We offer many unique venues for concerts, races, or parties. Venues include iconic locations like Union Square, Coit Tower, Sigmund Stern Grove, Palace of Fine Arts, Civic Center Plaza, and Japantown Peace Plaza. Other venues have high levels of foot traffic, such as Embarcadero Plaza (a transportation hub which also draws many to the Ferry Building for the Farmers’ Market), the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park, (located between the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences), and Marina Green (a central location for boating, running, and viewing the Golden Gate Bridge). We also offer locations for events in beautiful park settings like the Meadows in Golden Gate Park and Jerry Garcia Amphitheatre in McLaren Park.
For more details on our primary Special Event Facilities, please see our Reservable Facility List.
WHAT IS A SPECIAL EVENT?
Any event doing any of the following is considered a special event:
- Amplified sound (i.e. generator operated speakers)
- Selling food, alcohol or merchandise
- Selling Tickets
- Advertising that it is open to the public
- Requiring special set ups of stages, tents, barricades, fences or other items
- Needing to confirm date/time/location more than 6 months in advance
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
- Step 1: Find your facility
- Step 2: Submit the application
- Step 3: Submit the application fee (Note: The site will not be placed on hold until this is paid)
- Step 4: Contacted regarding availability (Approximately two (2) weeks after application fee is paid)
- Step 5: Application is fully reviewed (an assigned team member will then contact you regarding the event details)
- Step 6: Receive preliminary invoice and addendum
- Step 7: Receive final permit
You must submit an application for the use of any of our parks, plazas, or squares. The Special Event Application must be submitted at least sixty (60) days in advance, and no more than one (1) year in advance of event date. A $62 nonrefundable fee must also be submitted to start the application review process. If you submit an application but do not submit an application fee, your application will not be reviewed. If you have submitted your application and your fee but have not heard back from us in two weeks, please call us at (415) 831-5500, press 5 for Special Events.
For more information about the application process and other approvals that might be required, please see Application Process Information.
Upon receiving your completed application…
You will receive confirmation that we received your application and instructions on how to remit the application fee. Acceptance of your application is not a guarantee of the date, location nor automatic approval of your event.
OTHER REQUIRED APPLICATIONS
Amplified Sound: Any event involving amplified sound must also submit an Amplified Sound Application.
ADA Compliance: Any event with 1000 or more attendees must complete an ADA Public Event checklist.
SPECIAL EVENT FEES
Fees for special events vary based on your activities. We recommend that you complete an application and then we will try to assist you with an estimate of the fees. The following link provides some guidelines.
Other ancillary costs may include:
- Amplified Sound Permit ($74 not-for-profit; $539 for-profit)
- Park Impact Fee $1.22 per runner; $0.61 per walker
- Park Regeneration Fee
- % of Ticketed Gate Sales
- Concession Fee
Other City of San Francisco Departments, local agencies, or property managers may assess additional fees and/or deposits for their services, or require additional permits. Once your application is processed you will receive further details. For information on other agencies, see Other Permits Typically Required.
PUBLICIZING EVENTS USING OUR FACILITIES
Any individual or organization (including any affiliated organization) who publicizes, advertises or accepts registrations for an event or other activity using San Francisco Recreation and Park Department facilities without written confirmation that the facilities will be permitted for the space shall be suspended a minimum of one year from obtaining permits from this Department.
OTHER LOCATIONS IN SAN FRANCISCO
SF Recreation and Parks does not manage the following locations. If you are interested in these locations for your event, please click on the link and you will be directed to that organization’s website.
- Ocean Beach (GGNRA) (the parking lot is managed by Recreation and Parks)
- The Presidio (GGNRA)
- Treasure Island (TI)
- Crissy Field (GGNRA)
If you are interested in using one of our stadiums for your special event, please go to our Stadium Information page. Our stadiums include:
- Kezar Stadium (including the track)
- Kezar Pavilion (the gym)
- Balboa Stadium
ATHLETIC FIELDS, INDOOR FACILITIES, AND PICNIC SITES
Athletic Fields and Indoor Facilities, such as recreation centers, are not appropriate for Special Events (including the Polo Field). Recreation and park facilities serving a specific function, such as baseball diamonds, tennis courts, swimming pools, and areas used primarily as children’s play areas and neighborhood playgrounds, will not be the site of any event that would conflict with what is intended as the primary function of that Recreation and Park facility. These locations are reserved for athletic and sports events.
Events which will draw persons from throughout the City or beyond may be permitted in these areas only if to deny such use would unreasonably burden First Amendment expression, or no other suitable facility is available. Indoor facilities, such as recreation centers, do not have a Dance Hall License therefore they are not available for parties, DJ’s, or dancing events. If you would like more information about booking an athletic field for an athletic event, visit our Athletic Fields page.