Citywide Event Permitting

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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. One of the functions of the Parks & Recreation Department is to provide permits for events on city property (e.g., city streets, Agua Hedionda Lagoon). Through the process, an organizer must work with the city while planning an event.

Information on how businesses can apply for a temporary permit during COVID-19 to use an outdoor sidewalk or private parking lot can be found on this city webpage.


The Carlsbad City Council has adopted a special event ordinance (Chapter 8.17 of the Carlsbad Municipal Code) to define and establish special events. Events requiring a special event permit from the Parks & Recreation Department may 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
  • Any event which is not within the scope of a Parks & Facility Use permit, other land use approval or private property permit

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.

Review the special event reference book below, prior to completing the application. It serves as a guide and details the process, the requirements and ensures 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 the City of Carlsbad Parks & Recreation Department before pursuing a special event permit at 442-339-2510.
  • An event on the beach may only need a permit from California State Parks. Contact their San Diego Coast District Special Events office before pursuing a special event permit: or submit an inquiry via their website:
  • An event on private property may need a special event on private property permit (application) issued by the Community Development Department: 442-339-2774. Submit application a minimum of thirty (30) days prior to event to:
  • Learn about the permitting of expressive activities or spontaneous demonstrations.
    • An expressive activity includes conduct, the sole or principal object of which is the expression of opinion, views or ideas.
    • A spontaneous demonstration is an expressive activity occasioned by news or affairs coming into public knowledge seven or less day prior to the activity.