Host the Contest
Every 2 years, the UniBrass Foundation opens the process for new universities to apply to host UniBrass for the next 2 years.
The bidding process for hosting UniBrass 2025 and 2026 has now opened! Although it may seem a long way off, now is the best time to think about how your university could host the next event.
See the FAQs on what applying to host will involve, and what you will have to think about.
What does hosting UniBrass Involve?
As hosts you will be required to form the UniBrass Organising Committee, a team of people (usually between 7 and 11) who plan and run the whole event. The contest will then be hosted in your local area, though not necessarily at your university. You will arrange the contest, market the event, put on some evening entertainment, provide accommodation for the students performing and many other things. Each UniBrass is unique and we actively encourage you to propose any ideas you may have!
What are the important aspects that need to be explored for a successful application?
Being the host of the UniBrass contest might seem like an impossible feat but when you break it down it’s actually not as hard as it might seem! Here is a list of some of the main points to consider and research for your application.
Easily the most important feature is a pair of venues which are suitable for concerts. They need to be close to each other; either in the same building or nearby. Previously this has been the university’s ‘premier’ concert hall, plus a slightly smaller space close at hand, however, this does not have to be the case and local off-campus venues (such as Harrogate International Centre and York Barbican) often meet the space requirements. You will also need to have a think about warm-up spaces and somewhere to store instruments, but often these come with dedicated performance spaces and if not a collection of seminar rooms works just as well.
Workshops and gala concert
Another important, but perhaps lesser-known, part of the day are free workshops run for people in the area with the idea to introduce them to UniBrass and university brass bands. Ideally, you want another space for up to 40 players — this could be as simple as a large seminar room! In recent years, the day has also ended with a Gala Concert. Again, it’s up to you, but have a think about who you might like to play — it could be a ‘traditional’ 25-piece band, or you might want to go for the latest brass-funk hybrid that’s taking the world by storm!
Food and drink
The UniBrass contest is a long day and at some point members of the public and players alike will want something to eat and drink. In recent years, this has been located near a general circulation area where players and members of the public can congregate and chat. Of course, this can be very flexible and your university or SU probably has a catering department for large events, so you could get in touch with them to see what they can offer.
Evening entertainment and social
UniBrass prides itself in delivering high-quality social events after the contest so that players can relax and unwind. Think of how you might provide this at your university. Usually the social has been held in a large campus bar with a small local group (from the university or otherwise) providing the main musical entertainment, but there should also be a quieter area for people to sit and chat.
Some bands will have a long way to travel, regardless of how central (or not) your university is, so somewhere for them to stay on Friday and Saturday night is essential. Friday nights usually have fewer bands staying. In the past, this has been anything from seminar rooms to sports halls to community centres, both on and off-campus. The main requirement is the cost: ideally no more than a few pounds per person per night.
Marketing and support
An important thing to do early on is to get your University and SU (or equivalent) onboard with hosting UniBrass. They should hopefully be very supportive of students organising a large event on their campus and the Foundation is able to help with any reassurances about financial underwriting or legal liabilities where necessary. We are also happy to speak to them on your behalf (acting as a formally registered charity) if needed. Also, your university’s marketing department will be able to help with publicity, both themselves and by providing contacts to local media, although do investigate this yourself too. Local bands in your area are also worth approaching as their support can be invaluable. Whilst we insist you use some UniBrass branding (the main logo) and some style guidelines – you have some creativity to brand and market the contest as you like (as Bangor did with their dragon or Warwick with the bear).
With each UniBrass, bands seem to demand ever more elaborate presentations, lighting and so on — which is to be encouraged! However, this does come with some burden on the poor technical folks running around backstage. Think about if your venue comes with equipment or personnel to run stage tech and if not how to implement it.
As a registered charity, the UniBrass Foundation needs to be financially solvent! You should have a think about where major costs are going to be, for example, catering or venue hire. If you go on to make an expression of interest, you’ll be provided with examples of budgets from three previous contests to help guide you.
Making it happen
All of this probably sounds like a lot to think about — and it is! But don’t worry, an experienced member of the UniBrass Foundation, who’s been through this and come out the other side, will be around to help you throughout the application process, and should your bid be successful you will have the support of the full board of trustees who will be on hand to offer advice whenever necessary.
How do we apply?
The bidding process is set by the UniBrass Foundation bye-law (which can be found here), and as such remains similar from year to year. The 2025/26 bidding process requires the following:
The first stage is a short form to register your interest in hosting UniBrass and to put you in touch with a trustee. They will be able to provide more information and answer any questions you might have. Completing this form does not imply any further commitment.
After this is a written application is submitted, outlining a plan for what you would do if you were awarded the right to host UniBrass 2025 and 2026. The written application is broken down into several questions that are designed to help you think about the elements currently involved in hosting the contest. We do not require this to be a fully detailed plan. We simply wish to see that you have thought about all elements of the event, have done some research on the options available and have some ideas about how to make UniBrass the best it can possibly be. You are actively encouraged to propose new ideas as every UniBrass is different and we would love to hear how you would bring your own ideas to the hosting of UniBrass.
What happens in the rest of the application process?
Following the submission of the written application form, a panel of UniBrass Foundation trustees will review your application. After this, a shortlist of applications will be drawn up for an in-person follow-up visit. This will be made by approximately three trustees, where they will meet the bid team and look around the proposed venues. After the trustee visits to the shortlisted universities have been completed, the review panel will make a recommendation to the full Board of Trustees who will then make a decision about the successful host university. We aim to conclude this process and inform the successful team by 1st January (around 13 months prior to the first contest at the new venue).