Milwaukee County Parks

Host a Special Event

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How to Host a Special Event in Milwaukee County Parks

Some of Milwaukee’s most popular annual events, including Barktoberfest, Bastille Days, Chill on the Hill, Lakefront Marathon, UPAF Ride for the Arts, Walk to Defeat ALS and WMSE Backyard BBQ are held in Milwaukee County Parks. New special event applications are welcome. A Special Event Permit is required to reserve any Milwaukee County Parks property for any of the following reasons:

  • Public event, outreach, rally, promotional event or religious event
  • Bike race, bike ride, cross-country meet, walk or run
  • Outside event with amplified sound or speaker system
  • Lakefront or downtown park space
  • Outdoor park space that is not designated as a reservable and permitted area
  • Virtual gaming
  • Venues
  • Fees
  • Required Permits
  • 5k Routes

Milwaukee Lakefront

Premium Lakefront Venues

Hundreds of thousands of visitors head to the Milwaukee Lakefront each summer to visit our Premium Lakefront Venues:

  • Bradford Beach
  • Veterans Park
  • McKinley Marina
  • Lincoln Memorial Drive

Lake park lion

Premium Downtown Venues

Milwaukee County Parks manages some of the most popular outdoor event venues in downtown Milwaukee. These event spaces include:

  • Lake Park
  • Cathedral Square
  • Juneau Park
  • Pere Marquette Park
  • Red Arrow Park
  • Zeidler Union Square


Auditoriums & Stages

Several parks in Milwaukee County have built-in stages, ideal for open-air concerts or movie nights. Indoor auditoriums and stages are also available in community centers and some park pavilions.  

farmers market

Parks & Facilities

To host an event in a Milwaukee County park or facility, you'll need to apply for a Special Event Permit. This includes tickted events, raffles, 5k runs, concerts, farmers markets and festivals.

Special Event Permit Fees

For any special event hosted in a Milwaukee County parks location, the permit fee will include the base fee for the location, plus a fee based on estimated attendence. Additional fees for add-ons, such as a raffle permit, may also apply.

Special Event Fees



Up to 200 expected attendance


201-400 expected attendance


400+ expected attendance






Cathedral Square




Pere Marquette


Red Arrow


Zeidler Union Square






Bradford Beach


Lake Park 


Lincoln Memorial Drive (Closure)


McKinley Park


Veterans Park (four sectors available)

$1,100 - $2,700





Bandshell Outside Stage (up to 6 hours)


Indoor Dressing Room


Bandshell Per Additional Hour



*Fees do not include Wisconsin state taxes

** Other permit fees may apply

***Fees do not apply to Boerner Botanical Gardens, Mitchell Park Domes or Wehr Nature Center

Required Permits

Before a Special Event Permit can be issued, all fees must be paid and, depending on the type of special event you are hosting, any additional permits will also need to be completed. Potential additional permits include:

  • Wisconsin Tax Exemption Form (sample)
  • Certificate of Insurance with the Parks Additionally Insured (sample)
  • Liquor Liability Insurance with the Parks Additionally Insured (sample)
  • Municipality Licenses and Permits
  • Class “B” Beer License (sample) 
  • Noise Variance Permit (City of Milwaukee only) (sample)
  • Street permit
  • PSI Compliance for Credit Card Transactions

5k Routes

Planning a 5k run? Several popular routes in Milwaukee are pre-measured.

Greenfield Park 5k Route

Veterans Park 5k Route Section D

Veterans Park 5k Route Section E

How to Apply

Please note that group-size restrictions will likely impact the Special Events World even after Safer-at-Home Orders are lifted. Also note that submission of an application is separate from the decision to award a permit. 

Check Date Availability

Prior to completing a Special Event Application for your desired Park facility, check on date availability so you have time to consider additional Park locations.

Submit Your Application

Complete the Special Event Application below and submit for approval with a site and route map (if applicable) at least 90 days prior to event date.

Await Review

After receipt of your Special Event Application, you will be notified via email within three weeks regarding the status of your event.

Approval, Fees, Requirements

If your special event is approved, you will receive an email with special event permit fees and requirements. All payments are required at least 60 days prior to the event, and all permit requirements must be submitted two weeks prior to event.

View the event calendar for more information on special events held in Milwaukee County Parks.

Special Events Office: (414) 257-4503


9480 W. Watertown Plank Road
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
(414) 257-PARK (7275)

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