Community Activation

What We Do

There are five main types of street closures that you may host for events and small community gatherings. These types of street closures, in order of increasing scale and complexity, are:

Play Streets

play streets

  • Free permit to open your street up for play
  • Allows community members to close a neighborhood street to traffic so that kids (and adults) can have more space for play and physical activity
  • Helps neighbors create more space for play during the summer or after school

Block Parties

block parties

  • Free permit to allow community members to plan a day or evening of fun in the street with neighbors, friends, and family
  • Temporarily closes a neighborhood street to local traffic for the neighborhood to get to know each other

Special Activities

Special Activities

  • Permit for farmers markets, businesses celebrating sidewalk sales and grand openings, and other small community events 
  • Office of Economic Development to support the establishment of new farmers markets on streets and sidewalks 

Festival Streets

Festival Streets

  • Annual permit for community groups, businesses, and individuals to host a calendar of special activities on designated festival streets, reducing permitting time and fees
  • Assists community groups to have a neighborhood street designated as a festival street

Special Events

Special Events

  • Very large events (e.g., Seafair Torchlight Parade) that are permitted and coordinated by the City of Seattle Special Events Office

Program Goals

  • Provide people of all ages with more opportunities to be active in their neighborhood
  • Encourage residents, community organizations, and businesses to use their streets creatively and actively 
  • Strengthen community connections 
  • Promote alternative use of our streets 
  • Promote use of designated festival streets as public space 
  • Simplify permitting process for regularly scheduled community gatherings and events
  • Support local business development and commercial district vitality

Apply for a permit 

Play streets, block parties, special activities, and festival streets are all permitted by our Street Use division. 

If you'd like to host a block party or play street, please click here to visit our Block Party/Play Streets permit page

Individuals or organizations seeking to host a special activity, such as a farmers market, or a festival street should apply for a public space permit. Contact us at publicspace@seattle.gov or visit us in person at the Street Use permit counter to learn more.

Those interested in organizing larger events known as "special events," such as parades or concerts, should contact the Seattle Special Events Office at specialeventsoffice@seattle.gov.

Permit resources

Play streets close neighborhood streets to vehicles and open them to kids (and adults) so they can have more space for play and physical activity. Community play streets help neighbors create more space for play during the summer or after school. You may visit our Play Streets program page here.

block party

A block party helps you connect with your neighbors, reimagine your block, and strengthen community relationships. Block parties are defined as events being held by people living along the street and not larger publicized events open to the general public. With a free permit, you can temporarily close your street and use the right of way to host a party for you and your neighbors.

Block party permits are completely free for applicants in an effort to strengthen neighborhood spirit and promote increased pedestrian use of the right of way. Click here to apply for a Block Party/Play Street permit.

Night Out -

Night Out is a national event promoted in Seattle by the Seattle Police Department Crime Prevention team, held once a year in August. Similar to our block party program participants, participants in Night Out may temporarily close their street to celebrate. Please visit the Night Out web page to learn more.

farmers market

Special activities are small events that temporarily close a non-arterial street and are open to the general public. Special Activities are larger than Neighborhood Block Parties, which close residential streets and are only for people living along that particular block.

Different activities including street fairs, farmers markets, and other community events can enliven neighborhoods, encourage walking, and support local businesses. Organizers are required to apply for a special activities Street Use permit to authorize the temporary closure and use of streets and sidewalks.

During a special activity, "STREET CLOSED" signs and barricades are required. These signs must meet SDOT requirements and be supplied by the group or person issued the Street Use permit. For specific details, visit the Seattle Traffic Control Manual webpage or view Chapter VIII Detours and Street Closures, to learn how to properly set up barricades. Neighborhood block party or play street closure signs are not acceptable for special activity closures.

Heavy items that cannot be easily moved are not allowed in the street area during the event, and a street that is on a bus route cannot be closed.

See CAM 2500, Street Use Permits for Special Activities, for additional information.

Farmers Markets

The Office of Economic Development (OED) administers the Farmers Market program for the City. An organization must meet the definition of a Farmers Market in order to qualify for this type of Street Use permit.

If your organization qualifies, OED will convene all necessary City departments in order to streamline the permitting process for the applicant. Similar to other Special Activity permits, Farmers Markets may only occur on non-arterial streets and is discouraged on Metro bus routes.

For more information about Farmers Markets, please visit the Office of Economic Development website.

alley world cup

Festival streets are designated portions of streets that can be opened for pedestrian-focused events on multiple occasions. A festival street designation allows community members to plan a series of events throughout the year with a single permit, instead of requiring a special activity permit for each event.

These streets are intended to help build neighborhood connections by hosting events that reflect the community's unique identity and interests. A proposal for a new festival street designation can be submitted by community groups, individuals, or any other organized local interest. As per SDOT Director's Rule #2-2012, the proposed festival street must have support from the surrounding neighborhood and requires the SDOT Director's final approval.

Currently, Seattle's designated festival streets are:

  • Canton Alley in the Chinatown-International District
  • South Roberto Maestas Festival Street in Beacon Hill
  • Nord Alley in Pioneer Square
  • Triangle Festival Street in West Seattle
  • East Denny Way on Capitol Hill

If you're interested in designating a Festival Streets event in your community, view our Client Assistance Memo 2504 for more details.