If you’d like to host a special event such as a carnival, festival, demonstration, flea market, or concert, you may need a special events permit. This permit is required for any event that uses:
- City-owned or occupied property.
- City equipment.
- City services.
The Office of Special Events works with other City departments to make sure that event hosts have all the necessary:
Submitting an application does not guarantee that you will get a permit. Event organizers should not issue any press releases, post advertisements, or sell tickets until the necessary approvals and permits have been issued.
When to apply
The application fee varies based on when you apply.
- Standard application fee: $25 (at least 90 days in advance, and all demonstrations)
- Expedited application fee: $75 (less than 90 days in advance)
Additional rules for demonstrations
Applications for demonstrations should be submitted at least five business days before the proposed event date.
Exceptions will be made if the proposed demonstration is a spontaneously planned event. This includes responses to recent or future political events, or other announcements, decisions, determinations, or declarations.
If you want to request the rental and use of City-owned equipment for your demonstration, you must apply at least 60 business days before the event date.
How to apply
You’re encouraged to include maps, plans, and supporting documentation with your application.
Refer to the event checklist below to learn about the different permissions and plans that are commonly needed.
You can email your application and supporting materials to OSE@phila.gov. You can also submit them in person or by mail to:
Office of Special Events
One Parkway Building
1515 Arch St., Floor 15
Philadelphia, PA 19102
If you apply by email, you can pay for your application online. If you apply in person or by mail, you can include payment with your application.
Application fees are nonrefundable and applications will not be processed until the application fee is paid in full. This includes the late fee, if applicable.
Cash is not accepted. Checks or money orders must be made payable to the City of Philadelphia.
Email submissions will receive an emailed receipt with a reference number within two business days.
The requirements for special events vary widely. Use the list below to find out what other requirements and approvals you may need for your event.
To close a residential street for a block party or other small street event, apply for a block party permit.
To hold a larger event in a business corridor or arterial street outside the Fairmount Park system, you must apply for a festival street closure permit. This requirement does not apply to parades, runs, walks, or demonstrations.
Food and beverages
If food or beverages will be sold or sampled, you must submit a special event sponsor application to the Department of Public Health. Individual vendors are responsible for submitting a special event food vendor application. The event organizer must provide a complete list of participating vendors.
Event sponsors and vendors are both responsible for food handling compliance. Review the City’s laws and regulations for food establishments.
Event organizers and all vendors must also have a Commercial Activity License. Vendors may need additional licenses from the Department of Licenses and Inspections, including:
Farmers market organizers must register with the Department of Public Health.
Carnivals and street fairs
To hold an event that charges admission or asks for donations for “amusement activities,” you must get an Amusement License from the Department of Licenses and Inspections. Amusement activities include theatrical or operatic performances, movies, concerts, circuses, dance, or music recitals.
If alcoholic beverages are to be sold or sampled, you must submit an alcohol management plan with this application. Refer to the alcohol management plan guidelines for more information.
Tents and canopies
A tent permit is required for tents measuring over 400 square feet.
If your event will offer portable restroom facilities, you may need to submit an application for a portable chemical toilet or holding tank permit. You must apply if your event will:
- Last more than four days, or
- Have more than 15 portable restroom units.
Each vendor handling merchandise of any type must be individually approved by the Department of Licenses & Inspections (L&I) prior to selling goods to the public. Event organizers and all vendors must also have a Commercial Activity License.
Vendors may need additional licenses from L&I, including:
Other City services
You can use the application form to request additional City services including amplified sound, electrical power, and sanitation services. If you plan to use a private company for these services, include their contact information on the application form.
Fireworks and pyrotechnics
You may need a Fireworks Display Permit from the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
You must include contact information for all private fireworks or pyrotechnics vendors and subcontractors.
Events held on City property must have a valid certificate of insurance. It must be general liability insurance for at least $1,000,000 and name the City of Philadelphia. The certificate must also specifically reference the name and date of the event.
You can apply for special event liability insurance with the Office of Risk Management.
Special events must have emergency medical service (EMS) coverage if:
- There is an expected attendance of 2,000 people or more.
- It is an athletic event, such as a race.
Event organizers can hire the Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD) for EMS coverage by submitting the EMS special event application.