Special Events

What is a Special Event?

An event is considered a special event if it includes any of the following:

  • Advertising that it is open to the public
  • Amplified sound (i.e. generator operated speakers)
  • Needing to confirm date/time/location more than 6 months in advance
  • Requiring special set ups of stages, tents, barricades, fences or other items
  • Selling food, alcohol or merchandise
  • Selling Tickets


We offer many unique venues for concerts, races, or parties. Venues include iconic locations like Union Square Plaza, 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 the Jerry Garcia Amphitheatre in John McLaren Park.

Special Event Sites

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 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 days in advance, and no more than one year in advance of event date. A $76 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 view Application Process Information page

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

The following applications must also be submitted to the Department:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance: Any event with 1,000 or more attendees must complete an ADA Public Event checklist.
  • Amplified Sound: Any event involving amplified sound must also submit an Amplified Sound Application. Limitations on days and hours of amplified sound vary based on the venue.
  • In addition, there are other requirements that you should review and consider in planning your event: Other Required Provisions.

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. 

Other ancillary costs may include:

  • Amplified Sound Permit ($92 not-for-profit; $660 for-profit)
  • Concession Fee
  • Park Impact Fee $1.59 per runner; $0.79 per walker
  • Park Regeneration Fee
  • Percentage of Ticketed Gate Sales
  • Staffing

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, view Other Required Provisions.


Permittee will forfeit 25% of facility fees for any cancellation once the invoice is issued and all facility fees for any cancellation within 30 days of the start of set up.

Frequency of Using Our Facilities

In order to ensure access to use by a variety of users and to prevent the parks from getting over-programmed, it is generally our policy to limit event permits for individuals and groups to one event per quarter per park. The only exception is that each park has a dedicated community organization that helps to bring a variety of activations.

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.