Do you ever struggle to think of new event ideas or how to reinvent the attendee experience to keep it fresh and new?
If you’re considering mixing a consumer experience with a business format, switching things up could set you apart from competitors and give your next event the ‘wow’ factor. To help you, we’ve compiled 88 popular event ideas, themes, and formats to help inspire your next event.
Table of contents
Corporate event ideas
Ideas for entertainment
Fundraising event ideas
Performing arts events
Retail event inspiration
Social event suggestions
Sports event plans
Fun virtual event ideas
Events are a cornerstone of our communities. Whether you’re bringing people together to celebrate or for support, these community event ideas help to foster a neighbourly spirit in your local area. Take a look at our guide to advertising community events to make sure you’re reaching out to everyone who might want to attend.
1. Car boot sale
One person’s junk is another person’s treasure. Sellers pay a fee to the organisers, line up their cars and sell items that they no longer want from the back of their cars.
2. Chatham House Rules
For any meeting held under the Chatham House Rules, participants can use the information discussed, but may not disclose anything about the speaker. They’re normally a way to get important people to open up about topics they wouldn’t otherwise discuss in a public forum.
Hosting Model United Nations debates means giving a platform to talented, passionate speakers. This can help build credibility for causes and get spectators to question their opinions. Event host Debate London organise public speaking workshops that cover a wide range of topics to suit every perspective.
Historically, The Forum was a Roman centre of public life where citizens would gather. In the context of events, a forum is an ideal format for the airing of opinions and ideas.
5. Interview/fireside chat
This is an ideal format for those who want to interact with a keynote speaker in a less-formal setting. You can hire a comfy chair, put the speaker on stage, and ask all the questions your audience wants to know.
Whatever your religion, events will likely play a crucial role in bringing together believers, spreading a common message or raising funds.
Class reunions are great for bringing old friends and classmates back together to network and reminisce about old times.
A session focusing on a single theme where attendees are invited to participate by following along with specially designed academic exercises.
9. Signing (e.g. book)
Signings are generally associated with books, so fans and readers can meet their favourite authors and get their latest release signed by them. They’re also a common component of fandom events and comicons.
10. Street party
These community events are often organised to celebrate milestones or anniversaries, such as the Royal Jubilees. They provide an opportunity to bond with your neighbours and build community spirit.
11. Talent show
A competition where entrants demonstrate their unique talents in front of an audience and judging panel.
12. Taster session
Taster sessions give you a tantalising flavour of what’s to come. So if you have a workshop or series of classes organised, a taster event is an engaging way to get people interested in the full course.
13. Training session
Training sessions usually focus on a specific outcome with lots of practical learning along the way.
14. Village fete/fair
This could be a gathering at a village hall or green, with stalls, games, rides, refreshments, music, and demonstrations. Usually held to bring people together and raise funds for a community cause like a village hall.
15. Walking tour
This is a group event, led by an expert on the location or the theme of the tour, who takes the group between venues on foot.
Corporate event ideas
From conferences to exhibitions, corporate events help attendees to build new professional connections and develop existing ones. Use the following ideas to host events filled with career-boosting opportunities. Take a look at our corporate event icebreaker ideas for ways to get everyone talking.
Award ceremonies are a wonderful way to recognise and reward the hard work of teams and individuals.
Conferences are made up of several mixed-format sessions, including keynotes, panels, breakouts and roundtables. The event blends learning with networking.
A ConfEx is part conference, part exhibition. There’s an emphasis on talks and learning, but with lots of exhibits to walk around, too.
19. Consumer show/fair
These are usually big events full of vendors showcasing their products or services, all linked by a specific theme like travel or weddings.
20. Panel session
A favourite at conferences, they can also be stand-alone events. Gather a few experts, a moderator, and a series of questions on their topic of expertise and you’ve got a panel session.
21. Product launch
Product launch events are often held to showcase a company’s latest release, so they’ll generally involve a demo, lots of branding, and plenty of refreshments.
An online seminar where attendees dial in by phone or web and follow the slides onscreen, which is ideal for education sessions or capturing leads. There’s also the option for a live Q&A.
Entertainment event ideas
Need some out-of-the-box ideas for entertainment? The suggestions in this category are all about making sure your attendees have fun.
Whether it’s gathering social gamers or attracting those that play for cash prizes, gaming is a big industry. These types of events can help you target a niche audience.
Gigs are often smaller or more casual than high-profile or formal concerts, making them suitable for pubs or smaller performance venues.
Gather a room full of programmers, designers, and other digital professionals. Ask them to build a prototype within a set period of time, and you’ve got a hackathon.
Immersive events follow a narrative that leads the participant through the story, with the help of actors and movie-style sets.
Improvisational comedy means the performers have no set script and develop ideas from the audience into jokes and sketches on the fly.
28. Paint jam
Find a suitable space, invite some street artists, and you’ve got yourself a paint jam. People love watching amazing art being created.
For graduates or teenagers, a prom marks the end of an era and provides the opportunity to celebrate achievements with friends.
30. Scavenger hunt/treasure hunt
A classic team-building event and a firm family favourite, a scavenger hunt can be an enjoyable way to get people working together.
31. Screening (e.g. cinema)
Whether it’s a night at the movies, the immersive experience of Secret Cinema, a classic film club or an exclusive documentary showing, screening events can be flexible in their location and bring together audiences with similar interests.
Keeping the programme of your event a mystery really engages people’s curiosity.
33. Silent auction
Bids are placed in a closed box, with no one knowing how much anyone else has bid. The box is then unlocked and the highest bid wins.
34. Silent disco
If you want to host a party without worrying about the music volume, this could be the solution. Each attendee is given headphones to dance along to the DJ’s set.
Food & drink event ideas
Food and drink can play a role in nearly every event idea on this list, but they can shine on their own just as well. If you’re planning a food and drink event, take a look at our top tips for making sure it’s safe and hygienic.
35. Food and drink
Food and drink events can be as varied as food and drink itself, with a large variety of stalls and vendors selling their goods. They normally have tasters available for shoppers to sample.
36. Cheese and wine
Looking for ideas for a wine and cheese party? Why not combine it with a quiz night, networking event or murder mystery party? For a more traditional wine-tasting event, give it a twist by opting for a seasonal theme or hosting a fully vegan version.
Fundraising event ideas
If you’re looking to raise some cash for a good cause, putting together an event is a great way to do it. Attendees get to enjoy themselves while fundraising for charity – everyone wins. Check out our guide on promoting your charity event to engage your audience and increase those donations.
37. Fancy dress/masquerade
Most common around Halloween, fancy dress parties are a great excuse to get dressed up on a given theme and revel with others in equally interesting clothing.
38. Themed events
Creating events that link directly to your chosen cause or tap into something your audience love (such as a Disney-themed kids’ disco with ticket sales donated to a children’s charity) can be an effective way to fundraise. Take a look at some more event theme ideas to see what could work for your event.
These are exclusive, invitation-only gatherings so if you’d like to up the FOMO factor to 11, think about hosting a VIP event.
Lots of the event ideas in this article could work well as fundraisers if you set your budget carefully. Take a look at our favourite unique fundraising event ideas for more ways to support good causes.
Performing arts events
The world of performing arts is full of drama, laughs, and music, making it perfect for events that’ll have attendees on the edges of their seats or still giggling at the end of the night. Could these performing arts event ideas inspire your next event?
Cabaret is a stage performance, typically held in restaurants, bars and nightclubs. It mixes music, song, dance, and drama and is usually suited to adult audiences.
41. Open mic
An event where participants get to be the star of the show. They usually focus on poetry, music, and comedy and give aspiring artists the chance to showcase their skills.
42. Performance art
You never know what to expect from performance art, and it’s completely original and unique to the artist.
Everyone loves to laugh and standup has been around since Ancient Greek times to satisfy this basic human need.
44. The arts (ballet/musical/opera/theatre)
Yes, we’ve put four big themes together, because they share one common factor – a centre stage occupied by talented artists and appreciated by an attentive audience.
Public event ideas
If you’re hoping to organise a public event that feels big, gathers lots of attention or attracts attendees from all walks of life, these public event ideas are sure to draw in attendees and onlookers alike.
Congresses generally refer to formal meetings between politicians or government representatives.
Often music, but can be on any topic. Festivals are an organised series of screenings or performances, usually at the same venue or over several days.
47. Flash mob
Flash mobs are large groups that descend at a pre-arranged time and location to dance together. Orchestrated through social media, they look spontaneous to those who witness them. Check out Bob’s Dance Shop for inspiration.
A symposium was an Ancient Greek social affair, now more commonly associated with medical, scientific or highbrow gatherings of experts who debate and exchange key industry developments.
Tournaments are knock-out events where the players compete, often in front of an audience. One of the most famous is the world series of poker, but tournaments can also be organised for board games, online games, and competitive sports.
Retail event ideas
Retail-based events are a great way to increase brand awareness and increase sales. They let the public learn about your brand and create a fun spectacle that gets people curious.
Flash events are promoted just days or even hours before they take place. The sudden nature of the event is sure to trigger impulse buying and increased brand interest. Flash events may look spontaneous, but they are usually planned months in advance.
Social event ideas
Getting people talking and building community is what social events are all about. Whether they’re connecting over work, a shared hobby or interest, these social event ideas are sure to get your attendees interacting with one another.
51. Bar crawl
An organised bar crawl can be a great way to encourage networking, explore a new city, and show your attendees a good time.
52. Breakfast briefing
A morning event, often used when the host has an announcement. Great for those who want to reach a business audience who would otherwise be unable to attend an event during office hours.
This is another broad term that can include a conference, a trade show or a gathering of fans.
Whether you go ballroom dancing or clubbing, just for fun or to compete, the variety of dance is almost limitless, and so is their enduring appeal.
55. Fandom gathering
This is an event focused on fans of a particular part of popular culture, such as science fiction, anime, gaming or cult TV series. Organiser Showmasters host Film and Comic Conventions in major cities all over the UK, bringing together movie and comic aficionados.
Whether it’s attending an exhibition, a gallery or a book club, it’s great to meet up and enjoy the company of those with a shared passion.
57. Networking evening
Often geared towards professionals, networking events are designed to bring like-minded people together to chat, share experiences, and find common ground that will ultimately lead to a mutually beneficial business relationship. Take a look at our guide to organising networking events to start helping people connect.
Parties are simply a gathering of people who come together to have fun, relax, and celebrate. The reason might be a birthday, wedding or special occasion.
Question and answer sessions are very common after an expert talk, and creatives will often launch their latest film or book with a Q&A session so their fans get a chance to dig behind the scenes.
Teams compete against each other to answer questions posed by a Quizmaster.
61. Speed dating/networking
Speed events can be an efficient way of helping attendees meet lots of interesting people during the event.
Sports event ideas
Events that create team spirit or bring out a competitive streak can be fun – and what better way to do that than through sports? These sporting ideas will help get your attendees moving.
Endurance events are individual feats where competitors complete a challenge. The most common forms involve racing but could include dancing, exercise, and fundraising for charity.
What adult wouldn’t like to bounce on bouncy castles, hang out in a ball pit or just play games and express their inner child?
64. Obstacle races
These are similar to endurance events but with lots of obstacles (and typically lots of mud, too). They can be tough and gruelling or fun with silly obstacles.
A competitive physical event, over a specified distance or time. Races often include running, cycling or swimming.
66. Team competition/sports day
Whether it’s the FA Cup or an office game of rounders, sports are a brilliant way to engender team spirit and competition in equal measure.
Special event ideas
This category is full of special events – one-off ideas that stand out on their own. Whether you’re looking for an out-of-the-box fundraiser, a creative addition to a corporate event or to organise a totally unique event, these special event ideas should provide some inspiration.
Items or services are sold by an auctioneer in front of an audience to the person who is prepared to pay the highest amount. Great for charity fundraisers.
Celebrations bring people together to honour a person, place or time. Weddings and birthdays feature high on the list of most celebrated occasions.
69. Exhibition/trade show
Trade shows are similar to consumer fairs, but are normally restricted to professionals. They focus on selling high-value goods or services.
70. Fashion show
The buzz of a runway show helps to build excitement for the collection, and fashion shows can be run anywhere, at any time.
71. Historical/role play/re-enactment
Enthusiasts gather to immerse themselves in the period or theme and enjoy role-playing or re-enacting famous military battles with fellow fans.
Attendees become a part of the event, helping shape the experience and outcome. It’s unpredictable, exciting, and always unique.
Pop-ups are short-term events, often found in the food and drink industry, and can take place in a variety of unique locations
74. Puzzle/escape room
Solving puzzles in a group, within a certain amount of time or in a closed space, creates a mix of excitement and curiosity.
A rally is where large groups of people take to the streets in support of (or against) a specific shared cause.
What about getting your attendees to party like it’s 1999? People love a bit of nostalgia!
77. Ribbon cutting
The classic ‘ribbon cutting’ has a dignitary or famous guest open up a new public space (like a school or library), which helps to gather together the community and acknowledge new amenities.
Roasts are events where the main subject is honoured but with some gentle mocking as the main performance.
An event on a specific theme where all in attendance are posed the same question and debate the answer. City planning or business innovations are the kinds of topics often discussed at roundtables.
Unlike conferences, UnConferences focus on a specific theme but with no pre-formed agenda. Attendees usually decide the topics for discussion at the start of the day and then self-regulate as the event progresses.
Virtual event ideas
Virtual and hybrid events have exploded in popularity with lots of demand for fun virtual event ideas. People from all over the world can engage with your event, broadening your audience on a previously unimaginable scale. If that sounds good to you, we’ve got even more virtual event ideas in our blog.
82. Corporate virtual events
Conferences, seminars, and even networking events can work just as well online or in person. Invest some of what you’ll save on your venue and catering into high-quality software that lets attendees ask questions in panel discussions.
83. Hybrid events
If your event includes a concert, performance or talk, you could live stream it so that people can attend virtually as well as in person. Hybrid events let you increase your audience size and make your events more inclusive.
84. Virtual masterclasses
What’s easier than finding a venue for a cookery class? Delivering one virtually so that every participant brings their own oven! Virtual masterclasses can work well for all kinds of things, from coding skills to crafts. If your attendees will need specific ingredients or materials, let them know in advance so everyone can participate on the day.
85. Virtual reality
A new type of event that will continue to grow is virtual reality. This could mean attending a live event virtually, or even a whole event created in the virtual world.
Workshop event ideas
Learning-based events can make a great addition to conferences or exhibitions and fit well in a community setting. Done right, they can get people talking, creating, and even building connections centred around the subject.
It’s not like being back at school; these are typically interactive events with small groups, where learning is the desired outcome
The format is normally a rapid-fire session of startups or speakers pitching to the audience or a panel of experts.
Workshops are often used interchangeably with training sessions, but their traditional meaning was a room where people could build stuff. Focus on helping people create something tangible or learning a new skill.
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