It’s within our grasp! With a date in the diary for a (phased) return to live experience, Carly Lipman, Events Director, and Rachel Butler, Head of Marketing, explore the Government’s new timeline and share their top tips for event planning, plus their forecast for the ever unpredictable 2021 live experience climate.

Your live event roadmap

This week we finally saw the first tangible glimpse at a return to live events, with the 2021 roadmap out of Covid outlined from the Government. We are of course beyond thrilled at the prospect of human interaction and uniting audiences again – not to mention leaving the days of back-to-back Zoom meetings firmly behind us! But we’re as realistic as we are infectiously hopeful; it will be a staged process with health and safety paramount, and there are many, many other virtual formats of live experience that can support in-person experiences while we carefully tread the path to the long awaited comeback.

We’ll walk you through the new timeline for the return to live events, along with practical tips for planning live experiences and key factors to take into consideration.

Monday 12th April

From this date at the earliest, the Government is planning to reopen:

  • Outdoor attractions, including drive-in entertainment
  • Event pilots to begin

There will still be social restrictions in place, with no households mixing indoors and the rule of six (or two households) meeting outdoors.

Marble’s event prediction: the reintroduction of the rule of six and households mixing outdoors, plus the opening of outdoor hospitality, signals an increase in footfall on the high street. This would be the perfect time to make a statement with a brand installation, to get in front of interaction starved audiences and grab headlines. Similarly, a continuation of virtual and hybrid content will provide a perfect momentum builder to physical iterations in the coming months.


Summer by the River installation at Hayes Galleria, by Marble LDN

Monday 17th May

The current plan would see a return to larger scale outdoor entertainment events, and larger indoor events from this date:

  • Indoor events: 1,000 pax or 50% of capacity
  • Outdoor events: 4,000 pax or 50% capacity
  • Seated outdoor events (e.g. stadiums): 10,000 or 25% capacity

Outdoor social restrictions will be largely lifted by this date, people will be able to meet in groups of up to 30, with the rule of 6 (or two households) applied to indoors.

We will also see theatres, concert halls and some hospitality venues being allowed to reopen from this date too.

Marble’s event prediction: people will be well and truly out and about and hungry for entertainment and engagement. Pop-up brand activations will be vying for consumers’ attention, capitalising on the reignition of the summer of sport with Wimbledon and the impending Euros. With some of the population undoubtedly cautious to socialise in larger groups, and capacities still limited, campaigns with digital counterparts (hybrid events) will likely outperform physical only experiences, as brands and agencies desire to keep the larger audiences and insight gained from virtual experiences.


BBC Countryfile Live installation, by Marble LDN

Monday 21st June

This is it! A potential return to what we used to know as normality. If all goes to plan, there will be a complete removal of all social restrictions, larger events both indoors and outdoors will be able to resume and nightclubs will be allowed to reopen for the first time in over a year.

  • No legal limits on social contact
  • No limit on event attendee numbers
  • Nightclubs reopen

The above is the current roadmap from the Government, which will only be enacted if the data supports the continued lockdown easing. The pilot events (taking place from April) will also test the impact of the lockdown easing, to ensure the planned roadmap can continue without any adverse effects on the transmission of the virus.

Marble’s event prediction: competition will be fierce and activations aplenty. Brand experiences will most likely be themed around socialising and entertainment, providing a much needed outlet to unite audiences with friends and family in an escapism format. Experiences centred around music and the arts will be one of the most popular, as one of the hardest hit industries (and most missed) will aim to take centre stage once again. We expect to see a few conferences reappear over the summer months, but most will likely be planned for Autumn as the more consumer heavy activations take priority with the long awaited ease of social restrictions and sunny months.


CogX at Kings Cross, by Marble LDN

What next?

Since the news broke earlier this week, we’re already seeing a whirlwind of conversation and confusion around what to do next if you’re planning a live experience in 2021.

Tip 1: It’s never ‘too early’

Whilst full restrictions may not be lifting until June, we’re already seeing a surge in venue bookings and predict that once restrictions begin to ease things will move fast. In case you’re not aware already, there is no such thing as ‘too early’ in live experience – especially in 2021! Start the conversation now and get the wheels in motion, even if you only have a vague idea of what you would like to achieve and implement, competition will be much higher as everyone vies for space front and centre this summer.

Tip 2: Planning makes perfect

One big lesson to take away from the last year is adaptability. This goes hand in hand with being prepared. Leave much longer lead times than you previously would with your campaigns, everyone is ready to go and chomping at the bit to do so. So whether your live experience is going to be virtual, hybrid or live there will still be lots of planning time needed – on agency, supplier, tech and the venue side. Plus, in the current climate it’s especially important to give that extra time to prepare for any last minute pivots in delivery or to accommodate any new restrictions.

Tip 3: Purpose

First and foremost, think about the impact you want to create with your live experience. What do you want attendees to take away from your event? You may have decided that virtual is still the way to go if you’re planning an event in the near future, but human interaction has been stripped from us for so long – don’t dismiss hybrid or live even if it means elongating your campaign or pushing the dates back slightly.

If we had to use one word to summarise the last year, it would be pivot! Being in the live experience industry does mean we’re very adept to last minute changes, but we’ve taken this to a whole new level in 2020 with switches to and from physical, to virtual, to hybrid throughout the year. As a team we’ve flexed our flexibility muscles through a broader means of live experience formats, and so while receiving a detailed concrete brief will yield faster timelines, we’re more than happy to advise the best format to reach your campaign goals, in an ever changing and uncertain environment.

When looking to create any kind of live experience, take into account that whilst the world has shifted and changed into the new digital era we all have been living in Marble has been doing the same. We’ve evolved to offer full service campaigns, centred around communications, experience and content. Plus, we recently launched Marble Insight; our 360 campaign performance platform to help provide ROI and accountability for your live experience projects.

If the recent Government roadmap has inspired you to reignite or accelerate your live experience plans, get in touch with the team to make this a reality.