How to Legally Throw a Festival

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A festival is a major endeavor involving many people. You must hire entertainers, invite dignitaries, advertise the event to the public and seek vendors. But first you should get the proper permit for the festival from your town or city. If you do not, you will likely face police closing down the event or expensive fines.

Go to your town's administration building or city hall to ask about the permit requirements for public street events. The rules and application procedures vary. Some cities have phone numbers you can call to get full information. You usually have to apply in a reasonable amount of lead time, at least a few months, to receive approval for a festival that hundreds are expected to attend.

Review the festival and public event ordinances thoroughly so you understand what is expected of organizers and attendees.

Apply for a special event permit and pay the applicable fee. Provide detailed information about the proposed event: its theme, site and duration; the sponsoring organization; expected attendance; whether attendees must buy tickets; musical entertainment and the number of vendors expected.

Await approval from the town or city before you proceed with planning activities — at least those that require a monetary or contractual commitment. If the government approves the festival, you will receive a permit that allows you to proceed with your plans and a list of the rules and terms by which you, your vendors and guests must abide. You may be required to provide security, proper restroom facilities and trash cleanup crews; get insurance and manage noise and comply with parking regulations for that day. If you plan to have food vendors, they must have a county license to prepare and sell food.


Inform all parties involved of the terms of the festival permit to ensure that you remain consistent with the local laws regarding the event.


The festival may not receive approval, and the application fee may not be refundable.