What is The Big Lunch?
The Big Lunch, funded by the National Lottery, is the UK's annual get-together for neighbours. It takes place each year in June, and 2017 is its ninth year. It's a day where neighbours and members of communities can stop what they're doing and come together for the simple act of sharing a meal. Events can be big or small, inside or outside, casual or filled with all sorts of games, activities and excitement. The main thing is that people share good food, good company and good fun. See the handy links on our Big Lunch home page for help planning yours, and be sure to sign up for a free Big Lunch pack.
When is The Big Lunch?
The Big Lunch takes place annually in June. The date for The Big Lunch 2017 is Sunday 18 June, but you can hold a Big Lunch on any date that suits you and your community. Request a free Big Lunch starter pack here.
The official date for The Big Lunch doesn’t suit, can I still take part?
Of course! The most important thing about having a Big Lunch is bringing people together, so if the date doesn’t suit you or community we absolutely encourage you to hold your Lunch on another date. Many people hold Big Lunches throughout the year, and also at different times of the day. The Lunar Lunch is a great way to bring your community together after nightfall if a day time get together won’t work for you or your neighbours.
What is The Big Lunch's involvement with The Great Get Together?
Since its inception, The Big Lunch has been striving to create a ‘Thanksgiving day for neighbours’, to create opportunities for neighbours to come together. We felt that the ‘more in common’ values that Jo Cox advocated throughout her work echoed our own, and thus a partnership with The Great Get Together and the Jo Cox Foundation made sense. The anniversary of Jo’s death is 16 June, and The Great Get Together weekend that follows is all about furthering what we are all trying to achieve: community connections and stronger relationships.
We believe that there is no limit to what can be achieved if you do not mind who takes the credit and we hope that combining these events will achieve the biggest community celebration the UK has seen since the Jubilee. Building community spirit and coming together is our main goal. The Big Lunch forms part of the weekend — it has not been replaced by The Great Get Together, and we expect that many Big Lunches will still take place without necessarily being part of The Great Get Together.
We really do hope that you will still choose to organise a Big Lunch and that the momentum gained through The Great Get Together will inspire more people to take part in The Big Lunch for years to come.
What is The Big Lunch's link with the Eden Project?
The Eden Project started The Big Lunch because it believes that we are better equipped to tackle the challenges that we face when we face them together. The Big Lunch is part of Eden Project Communities and is funded by the National Lottery.
How can I find a Big Lunch near me?
We are unable to give out private information about personal events however, please read our tips on using social media and local resources to find a Big Lunch near you.
I live outside the UK, can I have a Big Lunch?
Yes! To date, we know that Big Lunches have taken place in over 70 countries worldwide. However, our funding only enables us to post packs to UK residents, but you can request a downloadable pack by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're an organisation, can we take part in or support The Big Lunch?
Yes, you can. If you want advice on how you could partner with The Big Lunch, please email us at email@example.com.
How can my school get involved?
Children, parents and teachers — The Big Lunch needs you! Schools can either hold their own Big Lunches, or help their pupils get ready for a local Lunch, for example, by making decorations and food, or growing veg. Lending chairs and equipment to Big Lunches happening nearby is a handy help too.
Can I fundraise for charity at my Big Lunch?
Yes, of course! Lots of people use their Big Lunch to raise awareness or funds for a cause close to their heart, be it their own community group or a bigger, national charity. Take a look at our guide to community fundraising.
What if there isn't a Big Lunch planned in my area?
Start your own! Perhaps find someone on the street who wants to come door-knocking with you to see who else wants to get involved.
Where do I start?
If it's your first time organising a Big Lunch, try to start small to keep things as simple as possible. Request our free pack to help you get going and make sure to read our guide to organising a Big Lunch.
Does my Big Lunch have to be a street party?
Absolutely not. Many events in the first few years of The Big Lunch were little more than two or three homes getting together in a back garden, and many still are. Big Lunches take place in all sorts of locations, from fire stations to beaches, church halls to streets — even mountain tops! Be creative.
When should I start planning?
Whenever you’re ready! It really depends on what you’ve got in mind. If you’re hoping to close your road for a street party then it’s a good idea to get on to your local council as early as possible, as some councils ask for up to 12 weeks’ notice. It’s also good to spark up interest within the community with a couple of months to spare so that people have time to get involved in the planning and organising with you. Request our free starter pack to help you get going.
Can I build a Big Lunch into an existing event or festival?
Absolutely, it’s a great way to get it started locally. Speak to our team if you have further questions.
How much will it cost?
Big Lunches don't need to be expensive. You could simply hold one in a garden, ask people to bring food, make your own decorations and borrow furniture. Making use of what you already have will keep the costs low.
If you're up for a big bash, you could start a kitty with interested neighbours and set up a donations box on the day to recoup this cash or even organise a raffle.
Your council may ask you to pay fees for closing the road for a street party however, guidance from Department for Communities and Local Government states that you are not required by law to pay a charge for closing your road (for small residential street parties in England) but some councils may need to cover the costs for admin and planning. You should ask your council what the charges are for.
Is there any funding available?
Big Lunches work best when everybody brings a dish and shares, so you don't need to spend loads of money to have a great day. But, sometimes you might need a little bit of money to pay for things like venue hire, or insurance, or maybe you want to make something extra special happen at your event. For this, you could ask people to contribute through a traditional 'whip-round' or run a small crowdfunding campaign. For funding larger projects or ongoing community groups, see our finance and funding page for more tips and ideas.
Do I need insurance?
It depends on the type of event you’re organising; where you’re holding it and who’s invited. For small events in private spaces you won't. If you're closing your road, you'll need insurance, and if it's a bigger event where, for example, you’re selling food or putting up a stage for music or a bouncy castle, then further precautions will be necessary. Always speak to your local authority and explain your plans. See our advice on insurance for your Big Lunch if you'd like more information.
Are barbeques too risky from a health and safety point of view?
Common sense applies. Set up your BBQ somewhere safe and have one chef in charge, not a free for all. It’s also a good idea to have a first aider there on the day.
I'm worried about food hygiene, do we need a license?
Organising small, private street parties and community events should be simple and things like risk assessments, licenses and health and safety certificates are not normally required. In guidance from the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Food Standards Agency has confirmed that one-off events such as street parties aren't usually considered food businesses, so there are no forms to fill in and you don't need a food licence.
Everyone involved in a Big Lunch should take responsibility for themselves and those preparing food should make sure they do so in a clean and hygienic environment. If you are planning a larger event that anyone can attend or if you are selling tickets to your event, then there may be other processes and requirements that you need to consider. Your local council will be able to advise you on this.
What will we sit on and eat off?
You could use your own stools, chairs, crates and trestle tables. If you need to find some more seating and tables, try eBay, Freecycle or Freegle for cheap/free options. You could also join a local lend 'n' borrow group, such as Streetbank, or ask your local parish council, church, school or groups such as Scouts to share things you might need.
Do I need to close my street?
Not at all! If you can’t close your road, you can hold your Big Lunch on any patch of land or any building such as a communal, private or pub garden, a local park, driveway, school playground, church, mosque, synagogue gurdwara or temple — wherever you want, as long as you have the relevant permissions.
If you do want to close your road for a street party you will need to get in touch with the Highways Department at your local council to find out how to go about it. It’s best to do this as early as possible as some councils require up to 12 weeks’ notice.
Your council may ask you to pay fees for closing the street, however new guidance from Department for Communities and Local Government states that you are not required by law to pay a charge for closing your road (for small residential street parties in England) but some councils may need to cover the costs for admin and planning. You should ask your council what the charges are for.
If you have any problems with your council, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org as we may be able to help.
I'm having problems closing my road, can you help?
If you want to have a Big Lunch street party and you're having problems closing your road don’t fret, our team are here to help you. Get in touch with the team on 0845 850 8181 or email email@example.com.
Are you aware that The Big Lunch is taking place during Ramadan?
Yes, we are aware that The Big Lunch and The Great Get Together will be taking place during Ramadan this year. However, we certainly don’t want to exclude anyone who is observing Ramadan, which is why we’ve come up with the Lunar Lunch, where communities can get together after dark to break fast.
Our friends at The Big Iftar are also getting involved, encouraging neighbours to break fast with Muslim communities as part of the celebrations.
We hope people will come together in whatever way suits them and their community, whether by breaking fast and sharing a meal together or through games, music, sport or other activities. We encourage people to get creative and hold an event that suits their own community: you can hold a Big Lunch on an alternative date if that suits your community better. There’s no right or wrong way to do it!
Why is The Big Lunch taking place on Father's Day?
We are aware that 18 June is Father's Day, and that this date many not suit all communities, so as ever we encourage people to hold their event on a day that suits them best. Many people hold Lunches throughout the summer and indeed throughout the year: the important thing is bringing people together.
The date for The Big Lunch 2017 has been organised to coincide with our partnership with The Great Get Together. We hope that by combining these events, more people than ever before will come out to celebrate their communities and enjoy time with their neighbours.
Who is going to clean up after the Lunch?
Experienced Lunchers recommend you appoint someone to take charge of making this happen. Try to plan ahead to share the tidying up duties, and, wherever possible, recycle or reuse what’s left over. Check out these tips to reduce waste at your event.
Should I tell you about my event?
Should I take photos?
Yes! We love to see pictures and videos from your Big Lunches! We like to share them on our social media channels and website to show others what a Big Lunch looks like. Please send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and share them on social media using the hashtag #TheBigLunch.