Festivals & Events

Event Elements

Each of the following event elements requires different action on the organizers' part. Review the list below to learn more about what is required.


If you will have alcohol at your event, you will need to adhere to both provincial and municipal guidelines to ensure that you have the proper license and permits. There are several steps you need to take if you plan to serve or sell alcohol, including applying to the City of Hamilton and the AGCO. Follow the steps under “special occasion permits for serving alcohol” on the Municipal Alcohol Policy page. We recommend that you allow yourself at least 60 days to finalize your license and permits.

Amusement Rides/Midways

  • Event organizers are responsible for verifying that their vendors have a current City of Hamilton license.
  • All amusement companies must obtain a permit from the Electrical Safety Authority to operate.

For more information, call Licensing at 905-546-2782 (option 3)


  • Provide the name and contact information for your fireworks provider on your Festival and Event Approval Application
  • The fireworks provider must submit a full fireworks information package to the Hamilton Fire Department (Fire Prevention Bureau) at least 14 days prior to your event.
  • The provider submit an insurance certificate in the amount of $5 million, listing the City as an ‘Additional Insured’
  • All events involving the discharge of fireworks for display purposes must adhere to the City of Hamilton Fireworks By-law To Regulate the Sale and Use of Fireworks (No. 02-285).

For more information, contact the Fire Prevention Bureau at 905-546-2424 x 1380 (Note: Due to presence of protected trees and other flora, fireworks are not currently permitted in Gage Park)

Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages

  • If you plan to sell or serve food and non-alcoholic beverages at your event, you must complete Public Health Services Special Event Package and return it at least 14 days prior to your event.
  • Event organizer is responsible for ensuring that all their food vendors hold a valid City of Hamilton license

For more information, and to download package visit Food Safety Requirements Special Events

Food Service Vehicles

  • A City of Hamilton license is required for all Food Service Vehicles, such as chip wagons, food trucks, and ice cream bicycles. A license can be obtained from:
    Licensing Division
    77 James St N, Suite 250 A
    Hamilton, ON L8R 2K3
    905-546-2782 (option 3)

For more information, including requirements and costs, review the Business License Reference Guide (PDF, 1 MB)


  • Organizers must plan in advance for waste management, collection, and disposal
  • Event locations must be left clean and free of litter following the event
  • Events that are not-for-profit and last at least two days with daily attendance of 1,000 or more may be eligible for waste collection from the City
  • For-profit events are not eligible for municipal waste collection services. Organizers must hire a private contractor to remove all waste from their event


  • Inflatables must be operated, controlled, and supervised by a third party licensed vendor.
  • Vendor is required to provide a certificate of insurance showing evidence of a Commercial General Liability policy of $5 million dollars endorsed to include the City of Hamilton as an additional insured.
  • Vendor must also hold a valid City of Hamilton license.

For more information, call Licensing at 905-546-2782 (option 3)

Noise and Sound Amplification

  • Events must remain in compliance with the City of Hamilton Noise Control By-Law No. 11-285
  • Outside amplified sound during special events is allowed between the hours of 11 am to 12 midnight
  • Noise levels cannot exceed 90 dBA, measured 10m from its source and not exceed 60 dBA at a point of reception
  • Violations of the Noise By-law may result in a ticket(s)
  • Events held on private property must apply for a Noise Exemption Permit  to have amplified sound outdoors

Completed applications and payment must be submitted to:

Municipal Law Enforcement Division
77 James St N, Suite 250 A
Hamilton, ON L8R 2K3

For more information, call 905-546-2782 (option 3)

Open Flame

  • Events having an open fire/flame must obtain an Open Air Burning Permit at least 14 days prior to their start date

For more information, contact the Fire Prevention Bureau at 905-546-2424 ext.4380 or visit the fire permits and services page.

Power Requirements

  • Organizers must indicate if they are requesting access to power in their application so that we can confirm your site has access to electrical plug-ins
  • Organizers must bring all of their own extension cords and mats to prevent the cords from becoming tripping hazards
  • Generators must be placed in a safe area, free from obstruction and away from trees or bushes, and vented outside. A fire extinguisher should be readily available in case of fire
  • If you are planning on using a generator or ‘tying in’ to a power source, contact the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) to determine if you require an inspection. If an inspection is required, you must complete an ‘Application for Electrical Inspection’ form and submit it to the ESA Customer Service Centre via fax, email, or phone.
  • A permit from the ESA is required for any electrical need greater than 10KW
  • Permits take a minimum of 2 business days to generate. The cost of the permit is dependent upon your event elements, needs, and uses
  • Permit applications can be obtained from ESA


  • Permits are required for certain types of signs

For more information, refer to the Sign By-law No.10-197 or call 905-546-2424 ext.1206 (Note: Signs are not permitted in certain locations, such as: poles on a median, traffic islands, central boulevards, the Lincoln Alexander Parkway, or the Red Hill Creek Expressway)

Temporary Structures

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has issued a guideline to help event organisers understand their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations related to the design, erection, use, dismantling, and maintenance of temporary performance / event structures that are used either indoors or outdoors.

You are required to notify the Ministry of Labour if you plan to erect a temporary structure as part of your event. This information should be provided to the MOL Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008. Read the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s Guidelines.

The City of Hamilton’s Building Division requires event organizers to obtain a building permit for a stage platform in any of the following situations:

  • The platform is more than 225² m in area
  • Any element of the structure (i.e. wall, roof, or floor) is more than 5m above ground level
  • It is more than 3m above ground level and more than 60m² in area

A building permit is required for a structure supporting lighting, audio, etc. in any of the following situations:

  • It supports a weight more than 115 kg (1.13 kN)
  • It is more than 3m above ground level when supported by the ground
  • The structure is more than 3m above the stage platform when supported by the stage platform

For more information, read the ­City of Hamilton Building Division’s Policy for Outdoor Stages & Associated Structure and contact the Building Division  by email [email protected] or phone 905-546-2720 to determine whether or not building permits are required for your temporary structure.


A tent or group of tents is exempt from requiring a building permit if the tents are:

  • Not more than 60 m² in aggregate ground area
  • Not attached to a building
  • Constructed more than 3 m from other structures

We recommend that you contact the Building Division by email [email protected] or 905-546-2720 to determine whether or not building permits are required for your tent(s)