Setting up festival catering marquees

If the primary aim of your marquee is to produce food or snacks, it is vital that you are aware of the licensing rules and food safety standards that apply.

Outdoor caterers will need to have their fire safety permit and food safety permits signed by the event’s safety officer and fire officer before trading begins. The following should be up-to-date and on display at all times:

  • An electrical safety inspection certificate
  • Portable appliance test records
  • A gas safety inspection certificate
  • Food hygiene certificates
  • Employer’s liability insurance
  • Industry standard fire extinguishers

Based on the principles of HACCP (hazard analysis critical control point), catering marquees must identify any “critical control points” where there may be potential hazards and reduce risks wherever possible. Mass catering companies should also decide what action to take if something goes wrong and keep appropriate records to show that these procedures are effective.

Marquee equipment and facilities

Electricity is available to most outdoor caterers, although stall owners should contact the organiser in advance if they want to be connected to the site supply. All electrical equipment must be properly insulated and earthed, and electrical wiring, sockets and plugs should be protected from the elements.

Festival marquees are unlikely to be connected to a mains water supply, but clean water should be available via water standpipes and an adequate supply must be kept in the storage area of the marquee. Remember that waste water is heavy and collection points may be some distance away.


Refuse sacks must be kept on site and rubbish should be removed regularly. It is important to ensure your entire catering area and areas for customer use are kept clean and tidy at all times.

It is illegal to wash your hands in sinks that are used for food or washing up, so make sure your marquee offers separate facilities and that they are within easy reach of the food preparation area.

Health & Safety

To comply with temperature control regulations, freezers should be kept at below -15°C and refrigerators should be kept below 5°C. Food temperatures should be monitored at least three times a day and readings should be kept in a log book.

Washable, non-slip floor coverings should be provided in food preparation areas and worktops must be solid, stable, washable and non-absorbent. If plastic sheeting is used, it must be strong enough to prevent tearing and be fixed or pinned securely to tabletops.

A good marquee hire company will be able to advise you on these and other relevant requirements and will help you to ensure that all the relevant standards are met. Contact Andrews Marquees for further information on catering marquees and use the resources on the governments’ Food Standards Agency to help you make your festival marquee a success.