Traditional Pole Marquees vs Clearspan Event Structures

Traditional pole marquee vs clearspan event structure

Why choose a modern clearspan marquee?

At Field & Lawn, we’re the marquee hire specialists. We understand choosing the right structure for your event is essential. While traditional pole marquees are often a popular choice for many event organisers due to their distinctive style and the atmosphere they create, they do have some drawbacks.

We asked one of our experienced project managers, Dan Acford, about the pros and cons of each structure to get an expert opinion. Having delivered marquees for many high-profile events such as Glastonbury and WOMAD Festivals, Dan is an expert in the events industry and a seasoned professional. Continue reading to hear what he had to say:

A branded gable marquee at an agricultural show

First, what are the differences between the marquees?

A clearspan marquee is an aluminum-framed structure. They have no supporting centre poles, providing a clear internal space. Usually, they have flat gable ends, allowing these structures to be installed in bays, creating large event structures.

They are generally rectangular in shape with flat walls made of a durable PCV. One of the key differences is that the walls on a clearspan marquee can be swapped out to provide window walls or even solid walls.  This gives a good level of customisation for various events and applications.

A traditional marquee, or pole marquee uses supports in the structure to provide stability. This can impact the functionality of the space inside.  They are made of canvas rather than a more contemporary and durable PVC that you will find on a modern clearspan marquee.

Installation considerations

A traditional marquee can only be installed on grass or gravel as they do require guy ropes for structural support. This also means the footprint of the tent is greater than the actual usable space due to the additional area required for guy ropes. In comparison, a clearspan marquee can be installed on most surfaces, including hard surfaces by using ballast weights, and grass.

For example, if you are looking to install a traditional marquee at a stately home, this may damage the grass and may not even be possible if the venue has a grade listing or underground services. 

With a clearspan marquee, a level finish can be achieved, even on sloping sites with integrated flooring.  This is much harder to achieve with a traditional pole marquee as integrated flooring options are very limited.

Election marquee hire from field & Lawn marquee experts

Visual appeal

The visual appeal of a traditional pole marquee is one of the many reasons organisers often opt for installing this type of structure. They can create a vintage and rustic feel. There is no doubt that they can look fantastic on festival sites.

However, traditional structures tend to be older.  Sometimes, because of this, the structures do show their age more. 

They require additional maintenance and cleaning to keep them in tip-top condition. In addition, traditional structures are prone to needing repairs and are more likely to become damaged due to the more complicated and manual installation process.

When hiring a traditional marquee, keep in mind they are harder to wash and keep clean. Therefore, if a perfect, clean and fresh finish is important, you will need to carefully inspect the marquee before installation.

By comparison, clearspan marquees can be easily machine-cleaned and all our branches have specialist cleaning equipment to ensure that kit arrives clean, smells fresh and looks pristine.

All of our clearspan marquees are on a 3-year PVC renewal schedule, meaning you can be sure your marquee is spotless and ready for your event.

Customisation options

If you require a bespoke design or fit-out for your marquee, a clearspan structure from Field & Lawn allows you to have complete customisability. We can add a range of flooring and lining options, from carpets to vinyl and cassette flooring, creating a completely unique atmosphere.

If you want to create a themed marquee, a scaffolding frame can be created to sit around the clearspan marquee, this allows you to add signage, branding and graphics around the structure.  Alternatively, bespoke branding can be printed directly onto the gable of a clearspan marquee.

You are more limited in a traditional pole marquee as there are no additional options such as flooring, doors, clear roofs or gables. This makes the structures much harder to customise.

Inside the La-di-da Loos at WOMAD Festival

Health and Safety

Whether you choose to install a clearspan or traditional marquee, following correct health and safety procedures is paramount. Due to the weight of the canvas sides used on a traditional pole tent, there are additional safety concerns associated with installing them. Traditional marquees tend to be heavier to hoist and harder to install when compared to our lighter clearspan structures.

There is also the complication of lower wind ratings for traditional marquees, which can pose a serious problem in the UK. Traditional marquees are less resilient to poor weather conditions and can be susceptible to damage or failure in high winds. Clearspan marquees stand up much better to high winds and typical British weather!

Whatever structure you choose, health and safety is our number one priority. Our team will supply all the risk assessments and method statements before the build begins.

Our experts are the best in the business at installing and removing marquees, working closely with event organisers to co-ordinate vehicle deliveries, health and safety management and build schedules.

So, what should you choose?

To summarise, every outdoor event is different and if you want to create a charming rustic feel for your event, a traditional pole marquee will look fantastic.  However, if safety, customisation and high-quality fit-out are important, a clearspan event marquee is probably your best option.

Field & Lawn supplies high-quality premium event marquees for major events with national coverage. Long-term hire or short-term rental, our team are here to discuss your options at one of our local branches. Get your event underway today with Field & Lawn.