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Entertainment licensing

Businesses that might need a licence

The types of businesses and organisations that need a licence for entertainment might include:

  • nightclubs
  • live music venues
  • cinemas
  • larger theatres
  • larger street and open air festivals
  • larger indoor sporting arena

What you need a licence for

A licence may be required by anyone that:

  • provides any entertainment between 11pm and 8am
  • provides amplified live or recorded music to an audience of more than 500 people
  • provides recorded music to an audience on premises not licensed for the sale or supply of alcohol
  • puts on a performance of a play or a dance to an audience of more than 500 people, or an indoor sporting event to more than 1,000 spectators
  • puts on boxing, wrestling and mixed martial arts
  • screens a film to an audience in public or in private, if those attending are charged for entry and the intention is to make a profit, including raising money for charity. Licensing of entertainment under the Licensing Act 2003 is entirely separate from copyright authorisation to show films in public.

One application for either a premises licence or club premises certificate can cover all types of regulated entertainment and the sale or supply of alcohol.

Exemptions

Music entertainment

A licence is not required to stage a performance of live music, or the playing of recorded music if:

  • it takes place between 8am and 11pm; and
  • it takes place at an alcohol on-licensed premises; and
  • the audience is no more than 500 people

You also don’t need a licence:

  • to put on unamplified live music at any place between the same hours; or
  • to put on amplified live music at a workplace between the same hours and provided the audience is no more than 500 people.

There are exemptions from the need for a licence for music entertainment, in defined circumstances as set out in the Guidance, including for:

  • places of public worship, village halls, church halls and other similar buildings
  • schools
  • hospitals
  • local authority premises
  • incidental music - music that is incidental to other activities that aren’t classed as regulated entertainment

Film screening

There are exemptions from the need for a licence for film entertainment, in defined circumstances as set out in the Guidance, including for:

  • places of public worship, village halls, church halls and other similar buildings
  • education
  • incidental film – moving pictures that are incidental to other activities that aren’t classed as regulated entertainment
  • television broadcasts

Play or dance performance

A licence is not required to stage a performance of a play or a performance of dance if:

  • it takes place between 8am and 11pm; and
  • the audience is no more than 500 people

Indoor sporting event

A licence is not required to stage an indoor sporting event if:

  • it takes place between 8am and 11pm; and
  • the number of spectators is not more than 1000 people

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