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  • Writer's pictureAndy Przybyla

Garden Parties

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

I love a garden party, but they don't seem to love me. A few years ago I was well up for hiring my service for a party at home in the back garden but after I'd done a dozen or so that all changed. Threats from neighbours attacking my equipment, police called, insufficient protection from the elements. Just became not worth the hassle.

These days as a general rule I don't perform outdoors unless all of my requirements can be addressed and met. The main exception is outdoor marquee weddings which take place on private land which is very isolated or there is an entertainment licence in place. Below I expand on the two reasons before giving some tips.

Noise Nuisance

No laws are any more unclear in this country than those that govern noise complaints. Last year over 500,000 noise complaints were made to local councils with about 1 in every 100 leading to actual enforcement action being taken. For a one-off event its unlikely you will be issued with an abatement notice but that does not mean you wont get a visit from the Police or a Council Officer (The Party Patrol).

Because of the way sound travels even a moderate level can be heard up a mile away and most councils advise against amplified sound being used outdoors except in very remote locations. Between the hours of 11pm and 7am any sound outdoors should not exceed 34dBA (adjusted decibels) or 10dBA above the underlying normal noise if higher than 24dBA. It is an offence to use loudspeakers (amplified) outdoors between 9pm and 8am unless you have a licence.

A fixed penalty notice can be issued to the owner of the dwelling or the person responsible for playing the amplified music and is normally £110 if paid in 14 days and could be up to £5000 if this goes to court (fines for licenced venues can be much more).

Also loud conversation, shouting and singing can trigger a noise complaint.

Weather Conditions

Even on the brightest of days there is nothing to guarantee the weather will be perfect throughout your party. Some DJs might even have full IP rated equipment, this would be very rare as its very costly but there could be some specialists out there, I've never really checked or looked into it.

Normal equipment should not be used in wet or damp locations as it could cause damage to the equipment or worse electric shock. If its connected to your home supply it could also cause damage to the fuse box and extension cables.

The wind can be just as dangerous also as we use stands for lights and speakers which can be blown over. The wind can also blow away poorly erected coverings and marquees which are stopping the rain.

Another factor people planning parties often forget is the DJ getting cold. We just stand there for hours and as it gets later we are often not close to patio heaters or firepits, we can't pop inside to warm up or throw a fleece around us.

Hiring me for a garden/outdoor party

Its best to have a chat first. There are some DJs who will happily break or flaunt the law but I'd rather not take the booking than see a party spoiled by doing it wrong.

The venue will need to be pretty remote, certainly not in a typical terrace or semi detached street. I'd be expecting fully detached houses with good space between them or something like a remote farm. I would need a correctly secured covering protected on 3 sides. A correct IP rated outdoor socket or extension. I would not play amplified music during night hours 9pm to 8am. You would need to agree if conditions become such that the covering is not protecting me and the equipment that the music would be terminated.

Tips for a good garden party

  • If you aren't somewhere very remote, make sure the music is inside

  • Move the party inside at a reasonable hour

  • Finished at a reasonable time making sure guests know in advance

  • Keep parties outside to a minimum, don't make them regular

  • Notify your neighbours well in advance, give them a contact number and as much information as you ca

  • Check noise levels yourself, handheld meters are not that expensive

  • You can inform the council about your party and provide them with your plan


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