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Is it safe to use a heater inside a marquee?

It’s completely safe, providing your heater is suitable and in full working order.

For instance, you don’t want a heater that gives off fumes inside the marquee. You must avoid placing the heater near any surfaces, particularly those that could easily catch fire. Also, you should make sure the cables run well away from areas of the marquee where people will be gathered or passing through.

What kind of heater is most suitable for heating a marquee?

There are numerous kinds of heater out there, but for heating a marquee some are more suitable than others. Though the size of your marquee will have some bearing on your decision, generally your options are as follows:

Electric heaters

Available in a range of types, such as fan heaters and radiant/infrared heaters, these are portable and powered by nothing more than a plug socket. They generate heat quickly and cleanly (no fumes or smells), but tend to be at their most efficient when used in smaller marquees.

Fan heaters

These are energy-efficient and compact enough to be placed wherever you need them to be. They are simple to operate and can be up and running almost instantly. Some models have thermostats that allow you to adjust the temperature if necessary.

Radiant and infrared heaters

Rather than warm the air as normal convection heaters do, these heaters generate infrared energy which becomes heat as it’s absorbed by objects (i.e. people). Because of this, they are great for use outdoors – and in marquees with open sections – as there is no issue of heat leaking out into the cold air and being wasted.

Gala Tent has developed its Technoheater range of patio heaters, which are also ideal for heating marquees. These use innovative carbon-fibre technology to provide safe and efficient heat. Click here to learn more.

Direct-fired heaters (oil and gas)

These sit inside the area they are heating and can warm up large spaces very quickly. However, because they burn oil or propane, they release fumes and so can only be used in well-ventilated areas. As marquee walls are often closed off and lined for insulation, there’s a risk the fumes could be trapped inside. For this reason, direct-fired heaters are recommended more for industrial use (such as heating factories, building sites, warehouses etc.) than for marquees.

Indirect-fired heaters (oil and gas)

Indirect heaters are the common choice for events organisers and are perfect for populated spaces in which there is limited ventilation. They provide heat without producing any noise, smells or fumes. Sitting outside the marquee, the heaters are powered either by oil or gas and use long, flexible ducts to transfer the warm air inside. They have a thermostat which can be placed inside the marquee and used to turn the heater on and off as necessary.

Are marquee heaters only really needed in the colder months?

Not necessarily. In late spring, summer and early autumn, you will probably need some form of heating for events that run into the evening, when it gets cooler. It might be that you can warm up the marquee before the event, turn the heat off for a while, and then turn it back on again later.

In autumn and winter, you should heat the marquee for at least an hour before your guests arrive, and keep the heaters on throughout the event.

Should we use one big heater or several small ones?

It’s more efficient to have several small heaters positioned around the marquee, rather than a single large heater in one place. For the best results, you will need to be strategic about where you put your heaters.

Where are the best places to put heaters?

It’s all about maintaining a consistent temperature throughout the marquee. So make sure the heaters are fairly close to the main areas in which people are seated or congregated. And direct the heaters towards any entrances where heat is likely to escape.

These heaters seem very expensive. Do we have to buy them?

Some larger heaters are expensive, and in those cases it’s advisable to find a specialist company you can hire them from. The company’s installers will set everything up and look after the heaters during the event. So it’s one less thing for you to worry about!

Fan heaters are fairly cheap to buy, but the cost of electricity means they can be more expensive to run than oil- and gas-powered heaters. A lot of oil- and gas-powered heaters are affordable too.

Due to the unpredictable British weather all year round, it’s best to budget for heaters then decide in the lead-up to the event what exactly you need, once you have seen the weather forecast.


There’s so much choice. How do we decide which type of lighting to use?

Lighting isn’t just there to help people see – it plays another important role in creating the perfect atmosphere for your event. Once you’ve chosen a style or theme, it becomes easier to envisage what kind of ambience you want to establish and how you’d like your guests to feel when inside the marquee. Get your lighting right, and you can create romance, drama, fun – any kind of feeling really.


These give your marquee an elegant, visually striking focal point. They come in a range of styles, from wrought iron to brass to a more traditional crystal design, and are usually controlled with a dimmer switch. Depending on the size of your marquee, you could have a number of chandeliers spaced equally apart.


Placed out of sight around the edge of the marquee, uplighters beam a column of light up the walls. They can be programmed to produce whatever colours or effects you need and controlled from a separate unit.

Fairy lights

Whether used indoors or outdoors, these versatile lights can look very romantic and are great for weddings. They work well with other styles of lighting and can be fixed to columns and pillars, hung as ‘curtains’ on walls or behind stages, or attached to the ceiling as a starlight-effect canopy.

Go for LED fairy lights over the traditional ones, as they use less power and don’t tend to get as hot.

Festoon lights

A long cable with large lightbulbs strung at regular intervals. Like fairy lights, they can be used inside and out, but give off a softer, warmer glow. They are often hung in a criss-cross pattern overhead, or used to light paths going to and from the marquee.


Mounted on the ceiling, these can be used to direct tight beams onto tables, highlight features inside the marquee or create special lighting effects on the roof.

Is there any other lighting we need to consider?

Your marquee will need some form of practical lighting. For this, you can use chandeliers or uplighters, and have them connected to dimmer switches so you can set the light to whatever brightness you need. You might also need functional lighting for catering tents, car parks and pathways outside.

What lights are best for outdoor areas?

Outdoor lighting isn’t just for practical reasons – you can still be creative. Any kind of hanging lights (fairy, festoon etc.) or lanterns can be strung along pathways, and floodlights can throw large beams of white or coloured light on to the marquee. Place tealights in jam jars and put them on tables or hang them from tree branches outside.

How do we power the lights? Do we need a generator?

Marquee lighting (and heating) doesn’t need that much electricity, and so it’s usually enough to draw on the power from your house or the venue building. You might need a generator if the power supply is old and unreliable, or if you have caterers who are cooking with electricity.