Throwing a Christmas Fair? When do you need a Temporary Licence?


18 August 2018

By Elizabeth Bradshaw

You’ll be pleased to hear you can host a ton of activities without needing an official licence. However, for your peace of mind, we've broken down exactly what you need to know so even if you are doing a ‘one-off’ event, you won’t fall foul of the law.

Do You Need a Licence for a Raffle?

In short, no. 

However, there are a few rules you’ll need to abide by:

  • Tickets need to be sold 
  • The raffle can’t be the main event; it must be incidental to the Christmas fair. 
  • The winner must be announced at the fair. 
  • You can’t deduct more than £100 from the proceeds. 
  • The prizes can't be worth more than £500; however, this doesn’t include donated gifts. 
  • The awards can’t be just money. 

If you’re offering alcohol as a prize, you don’t need a licence (providing the alcohol is an unopened bottle).

Are You Setting Up a Market Stall?

If you're setting up a market stall on a public street as part of your Christmas fair, you'll need to obtain a temporary street trading licence (also known as a casual licence). Otherwise, you won't be able to sell your goods. 

You may find that restrictions are imposed on two of the following aspects of your stall:

  • Where you set up
  • The size of your stand

How About Hosting Entertainment?

If you’re hosting entertainment between 8 am and 11pm, you shouldn't need a licence. This extends to live musical performances for audiences up to 200 people.

However, if you're planning on playing pre-recorded music at your Christmas fair, then ensure the venue has a licence from the Performing Rights Society and/or Phonographic Performance Limited. If you don't, your punters won't be able to enjoy the classic Christmas tunes a seasonal fair so desperately needs. 

What About Serving Alcohol?

If you’re planning on selling alcohol, you’ll need one of the two licences: 

1.    A ‘Premises Licence’: this elects a ‘supervisor’ who has permission to sell alcohol.
2.    A ‘Club Premises Certificate’ 

If you want to sell alcohol at a bar without having either of these licences, you’ll have to apply for temporary event notice. 

Things to Know About Temporary Event Notice (TEN)

A TEN can only be applied and given to one person; you can obtain one by filling out the necessary application online and paying a sum of £21. 
Here are a few additional things about TENs you should know about (we’ve selected the points most relevant for a Christmas fair):

  • An event shouldn’t last any longer than 168 hours.
  • If you’re hosting more than one occasion that requires two TENs, there must be a 24-hour period between the two. 
  • One premise can only utilise 15 TENs each year if you don’t have a personal licence (50 if you do).
  • You can’t have more than 499 people on the premises. 

When Should I Apply for a TEN?

We suggest applying for a temporary licence at least two to three months in advance of your Christmas fair, as this process is often encumbered with tiresome delays. 

Do You Need a Licence for Selling Food?

If you’re a non-profit organisation, you can sell and serve food, providing everything complies with the Food Safety Act. A licence isn't necessary if both of the following apply:

1.    If it’s a one-off event or you’re serving food infrequently. 
2.    If the food is ‘low risk,’ i.e., packaged goods that need storing at room temperature. 

However, if you want to sell higher risk foods, i.e. hot food, then you need to register for a temporary licence with your local Council. 

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues. 

If you need any assistance or have questions regarding any of the above, please contact Gemma Lee at or call her on 01206 369889.