Permits are required for any event activity that occurs on private or public property and affects the ordinary use of public streets, rights-of-ways, or sidewalks. This includes but is not limited to fairs, festivals, concerts, performances, parades, athletic events, and fundraising events.
Why do I need to apply for a Special Event Permit?
The City of Vancouver is proud to host a variety of community and neighborhood events. To promote the success of special events, ensure the safety of event participants and spectators, and minimize public inconvenience caused by the event, a Special Event Permit may be required.
The City of Vancouver provides a clear process for groups and organizations who wish to host special events. Event organizers are advised not to announce, advertise or promote their event until it has been pre-approved by the Special Events Office. Use of the City of Vancouver logo is strictly prohibited unless written permission is obtained.
Event Interest Form: Interest forms are accepted up to 365 days prior to the event date on a first-come, first-served basis. Annual event applicants are granted right of first refusal to hold the same event on the same weekend, at the same venue.
Special Event Permit Application: Submit the application at least 90 days before events that include street closure(s) or use a public right-of-way; applications for other events must be submitted and at least 60 days before the event date. Applications that do not include the required maps are incomplete and will not be processed until the application is complete. There is a $75 non-refundable processing fee per application. Late applications may be accepted but they will be charged a late fee of $10 per day.
Esther Short Park Reservation Packet: An additional packet must be submitted 60 to 90 days before the event for any special events held at Esther Short Park. A non-refundable deposit of 25% of the rental fee is required to hold any rental date. Rates increase 2% annually, effective January 1, and apply to all events held that calendar year.
Attend an Event Review Meeting: After your completed application has been accepted, the Special Events Office will contact you to schedule an event review meeting. At this meeting you will give a brief presentation about your event and answer questions from the Event Review Team. You are required to adjust your event to align with recommendations from the Special Events Office or Event Review Team.
Secure Required Permits and Additional Documents: The Event Review Team will help identify and additionally required permits or documents based on the scope of your event. You will also be provided with contact information and timelines to comply with those requirements.
Sign a Special Event Permit Agreement: Once all required permits and documents have been received, verified and approved, the Special Event Permit will be signed. A copy of the permit must be available onsite, the day of your event.
About Large Events and Expressive Speech
Can events be hosted at Vancouver Waterfront Park?
The Vancouver Waterfront Park is open for the public to enjoy. The section east of the Grant Street Pier is available as an event venue on a limited basis in 2023. Event Interest Forms are currently be accepted for events occurring after September 30, and for expressive speech events year-round.
Can events be hosted at Esther Short Park?
Event Interest Forms are currently being accepted for events occurring after September 30, and for expressive speech activities occurring year-round.
What is expressive speech activity?
Expressive speech is a protected class of activities for the sole purpose of which is to exercise the right of free speech. No fee or donation may be charged or required as a condition of participation in or attendance at such an activity. Expressive activity does not include fairs, festivals, concerts, performances, parades, athletic events, fundraising events or events for entertainment.
Organizers of such activities are required to submit an Event Interest Form to prevent conflicts of use of public spaces associated with the activity. Additional requirements may apply to activities that cause any public health and/or safety concerns. Expressive speech events must comply with City of Vancouver park rules.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is alcohol allowed in City of Vancouver parks?
Alcohol consumption or possession is not allowed at most parks, unless it is specified in a Park Use Permit. Some events, when properly staffed and permitted through the Liquor Control Board, may be allowed to serve alcohol within a park.
Is music allowed in City of Vancouver parks?
Amplified music is allowed on a case-to-case basis, with an approved Park Use Permit. Non-amplified (acoustic) music may be allowed without a permit.
Are inflatable bounce houses and dunk tanks allowed in City of Vancouver parks?
Inflatable bounce houses are allowed with an approved Park Use Permit. Dunk tanks are not allowed.
Do I need proof of insurance to have a bounce house at my event?
Yes. You will need to have the company you are renting the equipment from provide you with a Certificate of Liability Insurance, listing the City of Vancouver as “Additional Insured”.
Do other types of activities require proof of insurance?
Yes. Athletic events, events with vendors or where an admission fee is charged, and any events with dogs, are all examples of events that require proof of insurance. This is discussed more in depth during the Park Use Permit application process.
Can I have a wedding at a City of Vancouver park?
Weddings are permitted on a case-by-case basis and require a Park Use Permit. Our parks are best suited for smaller, intimate and more casual wedding ceremonies. Please note that portions of the park remain open to the public during this time.
Park Use Permits
Some events may require a Park Use Permit, which allows use of special items and equipment in the park, describes approved special services and outlines any park staff assistance that may be needed to make your event safe and successful.