Planning Outdoor Events

Thank you for your interest in organizing a quality outdoor special event in the City of Charlotte. Please review this guide carefully. As you begin working with the City and County to facilitate your event, we will expect that you are familiar with the information contained in this guide. 

Table of Contents

Planning Outdoor Center City Events

As the “living room of our City”, the Center City area is the most frequently requested site for public outdoor events. Because of the complexity of organizing events in this highly congested area, early and extensive planning is essential. Please be aware of the following dynamics when requesting to hold an event in the Center City.


Over 60,000 commuters drive into and out of the downtown area each business day. In addition, hundreds of delivery trucks circle our streets daily using temporary loading zones. A street closure associated with your event will divert traffic that may potentially overwhelm our downtown street system. To facilitate the movement of traffic, particularly during the morning and evening rush hours, the City will not approve the closure of certain major thoroughfares.


Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operates the streetcar, light-rail, and hundreds of buses each day through the downtown Transportation Center on East Trade Street. Because of our network of one-way streets, even the smallest street closure may cause a bus to detour several blocks from its customary stop and displace hundreds of transit riders. The light rail system operates across several city streets. The system is used by thousands of people each day and impacts to service are discouraged.

Uptown Residents

Thousands of people live, work, and shop in the Center City. By nature, special events bring noise and traffic congestion that disrupt the daily routines of residents in these neighborhoods. For this reason, the City may not approve special events on consecutive weekends in the same general location.

Major Events

Center City is home to the Charlotte Convention Center, Bank of America Stadium, Spectrum Arena, Truist Field, Levine Cultural Campus, North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center and the NC Music Factory. Each of these facilities frequently attracts hundreds of vehicles, including buses and shuttles, into the downtown area, precluding the City from closing certain streets. An event organizer should check the event schedules at each of these facilities prior to choosing a particular date or street for their event.

Due to these and other factors, the City may not be able to approve your first choice for event dates or location. While the City will assist you in the coordination of your event, the more research you do prior to submitting your application, the better are your chances of having your application approved quickly.

Common Costs for Events

A good knowledge of the charges and fees you will be required to pay in the City of Charlotte is very important to the financial success of your event. This section will provide helpful information on the most common charges and fees that should be incorporated into your event budget. All costs are the sole responsibility of the event organizer.

Public Safety/Security

In many cases, off-duty Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department employees are needed to provide internal event security as well staff any intersection that is closed to traffic. Additionally, off-duty Charlotte Fire Department employees may be required to staff an event to ensure public safety and fire prevention. In some cases, event security can be arranged through a private security provider.

Permits and Licenses

The event organizer is responsible for acquiring all applicable permits and licenses from the city, county and state. Most required permits have a fee-structure. The most frequently required permits and licenses are found in this planning guide.

Trash Removal

The event organizer is responsible for the removal of all trash and recycling materials and complete clean-up of the event site. Events that take place on public property in Center City can contract with the City’s Solid Waste Service Department for these services. All other events must contract with a private waste removal company. Failure to return the site to its original condition may result in fines.

Equipment Rental

The event organizer will be required to rent equipment to support event operations that may include items such as tents, generators, portable lighting, yellow-jackets, temporary fencing, portable restrooms and wash stations, stages and sound amplification equipment, etc.

Traffic Control Devices

If necessary, event organizers are responsible for contracting with a traffic control equipment supplier to implement a traffic control plan designed by the Charlotte Department of Transportation and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department. This would include barricades, temporary signage and traffic cones to detour traffic around your event site.

Crowd Control Devices

The event organizer is responsible for providing fencing, stanchions or any other crowd control devices required for an event. Crowd control devices are subject to the approval of the City’s police, fire and transportation departments and should be clearly labeled on an event site map.

Event Insurance

If the event uses any portion of public property, the event organizer is required to purchase insurance to protect the City from claims of bodily injury and property damage. Types of coverage and limits will be determined by the City’s Department of Insurance and Risk Management, considering such factors as the anticipated attendance, the program of activities, the time of day, and the amount of alcohol that will be present at your event.

General Rules and Regulations

Amplified Sound

Event organizers may be required to obtain permission to use amplified sound. Amplified Sound Permits for the public-right of way or private property, whichever appropriate, can be obtained through CMPD’s Field Services Division. Additional information on the regulation of the use of amplified sound and other noise can be found in the City of Charlotte’s Noise Ordinance (City Code Section 15-61 et seq). An Amplified Sound Permit is not required where a Public Assembly Permit has been issued. 

Animals (Pets)

Special events have the potential to attract a large number of spectators congested in a limited area; therefore, the City prohibits animals at these events. This provision does not apply to animals trained to assist the disabled.

Animal (Exotic)

Charlotte City Code sets restrictions on the performance or exhibition of exotic animals on the streets and sidewalks of Charlotte. For questions about the use of animals for a special event exhibit contact CMPD Animal Care & Control at 704.336.7600.

Banners (Overstreet)

Overstreet banners are prohibited by the City of Charlotte unless they are hung on pre-approved banner locations in the Center City or within a street that has been closed to traffic. Under no circumstances should a banner be hung between trees, light poles or traffic poles. All overstreet banners must be hung at a minimum height of 14’ to allow the passage of emergency vehicles. For additional information regarding an application for a pre-approved banner location, contact Charlotte Center City Partners at 704.332.2227.

Banners (Tryon Street Mall)

Charlotte Center City Partners governs the placement of light pole banners in specific locations along the Tryon Street Mall. Event organizers may file an application for the temporary use of these banner locations. Certain restrictions on the design of banners apply. For more information, contact Charlotte Center City Partners at 704.332.2227.

City Property and Equipment

All property and equipment belonging to the City and located within and around an event site is to be treated by the event organizer and its participants with reasonable and due care. The event organizer assumes complete and absolute liability for any loss and damage to City property and equipment that may result from any misuse or mistreatment of the property or equipment during the event.

Dangerous Weapons Prohibited

The City prohibits any person participating in a Public Assembly or Parade to carry, possess or have within his immediate access a dangerous weapon. With the exception of sworn law enforcement officers, it shall also be unlawful for any person on a street or sidewalk within 300 feet of a Parade to carry, possess or have within his immediate access any dangerous weapon. A dangerous weapon, as defined by City Code Section 15-14, is any object or device that is designed or intended to be used to inflict serious injury upon persons or property.

Indemnification and Hold Harmless

For events using City property, the Event Organizer is required to indemnify and hold the City of Charlotte, its officers, agents, and employees harmless from all damages arising directly or indirectly from planning, organizing and implementing the event. The Event Organizer is required to defend the City of Charlotte, its officers, agents, and employees in any suit related to the event.

Payment of Invoices

Unless approved in advance, all invoices due the City must be paid no later than two weeks from the last day of the event.


Picketing is the public display or demonstration of sentiment for or against a person or cause, including protesting which may include the distribution of leaflets or handbills, the display of signs and any oral communication or speech, which may involve an effort to persuade or influence, including all expressive and symbolic conduct, whether active or passive. Picketing is allowed on public sidewalks and designated parks and plazas as described in the City of Charlotte Picketing Ordinance found in Article X of Chapter 19 of the City Code. The organizer of a picket that the organizer knows, or should reasonably know, will be by a group of 50 or more individuals shall give notice of intent to picket to the CMPD’s Field Services Division at least 48 hours before the beginning of the picket.


Soliciting, Begging and Panhandling, defined as “the use of the spoken, written, or printed word, or other acts as are conducted in the furtherance of the purpose of immediately collecting contributions for the use of oneself or others” is regulated through City Code Section 15-15. Those wishing to engage in these types of behavior should familiarize themselves with the limitations and restrictions outlined in the ordinance.

Street Use (Closings)

The City’s Department of Transportation is the final authority on which City streets can and cannot be closed for special events. Because of their importance to moving traffic, certain city streets will not be closed for events. The City generally places a restriction on the closing of most city streets to accommodate commuters during rush hour. These hours are from 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Event organizers are responsible for developing a traffic control plan in conjunction with the Department of Transportation and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department.

Street Use (Local Access)

Local access to parking decks, residences and businesses is to be maintained at all times during your event unless specifically approved by the City. In such instances where it is impossible to allow local access to a parking deck, residence or business, due to safety of pedestrians within the event, the event organizer will be responsible for providing notification of the restriction of access to the appropriate property owner. In some cases, fees may be required for the restriction of access.

Vending on Public Property

It is unlawful for a vendor to sell merchandise or food on any portion of a public street or sidewalk unless he is an authorized vendor at a Public Assembly approved pursuant to City Code Sec. 19-312 or a vendor participating in the City’s Tryon Street Mall Vending Program. For festivals that occur on the Tryon Street Mall, vendors holding a Tryon Street Mall Vending Permit for locations within the event site may vend only with permission from the event organizer.

Outdoor Events on Private Property

Events that take place on private property locations should have the explicit permission from the property owner to use the property for the event. Event organizers will need to be prepared to show proof of permission to use the property for the event to proceed with securing any City resources needed to support the event.

Certain elements of events on private property are subject to additional permits and requirements as described in the sections of this planning guide.

Events in County Owned Parks

The Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation Department is home to 210 parks and facilities located on more than 17,600 acres of parkland throughout Mecklenburg County. Event organizers wishing to hold events in a Mecklenburg County park must contact the Department of Park and Recreation for park reservation information. Reservations by phone can be made through CharMeck 311.

Public Assemblies and Parades

Public Assemblies

A Public Assembly is an outdoor event that requires a permit from the City of Charlotte mainly because it involves the use of public property and/or the closure of all or portions of one or more public streets. Public Assemblies are governed by Article XI of Chapter 19 of the City Code. As defined by ordinance, Public Assembly means:

(1) A festival or demonstration which is reasonably anticipated to obstruct the normal flow of traffic upon any public street (i.e., requires the closing of all or a portion of one or more public streets) and that is collected together in one place; and

(2) A festival on the Old City Hall lawn, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center plaza, or in, Polk Park, Independence Square Plaza, Arequipa Park or any other City-controlled Park.

A festival is defined as a concert, fair, community event, or similar event that is primarily commercial or recreational in nature.

A demonstration is a public display of sentiment for or against a person or cause, including protesting. Note that protests on City property that do not require the closing of any portion of a public street are considered pickets. Pickets do not require a permit and are regulated under the City’s Picketing Ordinance (Article X of Chapter 19 of the City Code).


Parade means an athletic event, march, ceremony, pageant, procession or other similar activity consisting of persons, animals, vehicles or things, or any combination thereof, that disrupts the normal flow of traffic upon any public street. A funeral procession is not a parade.


The City issues three types of Public Assembly Permits: Festival Permits, Demonstration Permits and Parade Permits.

The City’s Public Assembly and Parade Permit Officials

The City’s Public Assembly and Parade Permit Officials are located within the City’s Department of Transportation (CDOT). The Permit Officials provide information to event organizers and the City’s Special Events Planning Team. The City’s one-stop permitting process allows event organizers to work directly with the City to plan all aspects of their event that relate to the use of public property. Representatives of various City agencies work closely with the Public Assembly and Parade Permit Officials to provide expert knowledge.

Should you have a question not specifically addressed in this guide, please contact Permit Officials.

Permit Officials

For Parades Runs, Walks and other mobile events please contact:
Andrew Burgesser (Special Events Coordinator)

For Festivals please contact:
Joseph Yanicak (Special Events Supervisor)

For general information please contact:
Shane Hepler (Special Events Coordinator)