Department for Culture Media and Sport

entertainment licensing

We are responsible for the policy around the licensing of ‘regulated entertainment’, which ranges from the performance of a play or live music to the staging of sporting events.

The definition of ‘regulated entertainment’ is set out in Schedule 1 of the Licensing Act. Broadly, it means the commercial or public provision of entertainment facilities or the provision of any of the following sorts of entertainment:  

  • the performance of a play 
  • an exhibition of a film 
  • an indoor sporting event 
  • boxing or wrestling entertainment  
  • a performance of live music  
  • playing of recorded music  
  • a performance of dance  
  • or entertainment of a similar description to live music, recorded music or dance

To be ‘regulated entertainment,’ the entertainment must take place in the presence of an audience and be intended to entertain that audience.
Regulated entertainment facilities are defined as places where people are entertained by:

  • making music 
  • dancing 
  • entertainment of a similar description to making music or dancing

To carry out these activities, you may need authorisation from your local licensing authority. In most cases this will be your local council.

If you’re not sure whether you need a licence or not, you should check with your local council.

The Home Office is responsible for policy around alcohol licensing.  Licensing policy is set out in the Licensing Act 2003.  

If you wish to hold an event that may be classed as regulated entertainment then you should contact the premises owner of the venue where you wish to hold your event to check whether they have an appropriate licence.  You can find out more about Temporary Events Notices on the Home Office website.

Live Music Act 2012

The Live Music Act 2012 deregulated and clarified several forms of entertainment.  Find out more on our pages on the Live Music Act 2012.

Licensed Public Space

Many local authorities support events in their area by securing premises licences in their authority’s name for land or buildings under public ownership.  This could include market squares, village greens or promenades, for example.  In this situation, there would be no requirement for additional licences to be obtained for the potentially wide range of activities covered by the local authority’s licence, although the consent of the local authority holding the licence would be required and permission given to use the land. We suggest that you contact your local licensing authority to find out if you can have your event on licensed public land before seeking authorisation to hold your event.

We have published a Central Register of Licensed Public Spaces in England and Wales.

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