Outdoor Event Planning Checklist

A checklist for helping ensure an outdoor event runs smoothly through good advanced planning. Considerations including site access and bad weather provision.

How to plan ahead for your major event and ensure all bases are covered

The famous quote from statesman and American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin “if you fail to plan then you’re planning to fail” is certainly appropriate when planning an outdoor event; prior organisation is very important. By looking ahead and making a list of what’s required it’ll help ensure nothing is overlooked that could spoil or even prevent your big event going ahead.

Here is a basic checklist to help you plan.

Established or ‘new’ venue

If it’s a location often used for hosting outdoor events, then it’s possible that a degree of infrastructure is already in place such as a water and power supply and perhaps general safety lighting.

If it’s a new or seldom used outdoor location, then you may have to take care of everything. This could include providing power to the site, organising safe and convenient access for those supplying services and taking part in the event, and of course your visitors.


Most outdoor events will require permits of one sort or another depending on their nature and where they’re held. Check with the relevant local authority – many have details on their websites of their basic requirements such as this example.

Plan ahead with this as there are usually minimum time frames in terms of how long before your planned event you should apply for permits, and the time taken to issue them.

Site visit

A site visit should be undertaken to create a plan for what is required, where it might be sited, and at least a basic diagram drawn up of the proposed layout of the event.

Check access; bear in mind maybe large lorries may need to get in and out of the location to deliver and collect equipment, is there enough room for them? Is public access convenient and easy?

Take into account possible changing conditions; for example, you may be surveying the site in the dry – what might happen if it’s wet due to heavy rainfall prior to or during the event itself? Damp grass with heavy vehicular and footfall traffic can soon deteriorate; you may require some all weather access facility in the form of temporary walkways designed to protect vulnerable grass and make for safe movement around the site.

Layout plan provided for participants

Ideally a diagram of the layout should be supplied to your participants (if appropriate). The area of the site where they’ll be situated should be clearly marked with tape or small posts to act as guides for when they arrive to set up.

Order services and equipment in good time

Once you’ve ascertained what is required for your event such as laying on power, catering facilities and so forth then ordering them in good time from the various suppliers and contractors is key. For example, if you need several portable toilets ensure you order them by the supplier’s deadline and coordinate onsite delivery with them.


In the UK you certainly can’t be sure what the weather will be like, but you can plan for various eventualities to a degree. At the very least monitor the weather forecasts for the location and, if possible, have a contingency plan if poor weather results.

For example, can some of the events or activities be moved under cover? If high winds are forecast, ensure vulnerable items are anchored firmly. Maybe you can insure your event against losses caused by weather?

Clearing up and aftermath

Don’t forget preparations for when it’s all over. You may have to be clear of the site by a certain time after your event finishes, so be sure all participants (if appropriate) know when they should clear their equipment off the site by.

Ensure other hired equipment will have been removed by the contractor by the deadline and that the site is clear of debris. Organising a gang to clear litter and check over the site on a certain day or evening after the event could be worthwhile.

Smooth running

To ensure your event runs smoothly, a final touch is to ensure expert help is available either onsite or at least at short notice and close at hand if required. For example, an electrician to deal with problems with the power supply or other onsite electrics, plumbing expertise to attend to issues with the water supply, and maybe a technician to look after sound or lighting equipment should faults occur is the type of back up worth organising.

The more bases you can cover, the smoother your event will run.


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