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Host a Special Event

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
  • Outdoor event with amplified sound or speaker system
  • Outdoor wedding receptions in any area not designated as a reservable picnic area
  • Lakefront or downtown park space
  • Outdoor park space that is not designated as a reservable and permitted area
  • Venues
  • Fees
  • Required Documents / 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

NOTE: All Lincoln Memorial Drive closure requests must be submitted by Nov. 20 of the year prior to the requested closure.

Lake park lion

Premium Park Venues

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

  • Cathedral Square
  • Greenfield Park
  • Juneau Park
  • Lake 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 base permit fee will be determined by the location and estimated attendence. Additional fees for add-ons, such as hot-lining, or permits, such as the City of Milwaukee's Noise Variance, may be required.

Note: Separate applications and fee structures are used at Boerner Botanical Gardens, Mitchell Park Domes and Wehr Nature Center

Premium Special Event Venue Base Fees (per day)*

  • Bradford Beach, $850
  • Cathedral Square, $610
  • Greenfield Park, $610
  • Juneau Park, $610
  • Lake Park, $610
  • Pere Marquette Park, $610
  • Red Arrow Park, $610
  • Zeidler Union Square, $610

Veterans Park Special Event Venues, Base Fees (per day)*

  • Veterans Park Shelter, $400
  • General Special Event Staged Off-Site, fewer than 500 participants, $1,200
  • Section A - Lagoon, $2,200
  • Section B - Coast Guard Shelter Area $1,200
  • Section C - Parking Lot $1,650
  • Section D - Meadow, $3,000
  • Section E - East, $2,600
  • Section F - O'Donnell Point, $1,200

See the Veterans Park Section Boundaries

Lincoln Memorial Drive Closure, Base Fee (per day)*

All Lincoln Memorial Drive closure requests must be submitted by Nov. 20 of the year prior to the requested closure.

  • Lincoln Memorial Drive, Closure, $3,000

General Location, Crowd-Size Base Fee (per day, Mon.-Thurs. / Fri.-Sun.)* 

  • Fewer than 50 people expected to attend:
    Contact the Special Events Office
  • 50 to 200 people expected to attend:
    $350 / $450
  • 201-400 people expected to attend
    $400 / $500
  • 400+ people expected to attend
    $510 / $610

Humboldt & Washington Park Banshells, Base Fee*

  • Bandshell Outside Stage (up to 6 hours), $600
  • Bandshell Outside Stage & Indoor Dressing Room (up to 6 hours), $900
  • Bandshell Per Additional Hour, $100

*NOTE: Fees may be subject to sales tax, and other permit fees may apply

Additional Required Documents or Permits

Depending on the type and location of the special event you plan to host, you may be required to provide additional documents or acquire additional permits from us or the municipality.

Examples include:

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

  • Submit your application at least 30 days prior to your requested event date.
  • Note that submission of an application is separate from the decision to award a permit.
  • If your application is approved, fulfill any additional requirements and make full payment at least 14 days prior to your event.

Initial Review

Within three business days of your submission, we will notify you of the results of the initial review, which checks availability of your requested location and date/time. If there is no conflict, your application will continue through the review process. If there is a conflict, we will suggest available dates/times or nearby locations.

Special Events Office Contact: [email protected]

Parks Special Events Permit Request


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