Step-by-step: international evening

International evenings are really popular, benefiting the PTA and the school in many ways. They are a good way of raising funds and, as they invariably include food, they offer the opportunity for everyone to sample something exotic!

For schools with pupils from various ethnic backgrounds, international events draw on that diversity. In less diverse schools international evenings can help raise awareness of other cultures. Use a religious or cultural festival as a basis for choosing your timing and theme - fireworks for Diwali, or a French cheese and wine evening for Bastille Day.

Some very adventurous PTAs hold international weeks! We've based this guidance on an international evening of music, dance and food.

What to include

  • A performance of music/dance.

  • A bar.

  • Decorations made by pupils - with an international theme.

  • Costumes/dress - encourage guests to wear their national dress or something colourful.

  • Presentations by the pupils and their families about their cultural background.

  • Ask parents to donate a dish as this will keep food costs down. Alternatively (or as well as), ask local restaurants for food donations in return for some low-key advertising.


  • Sell tickets in advance and adopt a ticket-only policy on the door to help manage numbers and for security.

  • Consider holding a raffle to help boost revenue.

Involving parents and local performers

  • In addition to involving pupils, seek out talented parents.

  • Guests contributing food need to ensure that they label and name each dish and list the ingredients used. This is particularly important for foods that commonly cause allergies or dishes containing meat.

  • Your event could include performances from local musicians and dance schools.

  • Your local paper is a good place to source dance troupes and musicians that may be willing to support your event.


  • Publicise the event well in advance on posters, notice boards, newsletters and via school and PTA websites.

  • Prepare and submit a media release and issue this to the local paper and radio station.

Case study:

Jane Wiffin, PTA chair of Alexandra Palace School, tells us about the international evening her PTA ran: 'The school is a large, multi-cultural comprehensive in North London, so we decided to hold an international evening to celebrate the diversity within our community. The evening itself had three main attractions - food, acts and decoration. Parents and local restaurants provided us with dishes from their countries; students performed - we had all sorts of acts - Indian dancing, Irish dancing, African drumming, a jazz band and a Turkish band; for the decorations, our textiles department made flags and outfits using traditional cloth. The music department organised the performances, and the design and technology department provided additional food. We booked the school hall in September, and started detailed planning about three months before the event. My advice for organising a successful international evening is to have a very clear project plan, detailing each and every step. Then delegate tasks to teachers, members of the local community and parents. Tickets were £5, sold in advance and on the door, and we had a bar and raffle. In total we raised £1,500.'

For more information

  • There are several issues to consider relating to insurance, licences, etc. See our Event Planning Checklist for more detail.

  • For our at-a-glance guide to Temporary Event Notices, click here

The above is intended as guidance only. We recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on the guidance provided.

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