Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a Special Events Permit or a Park Permit?

A Special Events Permit is required for:

  1. An event planned to be held in a park or other public place that meets all three of the following criteria:
    1. Is reasonably expected to cause or result in more than fifty people gathering in a park or other public place; and
    2. reasonably expected to have a substantial impact on the park or other public place; and
    3. requires the provision of substantial public services; OR
  2. An event planned to be held on private property that meets all three of the following criteria:
    1. Is reasonably expected to cause or result in more than five hundred (500) people gathering in a park or other public place; and
    2. Is reasonably expected to have a substantial impact on the park or other public place; and
    3. Is reasonably expected to require the provision of substantial public services; OR
  3. Any other planned event in a park or other public place if the event organizer requests the City to provide any public services in addition to those that would normally be provided by the City in the absence of the event. (See SMC 15.52.005.A) A Park Permit is required to reserve a building, room, playing field, facility, stage or performing arts area or any other area in a park, to set up a sound amplification system, or to lay cables or wires in a park. . (See SMC 18.12.042). Normally, the Park Permit involves only Park services and does not involve Permits from other City Departments. See How to Apply for a Parks Use Permit” under the Permit Applications Section.

How do I obtain a Special Events Permit?

Call or visit the Special Event Office at:

700 5th Avenue, Suite 5752
PO Box 94708
Seattle, WA 98124
(206) 233-3948

Or download the Special Event Permit Application and forms by clicking here.

How long does it take to obtain a Special Events Permit?

The process usually takes two to three months or more depending on the complexity of the event, community notification and the number of City departments that require a review. Special events should not be advertised until all appropriate permits are approved. Event planners should give themselves as much time as possible by submitting their applications as soon as event plans are known. The Special Events Committee tries to expedite the permit application process for proposed time-sensitive constitutionally protected events.

Annual events utilizing parks should submit their Park Use Application on the first business day of the year. Parks are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.

For Special Event Permit Application and forms clicking here.

What does a Special Event Permit cost?

Fees are broken down by categories:

  • type of event
  • anticipated attendance
  • whether an entry fee is charged

All fees must be paid at least 30 days prior to the event's start date. See the fees and charges schedule posted in the Forms Section for more details.

Do I need a Permit for a march/demonstration?

It depends. A parade permit is required for marches on city streets. A park or special event permit may be required to assemble in, pass through, or terminate a parade in a park. If you want to conduct a rally or protest in a park, call the Park Scheduling Office to determine if anyone else is using the site where you want to protest. If you want to reserve an area in a park for your exclusive use, the Park Scheduler can help you with that Demonstrations that meet the definition of a special event (see above) require a Special Events permit.

If you want to demonstrate at someone else's event in a park, exactly when and where you can demonstrate depends on the event organizer's permit. If they have reserved exclusive use of an area, you may request a permit to demonstrate at a nearby area. The City's Special Event Coordinator can help you schedule and locate your demonstration/event.

How do I obtain insurance for my event?

Insurance may be purchased by submitting the insurance information form to your independent insurance agent or broker. Insurance must be filed with the City's Risk Manager no less than 30 days prior to the event. For more detailed information, contact Keith Ayling, Risk Management, at (206)386-0071 or at keith.ayling@seattle.gov

Special Event Permit Application and forms are available by clicking here.

Why do I need to appear before the Special Events Committee?

The Special Events Committee is comprised of various government agencies such as Police, Fire, Health, Metro, Parks, Liquor Enforcement. You may need to appear if you are a new promoter or wish to stage a new and/or complex event; or if you have been cited for deficiencies in previous events. At this meeting, the Committee will tell you what is required to obtain your permit ; for example, number of barricades, security requirements, health requirements for food handling, traffic control plans etc.

What should I bring to the Special Events Committee?

You should bring any information that was not attached to your application (i.e., news release, public notification, new maps or layout, etc.). Please bring 20 copies of each document. The Special Events Committee receives your application before the meeting; therefore, you do not need to bring extra copies of the application itself. Be prepared to answer questions about your event (i.e., security plans, number of volunteers, portable restrooms, parking and traffic plans, etc.)

Where can I find a listing of special events occurring in Seattle?

The Special Events Office maintains a list of special event permits for upcoming events. A copy of this calendar is posted under Calendar.

PLEASE NOTE: This calendar contains only those events processed through the Special Events Office. This calendar is not a complete list of every event in Seattle and is subject to change.

Does the City provide barricades for street closures?

The company or individual is responsible for setting up no-parking barricades to prevent parking in accordance with a Street Use or Special Event Permit. You may find barricade companies by looking in the yellow pages under the subject Barricades. Extensive information about no-parks can be found at: www.seattle.gov/transportation/parking/tempnoparking.htm.

How do I know if I need a Valet Parking Permit?

You need this permit if you intend to use a portion of a street for vehicles to drop off and pick up passengers at a special event.

How do I obtain a Valet Parking Permit?

The valet parking company representative is responsible for applying for the Valet Parking Permit and providing the necessary insurance naming the City of Seattle as an additional insured. The application shall include where the vehicles will be parked (vehicles are not allowed to be parked on city streets), how many spaces are available off-site, and a contact name and phone number of the off-street lot. The valet company representative is responsible for implementing the Traffic Control Plan (including hooding meters, supplying no-parking barricades and traffic control signs and, where needed, hiring off-duty police officers). A Valet Parking Application is located under the Forms section.

What steps can I take to make sure my event will be safe?

“Be proactive, be prepared. If you see something, say something.”

While we can’t always prevent tragedies that put people in danger, what we can do is take all steps to be prepared in advance and to be able to respond to emergencies, whether they are caused by natural disasters or by the work of people who seek to cause harm.  We live in a new world where we must think differently, plan differently, and take proactive steps to protect against all possibilities to the best of our abilities, in an attempt to ensure that the events are safe for those attending.

Please read what you as an organizer can do, and what the City will do, in the Special Events Office Emergency Planning letter here.