Annually, Austin parks serve as the home for many events, festivals, and concerts. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) Office of Special Events (OSE) is available to provide an overview and understanding of the City’s requirements of logistical and behind-the-scenes planning to help ensure your event is safe, high quality, well-organized, and enjoyable for all of your guests.
Large scale event planning requires careful and deliberate consideration of many details including park protection, scheduling, safety and security planning, insurance coverage, road closures, special needs access, temporary permits, transportation and shuttle services, waste management and environmental measures, and much more.
Many annual events in Austin Parks receive standing reservations. Special events require 6 months to 1 year advance planning and require extensive development by the promoter/organizer to ensure safe and sufficient plans are developed to sustain the event.
It is strongly encouraged to determine if there is capacity/availability and PARD approval to add an event to the schedule before beginning the special event permitting process. For new events, these conversations should take place 10 months to a year in advance of the requested event month or season.
Does filming require an ACE application?
No. Filming in the park system requires a film permit. View the requirements and application.
Do all park events require ACE Permits?
No. Events restricted to the boundaries of a given park and planning to provide only food do not require ACE Permits.
Private events such as a common picnic site and event facility rentals typically do NOT require ACE permits. If the event is open to the public, includes alcohol sales, structures, impacts right of way or similar issues, an ACE application should be submitted.
Do I just put a proposed park in my ACE application?
No, research into the proposed park space and date must be done prior to submitting an ACE application. Many parks spaces large enough to host a special event are already utilized as an event space for reoccurring annual events.
How do I find and confirm a park for my event?
Prior to applying, please consult with an Event Coordinator in the Office of Special Events to speak about an event proposal and discuss possible locations and dates.
Is there a waitlist of parks?
No. There is no waitlist for new events. If a park space becomes available, the decision to accept a new event will be made solely by ACE-PARD.
What are the capacities for park spaces?
When should I start planning a park event?
Organizers are encouraged to start a year in advance of the event to allow time for planning, development, and submission of completed documents to City Departments.
What are the requirements for hosting an event in a park?
You may find information on hosting an event in a park on the Parks and Recreation Department’s Office of Special Events website. Please refer to this sample checklist (pdf) for typical event requirements.
It is the organizer’s responsibility to monitor weather conditions and have plans in place for the safety of attendees and prevention of damage at the park.
How do I book Auditorium Shores, Zilker Park, or Festival Beach/Fiesta Gardens?
Auditorium Shores, Zilker Park, and Festival Beach/Fiesta Gardens are limited in the amount of event days per year. Currently all available dates are utilized by long standing annual events.
If event days become available, the Parks and Recreation Department will determine the process for utilizing vacancies.
Butler Park as well as the dog park at Auditorium Shores do not host special events and must be kept available to public use.
Can I host an event at Barton Springs or other City of Austin Pools?
Pools are not designated as special event locations and will not be approved as event spaces.
Select pools may be rented through the Aquatics Office for birthdays or similar functions after normal pool hours.
Can I host an event on Lady Bird Lake or other bodies of water?
The waterway is utilized for existing annual events that have a day approved at a park space designated for event use. Lake Walter E. Long may have availability dependent upon the current event schedule.
What is the latest I can have amplified sound in a park?
By law, amplified sound is not permitted in City of Austin parks before 10 a.m. or after 10 p.m. Park curfew is between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Can you smoke at park events?
No - all parks are smoke free by City Ordinance.
Can I have food trucks in the park?
Food trucks who have been permitted by City Departments may vend at parks to event attendees. However, natural park features often limit the possibilities. Most downtown parks do not have physical space, or include topographical features (slope, trees, etc.), that do not permit food trucks in the park.
In limited circumstances the Parks and Recreation Department may permit vendors to access turf areas using approved ground protection devices.
Are fireworks allowed in parks?
Fireworks are allowed as part of public New Year's and 4th of July events, and with Parks and Recreation Department approval at public events for significant milestone purposes.
Private fireworks displays are not allowed.
Do you allow carnivals at parks?
Generally speaking, traditional carnival rides are not allowed on sensitive park grounds.
Bungee cord attractions
How can I market my new product in a park?
The Austin Parks and Recreation Department issues various types of temporary concession permits required of vendors that seek to operate in a park for a single day or up to 6 months and do not require a permanent building.
- Park Rules - Glass, Styrofoam and Smoking are prohibited in all parks.
- Smoke and Electronic Cigarette-free Events Toolkit
- Turf Access and Tree Protection (pdf)
- Directions for Submitting a Completed Site Plan for Tree Impact Review (pdf)
- Crawfish Boil Regulations (pdf)
- Observed Holidays (No Reservation Periods) (pdf)