How to plan a gala evening?

Why organise a gala evening?

The gala evening refers to an exceptional event, often organised for an exceptional occasion. Whether for an awards evening, a fundraiser, a product launch or a company anniversary, organising a gala evening is not something you can improvise.

A precise, detailed schedule will allow you to provide an unforgettable event for your guests, while at the same time promoting a positive image of your company.

The aims of your evening

Why organise a gala evening? There are many reasons why a company might want to organise such an event: to communicate essential information, to reward participants for their achievements, to bring together employees, etc. Generally speaking, organising an evening event gives a company a chance to spread a message and a positive image among guests in a relaxed atmosphere.

Whatever your reason for organising a gala evening, the first step is to identify the exact aims of the event.

Selecting the theme of your event

After having clearly defined the reason for organising an evening event and its objectives, it's important to choose the theme. The latter will become the guiding thread and will be used to build the gala evening schedule.

This type of event is quite rare and exclusive, and the guests carefully chosen, which makes this event exceptional. The participants are proud to be part of it, they want to be surprised and taken care of for an evening, which will help to leave a positive memory in their minds.
Nothing should be left to chance, particularly not the choice of theme for the event!

The ambience of the evening will be based on this choice, and all the entertainment and services will be selected according to the theme of the evening.


Your gala evening budget 

Once these preliminary steps have been followed, you need to think about the amount of money you are able to spend on organising your gala evening. This depends on a number of factors: the venue, the number of participants, and the type of services provided.

However, the budget you wish to allocate to your event must be thought out thoroughly and meticulously, as it will determine all the choices you will have to make during the next stages. Entertainment, sound, light, food and drink are all aspects that will impact the gala evening budget.


Choice of venue

The number of guests and the budget are set out, the theme of your evening is decided, now it's time to choose the venue for your event.

How to find the right location to suit the gala evening schedule theme?

A place appropriate for the number of guests

Finding the perfect venue to organise a gala evening is no easy task. Before embarking upon your search, you should be aware that there are many criteria to be taken into account.

First of all, you need to identify venues that are relevant to the theme of your evening. The architecture, the ambience, and the location are all factors to be taken into account. A castle in the countryside will not set the same tone for your evening as a rooftop in the heart of the city.

Whatever location you choose, it must be easily accessible by car or public transport to make it convenient for your guests to arrive.
When it comes to booking the venue, plan on booking three to six months before the planned date of the gala.

Our spaces for organising a gala evening

For all your events, we provide you with reception areas of varying capacities and style, suitable for all types of parties, accommodating from a few hundred to several thousand guests. La Sucrière and its unique industrial style, the Lyon Convention Centre and its rooftop with a view of the Parc de la Tête d'Or, Gerland's Matmut Stadium, Lyon's legendary stadium, and Eurexpo Lyon's Espace Paul Bocuse, the choice is yours. Whatever the theme when organising an evening event, we will help you select the perfect venue to meet your expectations and win your guests' hearts.


Entertain your guests!

Your gala evening should leave guests with good memories and this is partly due to the entertainment you will offer at the venue on the day of the event.

The choice of entertainment

Be sure to select entertainment in line with the gala evening schedule and theme to maintain consistency throughout the event. Also be sure to take your guests and their expectations into account, as they may not necessarily want to participate in physical activities if they are dressed in formal attire, for example.

In any case, whether you want to express your thanks to your guests, bring them together or simply entertain them in an original way, every detail must be taken care of.

The gala evening schedule

Defining the gala evening schedule is one of the key steps in the organisation of your event. You will thus be able to control how your evening unfolds. It should itemise, hour by hour, the course of our event. Welcoming the guests, scenography, getting the entertainment going, catering, etc. Each stage must be meticulously planned.

The aim of the gala evening schedule is to organise your gala evening, inform each participant about their area of responsibility and scrupulously respect the timing you have set yourself. If, for example, you have planned a performance at 9 pm sharp, each participant must be informed (sound, light, catering).


Before thinking about the organisation of your gala dinner, it is important to determine its style. Will it be a cocktail buffet? Will there be table service?

Whatever the case, the food and drinks must correspond to the theme you have chosen for your gala evening.
We can help you to envision the night more clearly.

If you decide on a sit-down dinner

If you wish to create a formal atmosphere and offer your guests more comfort when organising an evening event, we recommend a seated dinner with table service. Your guests will thus be comfortably seated, which would appear to be the best solution if there is a stage with a long performance or a speech at your gala evening.

Guests will spend a pleasant moment round the table, they will be able to enjoy any entertainment and you can easily control the timing of the evening.

A cocktail buffet 

For a relaxed atmosphere and to encourage interaction, a cocktail dinner is the ideal solution. Your guests will thus be able to move around the various areas, taking advantage of any exhibitions that are on display and, above all, can interact freely with each other.

Going for a cocktail buffet means favouring a relaxed, warm atmosphere for your guests, and multiplying the interaction between them.


The invitations

The gala evening schedule has been set out, the venue has been chosen and the invitations must now be sent out.

Save the Date

Invitations should be sent well in advance of your evening to ensure that your guests are available. Therefore, plan to send a Save The Date at least one month before the date of the event so that participants can pencil the date into their diaries and make themselves available for the evening. If you send your invitation too late, they may not be able to make themselves available, if you send it too early, they may forget that you are organising an evening event.

Paper or email invitation

Can't decide between a paper or email invitation? It all depends on the target audience, their habits and their preferences. In your invitation, remember to include an extract from the gala evening schedule to entice the guests, while keeping in mind not to reveal everything so as not to spoil the element of surprise.

In all cases, the wording and form of your invitation must be worked out in line with your objectives and the theme you have chosen to organise your gala evening.

Online registration

You also have the possibility to choose an online platform for registration. This way, you will know the exact number of participants well in advance and will be able to easily remind them.

These solutions allow guests to save your event directly in their electronic agenda, so you don't forget!



To reach more people and create interest in your event, don't overlook communication before, during and after your gala evening.

Before the evening

Before the event, you can announce the date and schedule of your gala evening. If it is an internal event, give priority to emails, the intranet, posters on your company premises or your internal social networks.

On the other hand, if it is an external event, you can go for tools such as your website, emailing or social networks.

Organising a gala evening without communicating it means depriving yourself of an essential tool for enticing your guests!


During the evening

During the evening, you can communicate live via social networks, make videos of the reception of the guests or share the entertainment by encouraging the participants to do the same.

However, if you are organising a more confidential gala evening, make sure that no official or sensitive information is publicly released by your guests.

After the evening

After the event, guests like to remember the evening with photos or videos as souvenirs. You can therefore distribute the photos taken on the evening to the participants but also make a film (aftermovie) to be published on your networks (internal or external).

Also think about giving the guests something to take home with them when they leave, such as goodies in your company's colours, so that they have positive memories of the evening.

After seeing your evening event take place, don't forget to thank all the speakers, internal and external, because success is a team effort!