, some events may be referred to the Health Protection Board (HPB); a multi-partnership board that is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of Southampton’s Outbreak Control Plan. It is important for the HPB to have a role in advising whether events should take place from a preventing spread of infection perspective and be able to assess any cumulative impact of multiple events taking place, as events could have an impact on the transmission of the virus within and outside the city.

If your application successfully passes through the ESAG (and Health Protection Board in some cases), you will be sent confirmation from Southampton City Council’s Events Team. 

It’s also important to note that at this time, all events are subject to cancellation without liability to the City Council and even when permission has been granted this could be revoked at any time, if necessary, which may include closing events that are already in progress.  

Event Applications FAQs

How much does it cost?
The cost of holding an event or promotion in Southampton varies depending on the location, the duration and nature of the event. Costs can be discussed with you on your initial application.

Costs for a promotional site in the city centre or Guildhall Square vary, depending on the location, size and duration. Please email for more information.

Charity / Fundraising Events
If you are organising a charitable collection as part of your event, you will need to apply for a Street Collection permit from the council's Licensing Team. Find out more about a Street Collection permit.

Do you need a Temporary Events Notice or Premises Licence?
The Events Team can advise if you will require a Temporary Events Notice (TENs) or a Premises Licence for your event.
A TENs - depends on the licensable activities (sale or supply of alcohol, regulated entertainment* and late night refreshment) at a small event (no more than 499 people at any one time) for a short period of time.
You will need to submit your COVID-19 risk assessment when applying for a TEN. Find out more about TENs 

A Premises Licence under the Licensing Act 2003 is required for any premises where any of the following take place: Sale of alcohol by retail / regulated entertainment* / the provision of hot food or hot drink between 23:00 and 05:00 on any day.
*Regulated entertainment is defined as:
- A performance of a play
- An exhibition of a film
- An indoor sporting event
- A boxing or wrestling entertainment
- A performance of live music
- Any playing of recorded music
- A performance of dance
- Anything similar to music or dancing
Find out more about a Premises Licence

Are you playing live or recorded music at your event?
Whether you’re staging music events or playing background music you may need TheMusicLicence. By obtaining TheMusicLicence you’ll be able to play PRS for Music and PPL music legally and enjoy its benefits whilst ensuring that its creators are fairly rewarded for their work.
Find out more about TheMusicLicence

Do you need to apply for a Temporary Road Closure?
A Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) is used to temporarily restrict the movement of traffic or impose waiting restrictions on the public highway. In order to allow sufficient time for the legal process to be completed, Balfour Beatty require a minimun of 8 weeks advanced notice to arrange a TTRO.
Contact Balfour Beatty via email or telephone 023 8079 8030
Find out more about applying for a TTRO  

Do you need a Child Performance Licence?
If any children under the age of 16 are performing at your event, it is your responsibility as the Event Organiser to apply for the appropriate Child Performance Licence.
Find out more about Child Performance Licence

Bouncy castles: safety advice
These simple precautions can help you avoid serious accidents, whether you supply bouncy castles and inflatables, or you are hiring one for your event.
Find out more from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website

Southampton City Council has recently introduced a Green City Charter which aims to create a cleaner, green, healthier and more sustainable city. In practical terms we are keen to ensure that the impact of your event on the environment is minimised. We want you to consider all elements of your event which help to achieve this goal. Consideration should be given to all aspects of your event including using alternatives to single use plastics; not permitting plastic straws or plastic bags, making use of re-usable or compostable cups, avoiding mixed material packaging, using re-usable bungee or Velcro straps rather than plastic cable ties, reusable water bottles, providing recycling facilities, using bio-diesel generators where possible, encouraging visitors to travel to the event via public transport, using local suppliers where possible.

Events and Festivals Grants
Southampton City Council offers grants to support event organisers to hold events and festivals across the city of Southampton. Grants of between £250 and £10,000 are available to support up to 75% of the costs of events and festivals that are accessible to the general public.
Who can apply?
- Non-for-profit organisations, including community groups, social enterprises, faith organisations, schools, PTAs and 'Friends of' groups
- For-profit businesses or sole traders (applications will be considered on a case by case basis)
- Priority will be given to residents and organisations/businesses based in the City of Southampton
Find out more about grants to support event organisers to hold events and festivals across the city of Southampton

More Grants for Events
Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grants
This is an open access programme for arts, museums and libraries projects. The fund supports thousands of individual artists, community and cultural organisations.

Promotional and Experiential Marketing Activities
There are several key locations that are used for promotional and experiential marketing activities or sampling. Please contact for more information and availability.

Private events
Unfortunately due to the holding powers which govern the use of the city's parks Southampton City Council are unable to give permission for private events or private parties. Please view this web link re parks information and do's and don'ts regarding BBQs.

Promoting your event
Take a look at our Top Tips here to add your event to Visit Southampton's free event listings.

If you require further information on holding an event or promotion in Southampton, please email

Southampton 2025 - UK City of Culture Bid

Southampton is bidding to become the UK City of Culture in 2025.

Southampton 2025 UK City of Culture Bid
Southampton 2025 UK City of Culture Bid

This is a huge opportunity for the city to celebrate the wealth of cultural activity already taking place, showcase the city’s diversity and use these to address some of the challenges the city is facing.
This is about celebrating what this city has and using the journey to achieve our ambitions as a city.

Your event can be part of this great opportunity to support the bid - get involved and find out more

Events Support

Events Support
Commercial services from Southampton City Council have reliable, professional services for event organisers in and around Southampton. They have extensive experience of delivering high quality services to residents in the city and can draw on that experience to deliver first-class services for your event including
Waste and recycling: incorporating provision of waste containers and waste disposal.
Cleansing: litter picking services and cleansing services during and after your event, jet washing and mechanical sweeping.
Digital advertising: Website and E-newsletters.
Find out more about Commercial Services: Lamp posts, lift doors.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - Guidance on running events safely
The HSE website will help organisers run events safely. Others may also find the website useful, eg contractors, health and safety advisers and workers at events. Good planning and organisation is essential to putting on an event that is both safe and enjoyable. For many events all that is required is to follow a basic series of steps.

HSE Guidance on running events safely
Venue and site design
Temporary demountable structures
Managing crowds safely
Using barriers at events
Falls from height
Electrical safety
Fire safety
Special effects
Amusements and attractions
Employee welfare
Handling waste

Crowded Places Guidance
NaCTSO (National Counter Terrorism Security Office) is responsible for providing advice and guidance to government and industry to; protect crowded places throughout the UK from the terrorist threat, protect hazardous sites and prevent dangerous substances from being used for terrorist purposes, protect critical national infrastructure from terrorists.

The UK faces a real threat from terrorism and crowded places remain an attractive target. Crowded places include shopping centres, sports stadia, bars, pubs and clubs and event sites which are easily accessible to the public and attractive to terrorists.

A guidance has been written to help those charged with security at crowded places mitigate the threat and help make the UK less vulnerable to an attack. Click on the Major Events section


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