Special Event FAQ

Answers to common questions:

What is a special event?

A special event includes any activity that occurs on private or public property and affects the ordinary use of public parks, streets, rights-of-ways, and/or sidewalks. For practical purposes, this includes, but is not limited to parades, fun runs, cycling, art fairs, and festivals.

Why do I need to apply for a permit for my event?

To assure that an activity meets legal requirements of the use of public right-of-ways. To enable the City to ensure adequate services such as public safety, traffic control and sanitation are scheduled. To alert the City to any unusual event which should be known to the providers of emergency services.

How do I obtain a permit for my event?

The permit application process officially begins when you submit an Event Interest Form. Event Interest Forms are accepted up to one year in advance as event dates are limited and reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the date and venue are confirmed, you will receive notification regarding the next steps.

How much will a permit cost overall?

This depends on the scope of the event. All events are required to pay a non-refundable application fee and a permit fee. Additional fees required to provide services necessary for public health, safety and welfare may be identified through the review process. For example, additional fees may be required to provide traffic control and sanitation. Refer to the Special Event Guide(PDF, 1004KB)  for a list of common event related fees.

When do I pay the fees?

The Application Fee is due at the time of application. All other fees must be paid before the permit will be issued.

Do I need insurance?

Yes, all events must provide proof of commercial general liability insurance for the duration of the event along with an endorsement naming the City as an additional insured on the policy. 

What else should I consider when I apply for a permit?

Depending on the scope of your proposal, you may be required to make arrangements for notification to affected businesses and residences, sanitation facilities, traffic control equipment, electrical inspections, King County health department inspections, first aid stations, etc. City staff will assist you in identifying these needs. However, the applicant has sole responsibility for obtaining required permits and complying with the City's Special Events Ordinance. Refer to the Special Event Guide(PDF, 1004KB) for a general overview of City regulations and requirements.

What is free speech activity?

This protected class of activities includes conduct for the sole purpose of communicating political or religious ideas. No fee or donation may be charged or required to participate or attend. Free speech activity does not include fairs, festivals, concerts, performances, parades, athletic events, fundraising events, events for entertainment, etc.

Do I need a permit for free speech activities?

Activities which are publicly attended and held in whole or in part upon publicly owned property or public rights-of-way, or if held wholly upon private property, will nevertheless affect or impact the ordinary and normal use by the general public of public property or public rights-of-way within the vicinity of such activity requires a permit. 

For impromptu free speech activities (i.e. candlelight vigil in response to a specific incident or developing situation) intended to be held on public property on an evening or weekend and for which advance coordination with the City for permitting is not feasible, you must notify the City by contacting the Kirkland Police Department non-emergency number at 425-577-5656.

What are the reasons for denying event permits?

Permits for events protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments are subject to reasonable exercise of public control or limitation in the interest of public health, safety, morality and welfare.

For all other permits, applications will be denied if the proposed activity disrupts traffic beyond practical solution; interferes with access to fire stations and fire hydrants; causes undue hardship to surrounding residences or businesses; requires the diversion of so many public employees that service is denied the public at large; endangers the public health, safety or welfare; the applicant fails to provide complete and accurate information or comply with the terms of the permit; is unlawful, or fails to comply with applicable legal requirements.

What can I do if I feel my permit has been unfairly denied?

You may appeal in writing (including email) within 7 business days of notification of denial.