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How to Host a Block Party

Block parties are one of the most delightful ways to connect neighbors, build community, and have fun! Depending on what activities you want, you may need more than one permit.

Planning a Block Party

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 Block Party.

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.

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 if you'd like those items on the public way or street, you can submit a Special Event (PUB) Application and someone will help you determine what other permits are required.

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. Submit a Special Event application here.

Processing these permit applications can take up to three weeks. 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.

It takes about 30 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.

In summer and early fall of 2023, Block Party Kits are back and being hosted at select BCYF locations. You can reserve your kit at Kits are first come, first serve and are to be picked up and dropped off during operational hours of the BCYF the kit lives at.


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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