Stretch Tents vs Traditional Marquees: Which Is Right for Your Event?

When planning an outdoor event, choosing the right shelter is essential. It’s not just about keeping your guests dry if the British weather decides to be typically unpredictable; it’s about creating an atmosphere, complementing the theme, and ensuring the comfort and enjoyment of every attendee. Stretch tents and traditional marquees are popular choices and have unique advantages. But which is the right one for your event? Let’s delve into a comprehensive comparison to aid your decision-making process.

Understanding the Basics

Stretch Tents: These are modern, versatile shelters made from stretchable fabric that can be moulded into various shapes and configurations. Originating from South Africa, stretch tents have gained popularity for their ability to adapt to different terrains and sleek, contemporary aesthetic.

Traditional Marquees: On the other hand, traditional marquees are the quintessence of classic outdoor event shelters. With their high peaks and structured frames, marquees exude elegance and are often associated with formal and grand events. They have been a staple in British event planning for centuries, offering a timeless appeal.

Aesthetic Appeal and Versatility

Stretch Tents: The aesthetic appeal of stretch tents lies in their modern, dynamic look and the ability to integrate seamlessly with the natural surroundings. Whether set up on a rugged hillside or a manicured lawn, they offer an organic feel that can be tailored to fit any theme, from a rustic countryside gathering to an avant-garde outdoor gala.

Traditional Marquees: Traditional marquees are the epitome of classic elegance. Their structured design and spacious interiors provide a blank canvas that can be dressed up to match the grandeur of weddings, formal parties, or gala dinners. The high ceilings allow for elaborate decorations, from chandeliers to floral installations, enhancing the traditional charm.

Functionality and Flexibility

Stretch Tents: One of the standout features of stretch tents is their incredible flexibility. They can be erected on almost any terrain, anchored to trees, buildings, or floating platforms. This adaptability makes them ideal for unconventional event locations. Moreover, their fabric allows for partial opening, providing ventilation and a connection with the outdoors while offering shelter.

Traditional Marquees: Marquees require a level surface for setup, which may limit location choices but results in a stable and secure environment. They are excellent at accommodating large guest lists, with clear spans creating unobstructed space for dining, dancing, and entertainment. Weatherproofing and climate control options make marquees a reliable choice year-round.

Setup and Management

Stretch Tents: The setup of stretch tents is relatively straightforward, thanks to their lightweight materials and flexible anchoring options. This ease of installation translates to reduced setup and takedown times, making stretch tents a cost-effective option for both suppliers and event organisers.

Traditional Marquees: The erection of a traditional marquee is more time-consuming and labour-intensive, requiring a team of professionals. This is due to their size, the need for a level foundation, and the complex structure of poles and canvas. However, this investment in time and manpower ensures a stable and secure setting for events.

Cost Considerations

When it comes to cost, both options present different considerations. Stretch tents might offer a more budget-friendly solution for smaller, more casual events due to their more straightforward setup and flexibility. While potentially more costly, traditional marquees provide a sense of grandeur and formality that might be deemed invaluable for certain occasions, such as lavish weddings or prestigious corporate events.

Making Your Choice

Event Type and Theme: Consider the nature and theme of your event. A stretch tent might be more suitable for a laid-back, bohemian-style wedding, while a traditional marquee could be the perfect backdrop for a formal gala dinner.

Guest Comfort: The expected weather and season should significantly influence your decision. Stretch tents offer a more open, airy environment ideal for summer soirees, whereas marquees can be fully enclosed and climate-controlled, making them suitable for events in cooler months.

Personal Preference: Ultimately, the choice may come from personal aesthetic preference and the overall vibe you wish to create. Do you envision a contemporary, fluid space that blends with the landscape or a classic, opulent setting that stands out?


Both stretch tents and traditional marquees offer unique benefits that can enhance the ambience and functionality of your event. The right choice depends on many factors, including the event’s style, location, guest comfort, and personal taste. Whether you’re drawn to the modern, adaptable nature of stretch tents or the timeless elegance of traditional marquees, it’s essential to consider how your shelter complements the overall event experience.

At Countryside Events, we pride ourselves on providing bespoke solutions tailored to each event’s specific needs. Whether you’re leaning towards the chic flexibility of a stretch tent or the classic charm of a marquee, we’re here to ensure your event is nothing short of spectacular. Get in touch to explore our range of options and find the perfect fit for your special occasion.

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Countryside Events – We provide fantastic stretch tents and marquees to customers throughout the UK.

Hire A Stretch Tent/Marquee

Ideal for private parties and events, our stretch tents can be hired on a short- and medium-term basis.

Buy A Stretch Tent

It may be worth buying a stretch tent rather than hiring if you’re hosting regular outdoor events.

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