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Event Planning: Venue and Site Design

Choose your venue carefully depending on the size of the event you are planning.  You should consider equipment and the number of people you plan to attract. Have a think about:

  • How many people are likely to attend – research similar events?  Is the site big enough to accommodate everyone comfortably?
  • Are there enough exits to get everyone out in an emergency?
  • Are there any features that might impact on the event?  e.g. ditches, banks, trees, overhead cables, gradients, ponds, rivers, sub stations, ground conditions etc.
  • Can you get any vehicles you need on and off the site without causing any damage or getting stuck?
  • If the event takes place in the evening is there adequate lighting?
  • Is it going to be accessible to everyone?
  • What will be the effect on parking in the surrounding area?
  • What are the timings for the event, particularly if the site is in a residential area.
  • Carry out a site visit and draw everything you need onto a site plan.  It makes it easier to visualise and explain to others. 
  • If it is local authority land or property, please contact the event coordinator at the Local authority to reserve the venue and check that there are no other events happening on or around the same time that might compete with yours. 

 Look at the facilities at your venue:

  • Toilet provision
  • Waste & Recycling facilities
  • Electricity supply
  • Water supply
  • Fencing required
  • Parking facilities

Decide if you need anything else to cater for the audience you hope to attract, but please remember that anything you hire will become your responsibility once it is on site and must be covered by your insurance. You need to think about these aspects early on so that you can arrange for services to be provided. Please note there may be an additional fee for these services.

It is essential to visit the proposed site to carry out a preliminary assessment and detailed risk assessment to determine whether it is suitable.


  • Available and viewing space for audience
  • Temporary structures
  • Back stage facilities
  • Parking
  • Camping
  • Rendezvous points
  • Separate access for emergency vehicles
  • Ground conditions
  • Traffic and pedestrian routes, and emergency access
  • Position and proximity of noise sensitive buildings
  • Geographical location - proximity to local services
  • Topography - could any natural features assist in noise reduction
  • Location and availability of utilities and services

Ensure the following factors are considered

  • Proposed occupant capacity
  • Profile of performers
  • Duration and timing of year that the event will take place
  • The proposed event activities and whether they are indoors or outdoors
  • The audience type/profile for these activities
  • Whether the audience will be standing, seated or a mixture of both
  • The proposed audience capacity
  • The circulation of the audience within the site
  • Access onto and around the site
  • The structures and facilities that will be required
  • Workforce to support the build-up, event and breakdown
  • Emergency plans for these aspects of the event
  • Profile of performers
  • Whether or not alcohol will be on sale
  • Nature of the event

What facilities should be provided?

  • stages
  • marquees
  • barriers
  • toilets
  • first aid
  • concessions
  • exits
  • entrances
  • hospitality area
  • sight lines
  • power
  • water
  • sewerage
  • utilities
  • perimeter fencing
  • viewing platforms
  • backstage requirements
  • waste disposal requirements.

Once a basic outline has been determined, detailed scaled site plans should be produced. As they are amended, ensure that plans are updated and made available to all members of your team and the events safety advisory group.

The capacity of a venue is generally dependent on the available space for people and the number of emergency exits. Some of the site will necessarily be taken up by structures. Areas that could afford partial or total cover to the audience, in the event of inclement weather, should be identified and the effects of audience movement to these areas considered.

The number of emergency exits needed for a venue depends directly on the occupant capacity and the appropriate evacuation times. Emergency exits should be clearly visible and free from obstruction.

Entrances provide the means for supervising, marshalling and directing the audience to the event. Access routes onto the site should be designed to cope with the peak demand, and should not converge. They should be simple, easy to follow, direct, and where possible, avoid cross flows.

Production infrastructure and backstage requirements will depend upon the type, size and duration of the event. Typically, production offices, refreshment facilities, accommodation (for workers and artists), dressing rooms, storage space and equipment will need to be accommodated back stage, and should be inaccessible to members of the public. Try to keep performers' areas separate from production and working areas.

The site should be designed so that fire & ambulance requirements, such as parking areas, first-aid posts, rendezvous points and triage areas are readily accessible and easily identified. Fire appliances should be able to access all parts of the site to within 50m of any structure.

Emergency access and egress routes should be established and kept clear at all times.