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How to Apply to Host an (Outdoor) Special Event in Boston

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You may need permits from several departments to host an event in Boston. Please note permits may incur a fee. You start the process online, and then meet with us.


Before you get started

Anyone hosting an outdoor event on public property or private property needs to submit a Special Event (PUB) application. Whether the event is free or ticketed, open to the public, or invitation-only, it doesn’t matter — you still have to apply. Special events include road races, block parties, festivals, and parades. Some events may include entertainment, games, food, and beverages.

To hold a special event, you may need to get permitted through several departments in the City. Give yourself plenty of time to apply. You must apply at least 30 days before a big event, or 20 days before a smaller one.

Please note:
  • If this is the first time you are holding the event, you may be required to submit letters of support from the community, especially for large events such as road races and parades. You may reach out to the Office of Neighborhood Services for assistance from your neighborhood liaison and follow their guidance.
  • Anyone approved to hold a special event must follow the City’s rules and regulations. Learn about the rules for hosting a special event.

Obtain permission to use the event space

Before you can submit a Special Event (PUB) application, you should obtain permission from the property owner of the space where you would like to hold your event. 

  • If you're hosting a block party or event on the street, you must complete a street closing permit application. If your event will have any equipment on the street or sidewalk such as tables/chairs, tents, games, stages, generators, grills, and other items, you will also need to apply for a Street Occupancy permit here.
  • If your event will be held on City Hall plaza, please obtain permission from Property Management here.
  • If you are having a parade, procession, march, rally, or an event that requires the temporary use of the street, you must complete a public way event permit application.
  • If you are having an event in a public park, you must reserve a park and apply for a parks permit with the Parks Department.
  • If your event is on private property, you must obtain a letter of permission or rental agreement from the property owner or manager granting you permission to use the space for the specific event date and time.

Apply to host a special event online

Please submit a Special Event (PUB) application. If this is your first event with the City, you will need to set up an online account. Remember to write down your username and password.

Special event application

After you apply online, you will receive an email from the Special Events team on how to move forward with your event. We will either set up a meeting with the special event committee, or you’ll have to meet with individual departments at the City. We’ll also let you know about any other permits or services you might need.


Get your information together

You need to get some additional information about your event for the Special Event team review. At a minimum, you need to produce a detailed site plan that clearly indicates all components of your event.

The site plan should consist of:

  • handicap, pedestrian, and fire access points (i.e. egresses)
  • the total quantity and sizes of stages (include height) you plan to use
  • the total quantity and size of tents you plan to use
  • location of barriers (if any)
  • the type of equipment and generator you will use, and
  • the location of outdoor vendors and toilets.

If your event is on the public street, please include a 20 feet wide lane unobstructed for emergency access. Please note 10 feet on either side of hydrants should remain clear of any equipment or objects.


Go to your meeting

You will meet with the Special Events Committee at a pre-arranged time through a virtual conference. At the meeting, you will present the details of the event and the Committee will advise which additional permits are required in order to receive final approval from the City of Boston.

At your special event committee meeting, you will be given a checklist of permits and documents you need to get for your event. You may refer to this guide for a list of common Special Event permits, departments, and contacts involved in the Special Event process:

Special Event Permit Reference Sheet

Please note: Not all events will require a Special Events Committee meeting. If a meeting is not required, the Special Event Manager will send the you a copy of the Special Event (PUB) Application and checklist of permits that you will be required to obtain to complete the process.


Apply for permits and submit your application

After the special event committee meeting or after receipt of the Special Event Application and permit checklist, you will apply for and gather all the permits listed on the checklist as soon as possible.  Permits and approvals are obtained from various City departments. Please note some City permits may take some time to acquire and a fee may be applied for each permit. 


Obtain the final approval

The Mayor's Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing (MOCAL) issues the final permit for your event. To receive the final permit, you will be required to submit the Special Event Application (signed by the Police Captain) and all the permits from the PUB checklist to at least five (5) days before the event:

Mayor's Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing

1 City Hall Square, Room 809

Boston, MA 02201

Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

You can also email us at: 

Note: The "one-time entertainment license" is typically the last permit issued for the Special Event process. If there is no entertainment at your event, MOCAL will still need to view all the permits obtained to issue final approval for your event.

If you have any questions regarding the special events process, please email or call 617-635-2673.

Keep in Mind

  • View this presentation to understand the Special Event Process.
  • Please note: There is no "Special Event" permit, only an application. The Special Events Committee is meant to help guide you through the permitting process. MOCAL issues the final permit/approval for a Special Events application. 
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