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Special Events Permits

This page provides sample policies regulating various special events in Washington State, including some private events that may impact traffic, the street right-of-way (ROW), and other public property.


Special events, such as fun runs, bike-a-thons, parades, and street fairs promote tourism, foster economic revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods, and offer cultural activities for residents. Other events such as neighborhood block parties or music festivals can help build community.

Cities and counties normally encourage such events as long as they can ensure that the environment both allows attendees to enjoy the experience but also adequately provides for the protection of all participants involved.

Examples of Special Event Regulations

Many of the sample codes below include similar components, such as:

  • Defining what a special event is, either by listing several types (e.g., parade, fun run) or by describing how it will impact the property, facilities, or operations of jurisdiction, and/or the public right-of-way (ROW),
  • Offering exemptions from permitting, such as for weddings, funerals, events sponsored by the jurisdiction, and/or small gatherings of individuals in publicly owned spaces,
  • Outlining the requirements for obtaining a permit and the minimum standards for holding an event
  • Describing the application process, fees, and grounds for denial of permit,
  • Identifying who is appointed to approve permits (e.g. administrative head, planning dept, special event coordinator, parks and recreation department),
  • Describing violations and conditions under which a permit would be revoked or suspended, and
  • Requiring event organizers have insurance and indemnify the jurisdiction.

Less common are the following components:

  • Requiring a cleaning/damage deposit,
  • Prohibiting event organizer from using name, logo, or images of jurisdiction in promotional material without pre-approval from the agency, or
  • Specifically exempting from permitting requirements any protected events under the 1st and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution (e.g., rally, march, protest).

For the majority of the codes listed below, the chapter title includes the words "special," "event" and/or "permit," unless otherwise noted in parenthesis. 

Examples of Special Event Permit Application Forms

Below are a few examples special event applications, webpages, and related forms. Most special event permit applications include a hold-harmless agreement.

Examples of Special Event Fee Schedules

Recommended Resources


Seattle Fire Department

  • Special Event Cost Recovery (2019) — Report of audit carried out to determine the extent to which the department recovers the cost of special event staffing through its contracts with event promoters.

Last Modified: April 18, 2023