Special Event Permits

City ordinances require any private event that requires closing City streets or sidewalks to obtain a Special Event Permit from the Durham Police Department. Some complex events in City parks and rental facilities also require Special Events Permits. If you are planning an event that will require a permit, here’s how to navigate the process.

  1. Review the City's special event calendar below to determine if/how many events are currently permitted for your desired date.
  2. Read the City's Special Event Guidelines (linked below) for detailed information on City procedures and guidelines concerning special events.
  3. Submit your permit application. Once you have determined and gathered any supplemental information/permits/forms, use the link below to complete and submit your permit application. Remember to review the application deadlines below.

Please use the Citywide event calendar below to see all upcoming City events, including information about pending and approved permits, event locations, and event details. Anyone desiring to offer feedback about any event may do so in writing, by emailing the special events permit coordinator, or by arranging to attend a Special Event Review Team meeting (please also email the special events permit coordinator to arrange attendance).

Citywide Special Events Calendar

Review the Special Event Guidelines

The Special Events Guidelines (PDF) explain the City’s requirements for event planners. They also provide helpful information about obtaining City services and notifying affected residents and businesses. Review the guidelines carefully before submitting a permit application.

Apply for a Special Event Permit

The City offers two options for obtaining a special event permit:

  • If you answer “yes” for any of the criteria in the table below, you must submit a Standard Permit Application.The deadline to submit this application is 60 days before the planned event.
  • If your event does not meet any of these criteria, you can instead submit a Simplified Special Event Permit. The deadline to submit this application is 15 days before the planned event.

*Please check your application for completeness before submitting - draft or incomplete forms cannot be saved!

Your event involves:

Event is located in DPR facility or park

Event is located on City

streets or sidewalks

More than 500 attendees or more than 100 pre-registered participants expected (road races, bike rallies, etc.)

Yes

Yes

Use of City services (ex: police security, trash disposal, tent inspections, etc.)

Yes

Yes

Sale or serving of alcohol

Yes

Yes

Sale of food  from one or two food trucks registered with the City of Durham

Yes

Yes, but can use Simplified Special Event Permit Application

Other sale of food (including three or more food trucks, regardless of registration)

Yes

Yes

Street closures in downtown Durham

Yes

Yes

Inflatables

No

Yes

Professional sound equipment used for amplification (ex: a hired DJ or anything larger than a home stereo)

No

Yes

None of the above

No

Yes, but can use Simplified Special Event Permit Application

Note: If your event will be located in a facility managed by Durham Parks and Recreation (DPR) - for example, in a city park, trail, plaza, or rental facility - you must also obtain a DPR use permit directly from DPR. Visit the website for information.

Meet Other Requirements and Deadlines


Here’s a brief overview of the deadlines you are expected to meet. Review the Special Events Guidelines (PDF) for details about other requirements that apply to your event.



Standard Application

Simplified Application

60 Days Before Event

Standard Special Event Permit Application submitted


50 Days Before Event

Written notification plan submitted


30 Days Before Event

Application is final

Notification of affected residents & businesses complete

Requests for City services submitted

All other forms submitted


21 Days Before Event

Event cancellation deadline


15 Days Before Event


Simplified Special Event Permit Application and all other forms submitted (application is final)

Notification of affected residents & businesses complete

Requests for City services submitted

10 Days Before Event

Permit application withdrawn if all paperwork has not been received

3 Days Before Event

Last day to cancel Police security without fees

Day(s) of Event

Event set up and tear down occur within approved timeframe


Other Related Documents and Applications

Special Event Trash and Recycling Cart Request Form (PDF)

Special Event Review Team

Large-scale or complex events may require additional review by the City’s Special Event Review Team (SERT). Events typically subject to SERT approval include:

  • Events with more than 100 pre-registered participants expected (such as road races, bike rallies, etc.)
  • Events new to Durham with more than 500 expected attendees
  • Any event with 2,000 or more expected attendees
  • Events involving street closings in downtown Durham or on major arterial streets
  • Multi-day events
  • Events requiring tickets or admission fees
  • New events planned by non-County of Durham residents or businesses

If your event will require SERT approval, the special event permit coordinator will notify you and place your application for review on the next available SERT meeting agenda.