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Special Events Planning Guide

Welcome to the City of Fort Collins Special Events Planning Guide! This page is designed to provide you with current information about the permits and regulations that may pertain to your special event Click on the checkboxes (on the left) applicable to your event and the relevant information, agencies and documents you will need to apply for a permit will be displayed.

The special event permitting process is designed to insure the production of safe and enjoyable events for participants, spectators and the community. The following requirements apply to all types of events:

  • Approval of your application may be dependent on the size, date, time and location of the event and your ability to ensure public/property safety concerns are addressed.
  • There are applicable fees and/or security deposits required with most applications, and payment is due prior to your Special Event Permit being issued.
  • Application deadlines are designed to allow for proper review of your application. If your application is submitted after the deadline, it may result in denial of the application.
  • Compliance with all Permit Requirements is expected, failure to comply with all requirements of your Special Event Permit may result in denial of future applications.
  • The City of Fort Collins does not provide event planning services. However, City  staff will help provide guidance to ensure proper documentation is completed.

Completion of an application does NOT guarantee your event location and/or issuance of a permit for your event. Once the application is approved and any fees/deposits are collected, you will receive a Special Event Permit for your event via email.

If you have questions, need additional information, or if you are ready to submit a Special Event Permit application, please contact the Special Event Coordinator at 970-416-2303 or email .

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Event Details

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Information, Requirements, and Forms

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Road Closures

All events involving road or lane closures require a Special Event Permit and a Work Area Traffic Control Plan approval. You will be required to provide a traffic route map, traffic control plan application and signatures of residents and/or businesses affected by the closures. It is your responsibility to provide traffic control devices, obtained from a professional traffic control company, at your expense.

For the safety of participants and spectators, all events that utilize city streets may be required to provide fixed traffic control devices, volunteer course marshals/traffic monitors, paid traffic flaggers, or off-duty police officers. Requirements will be determined by the size, scope and impacts of your event.

The Work Area Traffic Control Plan application fee will be waived for neighborhood block parties, however traffic control devices will still be required at your expense.

Public Park or Recreation Trail

A Parks Department Large Event Request form is required for group of 100 or greater, and provides exclusive use of the shelter and/or surrounding area. We also require the Large Event form for groups of any size, if the group is planning to have a jumping castle or other apparatus at their event. The fee range is $100-$550 depending upon the size of the group with an additional $250.00 security deposit which is returned if the park is left clean and undamaged. Payment is required at time of reservation.

Please note: If you are planning to use Civic Center Park/Washington Park or if your event involves serving or selling alcohol, additional security deposits will be required.

A Trail Use Permit is required for running events taking place on the trails. Only four (4) competitive running events are allowed on the trails per year . The fee is $250.00 with an additional $250.00 security deposit which is refunded if the trails are left clean and undamaged; payment is required at time of reservation. Please note: Bike races are NOT permitted on the trails.

Old Town Square

If you are planning on holding any part of your event in Fort Collins’ Old Town Square, you must contact the Downtown Development Authority  before beginning the permit application process.

Contact(s):

  • Downtown Development Authority:
    970-484-2020

Other City Public Space

If you plan to utilize all or a portion of Parking Areas (lots and/or spaces), sidewalks and/or alleys for your event you may require permitting from Parking Services and/or Police Services

Events wishing to use a Natural Area or a facility in a Natural Area must make a reservation and obtain a permit from the Natural Areas Department.

If you would like your event to take place in a City owned property other than a park, natural area or parking lot, you will need to contact Real Estate Services (970) 221-6271, to request a Revocable Use Permit, in addition to completing a Special Event Permit application.

County Public Space

Contact Larimer County for information regarding all events held on County Roads and Open Space, or events held on private land within the County with over 300 participants.

Contact(s):

  • Larimer County, 970-498-7000

Residential Block Party

Residential (Neighborhood) Block Parties build community and foster positive neighbor relationships. Neighborhood Services offers grants to help off-set the costs associated with hosting a Block Party. A Special Event Permit is only required if a road closure is involved, in which case a traffic control plan may be required. Although the permit fee is typically waived, you will be responsible for providing barricades or other traffic control equipment/signs through a private vendor at your expense.

Less than 5,000 Participants

Events ranging in size from 1-5,000 participants may require permitting from various City departments or other agencies, depending on the size, scope and location of your event. As you check boxes in "Location" and "Event Specifics" you'll be directed to information about regulations and permits that may be necessary for your event

You may be required to submit some, or all, of the following documents:

Special Event Permit application
Site Map/Event Layout
Traffic Control Plan
Event Contingency and Emergency Response Plan
A Certificate of Liability Insurance and Indemnification Agreement

More than 5,000 Participants

Events with more than 5,000 participants will require permit s from various City departments or other agencies, depending on the scope and location of your event. As you check boxes in Location and Event Specifics, you'll be directed to information about regulations and the permits necessary for your event.

All events of this size must submit the following documents:
Special Event Permit application
Site Map/Event Layout
Traffic Control Plan
Event Contingency and Emergency Response Plan
A Certificate of Liability Insurance and Indemnification Agreement

Fort Collins Police Services may require officers on-site during your event to protect the safety of people and property. You will be notified of the requirements for police personnel and will be responsible for reimbursing Police Services for the cost of those officers. In addition, Poudre Fire Authority may charge an event of this size for services, including but not limited to, on-site walk through, plan review, on-site incident command, on-site emergency care, and fire prevention.

Alcohol

If alcohol is to be present at the event, you must contact the City of Fort Collins Deputy City Clerk at 970-221-6315 to obtain a permit. Only those events hosted by non-profit organizations or political candidates are eligible for a Liquor Special Event Permit.

Vendors - Food, Beverage or Merchandise

Individual vendors selling or distributing food, beverage or merchandise at your event , are not required to obtain an Outdoor Vendor License if you have been issued a Special Event Permit for your eventEach vendor is required to apply for a Temporary City Sales Tax License, if they do not have a permanent City S ales Tax License. The Temporary Sales Tax License is specific to your event and your vendors must remit sales tax collected to the City within two weeks after completion of the event. A separate Temporary Sales Tax License is required for each event. A vendor may choose to obtain a permanent City Sales & Use Tax License if they are participating in multiple events.

If any food, beverage or any type of merchandise will be sold at your event, the vendor must have a permanent City of Fort Collins Sales Tax License, or obtain a City of Fort Collins Temporary Sales Tax License. Vendors at your event are not required to obtain an Outdoor Vendor License if you have been issued a Special Event Permit for your event.

For sales of food and beverage a vendor may also be required to obtain a Larimer County Health Permit. Vendors are also required to contact the Colorado Department of Revenue and the Larimer County Sales Tax offices to determine what licenses are required by those jurisdictions. Each individual vendor will be required to have their own Sales Tax License. The signed license must be displayed and easily visible on the vendor(s) equipment while at the event. You, as the event sponsor, are responsible for ensuring that the vendors participating in your event comply with these requirements.

All vendors at your event who cook or heat food with any flames or deep frying, must comply with the regulations set forth by the Poudre Fire Authority. These regulations are listed on PFA's website and a copy must be distributed by the Special Event Permit holder to each of the event’s vendors prior to the beginning of the event.

Amplified Sound

If you will have amplified music or announcements as a part of your event, you must comply with the City’s Noise Ordinance as required by City Code: Chapter 20. A Noise Variance must be requested by contacting the Code Compliance Office at 970-224-6046.

During your event, Code Compliance Officers must be allowed access within the event for purposes of monitoring the sound levels. For large events requiring, at the City’s discretion, the need for Code Compliance Officer(s) to monitor the sound levels, there will be a fee to cover the cost.

If your event will be held at Civic Center/Washington Park: We request that amplified sound occur only from 12:00pm to 9:00pm on Friday and Saturday, and from 12:00pm to 8:00pm Sunday through Thursday. Sound levels should be respectful to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Open Burning / Open Flame Cooking

If you are planning to have any bonfires or open burning at your event , you must obtain a permit from the Poudre Fire Authority. You are responsible for following any and all burn bans or fire restrictions at the time of the event. No fire shall be left unattended and should be within a permanently constructed fire pit. Open Burning is not allowed in parks except for fires in grills provided by the City or in portable grills/stoves on tables.

All vendors at your event who cook or heat food with the use of any flames or deep frying, must comply with the regulations set forth by the Poudre Fire Authority. These regulations are listed on PFA's website and a copy must be distributed by the Special Event Permit holder to each of the vendors prior to the beginning of the event.

Fireworks

Fireworks at special events require an event sponsor to contract with a Fireworks Display Operator licensed by the State of Colorado.

The application for a display permit is submitted by the Display Operator to the Poudre Fire Authority for review. At times it may be necessary to staff a display with a fire engine and crew. The cost of this service is borne by the event sponsor.

The Application to Display Permit from PFA does not automatically grant permission to shoot fireworks at your event. Other permits may be required and location of the event will be a determining factor in approving or denying the fireworks shoot at the event.

Contact(s):

  • Michal Jaques, Asst. Fire Marshal, Poudre Fire Authority
  • or 970-416-2863

Tents larger than 400 Square Feet

If you will have a tent or other air supported membrane structure greater than 400 square feet (20’ x 20’) you must obtain a tent permit from Poudre Fire Authority. Any canopy over 800 square feet also requires this permit. Any staking into the ground deeper than 6" will require a call to the Utility Notification Center of Colorado for Utility Locates (811 or 1-800-922-1987).

Bingo or Raffles

If you are a nonprofit organization and plan to use bingo or a raffle for fundraising,  you can get information on licenses and requirements in the bingo and raffle section of the Colorado Secretary of State's Office website (link below.)

Contact(s):

  • Secretary of State, 303-894-2200

Banners or Signs

If you want to have banners or signs at your event, or promoting your event, a banner permit must be obtained from the City Zoning Department (970-416-2745) prior to installation. These permits are free of charge.

Portable signs or those not affixed securely to a structure, motorized vehicle, or into the ground surface, are not allowed. These include a-frame, sandwich board, trailer mounted and leaning signs. Wind-driven signs such as tethered balloons are strictly prohibited. Signs which extend above fascia walls, rooftop signs, revolving/rotating signs, posters and inflatable signage objects are also not permitted.

Showmobile Rentals

The City's Parks Maintenance Division has a portable band shell, commonly referred to as the Showmobile, which is available for rent to groups and organizations. If you would like to use the Showmobile for your event, submit the Showmobile Request Form below to the Parks Department no later than two weeks prior to your event date.

Private Property

Private Party
If your event is solely contained on private property within the City of Fort Collins no permitting should be necessary. However, please check Event Specifics to make sure that, if any permits are required (i.e., alcohol, open flame, vendor sales, etc.,) you have the proper documentation completed. In addition, enforcement of all City ordinances, like Noise Complaint and Public Nuisance, will apply.

If you are hosting a party on private property, we recommend you register your party with Neighborhood Services Party Registration (970) 224-6046.

Streets

Street Closure
A Special Events application and Traffic Control Plan must be completed and the applications approved for any events requiring a Street Closure.

For biking/running/walking events a clear and detailed route map will also be required and must be submitted with the Special Events application for approval.

Insurance

Proof of General Liability insurance coverage is required for most special events occurring on City property. The Risk Management office will review your permit applications and notify you of specific insurance requirements for the event you have planned.

Contact(s):

  • Risk Management: or 970-221-6807

March / Parade

All events involving road or lane closures, including marches or parades, require a Special Event Permit and a Work Area Traffic Control Plan approval. You will be required to provide a parade route map, traffic control plan application and signatures of residents and/or businesses affected by the road closures. It is your responsibility to provide traffic control devices, obtained from a professional traffic control company, at your expense.

For the safety of participants and spectators, all events that utilize city streets may be required to provide fixed traffic control devices, volunteer course marshals/traffic monitors, paid traffic flaggers, or off-duty police officers. Requirements will be determined by the size, scope and impacts of your event.

If your march or parade begins or ends in a park, a permit will be required from the Parks Department. The size, scope and events taking place in the park will determine the type of permit necessary.

Run/Walk/Bike

All events involving road or lane closures, including walks and foot or bike races, require a Special Event Permit and a Work Area Traffic Control Plan approval. You will be required to provide a walk/race route map, traffic control plan application and signatures of residents and/or businesses affected by the road closures. It is your responsibility to provide traffic control devices, obtained from a professional traffic control company, at your expense.

For the safety of participants and spectators, all events that utilize city streets may be required to provide fixed traffic control devices, volunteer course marshals/traffic monitors, paid traffic flaggers, or off-duty police officers. Requirements will be determined by the size, scope and impacts of your event.

If your walk, running event or bike race begins and/or ends in a park, and/or utilizes a City trail, you will be required to obtain permits from the Parks Department. The size, scope and events taking place in the park or on the trail will determine the type of permit necessary. Only non-competitive  walking or running events may take place on the trail system. Bike races are NOT allowed on the trails and only four (4) competitive running events per year are allowed on the trails.

Carnivals/Circus

Carnivals or a circus may require permitting from multiple departments/agencies depending on where the carnival is taking place. Inspections and insurance will be required. You can begin the process by contact the Special Event Coordinator at 970-416-2303 or .

Contact(s):

  • Risk Management: or 970-221-6807
  • Zoning Inspections: 970-416-2745
  • PFA: or 970-416-2874
  • Police Services: or 970-221-6555
  • Traffic Operations: 970-221-6630
  • Code Compliance: 970-224-6046
  • Sale Tax Office: 970-221-6246
  • County: 970-498-7000

Filming

Fort Collins is a beautiful city nestled along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. In addition to the scenic Cache La Poudre River and the mountains, our city boasts a picturesque historic downtown area, all of which make attractive film backdrops. Although you can film or photograph in the parks or along a trail, we request that you not interfere with other's use and enjoyment of the park or trail. Filming of park or trail users is not permitted without their knowledge and consent. Per City code, performing a service for commercial gain at a park or along a trail is not allowed, unless authorized by a permit issued by the Parks Department.

For information about using imagery of City facilities or other parts of the City when filming for commercial purposes, please contact the Communications & Public Involvement Office at http://www.fcgov.com/communications.