Alternative school summer fair ideas
It's wonderful to celebrate the end of the school year
with a big fundraiser, but it doesn't always have to be the
same old event. Try one of these summer fair alternatives and end
the year with a bang!
Running a more unique fundraiser at the end of your school year
will help you stand out from surrounding schools and could also
have more appeal for the general community, raising awareness of
your cause and increasing your supporter base.
You may even be able to plug a gap in your community,
bringing an event to town that wouldn't otherwise happen. Some
ideas will freshen up your summer fair, while others can raise just
as much money for a lot less effort, especially when external
companies are involved in the running.
What is it? Holding a circus fundraiser may
sound like a logistical nightmare, but it simply involves
paying a supplier to organise practically the entire event for you!
Suppliers arrive with their circus tent and set it up, perform and
pack away, and some even supply marketing materials.
How does it work? Because the supplier is so
heavily involved in this fundraiser, it means that all you need to
do is book a date and liaise with the school to agree hall hire (or
access to outdoor space for a circus big top). You can then sell
tickets online, meaning you need a fraction of the manpower you'd
need for a fair. As it's held indoors or inside a tent, there's
also more leeway when it comes to inclement weather. It's common
for profits to reach over £1,000 for a circus, so for very little
effort you're looking at a big profit and an amazing experience for
your school community. To boost profits you can sell food and drink
or even run a few stalls before the show starts - but check
beforehand with your supplier as some will stipulate in the
contract that they will be entitled to sell (and retain profits
from) refreshments such as popcorn and candy floss.
What is it? A camping event can be pretty much
whatever you want it to be, from a few families pitching their
tents on the school field to a full-blown mini festival in the
local farmer's field. Entertainment can be as simple as a game of
football, craft activities and a campfire sing-along, or a line-up
of live music.
How does it work? Find a suitable site and
check what permissions you may require. Order equipment such as
marquees, toilets, bins, lighting, generators, staging and a PA
system. Arrange activities such as a treasure hunt, obstacle
course, water fights, den making, tug-of-war and family games of
rounders and football, with craft workshops and pamper sessions for
adults. Ask families to book a pitch, and offer both overnight
and day tickets.
What is it? Get your community excited with a
fundraising event involving inflatables, water and bubbles! This is
surprisingly simple to organise, using an external company such as
Simply The Best Events, which offers a variety
How does it work? Charge a one-off entry fee,
for which children receive a wristband that allows them to play on
a variety of fun inflatables. Restrict ages on some items so
reception children and Year 6 aren't bouncing around on the same
castle! Alternatively, encourage team spirit with an 'It's a
Knockout!' challenge. Attendees form teams and choose a name,
outfit and mascot. Charge participants to take part and observers
to attend, and encourage children to seek sponsorship. These
packages typically include trained first aid helpers to supervise.
Always check the requirements for erecting inflatables with the
supplier and ensure you have a suitable space.
In the news
Worried about recent news stories surrounding inflatables?
What is it? Bring Glastonbury to your school
with your own lineup of live music and a festival
How does it work? The key to a music
festival is securing acts. Research local bands online and ask
local venues to put you in touch with acts. Ask parents whether
they're part of a band and would like to perform, and nearby
secondary schools may have pupils who are keen to take part, too.
Hire any equipment you may need such as marquees, lighting,
generators, staging and a PA system. A few people may need to camp
on site the night before to keep an eye on equipment. Music
festivals usually feature multiple areas, so how about setting up
one stage in the main hall and one outdoors?
What is it? With black ties, a sit-down dinner
and flowing champagne, it's a spectacular way to raise a
considerable profit and will be an appealing treat for parents.
How does it work? Book a venue, catering and
any entertainment. Research local hotels or golf clubs and see if
you can negotiate a charity discount. Using an external venue means
that food, drinks, music and service is taken care of, enabling PTA
volunteers to enjoy the evening. Source a live band to get everyone
in the celebratory spirit, and consider booking a magician or
comedian. Hold a silent auction at the event to boost profits
further, and have some interval games, such as 'roll a pound' or
heads and tails, in between courses.
What is it? A colour run is a sponsored fun run
with a difference - bucketfuls of brightly coloured powder!
How does it work? Offer different course
lengths for different age groups, and sell tickets that include
extras such as coloured powder, a bottle of water and a T-shirt.
Encourage runners to seek sponsorship. Invite a local sports
instructor to lead a warm up, and have colour stations at various
places along the route where volunteers can throw powder over the
runners. The powder is made from cornflour and non-toxic
dye, and washes away easily without staining clothes or the
Want to revitalise your summer fair without altering it
completely? Incorporate one of these exciting attractions to keep
- Climbing wall: Suitable for children of
all ages and abilities, suppliers such as The
Warehouse Climbing Centre offers a range of walls and provide
all safety equipment and a qualified instructor.
- Fairground rides: Set the atmosphere with the
tinkle of carousel music or hire a mini ferris wheel or teacups for
a funfair feel.
- Animals: Go traditional with a petting farm of
cuddly creatures, or excite visitors with a reptile and insect
visit or falconry display.
- Inflatables: Hire some inflatable fun such as
zorbing, human table football or gladiator duels.
- Pet show: Encourage people to come along and
show off their pets, awarding prizes for everything from the
shiniest coat to waggiest tail.
These kind of attractions might not make much money or might
only break even, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. They'll
draw visitors in to then spend money elsewhere, and give kids an
experience they may not otherwise have had. Decide whether an
attraction will be a decent profit maker by considering how
many children can take part per session, for how long, and how much
leeway needs to be allowed to get one lot off and the next group
on. Check our suppliers directory for trusted companies.
Make it happen
Success for events of this type is all about good
planning, so allow several months to get everything in
place, and appoint a sub-committee with clear roles. Not sure if it
will work for your school? Survey parents to gauge interest. Bear
in mind that if your event involves suppliers, they will need to be
booked well in advance.
Remember, if you're supplying alcohol at your event then a
Temporary Event Notice (TEN) is required. PPL and PRS for
Music licences will be required if you're playing music. If guests
exceed 500, you may need a Premises Licence. Ensure external
stallholders have their own public liability insurance. For more on
licensing, see our guides.
Beat the rush
Bear in mind that summer is the busiest time of year for outdoor
events suppliers, so the earlier you order the better. Visit our suppliers directory for trusted suppliers.
Raise even more!
Incorporate some of these extras into your event to boost
- Raffle: Acquire a lottery licence so you can
send tickets home in the run up to the event. This will remind
people about your event and encourage them to come along. Seek
prize donations from local companies, and hold the draw later in
the event to keep people hanging around!
- Refreshments: Decide whether you want to
do the catering yourself or get a caterer in - doing it
yourself means more profit, but a caterer means less work. Read our
guide to catering at events.
- Silent auction: Source prizes such as goodie
hampers and tickets to local attractions. Attendees can bid on
these items 'silently' on paper bidding sheets during the event,
making it easy to run.
- Stalls: Run stalls that tie in with your
event, such as adding a festival vibe to campovers with glitter
tattoos or selling tutus at your colour run. Charge a pitch fee to
outside providers. Games stalls go down well at any event - see our
Always-updated guide to summer fair stalls and
Key points to consider
- Wet weather: What will you do if it rains? Can
you move the event indoors? Make your wet weather policy
clear to external stallholders and ticket holders. Read our
tips for wet weather contingency plans.
- Safety and security: Carry out a risk
assessment. Consider how stewards will communicate with one
another, and appoint first aiders. Think about any possible parking
issues and inform local residents about potential noise.
- Tickets: How much you charge involves
balancing your need to raise money with how much the average family
can afford. Sell tickets in advance and consider early bird offers
and discounts for young children.
- Publicise: Put up posters in local shops
(editable posters are available at the PTA print
shop). Display roadside banners a few weeks before the event -
contact your local authority to seek permission. Send a media
release to local papers and radio stations.
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