A Guide To Marquee Hire

Tables laid up

If you are trying to organise or host a marquee event you could easily be confused by the choice available.

When you look at the glossy pictures on websites every page offers yet another shape, colour or style of marquee and they all look fantastic! The sky is blue, the sun is shining, everyone smiling and happy and it is easy for you to imagine your party or reception happening in any one of these marquees.

It is great to be offered such choice but it is important to understand the differences in design and capabilities of each and what benefits they offer you….

What is a the Difference between a Marquee and Frame Tent?

This will always be open to debate but when we joined the industry 30 years ago a ‘Marquee’ was always a “Soft” structure made from stretching canvas over poles and tensioned by guy ropes.

A ‘Frame Tent’ was a “Hard” structure made by fitting covers to a rigid frame.

The modern dictionary definition (Oxford online) describes a marquee as; “A large tent used for social and commercial events”.

This more liberal definition has led to almost any structure being referred to as a Marquee. If you google “Marquee Hire” the results will certainly return at least one company offering small and lightweight type structures. I am not denigrating their design or purpose but it illustrates the confusion when trying to compare prices and companies.

Getting The Right Marquee

The majority of events are a ‘One Off’ and whether it is your wedding, special birthday or a business product launch you will want to get it right.  Second takes are not an option and it is essential to take time and care selecting your style of marquee and supplier.

Which Marquee is best for Your Event?

This will ultimately be a balance of the following:

  • Budget
  • Individual style preference
  • Practicality of chosen marquee
  • Site layout

This could involve a compromise and be a hard call, but this needs to be addressed at the outset.

If your dream style breaks the budget or will only work on a calm sunny day then you will spend the lead up time being anxious.

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Different Marquee Types

Traditional Marquees

These are the original canvas marquees. Complete with centre poles and guy ropes. In recent years many designs now use PVC covers and aluminum poles.

Example of a traditional style marquee


  • Undeniable elegance and style
  • Generally cheaper per sq area to hire


  • Centre poles restrict interior layouts
  • Guy ropes restrict space around perimeter

Multispan Frame Marquees

These are the aluminum clearspan marquees that are now the industry standard.

They are available from 3m widths and going up to the enormous pavilion structures seen at such events as the Chelsea Flower Show.


Examples of multispan Frame marquees

Robust and well engineered, the only criticism is that externally the look can be a little too corporate for some events ..

These tents have the advantage that they can be installed on most surfaces.

Area Marquee Hire Marquees

There are many individually designed and manufactured frame tents. The majority are well designed and made to withstand our UK weather. One of the best designs having stood both the test of time and fashion is the Area Marquee Hire design.

This is a modern frame tent that kept the shape and charm of the Traditional Marquee while offering all the benefits of a clearspan  structure.

Bradgate Manor

A stunning AMH marquee in Netley Abbey, Hampshire

Small Multispans

These are built with the same components as the larger tents and come in a variety of sizes and shapes. They have a multitude of applications and can be built on all surfaces.

small multispan

This photograph shows a row of  ‘Pagoda’s’, also known as ‘Chinese Hats’.

Gazebos and Lightweight Structures

Recent years has seen an explosion of small lightweight tents of all shapes and sizes. They are brilliant for what they are a cheap, quick shelter in calm weather.

If you are having some friends around for a summer BBQ and want some quick easy cover they are perfect. Many outside caterers have them to protect BBQ’s or Hog Roasts from the rain. However they cannot be compared with the small Multispan/Pagoda’s as they will not survive a Blustery day.


A gazebo makes a great cheap, quick shelter… but only in calm weather!

Tipi’s, Yurts and Festival Tents

Historic Tents

In recent years there have been many companies offering “Alternative” tents.

Some like the Yurts and Tipi’s go back century’s and are a proven design. They were primarily intended as living quarters and as such are ideal at festival tents.

Modern Designs

Tents like Capri’s or Star Tents are modern designs developed using computer aided design and cutting techniques .