The Big Lunch FAQs

What is The Big Lunch?

The Big Lunch is the UK's annual big date to celebrate and give thanks to our neighbours and communities.  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 about celebrating community connections and getting to know one another a little better.  This year there are more reasons than ever to get together!

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 come together for food, friendship and fun.  Sign up for your free Big Lunch pack. You can also sign up for our newsletter or follow us on social (@edencommunities) 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. For 2021, that's 5-6 June, but this year The Big Lunch kicks off a whole Month of Community, ending on Thank You Day on 4 July.  You can get involved whenever suits you and your community as restrictions vary across the UK.

Why is it 'the big date' this year?

This year in particular, we truly believe that everyone needs something to look forward to - a fixed date in the calendar where we can celebrate community connections.  There are lots of ways we can do this safely whatever the coronavirus restrictions are in place at that point in time, so The Big Lunch will be going ahead on the weekend of 5-6 June as normal, and will kick off a summer of community friendship, and fun.

There are still restrictions in my area due to coronavirus; how can I take part?

We encourage you to take part in any way that you can, so whilst that might mean the more traditional street party with everyone sharing food isn't appropriate, The Big Lunch is still an opportunity to reach out to your community, and 'meet up' in whatever way you can.

Online, on the doorstep, over the fence, or on the go - there are loads of different ways you can join in with The Big Lunch depending on what works where you live and what's safe and inclusive for you and your community. Check out our Top Tips for a Safe Big Lunch and there are lots of suggestions, tips and ideas in our Big Lunch pack, so sign up for your free copy now!

We know from last year's Big Lunch that communities really appreciated the opportunity to come together safely, whether that was online or face to face, so whatever the restrictions will be, it can happen in a safe way.  Restrictions are changing all of the time, do check the latest for your area on the government website. 

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 for food, friendship and fun. Just like our communities, Big Lunches come in all shapes and sizes.  The Big Lunch is about being part of a national event, not the number of people that join in, or the amount of food that's eaten.  The mot important thing about having a Big Lunch is bringing people together, so if the date doesn't suit you or your community, or you want to wait until coronavirus restrictions are lifted where you live, we absolutely encourage you to hold your Lunch on a different date.  This year, The Big Lunch is kicking off a summer of community, friendship and fun, so there will be plenty of opportunities, and more reasons than ever to get together!

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.

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 six 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 our Head of Partnerships, Gemma Snow.

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. In 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 and there are lots of ideas and tips in The Big Lunch pack this year.

What if there isn't a Big Lunch planned in my area? 

Start your own! Perhaps find someone on the street who wants to help you, and 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 2021 now to help you get started and in the meantime, there's lots more information, tips and advice here

When should I start planning? 

Whenever you’re ready! It really depends on what you’ve got in mind. It's 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 Big Lunch pack to help you get going.

Can I build a Big Lunch into an existing event or celebration? 

Absolutely, it’s a great way to get it started locally. The Big Lunch is really flexible and can fit alongside or as part of many existing activities.  Speak to our team if you have further questions.

How much will it cost?

Big Lunches don't need to cost anything!. You could simply hold one on your doorstep, ask people to come out at the same time, decorate the front of your house with stuff you have already or can make, and bring your own snack or beverage!

What if I want to close my road?

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.

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. 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.

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.  This year, due to coronavirus, we would recommend bringing food for yourself rather than to share, but you can still share a good natter! 

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, and it is allowed within the current government restrictions.

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.

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 0800 022 3357 or email communities@edenproject.com

Should I tell you about my event? 

If you’re having a Big Lunch we want to know! Connect with us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram, and once you have made a few plans you can share your story, photos and video with us too!

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 communities@edenproject.com and share them on social media using the hashtag #TheBigLunch.