Special Events FAQ's

Special Event Frequently Asked Questions

What types of activities does the City of Cambridge define as "special events" requiring the Special Event Application to be completed?

The type of activity that requires a Special Event Application to be completed is an event that is open to the general public; it can be held on public or private property; it may feature entertainment, amusements, food and beverages; it may be classified as a festival, road race, parade, or walkathon.  A special event of this size and nature does require a number of permits from various City departments before it is officially approved.

How can I get assistance or information about the Special Events Application process?

Please contact Rob Linke at 617-349-9498 / rlinke@cambridgema.gov

What is some of the information that I will be asked to provide if I complete the Special Event Application?

Applicants are asked the following questions in order for our staff to be able to ensure that they are given proper guidance during the planning process: location of event, date/ time, number of attendees expected, age group of participants/audience, type of event (ie road race, parade, walkathon, block party), presence of food or alcohol, live or amplified music, need for electricity, staging, amusements (rides, live animals, raffles), road closures and sidewalk obstructions.

What are some of the different City Departments that might need to be involved if I am scheduling a Special Event?

 In addition to Public Works, several different City departments provide support services and permits for special event, including the Cambridge Police, Traffic & Parking, Inspectional ServicesElectricalFire , Recreation, and the License Commission.


What if I am scheduling a large and/or complicated event that might require me to coordinate with multiple City Departments?

In that case, you may be required to attend the monthly Special Events Committee meeting, where staff from multiple City Departments are available to meet with special event planners.

What if I want to have live entertainment?

Under MGL 140 sec. 183 and Cambridge City Regulations, entertainment requires a One Day Entertainment License from the License Commission.

What if I want to serve alcohol at my event?

Under MGL ch. 183 sec. 14 and Cambridge Regulations, alcohol will require a One Day Alcohol License from the License Commission.  See the Alcohol Rules and Regulations.

What if I want to have a raffle or other casino-style games?

Under MGL ch. 810 Special Acts of 1969, you will need a Raffle/Bazaar License from the License Commission.

What type of process is involved in hosting a parade or festival?

Under MGL ch. 140 sec. 181, a parade, carnival or festival requires a license through the License Commission.

Do I need a permit to do filming on City property?

You must complete a film permit application form. Upon review, you will be informed as to what permits would need to be secured.

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