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FAQ

Does my event require a permit from the City of Philadelphia?

Nearly all events taking place on City property require some type of permit.  If you need help getting started, read through our FAQ section. If questions remain, feel free to contact the Office of Special Events at 215-686-3488.

Which application must I submit in order to close one or more City streets for my event?

Events involving the closure of one or more City streets require a permit from the Streets Department. If the event is to take place in a residential district and is being applied for by an individual, the applicant must complete and submit a Block Party Application. Block Party Applications must be submitted at least twenty-one (21) days in advance of the event date. Applications received within twenty-one (21) days of the event date are subject to a late fee. Please note that applications will not be accepted within four (4) business days of the event date. On the other hand, if the event is to take place in a business district, (a block or area where commercial businesses outnumber private dwellings) or an organization or business is applying for the permit, the applicant must complete and submit a Festival - Special Event Application. Festival - Special Event Applications must be received at least forty-days (45) days in advance of the event date. Please note that applications received within this window are subject to disapproval.

How do I reserve a neighborhood park or recreational area for my event?

Events taking place in neighborhood park and recreation areas (playgrounds, picnic areas, ball fields, etc.) necessitate the completion and submittal of the Parks & Recreation Special Event Application. Please visit the Parks & Recreation website or call 215-685-0060 for a list of park and recreation sites in your area as well as additional information concerning the application process.

Sites for which a Parks & Recreation Special Event Application would be required include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • John F. Kennedy Plaza (Love Park)
  • Rittenhouse Square
  • Levy Park
  • Pennwalt Plaza
  • Sister Cities Plaza
  • VonColln Field
  • Benjamin Franklin Parkway
  • Eakins Oval Plaza
  • Kelly Drive
  • Martin Luther King Drive
  • Memorial Hall
  • East Steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Lemon Hill
  • F.D.R Park

How do I secure a permit for the full or partial closure of a City sidewalk?

If any portion of a City street and/or sidewalk within the City's right of way is to be restricted or closed, it is necessary to obtain a permit from the Streets Department. Sidewalk permits are handled by the Right of Way Unit. Applicants must complete and submit the Sidewalk Equipment Placement Application in order to obtain a permit. Please call 215-686-5525 for additional information.

How do I obtain a permit to conduct a parade on City property?

Applicants are to submit the Parade Permit Application for parades, runs, walks, motorcades and processions taking place on City streets or sidewalks outside of the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks & Recreation.

Parade Permit Applications must be submitted at least forty-five (45) days in advance of the event date. Please note that applications received within the forty-five (45) day window are subject to disapproval.  

How do I obtain a permit to conduct a demonstration on City Property?

Demonstration permits are issued through the Office of Special Events.  Applicants are asked to complete and submit the Demonstration Application, along the with the application fee, at least five (5) business days in advance of the event. Please review the City of Philadelphia's Permit Policy for Demonstrations for additional information regarding these types of events.

What services, if any, is the City of Philadelphia able to provide for special events?

The City of Philadelphia is able to provide a number of support services for special events including, but not limited to, the following:
  • The Department of Recreation is able to supply bleachers and mobile stages (Showmobiles).
  • The Philadelphia Police Department is able to provide security, traffic/crowd control, and emergency management services.
  • The Philadelphia Fire Department is able to provide emergency medical coverage.
  • The Streets Department is able to provide event organizers with sanitation services such as street cleaning and trash/recycling pickup.
  • The Department of Licenses and Inspections oversees the enforcement of illegal vending.
  • The Health Department oversees all food service inspections.
These services, and others, are coordinated through the Managing Director's Office - Special Events Department. Please note that there is a charge for these services and event organizers will be invoiced for all services rendered by the operating departments of the City of Philadelphia. Any organizer requesting city services for their event must complete and submit the Special Events Application at least ninety (90) days in advance of the event date. Applications submitted within the ninety (90) day window will be assessed a late fee. Cost estimates are available, provided sufficient time is allowed between the request and event date.

Are there any special event services which the City of Philadelphia would be unable to provide?

Yes. Unfortunately, the City of Philadelphia is unable to provide portable restroom facilities, tents, tables, chairs, trailers, and catering services. It is the responsibility of the event organizer to secure these services for their special event. In an effort to assist with this process, the Managing Director's Office - Special Events Department has compiled a list of vendors in the area who provide these types of services. Please view the attached Vendor List for company contact information.

Am I required to obtain insurance for my event?

If the event is to take place on City property, a valid certificate of insurance is required. The insurance certificate should show general liability insurance in an amount no less than $1,000,000.00 and name the City of Philadelphia, its officers, agents, and employees as additional insured. The certificate must also specifically reference the name and date of the event. Applicants may contact the Risk Management Division at 215-683-1708 for additional information.

Am I required to have EMS coverage for my event?

Events with an expected attendance of 2,000 people or more and all "athletic" events (5K runs, regattas, etc.) are required to have EMS coverage. Applicants can hire the Philadelphia Fire Department for EMS coverage by submitting the Fire Department EMS Special Event Application.

Am I required to have Police coverage for my event?

In some cases, a Philadelphia Police Department presence is deemed necessary to ensure the safety of event participants and attendees. Upon submittal and review of the appropriate applications, a determination will be made as to whether or not a Police presence is required, and the applicant will be notified as such. Organizers may also hire Philadelphia Police Officers for special event coverage by contacting the Traffic Division or the local Police District. Please visit the Philadelphia Police Department website to view the district boundaries and obtain departmental contact information.

How do I obtain permission to sell or give away food/beverages at my event?

If food and/or beverages are to be served to the public, it shall be the responsibility of the event sponsor to obtain a Health Permit Form and submit all pertinent paperwork to the Office of Food Protection; City of Philadelphia Health Department. Applicants are encouraged contact the Office of Food Protection at 215-685-7489 or 215-685-7490 for additional information regarding the application process and food service regulations.

Do I need a permit to distribute literature on City property?

Yes. In order to obtain a permit to distribute literature on City property, the applicant must complete and submit the Hand Bill Distribution License Application. For further information, please contact the Department of Licenses and Inspections through the City's 3-1-1 system.

If I wish to use generators at my event, what permits, if any, are required?

Electrical Permits are required and must be applied for through the Department of Licenses & Inspections.  Applicants are encouraged to read the permit guidelines and obtain the necessary applications from the Department of Licenses & Inspections website.

Do I require a permit to install bicycle racks at my business and/or residence?

A permit is required for installation of bicycle racks in the public right-of-way (streets or sidewalks).  Installation of bicycle racks on private property does not require a permit from the City.  You can download a copy of the Bike Rack Permit Application & Guide here.