Special Event Permits

Festivals, Parades, Moving Athletic Events, Block Parties and other Special Events in Rochester, NY

The Special Events Office is now accepting applications for October of 2023 and beyond. Anything prior should plan for 2024.

 NEW for 2023: In order to obtain a Special Events Application, all applicants (except block parties and film shoots) must fill out the Application Request Form.  A 2023 special event application will be sent once the meeting is complete. If a recurring event has any substantive changes (e.g. any location change, route change, format change, addition of alcohol, addition of ticketing/entrance fee, etc.), or if it is a first-time event, the Office of Special Events will set up a meeting via zoom or via phone call to go over these details. After that meeting, we will email you the application to complete. If a recurring event does not have any substantive changes, you will be emailed an application.

The City of Rochester, NY encourages special events that enhance the quality of life, provide entertainment, promote local economic health, attract visitors, and contribute to the dynamic atmosphere of the community. Festivals, races /walks, parades, concerts, film shoots, fireworks displays, rallies, demonstrations, and block parties (all block parties are required to end by dusk), etc. require a Special Event Permit. Before you begin to plan your event, please contact the Office of Special Events as soon as possible so that staff can help make your event as successful as it can be. 
Type Fee Deadline to Apply Event Type Description
Festival $200 4 months prior to event A festival includes one or more of the following: (1) Entertainment or games; (2) Vendors selling food products or wares; (3) Alcohol (4) Ticket or entrance fee.
Moving Athletic (races, walks, bicycling event, etc.)   $100 4 months prior to event All new events must utilize a pre-approved route. Walks or races with less than 1,000 participants must take place in a park or trail. Walks or races with more than 1,000 people may utilize a downtown route that is determined by the City. See below.
Parade/Motorcade $100 4 months prior to event A public procession or march on the street. The City has predetermined parade routes.
Block Party (not permitted on Memorial Day Weekend,
July 4th Weekend or Labor Day Weekend)
$40 1 month prior to event Closure of a residential street for residents who live on that block. Cannot be used for private celebrations, festivals, and cannot be held on arterial streets or streets in a business district/Downtown. Complete the Block Party Application AND the Street Closing petition.
Film Shoots $70  2 months prior to event Professional filming within the City of Rochester. Contact the Rochester Finger Lakes Film Office and complete a Film Permit Application. Send completed applications to Joe Alessi.
Other      $70      4 months prior to event  If the event does not fit under one of the categories above, it may be classified as “other.” Staff will make the determination. Examples include: Openings, Dedications, Rallies, Demonstrations.

Applications and Requirements for a Special Event Permit

Complete the appropriate permit application in its entirety. Each application will guide you through what information and documentation is needed to secure a permit for your special event. 

**After you have filled out your application, please email it to Carly Gillett and you will then be sent a link to pay your fee online. If you'd like to pay by check, you can mail it to (with the event name on the memo line) to:  

30 Church St. Room 203A
Rochester, NY 14614   

PLEASE NOTE:  We can no longer accept incomplete applications.  Your application WILL NOT be accepted without the following components:

For ALL EVENTS, have you:
•included your application fee?
•included you site plan?
•signed your application?

For events serving alcohol, have you:
•included your DRAM Insurance certificate and endorsement page? 
•completed Appendix B in the Special Event Application? 
•included all the required detail on your security company?

For runs/walks/bike rides, have you:
•included a map of the route?
•included turn by turn, written steps?
•included copies of your City Parks and County Parks application?
emailed the route to Carly Gillett?

Downtown Races and Walks

The City of Rochester only permits three pre-approved routes for new runs and walks. View those routes and their respective RPD costs here.
The City does not permit Downtown races and walks with less than 1,000 participants.  Please email Carly Gillett to begin the process before you hand in your application.

Events Utilizing Parks

If a park is within your event's footprint- whether it be for staging, registration, a race or walk, a portion or leg of your race/walk route, post-event activities, or for anything else- you need to have the use of that park approved by the City's Department of Recreation and Youth Services or by Monroe County's Department of Parks. This will ensure that the park is reserved for your use that day and that another event is not scheduled in conflict.

  • City facilities: NEW - you can now book City parks, trails, and facilities through R-Central Online. You have to make an account first, but once you’re in, select Book a Facility in the top bar > then Submit a Request. From there, reserve your intended space.
  • Monroe County Park: Highland Park, Genesee Valley Park (east side), Ontario Beach Park, and parts of Durand Beach are maintained by the County and require a County permit as well as a City permit. Please contact Monroe County Parks at (585) 753-7281 or visit http://www.monroecounty.gov/parks for more information. If your event utilizes one of these county-run parks, you will need a permit from the county before you begin the special events process with the City.

City Equipment Rentals for Special Events

Permitted special events may rent City equipment as long as it meets the City's equipment rental guidelines. Rental forms can be found in the Special Event application.

Meter Bagging Fees for Special Events on City Streets

Permitted special events that take place on City streets may be subjected to meter bagging fees. For more information, visit our parking meter bagging fees page.

Fire Safety Rules

To ensure that your event is complying with the Rochester Fire Department rules for using power and/or cooking at events, please carefully read the fire safety guidelines for events before filling out your application. 

Security Deposit Policy

At the discretion of the Director of Communication & under certain circumstances, the special event permit applicant or grantee  shall provide the City with a refundable security deposit or unconditional letter of credit in an amount determined by the Director of Communications. 

Download the policy.

City Code Amendment

In December 2012, City Council passed an ordinance that amended the City Code to add language regarding special event permits. The new language codifies many of the requirements already in place for special events permit applicants. Event organizers should be aware of two main changes. First, events are no longer allowed to charge admission to a closed city street. Waivers to this rule may be granted by the Director of Communications for an event that is held one time a year, and for one day only, upon finding that it will maintain reasonable free pedestrian access through the street closure area. Next, a block party is the only type of event that will require the use of the Street Closing Petition for street closure approval. Festivals and other events that request street closures will be reviewed by the Office of Special Events on a variety of factors. 

Food Trucks at Special Events

A special event may have food truck vending within its footprint as long as the food truck has obtained a permit from the City Clerk's Office and has completed the Rochester Fire Department's Mobile Vehicle Safety Training & Inspection process


The use of drones is strictly prohibited at events in the city of Rochester. For more information, please refer to Federal Aviation Administration guidelines.

Street Preaching

The City is no longer issuing street preaching permits because, under the First Amendment, street preaching is a right of the people that does not require a permit. Preaching on the sidewalks is part of free speech protected under the First Amendment.   Learn more.


The City of Rochester and the Rochester Police Department are available to help organizers of demonstrations plan safe and successful events. To that end, the police department has prepared a document that should be consulted before planning a demonstration.

Rochester Police Department Demonstration Guidelines


For questions regarding major festivals, film permits, or events on Parcel 5, Baden Street Park, Brown Square Park, or MLK Park, contact Joe Alessi

For questions regarding all athletic events, parades, or neighborhood festivals, contact Carly Gillett

All NEW, non-athletic events and all other questions, contact Kara Osipovitch