Special Events

Wondering if you need to fill out the Special Events Permit for your event? Please see our Frequently Asked Questions below.

Simply looking for the Special Events Permit Application? You've come to the right place. Apply online.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does Covid-19 affect the Special Events Permit process?

Slowing the spread of COVID-19 unfortunately continues to negatively impact special events in our City. Most events for the remainder of the year 2020 have been cancelled in compliance with Governor Inslee's "Safe Start" reopening plan, and based on current trends, events for part of 2021 may not be permitted as well unless they meet the restrictions for maximum participants. The most discouraging aspect of this pandemic is that social gatherings are the best environment for this virus to spread – the exact opposite of what we want. Even with the promise of a vaccine this spring, returning to large gatherings too soon may contribute to continued infections. The Spokane Regional Health District has advised us that we should remain "cautiously optimistic" for large gatherings and special events to be allowed to take place next fall. As a result, at this time, it seems highly unlikely we will approve issuing any special event permits through June for our traditional events. This a very fluid situation and may change, but we wanted to be as transparent as possible to help you plan.

For these reasons, we will accept special events applications, but typically only for events that are planned to take place in or after July 2021 for those in the right of way (see next paragraph for guidance on events in parks). We will tentatively hold these dates in our special events calendar and will provide guidance on these scheduled events as we approach the event dates. If you have developed creative solutions to your event that allows for limits on participants, we will review those applications for consideration with Spokane Regional Health District for the first part of the year. For example, we are finding success with foot races that stage start times every 5 minutes in groups of 5, or drive through events that keep participants in their vehicles.

For events occurring in Spokane Parks, we will be happy to put a soft hold on 2021 dates. For Riverfront, we ask people to please fill out an Event Inquiry Form, and our team will be in touch to talk through next steps. For all other park locations, please call 509.363.5455 and we'll talk through options and contingency plans. Decisions on park reservation requests will be finalized based on the public health guidance that will become available as we progress into the new year.

The Special Events Office will communicate with event organizers if alternative dates to events will need to be set. Please bear with us, as we adjust and try our best to help make events happen, so long as it does not potentially jeopardize our community's public health efforts. And rest assured, if a drastic shift occurs and we are able to schedule more traditional events prior to July 2021, we will let you know as soon as we have that clearance!

The last half of the year 2021 may be a little more crowded with events, but our goal is to try and accommodate everyone. If you are planning an event post-June, it would be helpful for us if you could email eventpermits@spokanecity.org with your event name, planned date, and location/route of your event for planning purposes. This will assist us with the rescheduling of other events so we do not have critical overlap. However, as this continues to be a dynamic situation, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to issue permits beyond next June, though that is our desire. Rest assured, we are committed to working with you to find as many creative solutions as possible.

Q: Do I need a Special Event Permit?

A: If your event is a pre-planned activity that involves the use of, or has impact on, public property, facilities and/or needs the provisions of City public safety services then yes. Examples of special events include but are not limited to parades, demonstrations, concerts, run/walk events, celebrations, commercial or non-profit/fundraising forms of entertainment, amusement, and cultural recognition.

If your event is on private property, but may still impact public safety services you may be required to obtain a special events permit.

If you can answer yes to any of the following, a special event permit will likely be needed.

  • Does this event involve a moving route of any kind along streets, sidewalks or highways?
  • Does your event require the blocking of streets?
  • Will there be a change in an STA stop or activity?
  • Is a parking meter in any way being affected?
  • Does the event draw more than 10,000 participants and/ or spectators?
  • Will sound amplification be used?
  • Does your event involve a protest or protest march?
  • Is your event a sports tournament?
  • Is your event in Riverfront Park and is open to the public (please see here for more information regarding events in Riverfront Park)?
  • Is your event in another City park and meets any of the following criteria (includes both private events, including use of picnic shelters, as well as events open to public):
    • Will be attended by over 200 people?
    • Will you be using a bouncy toy, portable stage, or other unusual structure, or tent/canopy?
    • Will you be using a caterer?
    • Will you be using amplified sound?

For some events, it is possible that only a permit or inspection from the Fire Department will be needed, and not a full special event permit. If your event doesn't meet any of the above criteria, but meets one or more of the following, you'll need to fill out a Fire Special Events/Inspection Application. If your event includes one of the following in addition to the above, only fill out the special event application. The Fire Department will contact you for follow-up during the permit application process. If you have questions, please contact the Assistant Fire Marshal at 509.625.7000.

  • Does this event include the use of a tent (over 200 sq. ft.), a canopy over 700 sq.ft., cooking, liquid or gas fueled vehicles in assembly building, or fireworks?
  • Does your event include the request for a bonfire, the use of candles in an assembly area or other small open flames?
  • Will your event include any of the following: beer garden, carnival, fair, exhibits, tradeshows, haunted house, or use a non-traditional space for a large gathering over 49 people?
  • Will there be any inflatable devices or hot air balloons?
  • Will any fireworks, rockets or other pyrotechnics be used?

If you still have questions, please contact the Special Events Coordinator or call us at 3-1-1 (or 509.755.2489 if calling outside the City).

Q: How do I obtain a Special Event Permit?
Q: How long is the process for obtaining a Permit?

A: Applicants are advised to submit their application as early as 90 days before the event and no less than 30 days. Once an application is submitted it will be routed to all affected departments (such as Fire, Police, Streets, Parks, etc.) for comments and feedback. You should receive a response within 10 days identifying any feedback from departments. This feedback may identify additional requirements that have to be satisfied before the permit is approved. It is recommended that you plan early to ensure a smooth application process and expect that costs may be more than originally anticipated.

Q: How much will the Special Event Permit Cost?

A: Based on the size of your special event, one of the following non-refundable administrative application fees will apply:

  • Small with 50 or fewer people is $50
  • Medium with 51-1,000 people is $100
  • Large with 1,001-10,000 people is $250
  • Extra Large with 10,001 or more people is $500

There may be additional fees for permits that involve the following areas:

You may incur additional costs for extra services such as the need for off duty police officers or paramedics. In addition, you may be required to contract with outside vendors for services such as barricades or traffic control. The City will provide a rough estimate of extra services and a cost outline during the initial feedback period of 10 days. This will help you as the event organizer see the entire cost of the event and plan accordingly. You may also need a temporary entertainment facility permit (see below) depending on the type of event.

Comprehensive general liability insurance is also required (see below), and there may be additional costs to other agencies if there will be food or alcohol at your event (see below).

Q: Do I need to obtain insurance for my event?

A: Yes. The applicant for a special event master permit must possess or obtain comprehensive general liability insurance in the amount of single limit coverage of at least one (1) million dollars to protect the City against loss from liability imposed by law for damages on account of bodily damage and/or property damage arising from the special event. You may be required to obtain additional coverage if your event is considered high risk. The insurance certificate should name the City of Spokane as an additional insured.

For certain events (i.e. small block parties on residential streets), homeowners insurance policies will be considered in lieu of the commercial liability insurance. For questions regarding insurance, please contact the Special Event Coordinator who will work with Risk Management to determine the required insurance needed for your event.

Q: My event uses electricity. Do I need an additional permit for that?

A: If you are using existing on site power for your event, you will likely not need an electrical permit. Additional permits and an electrical inspection may be required if temporary power or generators will be used in your special event. If those inspections are required outside normal business hours or days, an after-hours inspection fee may be assessed.

Q: I want to hold a private event in Riverfront Park. Can I do this or is a special event permit needed?

A: For private group events, activities, and rentals at Riverfront Park, contact RFPevents@spokanecity.org or visit Riverfront Park Book a Venue page

Q: I just want to use a picnic shelter at a City park. Do I really need a permit?

A: If you anticipate more than 200 people, are using a bouncy toy, portable stage, other unusual structure, or tent/canopy, include amplified sound, or want to use a picnic shelter at Riverfront Park you will need a permit. Even if a special events permit is not needed, for much of the year reservations are required for use of the shelters located at Franklin, Manito, Mission,, and Shadle Parks. Shelters at other parks are available for simple picnic gatherings of less than 50 people on a first come, first served basis, and may be reserved if desired. To check availability or book a reservation call Park Operations at 509.363.5455. More information.

Q: I would like to hold my wedding at a City park; will I need a special event permit for that?

A:In most cases a wedding reservation is all that is needed, but depending on the location chosen, and the event plans, a special permit may also be necessary. Please see this page for more information. Call Park Operations at 509.363.5455 to check availability and obtain the forms required to book a wedding reservation.

Q: Does the City provide barricades for street closures?

A: It is the responsibility of the event organizer to provide barricades for special events.

Q: Can I plan for an event on a busy street?

A: Most principal arterials are not suitable for special events, while some streets may be appropriate with the proper planning. The general rule of thumb is that principal arterials cannot be closed outside of the downtown core (please review the principal arterial map). If you are planning an event on one of the streets identified in the map, please contact the Special Events Coordinator to discuss options before proceeding with the Special Event Permit process.

Q: I just want to have a block party for my neighbors. Do I really need a special event permit?

While the City used to have a separate block party permit, in order to streamline the application process, we now consider block parties a special event. Insurance is still required, but rather than a commercial liability policy, the sponsor’s homeowner’s policy will be considered. A Special Event Coordinator will be in touch after receiving your application.
More information.

Q: My event is on the Centennial Trail as well as Riverfront Park. Will my permit cover use of both?

A: No, the Centennial Trail is operated through Washington State and you will need to apply for an additional permit through them. For more information, contact 509.465.5066.

Q: I would like to film and/or take photographs. Do I need a special event permit for that?

A: Possibly. Under some circumstances filming and photography in Parks and Recreation areas and facilities requires a reservation and/or a special event permit designated for a photo shoot. Wedding related photography in parks always requires a reservation. When Park property will be involved, call Park Operations at 509.363.5455 to determine how to proceed. For other City property a film permit would be needed. More information.

Q: What events qualify as a temporary entertainment facility and what extra fees and conditions are required for these types of events?

A: Carnivals, circuses, dances, and concerts (both indoor and outdoor) are classified as temporary entertainment facilities by the City Department of Taxes and Licenses. For these special events, a $100 per day fee is required for the event. More information about a Temporary Entertainment Facility License.

Q: What permit will I need to sell food at my event?

A: In addition to the Special Event Permit, you will need a Temporary Food Establishment Permit issued by Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD).

Q: What permit will I need to sell or use alcohol at my event?

A: Sale or use of alcoholic beverages requires a special occasion license from the Washington State Liquor Control Board and Cannabis Board in addition to the Special Event permit, which may require 45 days in advance.

Q: My event is purely expressive or demonstrational. Does it require a special events permit? Are there costs incurred?

A: The City of Spokane recognizes that freedom of petition is an essential First Amendment Right. However, the potential disruptive effect that such a demonstration can have on others in the surrounding area will require a special events permit, and as long as the event does not require street closure, the costs will be limited to a non-refundable administrative application fee that is based on your event size (e.g., $50 for 50 people or less).

If, however, the demonstration or expressive activity will require street closure or other city services, personnel, or equipment (i.e. police, EMS, etc), a special event permit may be conditioned upon payment of estimated costs incurred, which is limited to $500 per SMC 10.39.090.E.