Organising a Public Event

Whether you are organising a craft fair, a sports event or a music festival, it is important to ensure your event is fun, safe and legal. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar can help you achieve this and make the process of organising an event easier.

From checking which licence you need, to whether you need a roads order, the guidance on this page will give you and your team a framework for planning your event in a structured way.

By inviting the public to your event, you have legal responsibilities to ensure that it does not cause danger or serious harm. With a little careful planning and by seeking advice, you can minimise these risks.

Every event is different and it is impossible to produce guidance that covers every answer to every question.  If you need more details then you will also find useful links here to information on specific topics such as food safety and crowd control.

This guidance does not cover events which take place in buildings such as public halls, town halls or schools.  Such events are subject to separate procedures.  Contact Chief Executive’s Department, Licensing on 01851 822619 or for further information.


Many events require certain permissions that cannot be issued at short notice. Please ensure that that you have applied for any relevant permissions well before the deadlines detailed below.

Minimum Timescales 
Permission Deadline
Alcohol Licence  21 days
Public Entertainment Licences      28 days
Public Procession Notice  28 days
Road Closure Order   6 weeks
Events requiring/expecting enhanced Agency involvement  4 months

Applications that are made after these deadlines are likely to be refused as the required checks may not be able to be carried out in time.

How We Can Help You Plan Your Event

As a first step, check if you need a Public Entertainment Licence for your event using our licence Checklist - Do I need a Public Entertainment Licence provided below. Detailed advice is available in the Public Entertainment Licence Guidance Notes provided below. You can download the Application Form - Public Entertainment Licence, complete and send to us along with the additional documentation. 

If you do need a licence, let us know as soon as possible - we suggest contacting us at least 6 months before your event is due to take place. You should obtain written permission from the landowner/occupier before you proceed.

Please email a draft basic Event Safety Plan (see Documents and Forms below) to as early as possible and this will be shared with Police Scotland and other agencies. This will save you from having to contact other agencies individually.

Once the plan has been reviewed, we will advise you of any additional details that are required, and whether a multi-agency Safety Advisory Group needs to be convened to discuss your application.

Large or Potentially High-Risk Events

If you are organising a large or potentially high-risk event it is best to make contact with the Comhairle at least 12 months in advance to give the Comhairle and other agencies plenty time to look at your plan in detail.

Events on Council Premises

If your event is being held in Comhairle premises or on Comhairle ground (i.e. a local park), then you should contact the Comhairle service responsible for that venue as early as possible to discuss your plans.  Any delay in contact could jeopardise your event.

Further Information