How do I know if I need a Chicago park District Special Event Permit for my event?

Any event on park property is subject to the approval of the Chicago Park District. Certain activities that require a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit include the following:

  • Events with 50 or more participants
  • Use of amplified sound
  • Any advertising or sponsorship activities
  • Selling and/or distributing food, goods or merchandise (this includes exercise classes or boot camps)
  • Liquor
  • Tents
  • Inflatables
  • Stages
  • Specific location reservations

Please consider that there are other activities or proposed event features that may require you to secure a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit. Contact the Chicago Park District Department of Park Services at (312) 742-5369 to discuss availability and options.

back to top
What if groups or individuals are using the park space that I am permitted for when I arrive on my event date?

Make sure that you have your Chicago Park District Special Event Permit on hand. This permit shows that you have permission to use the space for the stated time and date. If you have any problems, please contact Chicago Park District Security at (312) 747-2193.

back to top
What are the Chicago Park District’s insurance requirements and how can I obtain the necessary insurance?

Applicants must submit two documents to satisfy insurance requirements. A (1) Certificate of General Liability Insurance in the amount of $1,000,000 naming the Chicago Park District as “additional insured” and the certificate holder for the date(s) of your event including set up and tear down dates. Applicants must also submit an (2) Endorsement document, issued by the insurance carrier. The Endorsement document is issued under the applicant’s General Liability policy of insurance, including coverage for property damage while park property is occupied by the permittee, for the event that reflects that the Chicago Park District is an additional insured for the event.
Your permit will not be issued if both the Certificate of Insurance and Endorsement document have not been received and approved 48 hours prior to an event.

back to top
Is alcohol allowed at my event if I get a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit?

No alcohol beverages shall be sold, brought within, given away, delivered or consumed on park property, except pursuant to Picnic level 4, Athletic level 4 or higher, Corporate, Festival/Performance Special Event Permits, or with the Special Event Venue Rentals (with a preferred caterer). Additionally, the City of Chicago requires a special event liquor license for any alcoholic beverage service. For more information, please call the Mayor’s Office of Special Events at (312) 744-3315.

back to top
Can I reserve Athletic areas, such as softball fields, with a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit?

Athletic areas such as artificial turf fields, softball and baseball fields, soccer fields and tennis courts can only be reserved with a separate Athletic Field Permit. For more information please contact the park where you are interested in reserving an athletic area.

back to top
Are restroom facilities are available for my event? Am I required to obtain portable toilets for my event?

Public restrooms in the parks are open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Picnic levels 3 and 4 and all Athletic, Corporate and Festival/Performance Chicago Park District Special Event Permits must provide portable toilets for their participants. Location of portable toilets is subject to Chicago Park District approval.

back to top
Once I’ve obtained a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit, how can I get equipment to my site?

Parking or driving vehicles on grass or Athletic fields is strictly prohibited. If staff and supply vehicles need to be driven to the site to unload equipment or supplies, the Chicago Park District may consider granting a Chicago Park District Vehicle Pass so that the vehicles may legally access service roads, subject to Chicago Park District approval.

back to top
Can I reserve parking spaces for my event?

Parking provisions are not included in the issuance of any Chicago Park District Special Event Permit. However, public parking is available at parking lots and designated street parking throughout the parks. For more information on parking lots, please contact the Department of Park Services at (312) 742-5369.

back to top
Can I have music, a DJ or a live music performance at my event?

Picnic level 3 or higher, Athletic level 1 or higher, all Corporate levels and the Festival/Performance permits allow amplified sound. Amplified sound can be added to Picnic levels 1 and 2 for an additional fee of $150. All requests for amplified sound must be approved by the Chicago Park District. Amplified sound must be directed away from residences and must comply with section 11-4-2800 through 11-4-2920 of the Chicago Municipal Code. The proposed location of the sound system, direction of sound and location of all speakers must be identified on your Site map.

back to top
Does the Chicago Park District provide tables, chairs, benches, tents, sound systems or any other equipment with a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit?

The Chicago Park District does not supply such equipment. Chicago Park District Special Event Permit applicants are responsible for securing any and all event-related supplies or equipment.

back to top
May I grill in the parks?

Grilling must be confined to enclosed metal containers and may only take place within dedicated grilling areas. Hot coals must be doused with water, and ashes and coals must be properly disposed of in red used-coal receptacles. For more information, please contact the applicable region office:
North Region: 773.262.8658
Central Region: 312.746.5962
South Region: 312.747.7661

back to top
I want to have tents and/or canopies at my event. Is that allowed?

With the exception of Commemorative Level 1 events, all other Chicago Park District Special Event Permits allow tents and canopies. Please refer to the Fee Schedule on page 10 of the Chicago Park District Special Event Permit Application for additional information regarding tent sizes within each special event permit level. Any tent or canopy larger than 400 square feet requires an approved building permit from the City of Chicago Department of Building (DOB). For more information, please contact DOB at (312) 744-3449 or the Mayor’s Office of Special Events at (312) 744-3315. Placement of all tents and canopies is subject to Chicago Park District approval.

back to top
Do I need to clean up after my event, or will the Chicago Park District provide maintenance and clean up services?

The Chicago Park District is able to provide maintenance services for lakefront parks only. These services include: providing extra garbage cans, garbage can liners, recycling receptacles and used charcoal receptacles; picking up litter left by event participants; and the collection and removal of all refuse from the site. To order these services, the applicant must complete a Lakefront Maintenance Services Application and submit payment prior to the event date. Securing an agreement for services is required for Picnic levels 3 and 4, and Athletic level 2 or higher and Corporate level Chicago Park District Special Event Permits. At the discretion of the Chicago Park District an outside maintenance vendor and maintenance plan may be required. Outside maintenance vendors and plans must meet the approval of the Chicago Park District. All agreements for Chicago Park District Maintenance Services must be arranged at least 60 days prior to your event and payments must be submitted before the day of the event. For more information, please contact the Department of Park Services at (312) 742-5369.

back to top
What if I need to cancel my event?

All cancellations must be made in writing to the Department of Park Services. Permit cancellations must be received no later than 90 days prior to the event for a full refund; however, the Chicago Park District will retain 15% of the rental fee. All application fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.

back to top
When will my security deposit be refunded?

Upon the conclusion of your event, Chicago Park District personnel will review the event. If it is determined that there has been no damage to Chicago Park District property r equipment beyond reasonable wear and tear, the security deposit shall be refunded in full within thirty (30) days of the conclusion of the permitted event.

back to top
If it rains or snows or there are other inclement weather conditions on the day of my event, can I be refunded for the event?

The Chicago Park District reserves the right to cancel or relocate an event due to poor weather and/or turf conditions prior to or on the day of the event that may cause excessive damage to Chicago Park District property. Chicago Park District Special Event Permits are non-transferable. No rain dates will be issued. Refunds will not be granted for inclement weather.

back to top
If my event has less than 50 participants and includes an exercise class/boot camp/running group component of Chicago Park District property, do I need a permit?

Regardless of the number of people participating, a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit is required, please reference the 2012 Chicago Park District Special Event Permit Application for more information, or call the Department of Park Services at (312) 742-5369.

back to top