Ten event ideas for Village Halls

Published on 11th January 2024

For many people living in rural communities, Village Hall events have a very important role in bringing communities together. Events are also an opportunity for halls to raise much needed funds. Here, Devon Communities Together’s Village Halls and Community Buildings Team take a look at some simple event ideas for your local Village Hall.


1 Fun dog show

Fun dog shows are always popular amongst dog owners and spectators alike. This can be a stand-alone event or run as part of a larger occasion such as a fete or open day. Whether it is held in the Village Hall car park, a nearby field, or the Hall itself, it’s best to rope off a ‘show area’ or hold it on a stage in order to ensure spectators can see properly.

You will need two or three judges, and an announcer. It’s likely the announcer will need to borrow a microphone or megaphone so onlookers can hear what the categories are and who the winners are.

Your Hall could charge a nominal amount per category with participants choosing as many appropriate categories as they like. Consider doing teas and coffees – or perhaps even a cream tea - to raise extra funds on the day.

Fun Dog Show categories could include: Cutest puppy (0-12 months); Best looking dog (12 months+); Best junior handler; Best trick; Scruffiest dog; Best paw shaker; Dog most like its owner; Waggiest tail and Best in show.

Prizes don’t have to be too expensive – you could consider buying 1st, 2nd and 3rd rosettes to present to owners and their dogs; a variety of rosettes can be bought on the internet.


2 Music night

To hire a local band, you could search the Lemonrock website, searching for bands available in your area: Find a band for your wedding, party or event (lemonrock.com)

Or perhaps there are members of your community who play a musical instrument? Maybe they could be encouraged to form a band to play a one-off gig at the Hall as a fundraiser and a fun evening for everyone?

Other music night ideas include a drop-in jam session or an open mic night. See also ‘No 5: Sea Shanties’ below.


3 Guest chef night

There are a wide variety of wonderful chefs in Devon who may be willing to come along to run a night at your Village Hall for a reasonable fee; particularly if they live locally to your area. In addition to traditional Devon fare, popular cuisines include Indian, Caribbean, Italian, and Thai food.

A guest chef night will take a fair amount of organising as you will need to sell tickets in advance so that your chef knows how many they are cooking for. Volunteers will be needed on the night to help serve dishes and do washing up etc. However, it will be worth the effort as it’s likely to be a very popular evening – particularly for communities in very remote areas who may not normally have easy access to restaurants. There is also the opportunity to raise a fair amount of funds through ticket sales; in addition, you could also hold a raffle on the evening in order to bring in extra funds.


4 Fika

Fika is a Swedish word which roughly translates as ‘drinking coffee, eating sweet treats and chatting’.

Village Halls have been running coffee mornings and cream teas for years and they are fantastic ways to bring people together. However, putting a modern twist on this might just attract new people along and encourage new volunteers. Invite people in your community to bring a cake along to share; alongside traditional fruit cakes and jam sponges, your village’s star bakers might enjoy the challenge to bake a typical Swedish Fika cake such as Tigerkaka or Kladdkaka. This is a great way to bring people together, encourage new people along, and to try different cakes and share recipes.


5 Sea shanty evening

A sea shanty is a traditional folk song which was sung to accompany rhythmical work on sailing ships. With Nathan Evan’s 2021 version of ‘Wellerman’ going viral and the 2019 film ‘Fisherman’s Friends’ about a Cornish sea shanty group, shanties have become popular again with new audiences.

With this in mind, a sea shanty evening could be a fun evening which will appeal to new as well as familiar Village Hall audiences. The sing along element is great fun and an informal way to bring the community together. You may even like to consider providing a simple hearty supper such as casserole for everyone to share. Whilst cooking might be more work for volunteers, your Hall will be able to charge a bit more for the tickets which will all help towards Hall funds and your audience will head home full of supper as well as song!

There are several groups in Devon that you could look into hiring for the evening for example: The Old Gaffers in South Devon Old Gaffers - the shanty crew from Kingsbridge, South Devon, South Devon; Anchors Aweigh in North Devon; about-us (anchorsaweighdevon.com); the Chantry Buoys in East Devon: The Chantry Buoys | East Devon Sea Shanty Band; or Mariners Away in West Devon: Mariners Away – Singers of Sea Shanties & other Songs of the Sea


6 Guided Walk/Wildlife Survey

Hold a walk that starts and ends at your Village Hall. A Nature Walk takes in the local wildlife that surrounds your area. It could be on a specific theme such as ‘mini beasts’ or ‘avaian adventurers’.

Consider the season and time to do the walk as you are likely to see different wildlife on a crisp Winter morning or a balmy Summer evening. Perhaps there is a local expert in your neighbourhood who would be willing to help co-ordinate, or you could contact a local College, University, or Devon Wildlife Trust, who may be able to recommend someone to lead the walk.

Those not able to go on the walk may like to stay at the Hall and participate in a nature survey – you may be surprised how many birds and insects can be spotted from Village Hall windows!

When everyone has reconvened back at the hall, you could swap stories, see who spotted the most wildlife, and enjoy a cup of tea together.


7 Games Evening or Games Café

This is relatively easy to organise – you will just need the game you are playing, a print out of the rules and off you go! Popular evenings include Cribbage, Bridge, and Euchre - a traditional card game often played in Devon. Whilst Euchre tends to be played by older people in communities, there is a move to teach younger people how to play - so this could be a great idea for inter-generational interaction.

Alternatively, your Hall may want to hold a general games cafe where people bring their own favourite board game along to play with people. It is a fun way to meet new people and learn a new game.

Board games are increasingly popular amongst younger people so this may be a way to attract younger people into halls. It may be surprising to learn that many young people in Devon are still suffering from anxiety and lack of confidence after the lockdown. To those suffering from anxiety, a board game is often a great ice breaker to get people involved without the pressure of having to hold long conversations because the focus is on playing the game. This could be a one-off event, and if it proves popular you may consider holding a monthly or weekly event.


8 Paint jam

Get creative with a paint jam – a little bit more lively than a typical art class- a paint ‘jam’ involves a group working in collaboration and improvising art as it happens. Participants do not need any artistic experience; paints and canvas are provided, and groups are encouraged to paint what they can within the session which typically lasts 1 -2 hours. There are no expectations that the art will be ‘great’ – it’s an informal opportunity to unlock creativity and have fun.


9 Quiz

Some people love a good quiz! The quiz can be taken from the internet or written by a volunteer, or a small team of you may like to share the responsibility of writing a round each. You will need a Quizmaster to lead proceedings at the event plus one or two helpers to collect the papers in and keep scores for each round. The quiz could be matched with a coffee morning, lunch, or supper.

As everyone has different skills, try to mix the rounds up so there’s something for everyone. For example, a music round, picture round…and how about a practical round such as best origami, or longest paper chain, tallest Lego tower etc within a given time?

Try to tailor the quiz to your audience – no one likes a quiz where the questions are all difficult, so try to ensure you are inclusive. You may like to pick a particular round to advertise the subject in advance so everyone will have a chance to read up on it beforehand. As well as 1st, 2nd and 3rd quiz prizes, you could offer a prize for fancy dress, best team fancy dress, and best quiz name, as well as holding a raffle. The more prizes the better!


10 Hold a ‘Big Lunch’

In 2009, the Eden Project set up the ‘Big Lunch’ with the idea to bring people together to share a meal once a year. Since its inception, 1.2 million Big Lunch events have been held and 13.4 million people took part in 2023. Perhaps your Village Hall could be the Big Lunch venue for your community? In 2024, the Big Lunch will take place 1st and 2nd June. To find out more, visit: Organise a Big Lunch - Eden Project Communities


Participate in Village Halls Week!

Whatever events you decide to hold throughout the year, you may like to consider holding one of your events as part of ACRE’s Village Halls Week. In 2024, this will take place between 18 – 24th March. For more information, visit:Campaign: Save the date! Village Halls Week 2024 - ACRE

Do you have any simple yet effective event ideas for your Village Hall? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Share your ideas with us at Devon Communities Together via our social media platforms or email us at info@devoncommunities.org.uk