Mayor's Office of Special Events

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What permits does the Mayor’s Office of Special Events issue?
The Mayor’s Office of Special Events issues permits for special events at a City of Houston park or on a City street. It is our goal to assist event producers in planning a fun, safe and successful event that contributes to the diverse community that makes up the City of Houston. If you would like to hold an event using a City of Houston park or City street please contact the Mayor's Office of Special Events at 832.393.0868 to coordinate a preliminary discussion about your special event.

 

What does it cost to obtain a special event permit?
The costs of securing a special event permit vary depending on the type of permit requested and requisites determined by the type and scope of the event. To view our application fees and other applicable requisites and fees, please view our SAMPLE REQUISITE SHEET (.pdf) or call 832.393.0868 to discuss cost with an event coordinator.

 

How do I apply for a special event permit?
To apply for a Special Event Permit, please complete a Special Event Application (.pdf). If you have not applied for a special event permit through our office before, please call 832.393.0868 to discuss your event with an event coordinator. We will be able to answer any questions you may have, review potential costs and fees, check availability, and explain in detail the permitting process.

 

Once you are ready to move forward with your event, you may submit an application along with the applicable non-refundable application fees by mail or in person.

 

The Mayor’s Office of Special Events accepts applications between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for City-observed Holidays. The Mayor’s Office of Special Events is located in City Hall, 901 Bagby, 4th Floor, Houston, Texas 77002. Prior to arriving in person, please call ahead at 832.393.0868 to schedule and appointment so we can be sure an event coordinator will be available to assist you in a timely manner.

 

Submission of a Special Event Application does not guarantee event approval; a final permit will not be issued until all approvals have been granted and all applicable requisites have been met as determined by the Mayor’s Office of Special Events. If you have any questions, please call 832.393.0868 to speak with an event coordinator.

 

What are the requirements to hold an event in a City park? 
The requirements to conduct an event in a City of Houston park vary based on the type and scope of the event. Our SAMPLE REQUISITE SHEET (.pdf) provides basic guidelines to event requirements. Our event coordinators are here to help determine the requisites specific to your event and guide you through the process. If you have any questions, please call 832.393.0868 to speak with an event coordinator.

 

To apply for permission to hold a special event in a park or public space, please submit a Special Event Application (.pdf). You may submit the application along with the applicable non-refundable application fees by mail or in person. The Mayor’s Office of Special Events accepts applications between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for City-observed Holidays. The Mayor’s Office of Special Events is located in City Hall, 901 Bagby, 1st Floor, Houston, Texas 77002. Prior to arriving in person, please call ahead at 832.393.0868 to schedule and appointment so we can be sure an event coordinator will be available to assist you in a timely manner.

 

What are the fees for holding a special event in a park?
The fees for holding an event in a City of Houston park vary based on the type and scope of the event. A park user fee and refundable grounds and event user fees deposit will be required but the amounts for each vary depending on the size, scope, the event components and the park requested. In addition to the park user fee and refundable grounds and event user fees deposit your event may warrant additional requisites that incur additional cost to you, the producer.

 

For more information regarding basic guidelines for event requisites, please review our SAMPLE REQUISITE SHEET (.pdf) and call 832.393.0868 to speak with an event coordinator.

 

What parks are available for Special Event Permitting? 
The majority of the City of Houston parks are available for rentals for a special event. However, the scope of the event will determine whether a particular park is appropriate for your event. 

 

 

Please note that a special event permits is designed for special events.  If you are not sure if your activities require a special event permit, please call 832.393.0868 to speak with an event coordinator.

 

If you wish to rent a pavilion for a birthday party please call the Parks Permitting office at 832.394.8805.


For sports field reservation please call the Parks Permitting office at 832.394.8804.

 

If you would like to reserve space within a community center, please contact the community center directly.

 

What are the requirements to hold an event on a City street (i.e., festival, block party, fun run/walk, parade, etc.)?
As with events in City parks, the requirements to conduct an event on a City street vary based on the type and scope of the event.  If you are planning to use any portion of a City street for your event, you will need to apply for either a Parade Permit or a Street Function Permit.  If you have not applied for a special event permit through our office before, please call 832.393.0868 to discuss your event with an event coordinator.  We will be able to answer any questions you may have, review potential costs and fees, check availability, and explain in detail the permitting process. 

 

Once you are ready to move forward with your event, you may submit an application along with the applicable non-refundable application fees by mail or in person. 

 

The Mayor’s Office of Special Events accepts applications between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for City-observed Holidays.  The Mayor’s Office of Special Events is located in City Hall, 901 Bagby, 1st Floor, Houston, Texas 77002.  Prior to arriving in person, please call ahead at 832.393.0868 to schedule and appointment so we can be sure an event coordinator will be available to assist you in a timely manner.

 

Submission of a Special Event Application does not guarantee event approval; a final permit will not be issued until all approvals have been granted and all applicable requisites have been met as determined by the Mayor’s Office of Special Events.  If you have any questions, please call 832.393.0868 to speak with an event coordinator. 

 

The City of Houston Code of Ordinances is also a guide for information regarding a street function or parade.

 

 

What is considered a parade?
A parade is defined as a procession of pedestrians, vehicles, or animals, or any combination thereof, traveling in unison along or upon a street, road, or highway, organized and conducted for the purposes of attracting the attention of the general public and / or expressing or celebrating views or ideas by use of verbal, visual, literary, or auditory means of communication. A parade shall not mean a procession of vehicles operated in compliance with ordinary traffic laws or a procession of pedestrians along or upon public sidewalks or private property.

 

If your parade is less than one mile in length, contains no more than 250 individuals and does not include any portion of a major thoroughfare or collector street your event may be classified as a Neighborhood Parade.  To review the rules and restrictions of a Neighborhood Parade please review the Neighborhood Parade Notification Form (.pdf) and if applicable, submit the completed form to the Mayor's Office of Special Events, no later than ten (10) business days prior to your event. 

 

The Mayor’s Office of Special Events accepts applications between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for City-observed Holidays and is located in City Hall, 901 Bagby, 1st Floor, Houston, Texas 77002.  Prior to arriving in person, please call ahead at 832.393.0868 to schedule and appointment so we can be sure an event coordinator will be available to assist you in a timely manner.

 

For questions regarding parades and to check calendar availability please call 832.393.0868 to speak with an event coordinator. 

 

The City of Houston Code of Ordinances is also a guide for information regarding a street function or parade.

 

 

How do I apply for a parade permit? 
To apply for a Parade Permit, please complete a Special Event Application (.pdf).  If you have not applied for a special event permit through our office before, please call 832.393.0868 to discuss your event with an event coordinator.  We will be able to answer any questions you may have, review potential costs and fees, check availability, and explain in detail the permitting process. 

 

You may submit the application along with the applicable non-refundable application fees by mail or in person.  The Mayor’s Office of Special Events accepts applications between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for City-observed Holidays.  The Mayor’s Office of Special Events is located in City Hall, 901 Bagby, 1st Floor, Houston, Texas 77002.  Prior to arriving in person, please call ahead at 832.393.0868 to schedule and appointment so we can be sure an event coordinator will be available to assist you in a timely manner.

 

Please note that in order to obtain a final parade permit you will need to fulfill applicable requisites.  Parade requisites vary based on the type and scope of the event.  Our event coordinators are here to help determine the requisites specific to your parade and guide you through the process.  If you have any questions, please call 832.393.0868 to speak with an event coordinator.
  
What is a street function?
A street function is defined as using a public street or portion thereof for the purpose of conducting or holding a street dance, block party, fun run or other pedestrian or wheelchair race, bicycle race, festival, or other function requiring the closing of the street or a portion thereof to normal vehicular traffic. 

 

For questions regarding street functions and to check calendar availability please call 832.393.0868 to speak with an event coordinator. 

 

The City of Houston Code of Ordinances is also a guide for information regarding a street function.

 

 

How do I apply for a street function permit? 
To apply for a Street Function Permit, please complete a Special Event Application (.pdf).  If you have not applied for a special event permit through our office before, please call 832.393.0868 to discuss your event with an event coordinator.  We will be able to answer any questions you may have, review potential costs and fees, check availability, and explain in detail the permitting process.

 

You may submit the application along with the applicable non-refundable application fees by mail or in person.  The Mayor’s Office of Special Events accepts applications between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for City-observed Holidays.  The Mayor’s Office of Special Events is located in City Hall, 901 Bagby, 1st Floor, Houston, Texas 77002.  Prior to arriving in person, please call ahead at 832.393.0868 to schedule and appointment so we can be sure an event coordinator will be available to assist you in a timely manner.

 

Please note that in order to obtain a final street function permit you will need to fulfill applicable requisites.  Street function requisites vary based on the type and scope of the event.  Our event coordinators are here to help determine the requisites specific to your parade and guide you through the process.  If you have any questions, please call 832.393.0868 to speak with an event coordinator.

 

What is the difference between a major and minor street function? 
A major street function is defined as any function that will involve the closure of any portion of a major thoroughfare or major collector street, except:

a. A function in the nature of a race or fun run in which the participants follow prescribed routes and is conducted in such a manner that the streets may be closed and opened on a rolling basis as the participants pass; or

b. A function conducted within the Central Business District, including that portion of Allen Parkway between Bagby Street and Shepherd Drive, and Memorial Drive between Bagby Street and Waugh Drive, provided that the function will not cause the closure of any street during the hours of 7:00 a.m. through 6:00 p.m. on any day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or holiday observed by the closure of City offices.

A minor street function means any function that does not require the closure of any portion of a major thoroughfare or collector street.

 

How far in advance do I need to apply for a permit? 
The sooner you submit an application, the better. All permit applications are accepted on a first come, first serve basis. You can apply for a permit no earlier than 365 days prior to the requested date; however, there are specific filing deadlines for permits.

 

    • Special Event – not earlier than 365 consecutive days immediately preceding the date sought
    • Minor Street Function – minimum 40 consecutive days immediately preceding the date sought
    • Minor Street Function with TxDOT right-of-way closures – minimum 90 consecutive days immediately preceding the date sought
    • Minor Street Function with retain right of appeal – minimum 120 consecutive days immediately preceding the date sought
    • Major Street Function – minimum 120 consecutive days immediately preceding the date sought
    • Non-Revenue-Generating and Revenue-Generating Parade – not earlier than 365 consecutive days immediately preceding the date sought
    • Non-Revenue-Generating and Revenue-Generating Parade with TxDOT right-of-way closures – minimum 90 consecutive days immediately preceding the date sought
    • Neighborhood Parade – minimum 10 business days immediately preceding the date sought

 

What permits will I need to load-in and / or load-out for my event? 
If you plan to utilize a curb lane for event loading and / or unloading, a street function permit is required.  To apply for a Street Function Permit, please complete a Special Event Application (.pdf).  You may submit the application along with the applicable non-refundable application fees by mail or in person. 

 

The Mayor’s Office of Special Events accepts applications between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for City-observed Holidays.  The Mayor’s Office of Special Events is located in City Hall, 901 Bagby, 1st Floor, Houston, Texas 77002.  Prior to arriving in person, please call ahead at 832.393.0868 to schedule and appointment so we can be sure an event coordinator will be available to assist you in a timely manner.

 

In addition, if the curb lane includes parking meters, a meter bagging permit is required. For more information and applicable fees, please contact your event coordinator.  

 

Can I apply for my permit online?
Unfortunately, at this time, you cannot apply for a special events permit online.

 

Do I need a sound permit for my event? 
If you plan to use amplified sound during your event, you must obtain a sound permit.  If your event is being permitted through the Mayor's Office of Special Events, we will provide you an authorization form to obtain a sound permit.  Amplified sound is allowed between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., and may not exceed 75 db.'s.  For more information and applicable fees, please contact your event coordinator or visit www.houstontx.gov/ara/regaffairs/commercial/noise.html.

 

For events on private property, with property owner permission, you may secure a permit through the Houston Permitting Center.  For more information, please visit http://www.houstonpermittingcenter.org/.

 

When do I need a health permit? 
A temporary health permit is required if you are distributing (selling or giving away) any food and / or drink items including pre-packaged and sealed goods.  If your event is being permitted through the Mayor's Office of Special Events, we will provide you an authorization form to obtain a temporary health permit.  For more information and applicable fees, please contact your event coordinator.  

For events on private property, with property owner permission, you may secure a permit through the Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) Bureau of Consumer Health Services.  For more information, please visit http://www.houstontx.gov/health/Food/index.html

 

 

Additionally, if you are using propane during your event for cooking or any other purpose, the Houston Fire Department requires a propane use permit. See information regarding propane permits below.

 

Do I need to provide police officers for my event? 
Yes. Certified peace officers must be hired by the event producer for crowd and traffic control, based on the scope of the event and the projected attendance.  If your event requires a street closure, certified peace officers must be located at each street closing for the duration of your event, including load-in and load-out. You will be required to provide a security control plan (.pdf) detailing the deployment of officers for both crowd and traffic control. This document must be approved by the Houston Police Department Special Operations Division. Your event coordinator will have more information.  For more information and applicable fees, please contact your event coordinator.

 

Do I need to provide medical services for my event?
Under most event circumstances, yes, you need to provide medical services for your event.  However the services needed vary based on the type and scope of the event.  For more information and applicable fees, please contact your event coordinator. 

 

Do I need to provide portable toilets? 
Under most event circumstances, yes, you must provide portable toilets for your guests. Our policy states that one (1) portable toilet per 300 people is acceptable, and 10% of all portable toilets must be ADA handicapped accessible.

 

Can I serve alcohol at my event? 
The majority of City of Houston parks are alcohol-free but special permission can be granted to distribute or sell alcohol at some City parks or within a street function.  If permission has been granted to have alcohol at your event, a letter will be provided by the Mayor's Office of Special Events.

 

If you plan to sell or distribute alcohol at your event, you must also obtain applicable permit(s) from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). 

 

If you have any questions, please call 832.393.0868 to speak with an event coordinator.

 

Can I use propane at my events?
Yes, but a propane use permit must be acquired and stand-by fire inspectors will need to be in attendance.  The number of inspectors required is based on the complexity of the event.  Propane use permits are issued by the Houston Fire Department, for more information please call 713.865.7132. 

 

  
Do I need an occupancy permit for my tent?
If the total square footage of any tent is more than 1,200 square feet, then yes, you will need an occupancy permit. Please contact the Houston Fire Department at 713.865.7132 for further information.
  
Can I have fireworks at my event? 
If fireworks are a part of your event, you must secure the necessary permits from the Houston Fire Department.  Please note that there are additional fees and specific deadlines associated with these permits. Please call 713.865.7132 for further information.

 

How do I become a vendor at an event? 
Not all events solicit for vendors. Each event producer selects the vendors for their respective event. If you wish to become a vendor at an event, please contact the producer directly.

 

How do I become a City of Houston vendor?
Please visit the City of Houston Strategic Purchasing Division website for information on becoming a City of Houston vendor.

 


 

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER PRIOR TO PLANNING YOUR EVENT

 

  • Does the event require street closures?
  • How does the event affect our public transportation system with regard to bus, rail, trolley, freeway and airport access? Will alternate routes be available to accommodate the thousands of people who use these systems daily? If so, what are those routes?
  • Are you planning to serve alcohol at the event? How will the use of alcohol affect the tenor, participant safety and enjoyment of the event as well as security and insurance costs? What are your plans to keep others from bringing in alcoholic beverages and to keep patrons from taking alcoholic beverages out of the event site? Keep in mind that some venues do not allow the sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages.
  • What type of music will be featured at the event? How will the noise impact the surrounding neighborhood? What type of audience behaviors and crowd numbers may result from the genre of music booked? Please note that you are required to obtain a sound permit if any amplified sound is to be used at your event, and there are specific times that amplified sound is allowed.
  • Contact the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities if you would like information or suggestions about how to make your event accessible for people with disabilities.
  • Is parking readily available?
  • What other events are planned throughout the city on the chosen date of your event? Will they reduce attendance at your event or inhibit the ability of the City to provide necessary staffing?
  • What other local, state and federal agencies may require additional permitting?