The hard part is over: You found The One--or it might be the case that you’ve made it 50 years with The One. Maybe your kid made it through high school or grad school. It could be that you’ve finally paid off that mortgage, or your wife has beaten that disease. Perhaps it’s time for the neighborhood to all come together and celebrate what makes it so special and unique. Whatever the exact reason, you know it’s time for a party.
Special events call for special tents. You don’t want to celebrate the way everyone else does; you want a memorable event in the place you love best. And when it’s time to get the party started, American Tent is here for you. We want to make your special occasion fun and worry-free. You’ve come this far: You deserve it.
So you’re looking for the best party tent. It’s as easy as typing those words into a google search, right? Wrong. There are a lot of options out there for “best event tents,” and each of them are indeed best for certain circumstances. But what is the best party tent for you?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you. Below is American Tent’s list of tent options, along with pros and cons for each option. Quick disclaimer: We don’t sell all of these styles (not yet, anyway), but it’s important for us to have you be as informed as possible when deciding which party tent is best for you. After all, the heart wants what it wants. We are not going to try to sell you on your second choice just because we happen to sell it!
Cheap and cheerful, canopy tents are friendly little shademakers that pop up in a snap. In fact, canopy tents are often referred to as pop-up tents. (We call them pop-ups on our website, here) Just like the canopy on the princess bed you had as a little girl made a statement in your bedroom, the canopy tent makes a statement in your backyard.
Canopy tents are fun and fabulous. You don’t need a big crew to set them up, which is good because canopy tents don’t accommodate a lot of people. Canopy tents can be outfitted with all kinds of glamorous accessories, from lights, to garlands of flowers, to balloons in your exact color scheme. Because their price point is so low, many customers like to buy more than one for entertaining and celebrating. One tent can house the dj, one the buffet, one the gift table, and so on. You can enclose these tents with sidewalls or just use the pop-up and top to provide shade and shelter for your guests.
Is a canopy/pop-up the best party tent for you?
Canopy/pop-up tents are great for:
- Entertaining small numbers of people--canopy tents cannot be engineered to cover large spaces
- Easy set-up and take down
- When you’re a crew of one or two people
- Customizing with your own decor
- Portability--the party can go wherever you go when you have a pop-up tent
Canopy/pop-up tents aren’t so great for;
- Entertaining a lot of people
- Hosting more formal events like sit-down dinners and dances
- Events where you’d like your tent to be set up for a longer period of time
Frame tents are the MVP of the tenting world. They can cover a huge amount of space, and no center poles are needed, which is why they are sometimes called “clear span” tents. Frame tents are sturdy and can be customized with sidewalls, so you don’t have to cross your fingers or hold your breath for a certain kind of weather. The only thing you have to worry about with a frame tent is just how you’re going to fill all that open space underneath it. Dance floor? Desert bar? Sushi station? Banquet seating or tables of 10? The options are as wide open as the space itself.
Between deciding to have a make-your-own ice sculpture table or the cotton candy machine, you also get the fun choice of deciding what kind of flooring to have under your frame tent. Hardwood floors are great, as are carpet, those cool light up dance floors, or just the earth itself. If you want options, a frame tent makes the best party tent.
Choose a Frame Tent if:
- It’s important for you to have the most usable square footage possible
- You may have the tent up for longer than just a day
- You want to be able to use your tent on multiple surfaces
Frame Tents might not be your best choice if:
- You’re looking for the least expensive option possible
- You prefer the look of peaks
Nothing says “party” like a pole tent! In fact, when you think of an event tent, you probably are picturing these classic beauties. Pole tents are iconic. Like frame tents, they can be customized to practically any size you need, but pole tents offer the dramatic look of those sweeping peaks. If you anticipate your party being a circus of sorts, you can’t go wrong by getting a pole tent to match the mood. Don’t forget, pole tents can also be customized with sidewalls.
Poles certainly break up the space, but that’s sometimes exactly what you want in a party tent. Poles can be used to define areas of your party--put the food there, the dance floor over there, the crepe station that way--and poles are also great for bringing your decor to new dimensions, literally. Festoon poles with lights, flowers, drapery, or anything else that brings your vision to life. Shout it from the pole tops: Pole tents are great.
Go pole or go home if:
- You want quick and easy set up
- You need as large a tent as possible (our pole tents go up to 200’ in length--and beyond)
- You’d like to save on budget
- You’re setting up on grass
Pole tents may not be for you if:
- You really want a large amount of uninterrupted space
- You can’t think of what you’d do to decorate all those poles
- You need to set up on a surface other than grass or gravel
Sailcloth tents are gorgeous. Sailcloth tents say class, sophistication, and money. Show your friends at the yacht club that you have all three of those things by choosing a sailcloth tent. At American Tent, we don’t make sailcloth tents (yet), but we certainly see their appeal. The special fabric is translucent which makes for a bright and sunny day (while still being protected from the elements) and a glowing evening as your tent is illuminated from inside.
Like hand enraged wedding invitations, sailcloth tents range from more expensive to even more expensive. If price is no object and you like the asthetics, you can spend quite a bit of money to get the look of your dreams. Another swoon-worthy factor that comes with sailcloth tents has to do with the poles. Sailcloth tents typically only come with grand wooden poles so you and your guests can dance to “Sloop John B” while feeling like you're aboard her. Wooden poles make your feel like you’re on the galley of a tall ship, setting sail for happily ever after.
In addition to a potentially prohibitive price tag, sailcloth tents turn to fail-cloth tents when you don’t have the right surface to set them up on. The glossy wooden poles, while looking amazing, aren’t easily set up in less than perfect ground conditions.
Weigh anchors and head for sailcloth if:
- Price is no object
- Your special day just wouldn’t be your special day without the look and feel of sailcloth and brightwork
Avast! Put sailcloth on the binnacle list and choose something else if:
- You will be setting up somewhere other than grass
- You want to keep your budget in check
As dazzling as sailcloth tents in their own way, clear tents are a fairytale option that won’t necessarily break the bank. Light up the night sky while keeping the elements out by choosing a clear top tent for your party or event. Clear top tents allow for natural sunlight and the enjoyment of the outdoors during the day. When evening comes, however, clear top tents really shine.
If you want the look of the von Trapp family gazebo from The Sound of Music without the hassle of glass or potentially attracting Nazi messenger boys, a clear top tent is the clear choice for your party. After years of not having it quite right, the materials and engineering are finally such that a clear vinyl party tent looks not only good, but stunning. The pictures speak for themselves, and we here at American Tent definitely encourage you to speak for yourself by requesting a clear top tent for your special day. Like all of our tents, clear top tents can be combined with sidewalls to keep out the wind and rain. We offer completely clear sidewalls as well as a number of other options.
Clear top tents are particularly suited for weddings or any other event where you might have a videographer who is keen on getting drone footage. Nothing is as breathtaking as overhead shots of a warmly lit clear top tent, no matter what the occasion.
The choice is clear if:
- You like the wide open spaces of a frame tent and want to extend that open feeling all the way to the sky
- You’ve always been a fan of The Crystal Palace and it’s been on your venue vision board from the start
- You’re planning an event that will go from day to night
Look elsewhere if:
- You’re planning an event during the day, in the summer, in a sunny location; the greenhouse effect can come back to burn you
Marquee / Cross Cable Tent
If studying the Field of the Cloth of Gold was a pivotal event in your aesthetic journey, marquee--aka “cross-cable”--aka “high peak”--tents are for you. These tents offer an elegant profile that evoke jousting, feasting, and all-around good times.
Peaks are created for the cross-cable/marquee/high peak tent with tension from cables pushing up on a center mast, allowing for abundant usable space underneath the tent. Although American Tent offers only 10’ x 10’ and 20’ x 20’, the lack of a center pole and sweeping peaks make the space much more open and airy.
These tents are also very easy to assemble and disassemble. You don’t need a big crew and you don’t need a frame jack. Just pop up and start living the dream.
Raise a flag for the marquee tent if:
- You love the look of a statement peak
- You don’t have a lot of crew to help you
- You want to make a big impact with a small space
Cross off the cross-cable if:
- You’re hosting a larger event and a max space of 400 square feet won’t be enough
The romance of a cross-cable tent with 21st century engineering, pagoda tents are the cross-cable tent’s tech-savvy older brother. Pagoda tents are engineered with keder walls, zipper openings, and that same stunning peak, making them the go-to bet for peak seekers who crave a more structured approach.
Pagoda tents achieve their show-stopping peaks thanks to a lofted frame supporting a center cone. Pagoda tents require just two people and a frame jack to set up, so you can get your party up and running with minimal effort and maximum speed.
Going up as easily as Marilyn’s iconic white dress above a New York City subway grate, pagoda tents are a working tent with the look of luxury. Keder walls and zipper closures make them secure and safe against the elements. No need to worry about flapping sidewalls or poor overlaps, pagoda tents will take you to the next level.
Go go go, pagoda if:
- You want the precision of keder walls
- You like the drama of curtain-like openings for your sidewalls
- You love peaks
Pass on pagoda if:
- You need to accommodate more people than a 10’ x 10’ or a 20’ x 20’ pagoda can provide
Thanks for taking this trip through your tent options! We hope you’re able to use this guide to fine the best party tent for your next event. As always, we are happy to help if you have any questions at all.