I often receive enquiries from people who are in the process of organising an outdoor event for the first time. Sometimes it is a Family Fun Day for their company, sometimes it is a Fund Raising Event or it could be a Community Event etc. Usually they start by telling me that they have never organised an event like this before and don’t know exactly what they want. These days they are probably contacting me because they are interested in booking a Children’s Entertainer, Magician, or a Punch and Judy Show. They are not seeking advice on the overall planning of the event.
Invariably the conversation leads to a discussion about where the children’s entertainment will be sited and what happens if it rains. The idea of having a wet weather plan has not occurred to them. We all hope it’s going to be a hot sunny day with just a light breeze,we imagine a perfect summers afternoon. Occasionally it is like this but more often it’s not.
Inclement weather can have many adverse effects :
Never underestimate the power of the wind. Gazebos, stalls and inflatables can all be lifted and blown over or blown away. This can be a serious risk and should not be ignored by organisers.
Surfaces become wet and slippery which can result in people falling over.
Electrical equipment can be dangerous in a damp / wet environment
Clothing, props and equipment which are soaking wet can be ruined or become useless
Performers and staff can’t do their jobs efficiently
Vehicles can become bogged down
Snow and Ice
Surfaces can be hazardous to walk on for performers and the public
Very cold or freezing temperatures can prevent proper use of fingers and hands when engaged in intricate work such as Face Painting or Balloon Modelling. The former could put the public at risk because if the artist can’t control the brush properly it could easily go into some one’s eye. Face Paining out side in very cold weather should not take place.
For many years I ran a company which specialized in providing entertainment at corporate events. I worked closely with my clients and I always planned carefully and tried to cover every eventuality including producing a wet weather plan.
It’s a good idea to make an overall, outline plan of the event first, before going into detail. Decide what facilities you are going to require ie marquees, portable toilets, a stage, public address, parking, refreshments, arena, first aid, side shows and entertainment. Make out a rough timetable, including set up times for everything and draw up a site layout.
At this stage I would recommend a few ” What if ” questions.
What if it rains, what if it snows, what if the wind gets up?
In making your wet weather plan you will have to take account of the effect inclement weather will have on every aspect of your event. Some things may not be affected. Others may only be able to function partially and some not at all.
If the event has to be cancelled because of inclement weather you will probably still have to pay for some of the services you have hired in. Even if the event proceeds during bad weather there may be certain suppliers who are unable to work in the prevailing conditions i.e. stilt walkers can’t work safely when it’s windy. You may still be liable to pay your suppliers in these circumstances. You should ask if there is an inclement weather clause in their contract so that you know where you stand. It is quite normal in the outdoor events business to have an inclement weather clause and it is fair and reasonable for suppliers to expect to be paid if they are at the event and ready to perform but can’t do so because of the elements.
Consider every aspect and decide what you can prepare for and what you can’t. Can some things be moved into a tent or marquee instead of outside. Which attractions will operate and which will close. Can the event go ahead or will it have to be cancelled? When will I have to make a decision on opening or closing?
It is possible to take out cancellation insurance. Here are a couple of insurance brokers I found on Google. I am not recommending these companies, you would need to consult them to see what they can offer:
Hiscox Events Insurance
Hole In One Insurance
Greenbee Events Insurance
Copy and paste these names into the Google Search Box or run a search on “Event Cancellation Insurance”
You should also review your wet weather plan when making your risk assessments.
Finally I do recommend that the organiser should check the site prior to the event to ensure that all necessary precautions relating to the possible onset of inclement weather are in place. Pay particular attention to anything that could be affected by strong winds. Make sure you are aware of objects and structures that might be a problem. Check anchorage on marquees, bouncy castles and inflatables. Don’t assume that you can trust everyone. There may be staff who are inexperienced, untrained or even lacking in motivation. Things can go wrong. Always check yourself for peace of mind. I always found this to be the best policy.
In summary having a wet weather plan is essential when organising an outdoor event in the UK.
I hope these notes are useful and I would appreciate your views on the subject or hearing about your experiences. Please feel free to comment. Thanks