Permits for running an outdoor festival, what does it entail?

Jake

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2023
352
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I've only ever been involved with running an online festival in the past, and that in itself was quite the experience. But I am eyeing up a possible festival in person eventually. I've talked with the people involved with the online festival I helped with, and they are on board with doing a festival in North Carolina at some point in the near future, but likely sometime in the summer season. I'm doubting it could happen in 2023 or 2024, but a possible 2025 or 2026 could be doable.

With all that being said, what is the permitting process like to establish a venue, and a location to host an in person festival? It will likely revolve around tech, open-source, sustainability and more. They want to make it a big event that spans two days, so I imagine they would need to handle some permits come the time.

What permits do you think would be needed for something like this? I was thinking we could have some bands play a little concert, maybe have a couple comedy acts, but we'd love to do panel discussions and more.
 
Location
Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Running an online festival is one thing, but running an in person festival requires a lot more, especially in terms of permits. You will need to get a permit to run a festival, but you need to decide where the festival will take place. Will it be an outside event? Will it be at a venue like a stadium or concert hall, rec center? Will this festival have food, beverages and even alcohol? If so, you may need permits to allow people to sell food and beverages.

They also have insurance requirements such as;
  • Commercial General Liability - Not less than $1 million includes; bodily injury and property damage combined single limits each
  • Liquor Liability at $1 million for each occurrence (if applicable).
You can find more on this here: https://www.charlottenc.gov/Services/Permits/Event-Permits
 
The permitting process can be time-consuming, so it's important to start early, mostly several months in advance. Some of the permits that you might require are as follows:

1) If your event has an environmental impact, in any way, you may need environmental permits.
2) You also need to arrange for security services and crowd control system, which could require permits.
3) If you plan to have food vendors or stalls, they may need their own permits & licenses.
 
Running an online festival is one thing, but running an in person festival requires a lot more, especially in terms of permits. You will need to get a permit to run a festival, but you need to decide where the festival will take place. Will it be an outside event? Will it be at a venue like a stadium or concert hall, rec center? Will this festival have food, beverages and even alcohol? If so, you may need permits to allow people to sell food and beverages.

They also have insurance requirements such as;
  • Commercial General Liability - Not less than $1 million includes; bodily injury and property damage combined single limits each
  • Liquor Liability at $1 million for each occurrence (if applicable).
You can find more on this here: https://www.charlottenc.gov/Services/Permits/Event-Permits
Thank you for the fast response. I figured as much, especially if I have to serve food, as food venders will probably need to all have permits to be there. I didn't consider the insurance that is required for a festival, don't know if I can do that anytime soon, but I suppose we'll see.

The permitting process can be time-consuming, so it's important to start early, mostly several months in advance. Some of the permits that you might require are as follows:

1) If your event has an environmental impact, in any way, you may need environmental permits.
2) You also need to arrange for security services and crowd control system, which could require permits.
3) If you plan to have food vendors or stalls, they may need their own permits & licenses.
Of course, I have no plans for the festival anytime soon, it's still in the early planning stages. I don't expect to do a fest until 2026 or maybe 2027. 2025 seems a bit too soon yet.

Security is one thing I didn't consider either, that is another cost and more permits needed. I didn't expect to need so many permits. Yikes!
 
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