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  • Writer's pictureKatharine Snowden

Choosing the right marquee: Clearspan vs. pole and canvas

Updated: Feb 27

When it comes to hosting outdoor events, such as weddings, milestone birthdays, corporate events or other special occasions, marquees offer a versatile solution. They provide shelter and an ambiance that can’t be beaten. Marquees come in many shapes and sizes. Two popular options are clearspan marquees and pole and canvas marquees. While both serve the same basic purpose, they differ significantly in terms of design, functionality, and suitability for various events.

Some couples and party organisers know instinctively what sort of marquee will match their vision. When I got engaged, pre Peacock and Bow, I knew straight away that the PVC look wasn't for me. I was guided by aesthetics more than anything else, but I soon found out that pole and canvas marquees are practical as well as beautiful. But, if you’re currently on the fence about which marquee is right for you, read on. In this article, we'll compare clearspan marquees and pole and canvas marquees to help you make an informed decision for your next event.

Clearspan marquees

Clearspan marquees, with their sleek and modern design, are widely recognised for providing open and unobstructed space. These structures are constructed with a frame made of aluminium or steel that supports a tensioned heavy duty PVC fabric cover. Here are the key features of clearspan marquees.

Clear and open space

  • The hallmark of clearspan marquees is their open clear space

  • The absence of internal poles or supports makes clearspan marquees a preferred choice for events where uninterrupted space is crucial, such as corporate events, trade shows and exhibitions

inside a clearspan marquee
AI generated image

Weather resistance

  • Clearspan marquees are engineered to withstand adverse weather conditions, including rain, wind, and even light snow

  • Their robust frame and fabric gives you peace of mind and makes them a reliable option for year-round events


  • These marquees can be customised with various interior options, such as flooring, lighting, and decor, to suit the theme and style of your event

  • Most providers give clients the option of having the marquee lined or unlined, If left unlined the metal frame is visible, which may not be to everyone’s taste

Inside a clearspan marquee
AI generated image

Ease of installation

  • Clearspan marquees are relatively easy to set up and can be installed quickly compared to traditional pole and canvas marquees

  • This makes them a popular choice for DIY weddings


  • The materials used in clearspan marquees are typically durable, so providers often use them for multiple events over many years

  • This contributes to their cost effectiveness and often means marquee hire costs are lower than other types of marquee

Pole and canvas marquees

Pole and canvas marquees, in contrast to clearspan models, exude a traditional and rustic charm. They have a timeless appeal that can't be matched. These marquees consist of a natural cotton canvas fabric cover supported by a network of wooden central poles and guy ropes. They are packed with exquisite detail and come with some unique characteristics.

Aesthetic appeal

  • Pole and canvas marquees offer a more traditional and rustic look, which can be perfect for events with a vintage or bohemian theme, such as outdoor weddings and garden parties

  • Our pole and canvas marquees are manufactured by Wills Marquees

  • They are handcrafted at the Wills workshop in Yorkshire by dedicated craftspeople, using time honoured techniques and the finest materials

  • From the hand turned wooden finials, to the hand sewn flags atop each king pole, every detail of our pole and canvas marquees ooze quality and class

Two peacock and bow pole and canvas marquees set up by a lake. It is a bright day and the marquees are reflected on the surface of the water

Centre poles

  • These marquees rely on central supporting poles, or king poles, to hold up the canvas canopy

  • These can limit the usable space and obstruct sight-lines

  • They can provide a stunning focal point when dressed with our flower rings or flanked by trees

Inside a peacock and bow pole and canvas marquee flower rings dressed with an explosion of flowers hang around the king poles and from the canopy roof. Lighting is projects patterns onto the entire canopy as guests revel below

Weather considerations

  • Pole and canvas marquees provide more than adequate shelter in any weather

  • The natural cotton canvas is weather-resistant and roll down clear panoramic walls keep the elements out without compromising the view

  • Here at Peacock and Bow we also provide additional precautions in adverse weather conditions

  • To find out more read our blog post on how rainproof pole and canvas marquees are

A peacock and bow pole and canvas marquee set up on a lawned garden with topiary bushes in the foreground and trees in the background. The sky is cloudy. The marquee has its clear walls rolled down and looks cosy inside with tables dressed with white tablescloths, floral arrangements and candles emitting a warm glow


  • Although they don't offer the vast expanse of empty space that you get with clearspan marquees, pole and canvas marquees are still versatile when it comes to customisation

  • Their simple and elegant design is as perfectly compatible with a rustic festival theme, as it is with a sophisticated and elegant concept

  • The size and layout can be adapted to meet your preferences

  • At Peacock and Bow we offer a curated range of high quality and stunning furnishings such as lighting and decor, various styles of tables and chairs, marquee flooring, dancefloors, staging and facilities so you can craft the marquee event of your dreams

Installation time

Choosing a clearspan or pole and canvas marquee for your event

The choice between clearspan and pole and canvas marquees ultimately hinges on the nature of your event, your aesthetic preferences, and your practical requirements. To help you make an informed decision, let's explore various event scenarios and consider which marquee type may be better suited.


Clearspan marquees

  • Clearspan marquees are an excellent choice for weddings, especially really big ones!

  • Their unobstructed space allows for creative seating arrangements, dance floors, and showstopping decor installations

  • Their weather resistance ensures your big day won’t be ruined by stormy weather (although we’re actually big fans of a dramatic weather backdrop to nuptials!)

Pole and canvas marquees

  • These are well-suited for intimate weddings in picturesque outdoor settings

  • They look stunning in private gardens, the grounds of stately homes and historic buildings, farmland and more

  • The central poles can be adorned with decorations such as dressed flower rings, and make a stunning focal point

  • Larger weddings with extensive seating requirements can be catered for with two or more marquees connected with colonnades and spill out areas

Inside a peacock and bow pole and canvas marquee, A bride holding a large cake knife throws her head back in laughter as the groom bites into the top tier of the wedding cake. In the background guests look on and laugh. Fairy lights hang above casting a warm glow over the scene

Corporate events

Clearspan marquees

  • Clearspan marquees are the go-to option for corporate events, trade shows, and conferences

  • Their modern and professional appearance, along with the ability to customise the interior to match a company's branding, make them ideal for such occasions

Pole and canvas marquees

A screenshot of a Vogue feature picturing the inside of a Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee lit with festoon lights. People sit on bentwood bistro chairs and dine at two long tables dressed with white tablecloths, some stand and mingle. The ground is not covered with any marquee flooring.

Garden parties

Clearspan marquees

  • While clearspan marquees can be used for garden parties, they could be a bit on the formal side for a casual outdoor gathering

Pole and canvas marquees

  • These traditional marquees are an excellent fit for garden parties, particularly when you want to create a vintage or bohemian atmosphere

  • They’re natural cotton canopies and wooden poles scream quintessential English country garden

  • The rustic charm of pole and canvas marquees complements the outdoor setting, and their aesthetic appeal adds a unique touch to the event

A Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee set up in an English country garden. steps lead through flower beds up to the marquee. The sky is clear and blue and the sun shines down on the canopy

Exhibitions and trade shows

Clearspan Marquees

  • Clearspan marquees are the preferred choice for exhibitions and trade shows

  • Their open design, modern appearance, and flexibility for interior customisation make them a top pick for such events

Pole and canvas marquees

  • The unique style of these marquees could be well suited to exhibitions and trade shows for certain industries such as:

    • Horticulture

    • Arts and heritage

    • Food and drink

    • Agriculture

    • Antiques

    • Eco-friendly and sustainable industries

Historical reenactments

Clearspan marquees

  • Clearspan marquees are generally not suitable for historical reenactments, as their metal and PVC materials might look a tad inauthentic

Pole and canvas marquees

  • Often the preferred choice for historical reenactments, pole and canvas marquees have the classic look to create the atmosphere required for such olde worlde shenanigans

A medieval joust reenactment at Lincoln Castle
A grand medieval joust at Lincoln Castle. Photo credit - Lincolnshire Live

Choosing the right marquee

The choice between clearspan and pole and canvas marquees depends on the nature of your event, the look and feel you envision and your practical needs.

If you’re more inclined towards modern spaces and you want to keep costs down, clearspan marquees are the way to go. They are perfect for corporate events, trade shows and any event that requires a professional and polished appearance.

On the other hand, if you're looking for something unique, traditional, rustic, or vintage and love the idea of wooden king poles adorned with flower rings, pole and canvas marquees will bring the timeless elegance you want for your outdoor event.

Both clearspan and pole and canvas marquees have their strengths, although they are very different choices. Your decision should align with the specific needs and your vision for your event. Whether you opt for the sleek and versatile clearspan marquee or the unbeatable charm of the pole and canvas marquee, your event is sure to be a memorable and successful occasion.

If you want to know more about our pole and canvas marquees, give us a call and we’d be delighted to talk through your ideas and how we can make them come to life.


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