ABOVE PHOTO CREDIT SERENTIPI – Jenny Appleton photography.

With so many events being postponed until later this year, it got me thinking about the dozens of tipis I built for winter events during my 11 years running a tent rental business.

On reflection, autumn and winter events proved to be the most magical and memorable. I found that the people who chose their wedding or party in winter tended to be more imaginative, creative and… some might say… braver than those opting for the ‘safer’ option of spring, summer or autumn. They also tended to be persuasive. Convincing a bunch of family and friends to turn up for a party in the middle of winter, in a tent, in a field, in the dark is no mean feat!

Likewise, more than any other time of year, winter customers tended put more trust and faith in me (not to mention pressure) to get things just right. And quite rightly so. Without doubt the margin for error in winter is much higher than in the lighter, warmer months. However, the result can be and were spectacular!

Below is a list of things I always practiced for winter events. For those of you who might want some pointers when planning winter events, I hope this list is helpful. If there is anything specific, or anything else I might be able to advise on regarding winter events please feel free to get in touch with me.

It’s hard for me to imagine how much collective experience there is amongst our ANTA collective. If anyone would like to share any experience or tips on the ANTA Facebook forum, I’m sure they would be very welcomed.

Best wishes,
Ed.
CEO, Tentipi UK, USA & Australia.

 

 

Ed’s list for a successful winter event.

Ed Wright CEO Tentipi UK USA Australia

 

• Manage customer expectation.

For the most part the event will be in the dark. Daylight will be in short supply and it will most likely be cold. So there will be no sides up, no haybales in the meadow, no outside dancing or hog roasting and definitely no naked tipis! Instead, explain the joy of everyone being together in the tipi. This might sound odd but occasionally, customers expressed disappointment to me that their event was spoilt slightly by guests sprawled out across a field or lawn during a summer wedding. It’s the enforced togetherness that makes a winter wedding so special (social distance rules permitting).

• Do not be persuaded to put your tents up on an inappropriate site.

Often the customer has an idea of where they want the tipis to go without giving any thought to the practicality of it in winter. You must advise the customer and have the final say, even if it’s not what they had planned. They will thank you for it after!

- No exposed sites. Winds tend to be more frequent and forceful in winter. A site sheltered in a valley, near buildings or trees will make all the difference.

- Avoid a long walk across grass to the tipis. Try to get them positioned as close to a path or carpark as possible. The ground will almost certainly be more saturated in the winter than in the summer.

- Check out the ground. If it looks susceptible to bogging it probably is.
- If the ground is saturated, use more longer pegs and ground anchors than you usually would.

- Consider a site on hard standing and weigh it with BallastFlexTM. Our BallastFlexTM is a fully engineered and substantiated ballast solution. Contact us if you want to find out more.

• Buddy up with the other suppliers.

Many caterers, generator suppliers, loo people and the like are not used to winter events either. So some well co-ordinated planning and execution is priceless. For a customer to see this is also a huge confidence boost for them.

• Allow more time for your build.

The days will be way shorter than in the summer, so plan to get on site at first light and be prepared to finish your build in the dark. A one day summer build may well take you two days in winter.

• Hard flooring is the way.

I only ever did a winter event once (it was the first) without hard flooring. We got away with it (just) but I vowed never again. Hard flooring adds a lot of cost, but in my opinion, for winter events it’s essential.

- We can offer a lot of advice on creating your own hard flooring, so please ask if you want to know more.

- If you can, hard floor any walkway to and from the tipis. If you can’t then the minimum you should do is waterproof sheet it under the matting.

• Provide more heating than you think you need.

You will not be thanked if guests are cold. As a rule I would use a minimum of a 50kw heater per Stratus 72 and/or Cirrus 40. The Arcotherm EC55 was my heater of choice.

- If you're providing a catering tent do not forget to heat that too. The catering staff will love you for it.

- Create draft excluders. Rolled up hessian where the ground meets the reinforcing edge of the tipi makes a big difference to the warmth of the tipis.

- Avoid guest seating near entrance/exits. Even if it’s toasty warm in the tipis someone sitting near a cold draughty exit will have a miserable time.

- If you are using zipper doors for regular entrance and exits (e.g. to the loos) then a curtain of some sort is a very good idea.

- By far the best option for the main entrance and exit is wooden doors with WallFlexTM, and ideally a porch to hang coats & brollies.

 

SPECIAL EVENT TIPI GAVIN JACOBS PHOTOGRAPHYCREDIT SPECIAL EVENT TIPI – GAVIN JACOBS PHOTOGRAPHY.

• Provide plenty of lighting for outside areas

Particularly for loos, walkways, and car parks.

• Provide a site manager.

Some might argue that this is non-essential (it certainly isn’t during warmer months) but I only ever did winter events with a site manager. There is always something for them to do. Top up heaters, stoke the fire, tighten straps, secure loose pegs.. the list goes on. All stuff that you do not want your customer or their guests to worry about in the dark and the cold.

• Snow.

Eskimos have 50 words on it, so advice on managing snow can be varied. One thing for sure is the need to avoid build up of snow on the tipis. A single tipi with its sides down will be far less vulnerable than a number of linked tipis, where the flat roof in the links are particularly exposed to snow build up. If there are heavy snow conditions there is no alternative but to have someone on site with a very long (soft bristled) broom sweeping snow off the tent. For most light snow conditions keeping the tipi warm inside (above 10 DegC / 50 DegF) is generally sufficient.. although not guaranteed.. to melt snow and prevent build up.

In you they trust. If you really don’t feel confident enough to pull off a winter event, just say no. Your customers will be looking to you to get everything right. They will have persuaded their guests to put their trust in them and likewise you have to be completely confident that they can put their trust in you.

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