It's almost time to bring out the bunting. In April the Queen will celebrate a milestone birthday as she turns 90. As is customary, Her Majesty's official birthday weekend will take place in June, with a service of thanksgiving at St Paul's and the traditional Trooping the Colour ceremony.
This year is extra special. A mass street party called The Patron's Lunch will be held on The Mall for a whopping 10,000 guests.
For those who are unable to attend, locals are being encouraged to get involved and honour the nation's longest-reigning monarch by holding their own street parties across the country.
Thousands of street parties took place for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and over seven million people got together for The Big Lunch in June last year.
A mass street party for 10,000 guests will be held on The Mall in June
The government has just released new guidelines, giving practical advice on how to plan your own neighbourhood bash. Contrary to popular belief, street parties are easy to organise:
- Plan early and get in touch with your council at least four to six weeks in advance. Streets Alive (streetparty.org.uk) and The Big Lunch (thebiglunch.com) have great websites to help you plan.
- You don't need a street party licence or to undergo a risk assessment – you simply need to fill out a form and apply to your local council. You would need a music licence only if amplified music was one of the main purposes of your event. You may need a Temporary Events Notice if you plan to sell alcohol. It costs £21 and covers events of less than 500 people.
- You don't need to apply for road closure. For most small parties in quiet streets, all your council needs to know is where and when the closure will take place so they can plan around it (for example, so emergency services know). You also should not be charged for wanting to close your road. Alternatively, you can organise the party on private land such as a driveway or front garden.
- You don't need to buy expensive road signs. Some local councils will lend you signs and cones, or you can hire or buy signs, or even print your own from downloadable templates if they are for use in daylight.
- There is no requirement by government to have public liability insurance. But if you think insurance would be a good idea, have a look at the advice on the Streets Alive and Big Lunch websites and shop around. Quotes for insurance start from around £50, which can be split between people attending, or you could hold a raffle or ask for donations to cover the costs.
- The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has confirmed that one-off events such as street parties aren't usually considered food businesses, so there is no need to secure a food licence.
- You do not have to register a lottery, which includes raffles, sweepstakes and tombolas, if you are running an "incidental non-commercial lottery", for which tickets must be sold and the winners announced at the event. Anyone at the event including children can take part in this sort of lottery. The expenses that can be deducted from the proceeds must not be more than £100, and no more than £500 can spent on prizes (not including donated prizes).