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Planning a Special Event

The City of Carlsbad Parks & Recreation Department Special Events Division's primary function is to provide permits for events on city property (eg., city streets, Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Westfield Plaza Camino Real parking lot). Through the process, an organizer must work with the city while planning an event.  Many events take place in the City of Carlsbad each year, from major invitational sporting events to community-based festivals. Typical events include runs, walks, triathlons, festivals, parades, block parties, fireworks and bike tours.

When does an event need a permit?

The City Council has adopted a Special Event ordinance (search for Chapter 8.17 of the Carlsbad Municipal Code here) to define and establish special events.  Events requiring a special event permit from the Parks & Recreation Department include:

    • 50 or more people on public property
    • Any event which does not comply with normal or usual traffic and parking regulations or controls
    • Any event which involves the use of, or has an impact on, other public property or facilities and the provision of city public safety services in response thereto.

Special event application process

The Special Event Application must be submitted at least 90 days and not more than two years in advance of the event.  At least nine to 12 months ahead is a preferred timeline for most events.

Use the Special Event Reference Book to ensure all necessary elements of the event have been addressed.

Once an organizer submits a special event application, the Special Event Coordinator and the Special Events Committee will review the permit application and notify an organizer of the next steps to follow. An application packet is available upon request.


Some events within the city may require a different process:

  • An event contained in a city park or facility may only need a facility use permit. Contact City of Carlsbad Parks and Recreation before pursuing the special event process: 760-434-2826.
  • An event on the beach may only need a permit from California State Parks. Contact California State Parks before pursuing the special event process: 619-688-3385.
  • An event on private property may need a private property special event permit issued by the Community & Economic Development Department: 760-602-2716.

Supporting documentation

In addition to the Special Event Permit, some components of the permit process require additional documentation.  The Special Event Reference Book includes explanations of these requirements.

Contact Information

Parks & Recreation Department
Special Events Permitting Section
760-931-2297 business line
760-434-5088 fax

799 Pine Ave.
Carlsbad, CA 92008
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