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Block Party on a Cambridge street shows a scene of children of various ages playing with Play Street items

Apply for a Block Party Permit

Traffic, Parking, and Transportation

It's easy to host block parties in Cambridge! There's no application fee and the City of Cambridge offers $300 awards and free Play Streets kits to support your celebration.

Apply for a Block Party Permit


What is a Block Party?

A block party is a community event hosted on a neighborhood street by a group of neighbors, a non-profit organization, or an association. During a block party, the City closes the block to through traffic. Block parties build community, strengthen connections among neighbors, and showcase creativity to make a healthier (a more fun!) community. 

What is a Play Street?

The Play Streets program allows block party hosts to turn their street into a playground by borrowing a free kit of pop-up play items for their block party. This kit can include equipment for climbing and bouncing, cornhole, giant Jenga, a parachute, jump ropes, basketball hoops, street hockey, tether tennis, stilts, etc.  

If you plan to request a Play Streets kit from the City, check if supplies are available on your preferred date before applying for this permit. To do so, you must fill out this form indicating your preferred dates. The Play Streets team will follow up with you to confirm an available date. They will then reserve that date for up to three weeks to give you time to collect signatures of support from other residents on the block. On the day of your block party, the City’s Play Streets team transports the equipment and sets it up.

Key Information About Hosting a Block Party

Block Party Permits are required to host block parties (and free Play Street events). These permits are free. Here's what you need to know:

  • Collect signatures of support. You must collect signatures of support from 25% of households on the block along the street closure area before applying for your permit. 
  • Make a flyer. You must create a draft flyer to submit with your permit application. 
  • You must apply at least 14 days before event. More time is always better, so you have time to let people know about the party! 
  • To apply, you must live on the street that will be closed for the block party. Or, if you represent a nonprofit or association, you must work on the block. 
  • Better together. Applicants can apply once for a series of block parties (such as the first Monday in July, August, and September) as long as the signatures of support clearly indicate the dates and times. 
  • Handle logistics. You are in charge of distributing a flyer before the block party, setting up provided barrels to close the street, allowing access to abutters and emergency vehicles, and cleaning up after the event. 

Please note: Street closures on bus routes require a Special Event Application instead of a Block Party Permit application. 

Apply for a Block Party Permit


City Support

The City of Cambridge wants to support your neighborhood celebrations! Here's how we can help:

Play Street Pop-Up Party Kits

You can borrow a Play Street kit for free from the City of Cambridge! These kits include activities for kids, teens, and adults: cornhole, giant Jenga, parachutes, hula hoops, jump ropes, basketball hoops, street hockey equipment, tether tennis, and stilts! If you plan to request a Play Street kit from the City, check if supplies are available on your preferred date before applying for this permit. To borrow a Play Streets kit, you must fill out this form indicating your preferred dates.

Learn More

$300 Awards

Apply for funds to support your Block Party. Build connections through culture and creativity: Hire a DJ. Buy chalk and paint. Order pizzas. Host a sing-along. Funding is provided by Cambridge Public Health Department, Cambridge Arts, and the Arts & Cultural Planning Director. Read more about the role of arts in fostering community


How to Host a Block Party

Before Applying for Your Permit

Date(s) and time(s). Decide when you want to hold the block party. Applicants can apply once for a series of block parties on multiple dates.  

Location. Decide where to host the block party: what portion of the street(s) do you want closed to traffic?  

Signatures. Collect signatures of support from a member of at least 25% of the households or organizations on your block. Each person signing the petition must be 18 or older and reside or work on the block being closed.

  • Don’t forget to factor in multifamily buildings! Each unit in an apartment complex counts toward the total number of households on the block.  
  • Collect in-person signatures using our Abutter’s Signature Form or collect online signatures via email or an online form. Your online form should require the same information as the Abutter’s Signature Form.  
  • If you are applying for multiple block party dates at once, make sure your signature collection form clearly shows all dates and times.  

Flyer. Draft a flyer for the event. You will need to submit a copy of this flyer with your application. The flyer should include:

  • Name of the event (i.e. “Main Street Block Party”)
  • Day of the week, date, start time, end time, and rain date (if applicable)
  • Location of the event (i.e. “Main Street between Street A and Street B)
  • Activities that will take place on the street during the event
  • Your contact information, so that anyone with questions can reach you. Please provide a cell phone number. 

Other Permits (if needed). Get other permits if necessary. You may need a One Day Entertainment License if you want to play amplified music. Contact the Cambridge License Commission at 617-349-6140 or license@cambridgema.gov to determine whether you need a One Day License for entertainment.  

Once you’ve gathered these materials, you are ready to apply for your permit. You must apply at least 14 days before the event. 

Application Instructions

Click Here to Apply

At any point during the application process, you can save a draft and return to it later.  

When you apply, we’ll ask for:  

  • Name and contact information of the applicant. If the applicant is a non-profit or organizations, you must provide the organization name and phone number.
  • Location of the block party. You’ll be asked for an individual address, but the permit will allow you to close the entire block. 
  • Contact information for any partners involved in planning/hosting the block party and for the person responsible for clean-up. 
  • Event description
  • Event details: estimated number of participants, street name, cross streets at beginning and end of the closure area, event date, start time, end time, and the rain date. 
  • Copy of your event flyer: you can upload this to the application, email it to streetoccupancyvm@cambridgema.gov or mail/bring a copy in-person to our office at 344 Broadway, Cambridge. 
  • Proof of signatures. If you used the Abutter’s Signature Form, upload a scan. If you used an online form or collected emails, please create a PDF of the results and upload it to your application. You can also email your signatures to streetoccupancyvm@cambridgema.gov or mail/bring a copy in-person to our office at 344 Broadway, Cambridge. 

You will receive multiple emails from our automated permit system. Check your spam or junk folder to make sure you’re not missing important notifications from noreply@opengov.com. 

City staff will review your application and determine whether the permit can be granted. When your permit is approved or denied, you will receive an email from noreply@opengov.com. 

Before the Event

Distribute your flyer. After your application is approved, make copies of your flyer and distribute it to households in the closure area. You are in charge of notifying your neighbors about the event! 

Set up plastic barrels. The day before the event, the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department will drop off plastic orange barrels for you to use to prevent through traffic from entering the block during the event. You are responsible for setting these up (but make sure your neighbors will still have access). 

Event Rules

Anyone can join. Since block parties are held on public property, any member of the public may attend or participate.  

Allow access. You must allow access to emergency vehicles, people who live on the street, commercial vehicle drivers making deliveries, and other people who must enter the street in order to conduct their normal daily activities. All residents must have access to the street and their residences.   

Food, Alcohol, and Vending

  • You cannot sell goods or services. 
  • You cannot sell or serve alcoholic beverages on public property (e.g., sidewalk or street). 
  • Barbecues must be placed on private property.   
  • Food can be brought onto public property (e.g., sidewalk or street) but must be free of charge. 

Clean Up. You, or the person designated in the application, are responsible for cleaning up and properly disposing of any compost, recycling, and trash. 

Page was last modified on 5/2/2024 3:30 PM
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