Special Events Policy

Special events are extremely important to the quality of life for Wake Forest residents. However, any event scheduled to take place on public property requires the coordination of multiple town resources. To facilitate the planning process, each approved event, no matter the size, must receive a special event permit.

Special Events Policy

Please Note

  • An application to hold a special event does not constitute approval for the event nor issuance of a permit. It simply provides information necessary to process and consider permit issuance. Final event approval and permit will be determined in accordance with the Town of Wake Forest's adopted special events policy.

  • For events at Town parks, contact the Wake Forest Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources Department at 919-435-9560.

  • For events at the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre, call 919-435-9458.

How to Apply for a Special Event Permit

  1. Read the Special Events Policy.

  2. Contact the Community Events Coordinator if this is your first request for a special event at 919-435-9415. She will determine whether or not a permit application should be submitted.

  3. If determined necessary, complete the Town of Wake Forest Special Events Permit Application. All applications must be submitted to the Town of Wake Forest no less than 45 days prior to the start of the event. Please ensure that the required application fee and any required documents are submitted as well.

 Special Events Permit Application


Evaluation Criteria

The Special Event Permit process utilizes the following criteria when evaluating and permitting Special Event Permit Applications:

  • The event purpose meets the public purpose requirement.

  • The Public Area to be used can accommodate the number of people expected to participate;

  • The general health, safety, and welfare of the participants in/or attending the event as well as the surrounding community;

  • Potential conflicts with prior scheduled permitted Special Events.

  • Economic benefits to the businesses and community;

  • Whether the activities are in compliance with other applicable laws and Town ordinances;

  • Frequency - No permit shall be issued which allows a particular Public Area to be closed for more than 12 continuous hours; for more than two days in a calendar month;

  • Benefit - No permit shall be issued for an event which is substantially intended to financially benefit the event organizer or sponsor of the event unless the individual or sponsor can demonstrate the public purposes to be achieved;

  • The individual making the application is a responsible individual with no criminal record;

  • Priority is given to Town-based groups, chapters, and organizations; and

  • No political groups/events.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Community Event and a Town-Organized Event?

Town-Organized Events (also known as Town Events) are those the Town of Wake Forest creates, pays for, plans, and executes. In such instances, Town staff are responsible for managing the event programming, including activities, logistics, and vendors. Examples of Town events include Friday Night on White, Halloween Boo Bash, and the Wake Forest Cares Holiday Kickoff.

Community Events are approved “Special Events” in a public area (Festival Street/East Owen Avenue, South White Street, etc.) that a business, church, community group, or other organization manages, pays for, plans, and executes after applying for and receiving a Special Event Permit from the Town. As part of the permit process, Town staff must approve the event location and may require the involvement of Police, Public Works, and/or other departments, as necessary. Community Event organizers are invoiced for the cost of Town staff required to work at these events.

Examples of Community Events include the Cars & Carnivores Street Festival (Wake Forest Rotary Club), Meet in the Street (Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce), Wake Forest Pride Festival (Wake Forest Pride), and the former Wake Forest Christmas Parade (Wake Forest Downtown, Inc.).

How does the Town choose which Community Events to approve and deny?

Approval or denial is based on the applicant’s adherence to the regulations and conditions outlined in the Special Events Policy.

It is important to note that Wake Forest cannot selectively deny or approve a Special Event Permit Application.

Additionally, as a recipient of federal funds, the Town of Wake Forest is subject to the provisions of Title VI. Enacted as part of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, limited English proficiency, sex, marital status, familial status, national origin, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or income-level.

For more information on Title VI, visit www.wakeforestnc.gov/TitleVI.

Who pays for services provided by the Town of Wake Forest for Community Events?

The business, church, community group, or other organization receiving the Special Event Permit manages, pays for, plans, and executes the event. To provide for public safety at community events, Community Event organizers may be required to have Town Staff at the event. This staffing usually includes the Police Department, Public Works and Facilities personnel. Community Event organizers are invoiced for the cost of Town staff required to work at these events.

Did the Town cancel the 2019 Christmas Parade because of the participation of a particular group?

No. The Christmas Parade was a Community Event produced by Wake Forest Downtown, Inc. The Wake Forest Downtown, Inc. Board of Directors canceled the parade out of concern for public safety after Wake Forest Police reported receiving credible information that growing numbers of outside groups planned to attend the parade to either support or oppose the participation of a particular group.

Why is there no longer a Wake Forest Christmas Parade?

For several years the Wake Forest Christmas Parade was coordinated and sponsored by Wake Forest Downtown (WFD), Inc., which is comprised of a relatively small group of volunteers.

In March 2020, WFD made the difficult decision to stop offering the parade for several reasons - but two in particular: 1) the board did not have the volunteers or resources needed to continue producing the event and 2) the board recognized that the extensive number of street closures required in and around the downtown area were causing problems for downtown merchants but were especially troublesome for the growing number of people who now live in the vicinity of downtown and require access to those roads in order to come and go.

Although we no longer have a Christmas Parade, the Town hosts several popular holiday events which offer residents the opportunity to embrace the true spirit of the holiday season.