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Rules and regulations for special events

Learn the rules for hosting a special event in the City of Boston.

Special events are any events that happen on public property or private property outdoors. They include road races, block parties, festivals, fundraisers, and parades. You can also have entertainment, games, and food and beverages.

To hold a special event, you may need to get permitted through several departments at the City.

Learn how to host a special event

Special event rules

You have to follow permit guidelines for all departments. If you don’t follow the rules, you may not be able to get a permit in the future. It’s also your responsibility to make sure there's no illegal activity going on during the event.

Application timeline

Please file your application at least 30 days before a big event, and at least 20 days before a smaller event. If you file too late, we won't accept your application. We have the right to revoke your application at any time.

Pay the fees

You have to pay the fees associated with any permits or licenses you need for your event. If you don’t pay the fees, you won’t be able to get the permits and licenses.

Damage and fines

You need to pay for any damage to public property. You're also responsible for any violations or fines related to your event. The City will not be responsible for your actions or neglect.

Concession stands at events

You need to put concession stands in a place where they won’t block access to public ways hydrants, or handicap ramps. Please make sure that your concession stands are:

  • stationary and in the street against the curb
  • less than 12 feet tall, and less than four feet wide, and
  • at least four feet from other concession stands.

You need to leave at least four feet of open sidewalk space at all times. Please make sure sidewalks are clear and people at your event aren’t using them for storage.

You must list the price for anything you sell at your event. If you’re selling soda cans, you need to buy them in Massachusetts.

Road races and parades

Want to hold a road race or parade in Boston? You must submit a written request, as far in advance as possible, to the Transportation Department commissioner.

Your request must include:
  • the name of the group sponsoring the road race or parade
  • the date of the event
  • the route that the road race or parade will take
  • the formation point for participants
  • the starting time
  • the expected number of participants, and
  • the name, address and daytime telephone number of the organizer.
Parade vehicles

The Boston Police have rules and requirements around parade vehicles. You can learn more about those rules online:

Parade Vehicle Criteria

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