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Hosting a Block Party

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Block parties are one of the most delightful ways to connect neighbors, build community, and have fun! Depending on what types of activities you want at your Block Party, you may need more than one permit. This guide will help you find information on permits, party planning tips, and new Block Party Kits that can be requested online.

Step
1

Before You Get Started

To host a Block Party on public property, you need to apply for what the City calls a Play Street Closing Permit.  If you don’t find the information you need here, you can always reach out to your Office of Neighborhood Services Mayor’s Liaison. Mayor’s Neighborhood Liaisons can help find a good date for your Block Party that avoids other events in the area, help spread the word about your Block Party, and more.

Some block parties may include entertainment, games, food, and beverages. Some of these activities  require additional  permits beyond the Play Street Closing Permit. Additional permits may add additional time to review your requests. If you would like to review the application in advance, you can look at the user guide here.

To host your dream Block Party, you may need to get permitted through several departments at the City. Give yourself plenty of time to apply. You must apply at least 30 days before a large Block Party covering multiple streets, or 15 business days before a Block Party closing just a small stretch of street to traffic.

Block Party_2

The Play Street Closing Permit does not remove parked cars, so communicate with your neighbors and guests in advance. We highly encourage you to flyer your block in advance of the event so neighbors can plan accordingly. Flyers should have the event date, time, activities, and information for how to volunteer and attend.

Step
2

Apply Online to Host a Block Party

Feeling ready? Start your Block Party/Play Street Closing Permit Application. If this is your first event with the City, you will need to set up an online account. Your username and password can be used for future block parties and other City business, so remember to keep it in a safe place. You’ll be able to copy a Block Party application for future years if you want to have a recurring event. When you apply online, you need to give us some general information about your event. Then we will review your application and begin processing it.

Unfortunately, this permit does not allow for the following activities on the sidewalk of streets:

  • Grills: both propane or charcoal
  • Amplified music, stages, risers, or performances 
  • Inflatable structures (bouncy houses), carnival rides, petting zoos, pony rides
  • Occupancy by vendors, large tents (larger than 10 feet by 10 feet) or more than three small (10 feet by ten feet ) tents
  • Food truck operation or good being prepared on the street or sidewalk
  • Alcoholic beverages

If you are interested in any of the above listed activities, you will need to either: 

  1. Host these activities on you personal property. You can have grills, propane, charcoal, music, inflatable structures (bouncy houses), carnival rides, petting zoos, pony rides, vendor tents, food eat. on your property if desired.
  2. Or you can apply for other necessary permits depending on which activities you want.
Step
3

Refine Your Plan

After you apply online, you may get a call from a City staff member on how to move forward with your event. We may have questions and suggestions about timing, which parts of your street you’d like to close to traffic, and other details about your application. The permit application is reviewed by the Boston Transportation Department and the Boston Police Department. Reviewers look at event logistics, transportation impacts, and public safety considerations.

Not every Block Party only needs a Play Street Closing Permit. There may be other permits or services you might need. If your Block Party does require other permits, you may need to meet with the Special Events Committee, or proceed through applicable permit processes individually.

Processing these permit applications takes two weeks or less. Sometimes things change or emergency construction work arises, so the City does reserve the right to revoke your permit if that happens. If that does happen, you will get a call from the City and you can resubmit your permit for a different day.

Step
4

Get Your Permit

It takes about 15 business days to approve a Play Street Closing permit. If you have questions about the process or if your permit is taking longer than expected, reach out to your Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services liaison. They can help you to get your permit and answer any pending questions about your permit application.

Step
5

Get Your Block Party Kit

During the summer of 2022, the City is piloting Block Party Kits to make community events more fun! The kits include chalk, balls, a beach mat, signage for your event, and fun games and activities for everyone to enjoy. The kits are free to use and can be requested all summer long. There are two types of reusable kits that can be lent out across the city, the game kit and the cool kit.

Once you have your approved Play Street Closing permit, you can request to reserve a Block Party Kit. Have your permit number handy and request a Block Party Kit online. Once you have submitted your request, the Office of Civic Organizing will reach out to confirm drop-off and pick-up times. 

Keep in Mind

  • The Boston Fire Department and the Boston Emergency Medical Services require that a twenty foot (20') aisle be kept unobstructed, running the entire block, at all times to allow emergency vehicles to enter and exit.
  • Vehicles cannot be used to close off the streets (see reason above: fire trucks need to pass). This is a Block Party, not a drive-in! Cones, chairs, and other easily removable devices can be used to block off the street. 

In case neighbors or other folks have questions about your party and the process, have a printed copy of your Play Street Closing Permit on hand.

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