Large Events at NYC Parks
Large-scale events, for the purpose of these guidelines, are deemed to be any event with more than 500 guests. NYC Parks approval of these events (and indeed any event) is not determined solely on space availability, but on a number of other factors including but not limited to whether a park space may accommodate the event’s proposed activity and whether the event would unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of the park by other users.
Events of 500 to 4,999
Many parks spaces can accommodate large-scale events under 5,000 people; the smaller the event, the more spaces available.
Events of 5,000 or More
There are only a handful of parks spaces appropriate for a major event of 5,000 or more. For events of this size, potential locations include: Central Park or Randall's Island in Manhattan, Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, or Midland Beach in Staten Island. Specific rules govern use of the Great Lawn at Central Park, and those can be found on our Rules and Regulations page in Section 2-08. Please see subsection (t) for more information. The Great Lawn's rules govern the period during which events can occur, as well as the frequency.
Impact of Large Events
Consistent with our rules and regulations, we take into consideration the impact of the term of any event to ensure the least impact to the public's use, including its load in/event/load out when determining whether the event would unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of the park by other users. Indeed, we will work closely with approved events at any location to seek the minimum possible number of days impacted by event activity.
Timing Your Application
Applications for events, small or large, can be submitted beginning the first Monday in November in the calendar year immediately preceding the calendar year of the proposed event. (For instance, if you seek to organize a large-scale event in March 2021, the earliest you may apply is Monday, November 2, 2020.) Recurring events receive preference and NYC Parks may schedule them prior to December 1; new applications are processed after December 1. Any applications received following December 1 are processed on a first-come-first-served basis.
While we require a minimum of 21 days for application of a special event permit (a different standard applies to requests for demonstration permits) and a minimum of 60 days if you are applying for the Central Park Great Lawn, it is our recommendation that large event proposals be submitted much farther in advance of these minimums. Larger events often require coordination from a variety of other city agencies beyond NYC Parks (including the New York City Police Department) which will need to be involved in the details of your event operations. These agencies will also have their own permits that the applicant will be responsible to secure which may have application periods that vary. For more information on all ancillary permits applicable to events in NYC, please see the Mayor's Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management page.
For applicable events we follow our Concession Fee Schedule, found in Section 2-10 of our rules and regulations. In general, fees paid to NYC Parks go to the City General Fund, but in certain cases, all or a portion will go to the conservancy associated with the park if there is a contractual arrangement that authorizes such an arrangement.
The concession schedule varies by event location, size, type, and duration, and specifies separate fees for amplified sound, stages, backdrops, inflatables, display vehicles, and other features.
In the case of concerts that expect 8,000 or more people, we review a number of factors in determining final permitting cost above and beyond the fee described in the Fee Schedule. These factors include, but aren’t limited to, type and extent of city resources affiliated with supporting the proposed event (e.g., NYPD officer hours), the length of time being requested, the overall number of persons expected, whether there will be an admission charge imposed or the event will be completely free to the public, the location within the park being requested and how this impacts surrounding public amenities, and the park being requested.
Free ticketing is not required, but when making decisions about the use of public land for events, we take the issue of fair and open access into account. With any large event, it is the agency’s preference that a significant number of tickets are made available to the public free of charge. While this figure may vary, there are certain sites, including the Great Lawn, where we seek to make at least 80 percent of tickets free.
In order to limit unreasonable interference with the enjoyment of the park by other users, NYC Parks restricts festivals (events involving stages, amplified sound, and vendors) to one day only at almost every site. Because of its size and patterns of use, the one location where we regularly offer the ability to host a multi-day festival is Randall's Island.
Neither NYC Parks, nor the City of New York will be responsible for providing any services or infrastructure related to a large-scale event. All infrastructure and necessary services are the responsibility of the applicant. Applicants are also required to provide the City with all the proper insurance requirements mandated by the City and State of New York and detailed plans for review must be submitted to NYC Parks within set deadlines for approval.