Event Email

Event Cancellation Emails: How to Cancel an Event Properly

Hosting events is a thrilling adventure, but sometimes the unexpected happens. Whether it's bad weather, an illness, or some other unforeseen circumstance, cancelling an event is one of the toughest calls you might have to make as an event organiser. But don't worry — we're here to help ensure you're prepared for anything! After all, it's always wise to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. With a few smart strategies in place, you'll be ready to handle any event cancellation that may come your way.

When should event organisers cancel an event?

Your attendees’ safety and providing them the best experience possible is the number one priority! While cancelling your event should be the last resort, here are some factors that'll help you discern if it's the right decision.

1. Inclement weather

Thunderstorms, tornadoes, snow, or even extreme heat can force you to make the tough call to cancel. This is especially true for outdoor events, which are most vulnerable to these unpredictable elements. If you're hosting an event outside and you’re expecting tough weather, booking a venue indoors as a tentative backup option can ensure you don't have to cancel. If the road conditions look too dangerous (especially in more snowy climates), cancelling your event helps keep your attendees safe and off of dangerous roads.

person with an umbrella in a storm

2. Low attendance

Once you've set your event budget, you'll have a clear idea of the attendance numbers needed to breakeven and turn a profit. If ticket sales fall short of your target, it might not balance out your event costs. When faced with low attendance, cancelling the event can sometimes be the most responsible decision. To try and avoid this, having a strategic plan to boost your event marketing or to gain more sponsors could help bring more people in the door and boost your bottom line.

3. Unforeseen circumstances

Unforeseen circumstances can pop up at any time, and being prepared to handle them is key for any event organiser. Health concerns, such as a key speaker or performer getting sick, may force you to cancel if finding a replacement isn't feasible. Complications with your staff or issues with the venue — like unexpected maintenance problems or double-booking — can also lead to last-minute cancellations. So, remember, flexibility and contingency planning are essential! When these unpredictable challenges arise, making the tough decision to cancel can sometimes be the best way to protect your event’s integrity and ensure future success.

Is it better to cancel or reschedule my event?

Ideally, having a well-thought-out plan B will help you avoid cancelling or rescheduling altogether! If the issue is temporary like bad weather,, postponing to a later date might be the best option. Rescheduling allows you to maintain your event's momentum and gives your attendees something to look forward to without entirely losing the time and effort you've already invested. However, if the issues at hand are more long-term or unpredictable, a full cancellation might be more practical. Cancelling may make more sense for seasonal events especially, such as a Christmas parade, a Halloween celebration, or a New Year's Eve party, where specific dates are crucial for success.

Deliberating with your team

Still on the fence whether to cancel your event or not? Call your team together and get their feedback! It's a big decision that should have input from your key players, such as leading team members, guest speakers and their management, and your sponsors. While it's understandable that meeting with everyone may not always be feasible with their availability (especially if a fast response is necessary), a virtual meeting or call with those available can often suffice.

During these discussions, you'll want to first see if any workarounds are possible to save you from cancelling or postponing your in-person event. Once you've agreed it’s best to cancel your event, it's time to discuss next steps. This includes determining what messaging to use when presenting this cancellation publicly and who'll be in charge of refunding ticket holders. For any staff who couldn't attend, make sure to contact them afterwards so they're on the same page!

people in a team deliberating next to a big checklist

How to cancel an event smoothly

Want to handle cancelling an event as gracefully as possible? It's best to have a plan beforehand (with these tips below to help!) to give you more control over the situation.

1. Stop selling tickets

As soon as you decide to cancel an event, shutting off ticket sales should be your top priority! Thankfully, this can be easily done with the click of a button. Acting quickly is crucial to prevent any further sales that'll need to be refunded. It's a good idea to include a clear cancellation policy on your ticketing page or website beforehand so attendees know exactly what to expect. This proactive approach will keep your audience informed and build trust with them.

2. Email your attendees ASAP

To notify your attendees about the cancellation, send out an email campaignas soon as possible! As part of TicketLeap's suite of features, you can send these campaigns to all your ticket buyers straight from your ticketing platform. Feel free to use one of our handy email templates at the bottom of this article to get you started. First, write an email subject line that clearly states your event name and that it has been cancelled. Establishing a sense of urgency with a phrase like "Breaking News", "Urgent", or "Important Update" can hopefully help people click into your email as well.

Within your email's message, clearly explain why you had to cancel your event. If you're hosting multiple events, specify which date(s) and time(s) are affected. Knowing people have been excited and set aside time to come, show sympathy towards those disappointed by this news. Emphasise that their well-being is your top priority, particularly if the cancellation is due to health, safety, or weather concerns. Next, you must include details on refunds and rescheduling. Lastly, keep an eye on your inbox to promptly address any concerns from attendees.

laptop with email alerts on it

3. Post your event cancellation announcement to other channels

You'll need to send out more than an email to alert everyone! This is especially important to do too in case they missed the email in their inbox, or it ended up in their spam folder. Here are a few other channels to share your cancelled event message with your attendees.

Social media

Most attendees are easily reached on their phones, so posting your announcement on social media will make it more likely that they'll see it in time. Then, they can also easily share the cancellation with any of their family and friends who had tickets too. Feel free to use the same message as your event cancellation email, but make sure it's within the word count of your selected social media platform.

As another idea, we recommend posting an apology video (on TikTok especially!) from the event organiser or special guests of your event to add a personal touch and demonstrate how much you care about your attendees. Another important thing: keep an eye on the comments. You'll want to make sure to clarify any additional questions people have, show compassion to anyone frustrated with the cancellation, and thank people for their understanding.

Your website

When cancelling an event, it's essential to post a clear message on your event's website right away. Let your audience know about the cancellation and advise them to keep an eye out for an email from you with all the important details. Since inboxes can be flooded with emails and people's social media feeds fill with other posts, having this announcement on your website ensures it stays in an easy to find place for people to refer to.

Press releases

Issuing a press release is an effective way to announce the cancellation of larger events like a city block party, seasonal festival, or art fair. You'll want to write up an article to share with news outlets that covers all the main points regarding your cancelled event. This includes your reasons for cancelling, refund details, your plans to reschedule or not, and a heartfelt apology. This ensures that your local community is aware and builds deeper trust with them.

4. Handle refunds with a personal touch

Within your event cancellation email, make sure you clearly inform your ticket buyers whether you'll automatically refund them or if you'll transfer their ticket to the newly scheduled date. Provide them with instructions on how to contact you with their request (whether through your support email or a phone number) and a deadline to contact you by. As for administering the full refunds, the process is super simple with TicketLeap! You can automatically pass those funds back to your attendees' accounts with just a click of a button.

When you contact your attendees and as they reach out to you for support, be sure to thank everyone for their patience and offer to answer any additional questions they may have regarding their refund. If you need extra help managing refunds, TicketLeap allows you to use user roles to delegate team members the ability to issue refunds as well. Additionally, with TicketLeap’s ticket exchange feature, attendees have the option to move their ticket to another event on your roster. This level of support will demonstrate your commitment to a positive customer experience, even in the face of unexpected changes.

two people high-fiving with hearts around them

5. Reflect and look ahead

Once everything has settled, take this opportunity to assess how your team managed the situation and identify where you can improve. Could communication have been even clearer? Was the refund process as smooth as it could be? If you're planning to reschedule, now's the time to reach out to vendors and confirm their availability for your new date. Make sure your venue can accommodate the change, ideally having a backup date already planned to avoid scheduling conflicts.

Additionally, send a follow-up email to your attendees with all the new details, including where they can find their updated tickets. Consider sending out a survey to your ticket holders to gather their feedback and make them feel heard regarding the cancellation too. Confirm that your guest speakers or performers are available for the new dates, and if not, start looking for suitable replacements. If low attendance was the reason for cancellation, reevaluate your marketing strategy and consider pivoting to different opportunities if necessary. By taking these proactive steps, you'll be better prepared for future events and deliver the best experiences possible!

How can I plan ahead for any future event cancellations?

Planning ahead is a smart move that can save you potential event cancellations down the road! Start by building a clear plan on how you'd handle such a situation, so you're ready to act fast if it happens. Decide in advance whether you'll offer refunds or allow attendees to hold onto their tickets for a rescheduled date. Communication is key, so determine what channels you'll use to announce (e.g., email, social media, website).

You'll also want to discuss your plan with the venue you've booked, any vendors, your sponsors, any guest performers, and more so they'll know exactly what would happen should your next event get cancelled. As you make payments of your event's various expenses, you'll also want to determine which are refundable or not, or if you can receive a partial refund after a certain date. By having a well-thought-out strategy, you'll be able to manage cancellations smoothly and maintain trust with your attendees!

Consider getting event cancellation insurance

Getting event cancellation insurance can offer additional protection against unforeseen circumstances. Start by talking to your insurance provider about event cancellation coverage, which can help cover any financial losses from nonrefundable payments made leading up to your event. Some providers might only offer this type of event insurance for private gatherings like weddings, while others may be willing to insure larger public, business, or sporting events. The size of your guest list can also play a role in determining if your event is insurable.

It's essential to explore these options well in advance, as you can secure event cancellation coverage up to two years before your planned date. This ensures you're prepared for any unexpected changes and can confidently move forward knowing your investment into this event is protected. By obtaining the right coverage, you'll not only safeguard your finances but also reinforce your commitment to delivering a well-managed event!

person signing a contract with a big pink pen

Event cancellation email examples

No two cancellations are the exact same, so please modify these event cancellation announcement examples to your needs. These can also be modified to fit other channels, like social media or a press release. Here are some solid places to get you started.

Example #1: Cancellation of an event

Subject: Important Update: This Year's Bash is Cancelled

Dear [Recipient's Name],

We hope this message finds you well. We regret to inform you that due to unforeseen circumstances, this year's Mardi Gras Bash, scheduled for 13 February, has been cancelled.

We understand how much you were looking forward to this event, and we share in your disappointment. Your support means the world to us, and we're deeply sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. The health and well-being of both our performers and attendees are our top priorities, and we believe this decision is in everyone's best interest.

Here’s what you need to know about refunds:

  • Automatic Refunds: All ticket purchases will be automatically refunded to the original payment method within the next 7-10 business days. There is no action required on your part.
  • Further Assistance: If you have any questions or concerns regarding your refund, please contact our customer service team at [email protected].

While this cancellation is unfortunate, we are already working hard to bring you an even better experience in the near future. Stay tuned for updates on our upcoming events – we promise it will be worth the wait!

Thank you for your understanding and continued support. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. We look forward to seeing you at our future events!

Warm regards,

The Mardi Gras Bash Team

Example #2: Rescheduling an event

Subject: JamFest is Postponed Due to Weather

Hi [Recipient's Name],

First of all, thank you for buying tickets to JamFest! Unfortunately, we regret to inform you that due to severe weather conditions, we must cancel our initial date for JamFest, originally scheduled for 17 August. Your safety is our highest priority, and we deliberated for a long time regarding this decision.

We understand how much you were looking forward to this event (we wish the weather would have been better too!). Our team has worked hard to ensure an amazing experience, and we are committed to delivering that same energy on the newly rescheduled date!

Rescheduled Date and Location:

  • New Date: August 31st
  • Location: Hyde Park, Sydney, NSW

For those who have already purchased tickets, here are your options:

  • Automatic Ticket Transfer: Your existing tickets will automatically be valid for the new date – no action required!
  • Refunds: If you are unable to attend the rescheduled event, you can request a full refund by contacting us at [email protected]. Please submit your refund requests by Saturday, 24 August.

We are grateful for your understanding and support during this time. While the weather may have thrown us a curveball, we're excited to come back even stronger and deliver an unforgettable event! Stay tuned for more updates, and thank you for being part of our vibrant community. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out!


Rebecca Hearth

Event Manager, JamFest

Be prepared!

Event cancellations are much more manageable if you follow our steps to plan ahead and communicate clearly. By leveraging the right channels to make your announcement, using tools like TicketLeap for seamless refunds, and considering event cancellation insurance, you can manage cancellations smoothly and maintain your attendees' trust. To help get you started, feel free to use our event cancellation email templates! Remember, the key is to be proactive and transparent, so you can turn a potential negative into an opportunity to reinforce your commitment to delivering exceptional event experiences!

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