Tips for planning a party for friends and family

From 19 July COVID19 restrictions are due to be relaxed, allowing larger gatherings.

For over a year we’ve all stayed away from large gatherings and missed out on celebrating those big birthdays and milestones with friends and family. From 19 July 2021, when restrictions are due to be lifted, we can look forward to getting our family and friends together to make up for lost time. Planning an event for a large number of people can be daunting, especially after a year of lockdowns and limited social contact, so we’ve put together a list of things to consider to make your catchup celebration one to remember for all the right reasons!

Plan for the British weather
At Amazing Tents we supply event structures for large festivals, but our smaller configurations are perfect for family parties and weddings too. These provide much needed shade and rain cover to keep your party going whatever the weather, and save needing to find an indoor space large enough.

Arrange catering
Preparing food for a large gathering can be quite a feat, so hiring in outside catering can be a great way to reduce the stress of organising a party. There are plenty of options to suit every budget from supermarket food platters to hiring a personal chef! If you bring in outside caterers to work at the party we can provide marquees and tents to accommodate food preparation areas.

Keep your guests hydrated
Its easy to get carried away thinking about alcoholic options like wine and cocktails for parties, but don’t forget to plan non alcoholic drinks for those avoiding alcohol, children and to keep guests hydrated between alcoholic drinks too. Jugs of water with fruit and ice are a great option to keep guests hydrated but also look great and can add to your decoration.

Provide entertainment
Music and other entertainment can be a great way to get the party atmosphere started. It doesn’t have to be expensive, a mobile phone or tablet connected to a speaker is a great option. You could also consider a local band or musician to bring that special touch to your gathering.

Think about the kids
Many family parties will include children, and keeping them entertained means a well-earned break for their parents! Bouncy castles, garden games such as croquet, and organised activities like scavenger hunts are a great way to keep them busy. You might also want to consider a separate marquee or tent to give children a covered space just for them.

A small saddlespan tent configuration for garden partyParty with a saddlespan tent

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Live opera in a SaddleSpan tent

Every year clients amaze us with the inventiveness of their events, the setting, the staging, the lights or the performances themselves.

But Scottish Opera really won the prize this year for the most unusual and inspiring event – a performance of Pagliacci in a tent.

And not just any tent, but an Amazing Tent Co QuadSpan tent, which accommodated the live orchestra, all the cast who moved around the tent and the audience who were mainly standing to enjoy the whole movement and sense of the opera.

This was Scottish Opera’s attempt at bringing opera to a wider audience, attracting many people who had perhaps never seen one before. It has widely been recognised as a huge success, and a world first in terms of the format and staging of the opera.

Take a look at this video on the Scottish Opera YouTube account of the set-up of the event:

And this video of the news coverage on STV:

We certainly had our challenges – being in Paisley, Scotland, we had to contend with those strong Scottish winds. But what a successful event! The QuadSpan offered a vast space for the performance, that worked well with the lighting and the orchestra. We were very proud to support this unique event and provide event cover for Scottish Opera.

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Amazing Tent Co to supply cover for the UK’s number one outdoor cinema event company

We are delighted to announce that this year we’ll be working with The Luna Cinema to provide temporary event cover for their brand new open-air cinema season designed specifically for kids.

Luna Kids Cinema will be touring six venues across the UK from July to September, screening family-friendly classics alongside this year’s blockbusters, as well as the first ever outdoor screenings of The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and Stick Man. All the screenings will utilise the highest definition outdoor screen in the country, meaning a crystal-clear picture even in full daylight for an amazing cinematic experience.

We are providing SaddleSpan tents for six children’s cinema events in Dulwich Park, London; Hatfield House, Hertfordshire; Hampton Court Palace; Priory Park, Surrey; Heaton Park, Manchester and Tatton Park, Cheshire.

Simon Fookes, director of Amazing Tent Co, said: “We are really pleased to be working with the team at Luna Kids Cinema. These are seriously cool events at fantastic locations around the UK. But the focus is on a quality experience for the audience, from the sound and lighting to the food and drink suppliers, so we are delighted to be working with Luna Kids Cinema to help provide that experience.”

George Wood, founder of The Luna Cinema, said: “We are delighted to be working with Amazing Tent Co for the very first Luna Kids Cinema this summer. Luna Kids will celebrate all that is great about cinema for children of all ages – this last year has been so fantastic for kids’ films, with pictures like Paddington 2, Coco and Despicable Me 3 topping box office charts and delighting adults and children alike. To experience these films, alongside timeless classics such as Aladdin, Up and The Incredibles, on a giant high definition screen will make for a truly unique summer family outing. No one wants to be cooped up in a darkened room during the summer holidays – Luna Kids encourages us all to get out in the open air and enjoy some of the most stunning parks and historic sites in the country, and Amazing Tent Co’s SaddleSpan tents will only enhance the experience.”

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Event structures – any size, anywhere

Every event needs a location and a venue. If you’ve got a site and need a structure, there is an endless world of possibilities, but often a list of problems and questions as well.

At Amazing Tent Co we are experts in temporary event structures, specifically SaddleSpan tents, one of the most adaptable and robust, yet impressive, temporary structures available for events. And we want people to know that you really can have your event anywhere and still have an amazing structure to cover it.

We have the largest stock of SaddleSpans in the UK, supplying them for major festivals, corporate events, parties and exhibitions. There is barely a location we haven’t been to or a situation our team hasn’t had to deal with – sloping ground, bad weather, difficult access, you name it, we’ve has seen it.

Simon Fookes, managing director of Amazing Tent Co, said: “When we are approached by event managers or festival directors, they have lists of requirements and we like to be able to say ‘yes’ to every one of them.

“We visit each one of their sites, and provide advice and guidance on the right structure, the exact siting of it, the different configurations and which parts to enclose or keep open.”

Simon added: “When Amazing Tent Co and Nomadic Spaces came together it formed the largest SaddleSpan installation team in Europe. Each team member brings a dynamic set of skills and experience to every project, ensuring its success.

“We want event and festival organisers to know, you don’t need to have all the answers when you come to us, just an idea of what you want to achieve at your event or festival.”

SaddleSpan tents can be put up on any ground surface from grass to concrete and they come in a range of sizes, catering for just a few hundred people up to 15,000- 20,000. They are often used for stage cover, festival tents, exhibition spaces, parties and balls.

The opaque fabric cover of the SaddleSpan is easy to brand with company logos and can even be used as a stunning film screen.

They can be entirely open, closed on one or two sides, or completely enclosed, depending on the needs of the event.

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7 top tent tips for running a successful event

Without sounding big-headed, we’re pretty much experts at this stuff. We can empathise with you on the jaw-clenching, huffing and puffing process of organising events, but don’t you worry, we’re here to help!

Here’s 7 tips, for a happy client:

  1. Safety first – we all want to have a great time at a party, but tripping over a loose cable, flying 3ft across the room and splatting on the floor is not just embarrassing, but dangerous. Where there’s a blame, there’s a claim – don’t let it be against you.
  1. We all talk about how organised we are on CV’s and in pitches, but when it comes down to it, sometimes doing comes before planning. This may seem like the right thing to do at the time, but you’ll always be left with the dreaded ‘I feel like I’ve forgotten something’ feeling in the run up to the event. Make lists, spreadsheets, plan the event as a series of interlinked projects – whatever works for you. Stay on top of deadlines and deposits, as well as managing your budget closely. However, at the same time, try to be flexible, some things are going to occur that aren’t in your spreadsheet or on your ‘to do’ list. Make a note of everything you’ve done for this event and in what order, to give yourself a checklist for next time.
  1. Treat the guests, give them something different, something special they haven’t seen before. Something they’d want to share on Instagram! Consider standout features to create the all-important wow factor. This could range from incorporating a funky feature like an ice bar, a photo-booth or even just creating an exciting atmosphere by lighting up your SaddleSpan with different coloured vibrant lighting. If your guests are dining, try changing the light colours throughout the different courses.
  1. Keep calm and take control. It sounds like simple advice, but if you’re able to stay calm then this will keep your team at ease and will reflect positively to your client. By establishing friendly relations, even in the midst of a crisis, you’ll build goodwill and help create positive energy at your event.
  1. Expect the unexpected. The beauty of being an event organiser, is that you’re the most sheer resilience of facing unexpected problems. Don’t keep these unexpected hiccups to yourself, sometimes they’re out of your control, keep your team in the loop, one of them might have a solution you haven’t thought of.
  1. Switch off. This doesn’t make you non-committed to your job or the event, it allows your brain to get the rest it needs in order to make the right decisions. You’re better off using all of your brain power some of the time than using some of your brain power all of the time!
  1. Utilise your suppliers. Don’t do their work for them, if you’re paying for a service, trust them to be able to deliver that service effectively. Don’t be guilty of thinking ‘if you want a job done properly do it yourself’ leave it to the professionals – like us.


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It’s been great to get feedback through our beloved Twitter and Facebook about how much you all enjoy seeing our beautiful SaddleSpans out and about. We’ve been enjoying some of the snaps you’ve shared online and thought we’d take things one step further.

We’ve launched an ‘Upcoming Events’ section on our website to let you know where you can #SpotOurSaddlespans – we’ll be popping up all over the country so look out for us soon at an event near you! If you’re thinking of booking one of our lovely tents, why not take the opportunity to come along and look at them in person. Or if we’ve not listed anything in your area, drop us a line – it may just be that we are around the corner but are unable to publicise our attendance. We do guard our clients’ confidentially seriously, but if we can tell you, we will!

And don’t forget, if you do #SpotOurSaddleSpans then don’t forget to hashtag us – we love seeing your snaps!

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The wow factor venue: dress to impress

One of the easiest ways to create a memorable event is by doing something unique and forever memorable. Create a magical, bespoke venue, which will immediately excite your guests. Once you’ve sorted the venue, it’s time to dress it to impress!

We know more than most folk about the importance of your venue matching the theme of your event. It’s the first thing people see when they walk into a venue and we all know first impressions are extremely important. Why not try some spectacular effects? After all, you want your guests to have the wow factor when they walk in!

So what are our trade secrets?

  • Choose your venue wisely. It needs to work hard to meet all the demands of your agenda. Whether it’s a historic house, a hotel or a custom venue such as one of our SaddleSpans, it needs to reflect the ethos of your event.
  • Think about how you’ll make your venue into a show stopping event to convey your theme. The beauty of our structures is that they allow your branding to be showcased onto a blank canvas. If you want to fully brand inside and out, you can! Or you can have a light show, projections…the only limit is your imagination (and the budget!)
  • Think big. Imagine your venue buzzing with your guests. Smaller or lower decoration won’t necessarily be visible when you’ve got a roomful of attendees – unless they are going to be sitting down to dinner or to hear conference speeches. Given the height of our SaddleSpans, branding effectively is easily achievable – you can create extremely effective results with lighting which won’t cost the earth.
  • Innovative technology definitely has a place in bringing an event to life. Motion graphics, glassless 3D screens, live streaming video, augmented reality and other techniques such as video mapping can all help your event have the wow factor.
  • Sometimes less is more. You might want to showcase one particular logo or use one lighting theme to create a spectacular backdrop – the large area of a SaddleSpan means you have the space to play with to create the look and feel you’re aiming for.

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SaddleSpan stage covers confirmed for Charlie Gillett stage at WOMAD 2015

Amazing Tents is proud to announce that the SaddleSpan S5000 will once again be the stage cover for the BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett stage at WOMAD 2015 festival.

Many internationally renowned artists have performed under the S5000’s protective roof in previous years, including last year’s extensive line-up. 2014’s festival saw Caci Vorba, Yaaba Funk, 9 Bach, Elemotho, Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys, Cigdem Aslan and The Chair all take to the Charlie Gillett stage.

The stage is named after the celebrated British radio presenter and musicologist who died in 2010 following a highly successful career promoting world music (and, incidentally, discovering legendary bands such as Ian Dury and Dire Straits).

What to expect at WOMAD 2015

The organisers of this year’s world music festival, held in Charlton Park in the Wiltshire town of Malmesbury, are so far keeping the details of the 2015 line-up under their hats.

Tickets are now on sale for the summer event, but the only act confirmed so far is the Australian blues singer-songwriter C.W Stoneking. We eagerly await more line-up news, but at least the S5000 is primed and ready for a bumper selection of talented world musicians. Around 40,000 music fans are expected on each day of the event, taking place on the last weekend of July, so if you’re one of them – look out for the SaddleSpan stage cover. You should be able to spot it by its unique ‘saddle’ shape.

Why are SaddleSpan tents so popularly used as stage covers?

There are quite a lot of reasons why so many of the UK’s top festivals, music and performance events make use of SaddleSpan S5000 tents as stage covers.

The first of these is obvious – the tent’s unique shape makes it the perfect frame for a live performance act. It shelters acts and crew from the elements, specially designed to withstand winds of up to 60mph, and provides the audience with the ideal focal point. It is also perfect for rigging lighting, sound and other effects –whilst still retaining a very modern, almost futuristic look. You could even go so far as to say that the S5000 is stylish, especially when branded with festival colours, logos or lighting effects.

The SaddleSpan S5000 is also very versatile, which is perhaps why so many festivals – including WOMAD – choose it. It comes in a canopy form, where both ends are open, and a canopy configuration, where a back wall is added. It can also be enclosed, when it instantly becomes a large marquee suitable for all kinds of special events. As well as being modular, so you can connect it to other SaddleSpan configurations, the stage cover is also safe and easy to build, saving festival organisers some valuable installation time.

Just as importantly – audiences seem to love the SaddleSpan stage covers, which get a fantastic reaction every time they grace a festival field during the day or when night falls. Long may it continue!

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