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Special Event Permits

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. 

When Do I Need a Special Event Permit?

The Office of Special Events issues permits for events that meet all of the following criteria:

  • Held outside incorporating City-owned property including streets and parks;
  • Disrupts the regular flow of pedestrian or vehicular activity in the area where the event is being held;
  • Open to the public via free entrance or via tickets/entrance fee.
  • If your event meets all of the above criteria, refer to the table below for the types of event permits and apply online for a special event permit. 

The City does NOT issue Special Event permits for:

  • Indoor events;
  • Events held on private property;
    • While the Office of Special Events doesn't issue permits for events on private property, those looking to hold an event on private property may need a Certificate of Zoning Compliance. Please contact the city's Zoning Department for more information.
  • Private events such as birthdays, baby showers, memorials, reunions, graduations, etc. You can reserve City lodges, shelters, and parks for these types of private events through R-Central Online.

Types of Special Event Permits

Deadline to Apply
Event Type Description
Festival$2004 months prior to eventA 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, runs, bicycling event, etc.)$1004 months prior to eventNew walks, races, or races with less than 1,000 participants must take place off-street utilizing a park or trail. View suggested routes here. Walks or races with more than 1,000 people may utilize an on-street downtown route that is determined by the City. 
Parade/Motorcade$1004 months prior to eventA 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)
$401 month prior to eventClosure of a residential street for residents who live on that block. Cannot be used for private celebrations such as birthday parties, memorials, graduations, church outreach, etc. Block parties cannot be open to the public and cannot be held Downtown or on arterial streets. Complete the Street Closing Petition form and submit it with a Block Party Application.
Film Shoots$70 For professional filming within the City of Rochester, Contact the Rochester Finger Lakes Film Office.
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, and Demonstrations.

Apply Online for a Special Event Permit

  • The Special Event Permit process for all event types is now online! All supporting documents must be submitted through the application portal. Paper or PDF versions of the Special Events Application will not be accepted. 
    • For Block Parties, please complete a Street Closing Petition form before applying.
    • Due to their popularity, events interested in utilizing Parcel 5 or Dr. MLK Jr. Park should contact Joe Alessi before filling out a permit to ensure your date is available.

Apply Online for Special Event Permit


Food Trucks and Vendors at Events

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

If you are interested in vending at a special event, reach out to that event organizer directly. Most major events have forms on their websites for this purpose. The City does not book food vendors for events.

All types of food/beverage vendors also need requisite permits from the Monroe County Department of Health.


Events Utilizing Parks 

 If a park is within your event's footprint, whether it be for staging, registration, 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 Human Services or by Monroe County's Parks Department. This will ensure that the park is reserved for your use that day and that another event is not scheduled in conflict.

  • City facilities: Parks, trails, and facilities operated by the City of Rochester can be reserved 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. You will need proof of this reservation before you begin the special events application process.
  • Monroe County Parks within the City of Rochester: Highland Park, Genesee Valley Park (east of the Genesee River), Ontario Beach Park, and parts of Durand Beach are maintained by the County and require a County Parks permit. Please contact Monroe County Parks at (585) 753-7281 or visit their website 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 application process.


City Equipment Rentals

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.  


Tents and Structures Requiring Third-Party Inspections

New - Starting in 2024, certain tents and structures at events will require on-site, as-built inspections by a third-party engineer hired by the event before the event can open to the public. Learn more about the inspection requirements.


Meter Bagging Fees for Closed City Streets

Events that take place on closed City streets may be subjected to parking meter bagging fees.


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 read the fire safety guidelines for events before filling out your application. 


Cannabis & Related Products

Events are prohibited from having vendors who display/sample/sell any hemp, cannabis, THC, or CBD products. Note that no smoking of any kind is allowed on City property. For more information, visit the City's cannabis page.



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

Street preaching is a First Amendment-protected right that does not require a permit. 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 Demonstration Guidelines to assist organizers.