Planning and Permitting for Special Events

Acquiring Permits

When it comes to choosing a great location and acquiring permits for your upcoming special event, the City of Vancouver is here to help. A special event includes any activity that occurs on private or public property such as City parks and affects the ordinary use of public streets, rights-of-ways, and/or sidewalks. This includes, but is not limited to fairs, festivals, concerts, performances, parades, athletic events, fundraising events, etc. 

If it is determined by the City of Vancouver and Special Events Team that your event requires Police and/or Fire Marshal services, additional fees for City Services may apply.

For more information on Police services, contact the Vancouver Police Department West Precinct at 360-487-7355 prior to your event.

The Fire Marshal’s Office requires a Special Event Master Permit for the following activities: 1) Fenced outdoor events, 2) Events that limit public access, regulate exiting, and/or temporarily obstruct fire department access, 3) Public events that include outdoor cooking and vending, tents, canopies or temporary power, 4) Carnivals, fairs or circuses. Additional permit fees may apply.

Plan Ahead

Applications are due a minimum of 90 days prior for events that include street closure(s) or use of public rights-of-way and a minimum of 60 days prior for events that do not. There is a $75 non-refundable processing fee. Applications received less than the minimum required days prior will be charged an additional $10 per day. Applicant will be invoiced. We are no longer accepting applications for new events occurring between April 1 and September 30, 2023.

Do you have questions about hosting a special event?

Fill out an Event Interest Form and our staff will contact you. Interest forms are accepted up to 365 days prior to event date on a first-come, first-served basis. However, an annual event applicant is granted right of first refusal to hold the same event on the same weekend at the same venue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need to apply for a special event permit?

The City of Vancouver regularly hosts 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. Fill out an Event Permit Application.

Until your event is pre-approved by the Special Events Office, event organizers are advised not to announce, advertise or promote event. Use of the City of Vancouver logo is strictly prohibited unless written permission is obtained.

What is the process for hosting events at Vancouver Waterfront Park?

The Vancouver Waterfront Park is now open for the public to enjoy. The section east of the Grant Street Pier will be utilized as an event venue with limited availability in 2023. We are currently accepting Event Interest Forms for special events occurring after September 30 and for expressive speech activities occurring year round.

What is the process for hosting events at Esther Short Park?

We are currently accepting Event Interest Forms for special events occurring after September 30, 2023, and for expressive speech activities occurring year round. Submit a minimum of 90 or 60 days prior for all events held at Esther Short Park. A non-refundable deposit of 25% of the rental fee is needed to hold any rental date. Applicant will be invoiced. Refer to the Esther Short Park Rental Rates and Regulations Packet. Rates shall increase 2% annually, effective January 1 of each year and apply to all events held that calendar year.

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. Read more about laws and rules that apply to your visit to a City of Vancouver Park.

What other park use permits are necessary?

Depending on the type of event you’re hosting, you may need to get a Park Use Permit from Vancouver Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services.  A Park Use Permit gives you permission to bring special items and equipment into the park and describes any approved special services or park staff assistance.

What other permits may be required?

Commercial film, video and photography activities on City property and at parks may require permits. The City asks that production companies please fill out a Film Permit Application.

How do I rent a picnic shelter or room at one of the City’s community centers?

Vancouver Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services (PRCS) maintains three covered picnic shelters that are available for reserving at Fisher Basin, Leroy Haagen and Marine Parks. Picnic shelter reservations are open for events happening May 1 – Sept. 30. Read more about reserving a space.

Planning a wedding, birthday party, business gathering, quinceañera or graduation party? We also offer community center spaces for you to host your event. Read more about rentals and fees.