What is The Big Lunch?
The Big Lunch is the UK's annual celebration for neighbours, an idea from the Eden Project, made possible by the National Lottery. It started back in 2009, and takes place each year in June. 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. You can also sign up for our newsletter to receive updates, advice and Big Lunch news.
When is The Big Lunch?
The Big Lunch takes place annually on the first weekend in June. The Big Lunch 2020 will be 6-7 June.
The official date for The Big Lunch doesn’t suit, can we still take part?
The Big Lunch is about neighbours and communities across the UK coming together to share food, friendship and fun. It's 'Big' because the majority of these moments happen on the same day, as part of a national celebration. However, the most important thing about having a Big Lunch is bringing people together, so if the date doesn't suit you or your community, we absolutely encourage you to hold your Lunch on a different date.
Many people organise regular Big Lunches with their neighbours 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 doesn't work for you or your neighbours.
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 Community Fund.
The Big Lunch and the Great Get Together are both in June, what should I do?
The Big Lunch is the UK’s annual get-together for neighbours. Since 2009, we have been working to create opportunities for neighbours to come together and build community connections. The Big Lunch underpinned the first Great Get Together weekend in 2017 as a one-off to offer support and guidance, but has now returned to its annual date of the first weekend in June (6-7 June 2020).
We want as many people as possible to experience the benefits of getting to know their neighbours and making community connections, so join in and bring your neighbours together to share food, friendship and fun.
We are so excited that there are more planned moments for communities to come together, as it brings us a step closer to reaching our goal of building community spirit and stronger relationships that last throughout the year! Choose one, or the other, or do both (!) whatever works best for you and your community.
How can I find a Big Lunch near me?
We are unable to give out private information about personal events however we will have a map of public Big Lunches for 2020. Keep checking back to see if there's anything near you, and in the meantime you can 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. In 2018, the UK hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and we teamed up with the Commonwealth Summit Unit to encourage people to hold Commonwealth Big Lunches which brought people together from across the 53 nations and 6 continents.
We're an organisation, can we take part in, or support The Big Lunch?
Yes, you can! Lots of organisations and businesses support The Big Lunch and help us to engage more communities through communications and specific activities. Businesses and workplaces can also join The Big Lunch by encouraging teams and staff to have lunch together - it's fun, friendly and also helps to build cross team connections. More information for businesses and organisations is here, and if you want to explore how you could partner with The Big Lunch, please get in touch with Lindsey Brummitt.
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. We have specific guidance for schools and how to link The Big Lunch with the curriculum, here.
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. Last year alone (2019) £8.2m was raised at Big Lunches, with 66% of fundraisers choosing a local charity or cause to give the money to. 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. You can request your free pack for 2020 now to help you get started and in the meantime, there's lots more information, tips and advice here.
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 and do what works for you - the most important part is coming together to share food and have fun!
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 the Ministry of Housing, 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 need insurance . 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 Ministry of Housing, 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, guidance from the Ministry of Housing, 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.
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.