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Types of Marquees

And why we choose to use Röder clearspan marquees.

ivory drape lined interior of clearspan marquee with decorated wedding reception tables and chairs jubilee events ltd

There are so many different types of marquees available these days that it can be quite confusing when you start looking to hire one for your special event. You very likely have lots of questions about which marquee styles are suitable for different types of event. And you may be frustrated that on some marquee hire websites it may not be clear to you what the marquees on offer actually look like or how to make proper use of them.

So, if you want to go from confused to clear in your search for a marquee, a good start is to read our article and understand some basics about marquees. And if you still have questions, please reach out and we’d be happy to have a no-obligation chat with you.

After all – we LOVE marquee events and we would be delighted to share our knowledge with you.

marquee set up team jubilee events ltd

And, if you're interested, check out our vision page where we explain our big "why" and tell you about lives transformed through our work in the events industry.

Why is it called a marquee in the first place?

If you’re thinking that “marquee” is just a fancy name for a tent, then you’re right. Almost.

While the dictionary definition of a marquee is “a large tent used at outdoor social events”, the history of the word and the type of tent it refers to is quite interesting (and a little disputed!) It seems that it probably started with battlefield tents with linen canopies placed over them being used by military officers, and then progressed to these types of large tents being used for balls and banquets.

The association with “upper class” was further reinforced by the French practice of referring to this type of tent as a “marquise” (the feminine equivalent of marquis, a rank of nobleman.) ​​They also used the word to refer to various objects and fashions regarded as elegant or pleasing - like our beautiful marquees!

Thus, the English word “marquee” is most probably derived from the Middle French word "marquise" with the final "s" sound being mistaken as a plural, and so dropped.

Who knew?!

What are the different types of marquees?

The historical, traditional marquee is also known as a pole marquee as its structure is maintained using poles and guy ropes, giving it a distinctive shape. This is popular with those wanting to create a vintage look for their venue.

exterior of a traditional sailcloth marquee with wedding reception set up on jubilee events blog

However, this must be weighed against the wider footprint needed, along with the loss of internal space and sight-lines.

A slight variation on this type is the sailcloth marquee or canvas marquee, although these days this style sometimes makes use of a textured PVC fabric rather than natural canvas.

Celeste / sailcloth marquee in field with blue sky
Image courtesy of The Marquee Company Ltd

The sailcloth / canvas marquee does provide an authentic vintage look, but they are not so easy to keep looking clean and fresh. These traditional type marquees are also less sturdy in adverse weather conditions and not well suited to erection on hard surfaces.


A clearspan marquee or frame marquee is a more modern type of marquee.

interior of ivory drape lined clearspan marquee with open sides overlooking countryside jubilee events ltd

The metal frame provides structural stability, eliminating the need for central poles or external guy ropes.

The design of the clearspan marquee maximizes the usable space within the marquee, and the desired “feel” (vintage or otherwise) can be created with internal linings and decoration to personalise the space as you see fit.

exterior of clearspan marquee with open sides and seated guests on country estate jubilee events ltd
Image courtesy of Richard Richards Photography

Frame marquees are versatile.

They can be set up on various surfaces, including concrete and gravel. Generally, the clearspan marquee is sturdy with a high wind rating and the PVC material makes it waterproof and easy to clean.

double pagoda marquee lit up under the night sky by jubilee events ltd

A pagoda (or “Chinese hat”) is a square structure with a distinctive pointed roof.

They are commonly used as entranceways, small booths, or standalone structures for outdoor events, often in combination with large marquees. They can also have walls and windows like the larger marquees.

Cream coloured gazebo in garden with people working inside

Sometimes they are confused with a gazebo, but gazebos tend to be smaller and less sturdy. You might be familiar with the pop-up gazebos you see at small garden parties and church fairs.

Either of these structures may be what people are referring to when they speak of a small marquee.

tipi tents set up on grass with tables and chairs inside for event

Tipis are tents with conical shapes inspired by traditional teepees. They have a distinctive rustic look and tend to be more open to the elements.

As with the traditional marquee, they are supported with poles and guy ropes and made of canvas.

interior of tipi tent with decorated tables and chairs for wedding reception

They generally do not feel as spacious inside, and sight-lines are more compromised than even with the traditional marquee.

Head room is often quite restricted.

What is the difference between a PE and PVC marquee?

PE (polyethylene) material is the entry level for marquees. It is waterproof like PVC but it is not very durable; it creases and tears easily. It is also difficult to find flame-retardant PE. Standard PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is much stronger and more durable.

A good marquee should be made of at least standard PVC. Quality marquees tend to be made of specialised PVC which is low wick, fungicidal, high gloss and flame retardant.

What type of marquees do Jubilee Events use, and Why?

Jubilee Events hires out clearspan marquees of 9m width and modular length, as well as 6m square pagodas.

We chose Röder marquees because they are a premium brand of high quality PVC marquees manufactured within the EU, in accordance with international standards. This means their material is thicker than that of standard PVC marquees making them more durable and sturdier with a higher wind rating. They are also easier to clean which means they retain their pristine white appearance for a beautiful aesthetic.

Tips for deciding on the type of marquee to hire:

>> Decide on the kind of theme or “feel” you want to create for your event so that you know what type of marquee will might work best, but keeping in mind the practical factors below.

>> Consider your location - the available area, the type of surface, the accessibility - and what type of marquee will be best suited to it.

>> Take into account the weather generally expected at the time of year of your event - might there be heavy rain or high winds?

>> Feel confident to ask potential suppliers for:

> reviews or testimonials

> information on the marquee manufacturer

> proof of insurance

> a method statement

> a risk assessment

We hope you have a better understanding of marquees and are able to make a more informed choice.

If you would like to have a more personal chat about your specific circumstances, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help.


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