Special Event Permits

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

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. Before you begin to plan your event, please contact the Office of Special Events to understand what permits and paperwork are needed.   

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 such as streets, parks, parcels, or lots;
  • Disrupts the regular flow of pedestrian or vehicular activity in the area the event is being held;
  • Open to the public via free entrance or via tickets/entrance fee.

The City does NOT issue Special Event permits for:

  • Indoor events,
  • Events held on private property,
  • Private events such as birthdays, baby showers, memorials, graduations, etc. You can reserve City lodges, R-Centers, and shelters for these types of private events through R-Central Online.

Types of Special Event Permits

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, runs, bicycling event, etc.) $100 4 months prior to event New walks or 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 $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 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  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.
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.

New - 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.

Block Parties - complete a Street Closing Petition form before applying.

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 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: Parks, trails, and facilities operated by the City of Rochester are able to 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 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 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. 

Security Deposit Policy

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

Food Trucks

A special event may have food truck vending within its footprint as long as the food truck 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

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.

Drones

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.

Demonstrations

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. 

Questions?

For questions regarding film permits, or events on Parcel 5, Brown Square Park, or MLK Park, contact Joe Alessi.

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

All NEW, first-time events, and all other questions, contact Kara Osipovitch.