Creative events at Old Billingsgate


We’re lucky to have worked in Old Billingsgate for many years. It’s an iconic London venue right on the river and is one of the biggest spaces you can hire for a seated dinner. When we present this option to clients, we’re often asked how to design a creative event at Old Billingsgate. The space is so big, such a blank canvas, a true dry hire and that for most, is daunting. We’ve compiled the key areas we work through when planning an event in this space to ensure it has maximum impact. 


The space is huge! The Grand Hall alone can hold 1800 for a seated dinner or 2500 people for a standing reception. It can feel cavernous and whenever we plan a creative event here we’re always thinking about how to match the production to the scale of the building. In a space where the ceiling is just under 13 metres high it can be hard to gauge how an item may look within the space. When you’re booking an item, say for example a tree for the middle of your bar, a 6ft tree may seem high however that’s just under 2 metres – 1/6th of the height of the room. 6ft suddenly seems very small!

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As the space is so big, one of the first considerations is designing the layout for the event. The mezzanine acts as the perfect natural divide between dining and reception if you're hosting a dinner. Dividing the space up is important and moves away from it feeling so big. Whilst the numbers you can hold here are huge, you want the space to feel inviting rather than daunting. We find creating zones for drinks reception, dinner/food stations and the after party really helpful and very important.


We spent a lot of our time also thinking about how we can bring the ceiling height down. This makes the space feel more intimate and focusses your gaze on the event rather than the height of the room.

One of the huge benefits of the venue is that you can suspend from the ceiling. Providing you have the relevant rigging in place you can add amazing items to bring that ceiling height down. That’s key for making the space feel more intimate. You can add sails into the ceiling with draping which looks wonderful and soft against the strong architecture.

Equally you can bring the ceiling down with floor-based items. Just make sure they’re tall enough (see above point!). Trees work really well and create amazing drama and soften the rooms too.


Anyone who has worked at Old Billingsgate knows that draping is essential. There's so much you can do and you can create incredible impact with creative draping. It can section the space and create different 'rooms', fill the arches and even bring the ceiling down. We like to move away from always using black and introduce different colours and textures. White voile can really soften the space and works well with the white of the arches. Gold and metallics make the space party ready and are perhaps unexpected within the grand architecture. Have fun and be bold, you have the space to do so.


When designing a creative event at Old Billingsgate it's key to work with the right suppliers. To ensure the smooth running of the event we highly recommend using suppliers who have worked in the space before. It's a unique space with lots of challenges and for suppliers to be aware of those is really key. Te venue have some preferred suppliers but are also really flexible which is great and make the planning process really fun.


One of the great points of this venue is that you can choose your entrance. You can either have guests enter from the Riverside via the terrace or from the Lower Thames Street entrance. We find that for summer events, the terrace entrance tends to be chosen. For winter events and awards ceremonies the Lower Thames Street entrance. It completely changes the feel of the venue and the arrival experience for the event and there are so few venues in London where you can do this. 


When it comes to how to design a creative event at Old Billingsgate - think about how to utilise such a truly blank canvas space. Carpeting the whole space is amazing, expensive, but such an amazing transformation. Turning the mezzanine into a secret bar or a VIP space is really fun. Play with the height and add aerial acts or insanely oversized props. Hang draping from the ceiling to the floor, create secret zones. The options are endless and that's what we love about the venue - it can be a totally different event every single time.