Seattle Special Event Permitting During COVID-19

Last updated 1/29/2021

City of Seattle Special Event Permitting Restrictions 

The City of Seattle is not issuing Special Event permits for major events until  guidance from the State of Washington and Public Health - Seattle & King County allows. These include major cultural events, run/walk events, major events on streets or in parks, festivals, and vendor fairs.

On January 8, 2021, Governor Inslee issued the "Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery" State recovery plan, which implements a phased approach for reopening by region. As of February 1, the Puget Sound Region has been approved to move into Phase 2 of the plan, with some limited outdoor entertainment allowed. Mayor Jenny Durkan cautiously supports Seattle moving into this Phase and will continue to closely monitor the situation with Public Health.  In Phase 2, large unrestricted indoor and outdoor public gatherings are prohibited.

The Seattle Special Events Committee has approved an administrative decision to not issue Special Event Permits through at least April 30, 2021.  The Committee normally requires 90 days to coordinate major events, and with the expectation of more information to review with Phased health and social distancing requirements, the Committee determined that this required lead time cannot be reduced.

This suspension may be extended due to continuing public health measures by local and State health officials. The City of Seattle continues to monitor developments from the Governor's office, and guidance from Public Health - Seattle & King County, the Washington Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention regarding COVID-19, including Governor Inslee's recent guidelines allowing limited capacity run/walk/ride events.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Special Events office is not issuing permits for public gatherings, including protests, demonstrations, rallies, and marches, as we adhere to public health guidelines provided by the State and Public Health - Seattle & King County.   

There has been a growing interest in holding "socially distant" events, such as car parades, drive-in theaters, porch concerts, and more. While the Special Events Committee recognizes the good intentions behind creating such events, permits for public gatherings will not be issued at this time.  However, if you have confirmed with Public Health - Seattle & King County that your event may meet State and public health social distancing requirements, please contact our office to discuss the proposal. 

According to Governor Inslee's Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery, outdoor entertainment (such as events) is subject to strict limitations on group size and format. Please consult the current guidance documents for more information.

For more information on what type of activities normally require a Special Event permit, please consult our handbook.

Yes, the Special Events Office is accepting applications for events scheduled after April 30, 2021. Applications are due 90 days before the requested event date. Please note, there is no guaranteed approval of event dates at this time as we continue to monitor the public health impacts and guidance for addressing COVID-19 in our region.

Please contact our office to cancel your event. We will inform the Special Events Committee and related agencies of the cancelation.  

Yes, your special event permit fee can be refunded in full, excluding the non-refundable application fee. If you have paid fees to other City departments, they may be refundable.

Please contact our office to request a refund or for more information. 

The Special Events Committee is working to develop policies and procedures for rescheduling events affected by this crisis. Please contact our office for more information.  

Insurance policies vary. Please consult with your insurance provider.

Please see the City of Seattle's COVID-19 Resources Page for individual and business resources. 

The WFEA and IFEA have the most up to date information on regional and national assistance for the events industry:  

Additional useful information: 

On January 5, Governor Inslee announced the Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery plan, which lays out the process to safely reopen Washington state. The plan includes guidance for certain businesses and industries to help minimize the spread of COVID-19.

The full Healthy Washington phased chart is available here.

The following Healthy Washington Requirements may be helpful guidance for events, public gatherings and activities, which must adhere to the occupancy and operation requirements outlined for their region's Healthy Washington phase: