Amazing Bell Tent Villages. A Complete beginners Guide

Updated

Updated

Facilities to consider for your Bell Tent Event

What is a Bell Tent?

A Bell tent is a circular shaped tent consisting of a central pole with an additional A frame pole supporting the door. Bell tents are generally an off-white colour but can be found in creams, blues, pinks, red, yellows, you name it. Bell tents have a ground sheet and these can be unattached, zipped in (ZIG) or sewn in SIG. Most companies these days supply zipped in or sewn in ground sheets. All our Bell Tent Villages have Zipped in Groundsheets (ZIG).

Bell tent materials

Materials vary from the traditional 100% cotton canvas to modern day 100% synthetic versions and polycotton hybrids.

Bell tent sizes

Bell tents are described by meterage which is simply the diameter, the width across, of the base. Generally they are 3m, 4m and 5m although they are now creating 6m, 7m and even 8m versions.

Interior of a 5m Bell tent showing central pole, A frame door pole, zipped in ground sheet and mesh covered ventilation window. Part of a Bell Tent Village of 12 tents.

5m Bell tent with Zipped in Ground sheet. Showing the central pole and the A frame door pole. This tent comes with zipped ventilation windows with mesh around the skirting.

What is a Bell Tent Village?

We refer to a Bell Tent Village as a formation of canvas Bell tents which provide temporary accommodation, generally for an event. Bell tents can be furnished making them a luxurious glamping option for guests. Bell tents are hired from companies like ourselves for 1 – 7 nights generally. 

Fabulous bell tent village over looking a lake - Brilliant Bell Tent Hire near Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Bell tent Village for a Corporate client in the South of France for the Le Mans 24hr Race

What types of events are Bell Tent Villages used for?

  • For outdoor weddings when you want your guests to stay longer and party with you on site.  
  • For a 21st birthday party when parents don’t want kids in their house.
  • Corporate events and team building when large numbers of colleagues need to be accommodated. 
  • Childrens’ sleep over parties. 
  • Sporting events
  • Literature festivals
  • Yoga retreats
  • School sleepovers
  • Hen parties
  • 40th birthday parties
  • Silver wedding anniversaries
  • Music festivals
  • You name it……

How to book a Bell Tent Village

We work in 2 simple ways.

  1. Book all in one go. This means you simply book what want you need. This works great if you know how many Bent tents or people you need accommodating and you want to take on the organising and payment of this. This works well for Children’s parties, school sleepovers, Corporate events, Festivals. Basically when you are the organiser and you are in charge of numbers, budget, logistics etc.
  2. Bells Guest Booking Portal. This works brilliantly for organisers and events where you would like the guests to book and pay themselves. This is most popular with weddings, parties, yoga retreats, 40th birthday parties and any event where you want us to handle the bookings and payments. How it works is Brilliant Bell Tent Hire will set up a personlised Booking Portal for your event free of charge and you simply send the link to your friends, family, guests or whoever the event is aimed at.

These 2 ways of booking a canvas glamping village are often combined. For example for a wedding where the organiser needs to book 4 Bell tents directly for their immediate family and then open up the rest of the tents to the their guests for booking directly with us.

Our Bell Tent Experience

Since 2017 we’ve created literally 100s of Bell tent Villages in our time all across the UK and into Europe. Some have been for our own public events whilst the majority have been working with clients who had a vision and needed Bell Tents to bring their event to life. From local weddings, Le Man 24hrs races to 10 year old sleepovers.  


Top Tips for creating a Magical Bell Tent Village

1. Choosing the right time of year

So you’re thinking sun-soaked days or crisp, cool nights. Let’s be honest, we are talking about the UK here! So, the obvious time to hire those Bell tents is July and August right? Yes and no. Actually our busiest months for Bell Tent Villages are June and September. 

Weather

The truth is as we all know the weather can be very hit and miss. We hire Bell tents from May to October and even some kids sleepover parties into November!  

All our tents are waterproof and the fully furnished ones come with winter 13.5tog duvets as standard as we like to cover all bases. 

For your guest’s comfort we would suggest planning your event between Mid April to the end of September. 

Bank holidays

Factor in the 3 bank holidays. 2 traditionally fall in May and the August Bank holiday. They allow extra camping time as you have the Monday to check out but on the flip side can lead to more competition with people’s other commitments. 

Some holiday plans are made a long way in advance on Bank holiday weekends so make sure your key people can make your event. 

School holidays

Pro tip

Think School holidays. If you are planning a wedding and you and your partner are both in your mid twenties with no kids and all your friends have no kids or kids in nursery then planning a glamping gathering in August is straightforward. If you are planning a 40th birthday festival themed party with Bell tents in mid August don’t be surprised if a lot of your guest list has other commitments due to school holidays. 

The answer is there’s no perfect time but book a time that is going to work for you, your style and your event. Book early to allow people to plan. 

2. How Long should you camp for?

This will really depend on the event you are planning and factors like how long you have use of the land and weekday versus a weekend. 

Many Bell tent hire companies like ourselves have a set rate for a whole weekend. Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night. Whether your Bell Tent Village is for 1 night or 3, the price is the same. This is mostly due to the fact that the cost of erection and striking a tent, the delivery as well as laundry are the same for 1,2 or 3 days. 

Think about how this is going to work for you. If you are planning a wedding gathering your aim might be to maximise the time spent with your guests. In that case you may suggest they can arrive any time after 2pm on the Friday and feel free to leave any time Sunday or Monday morning. 

If it’s a corporate gathering with a festival vibe you may be limited to the time of the team building event and peoples time away from the office. 

Corporate Bell Tent Village for the Le Mans 24hr Race in the South of France.

The more time you spend camping the more other items come into play. Elements like food and drink, toilets, showers, waste, power supply. 

3. Choosing the Perfect Spot: Where to Pitch 

Selecting the right location for your Bell Tent Village is key to a successful camping experience. Maybe you are using a locally hired venue or a family member’s field. Maybe you are just researching options. Here are some things to consider when choosing.

  • Is it flat? Flatish will normally do! Picture yourself lying on the ground on a mattress where the tents are going. Am I sliding down a hill? Are there bumps and trenches underneath or is it nice and flat. 
  • Will it flood? Will that beautiful stream I can see now have the potential to be bigger.
  • Can I get vehicle access to it? Think of your guest’s luggage, toilet delivery, food and drink if using will all need vehicle access.
  • Length of grass! We love a wild meadow but you need the grass cut short in the areas you are planning to camp in. Is this something you can arrange?
  • Try to avoid creating a Bell tent village under trees as windy days can lead to falling branches. Not a good combination.
  • Are there grazing animals on the land? If so, make sure that all farm animals are removed 3 weeks prior to the land being used for camping. We checked with the Scouts as they know a thing or two about this. 
  • Try to avoid exposed areas especially on top of hills. Check the prevailing wind on the area you are looking to use. In the south of England and Wales the prevailing wind is from the South West. Most smart phones have a compass app these days. 

4. Mapping out your space

Space matters. Before you embark on your event, calculate how much space you need based on the number of tents you think you may have, any communal areas, and planned activities. A good Bell tent company will be able to help you with this. 

Bell tent Village for a wedding at Purton House Organics Swindon Wiltshire -  Brilliant Bell Tent Hire

To give you an example of space. Say you have 10 Bell tents with 3 or 4 people in each and each Bell tent is a 5m Bell. This means they are 5m in diameter. 

You also need to allow 2m between each tent for guy ropes. (and Dave’s snoring). So if you were planning on putting these 10 tents in a line you would need 72m in total

50m + (11x2m)=72m in length at a depth of 7m (11x2m is the 2m between tents plus 2m at each end)

A depth of 7m is simply to allow 1m at the back for guy ropes and 1m at the front for guy ropes. 

So 72m in length and a depth of 7m. 72m x 7m. 

Now that is a very long layout and works well if you have a long field! 

For more help see our guide on How to map out your Bell tent field

5. Naked or not

We’re talking about the Bell tents here. What you get up to is entirely up to you. Just keep it legal!

Our Bell tents can come Fully furnished with bed linen, lighting, rugs, tables, duvets, pillows etc or they can be supplied Naked which means just the tent. (The tent is complete with a groundsheet). Most other Bell tent companies will use very similar setups. 

Bell tent Village set up for a wedding in the Cotswolds. 5m Bell tents

If using our Faff free Booking Portal your guests will have both of these options available to book. 

If you are booking all the bell tents yourself you can specify what you need. Maybe a mix and match. 

Certain events lend themselves to certain Bell Tent Village set ups. For example we often get asked to provide Bell tents for a 21st birthday party. The organisers are happy to put the emphasis on the guests to provide their own bedding, pillows etc so they can keep costs down. 

The organisers of a corporate festival themed getaway like to have everything ready and waiting and so normally go for the fully furnished options. Likewise for weddings and kids sleepovers. 

6. Parking prowess

From small intimate gatherings to large corporate events, parking is normally needed and sometimes overlooked. 

  • Avoid parking cars next to the tents. Create a separate parking area nearby so the cars are near but not too close. This avoids cars slipping in wet weather and possible accidents associated with cars driving past tents. It’s not worth the risk.  
  • Use a few homemade parking signs and arrows to direct people to where you want them to park. 
  • Photo friendly. This allows better photos to be taken as your event looks pretty rather than like a car park.
  • Reduces noise. Less engine noise if someone needs to leave early or tries to run their car to charge their phone. 

7. Food and Drink 

So you’ve arranged somewhere to sleep under canvas but what about eating and drinking. This will completely depend on the type of event you are hosting but it is worth bearing in mind. A kids 10th birthday sleepover in your garden is widely different from a Corporate team building event with 100 hungry adults starving after being ‘trained’ on Stand Up Paddle Boards all afternoon. 

Over the years we’ve seen some fantastic food and drink set ups for a Bell Tent Village. Large group cook outs for weddings the night before the big day followed by breakfast served the day after. We’ve seen food trucks brought onto site. Fish and chips, curries, tacos, waffles, ice cream, pizzas, you name it. 

Pro tip

Check there is a safe and clean supply of water on your site. Existing campsites should have this. If hosting at a private house, hired venue or a field double check that clean water is accessible to your guests. 

8. Nature calls. Toilets and shower

Toilets 

Without going into too much detail, we all need to go at some stage. When you are researching your potential best places to camp, remember to look out for existing toilet setups as they will save you money straight away. Maybe at a campsite, an existing house or a temporary installation. 

If nothing exists on site you are going to have to bring in a toilet for your event. There are a whole range of toilets you can rent for an event and they range from the basic to the Luxury. 

A simple single portaloo from around £100

21st birthday Bell tent Village Double Portaloo from Mc Event Loos in Wiltshire

To a 2+1 trailer unit for around £400

2+1 means 2 female cubicles, 1 male cubicle with 1 urinal. This is a classic set up for up to 150 guests at a wedding, party or event.

Luxury 2+1 Loo supplied to a Bell Tent Village by Kington Loos

Pro tip

Trailer units normally come self contained meaning they don’t need a water supply and will come with all the consumables like toilet paper, soaps, paper towels that you’ll need. They will need a power supply to plug into. This is to run the lights, a pump and sometimes a water heater. Bear this in mind if you are planning on having the trailer in the middle of the field. In that case you will require a generator. 

Showers

Not all events need showers and can be seen as a nice to have rather than an essential item. This will really depend on your event. 

Types of showers

Just like toilets, shower units come in a range of sizes and luxury. 

Bell tent Glamping village with 4 bay shower provided by Bisley Hire

Here is an example of a classic 4 bay shower unit. Individual compartments with a changing area and shower unit for each bay.

Pro tip

Showers for events in the UK tend to be heated by gas but will need a power supply to run the lights and pumps. Bear this in mind when planning where to put them. They will need a water supply somewhere nearby as well as somewhere to run the grey waste water (the used shower water). A good shower provider will be able to help you with this. In the picture above you can just see the outdoor tap to the right hand side that was used to top up the internal shower tanks. This happens automatically using the same system as the cistern in your toilet at home.

Conclusion

Planning a Bell tent Village normally means you are creating a special event. While there are always things to consider in the planning, keep focused on the fact that you are putting together an event which will create incredibly memorable experiences for lots of people.  

We’d love to hear what your event plans are and help turn your ideas into a reality. It’s what we do at Brilliant Bell Tent Hire. We love all the different events we end up working with and we love a challenge! To start planning your Bell tent adventure with us and book your own Bell Tent Village please get in touch with us by booking a call or checking availability.

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