Are you planning a festival or event in Kitchener? Use these resources to help plan your event!

If you have any questions or need some help, send us an email and we will point you in the right direction.

Fill out our special events application form

On this page:

  1. Start with an idea
  2. Permits and licences
  3. Special events team
  4. Accessibility
  5. Alcohol
  6. Amusement devices and carnivals
  7. Aud and arenas
  8. Building, structures and tents
  9. Carl Zehr Square
  10. City Hall room rentals
  11. Community centres
  12. Corporate contact centre
  13. Downtown Kitchener
  14. Emergency Plans
  15. Fireworks
  16. First aid
  17. Food
  18. Gaming and lottery
  19. Insurance
  20. Kitchener Market
  21. Music licensing
  22. Noise exemptions
  23. Road closures
  24. Victoria Park Pavilion

Start with an idea

A successful event starts with a great idea. Think about the following questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how?

  • who is your target audience?
  • what experience are you looking to create for your guests?
  • what is the style of the event (concert, marketplace)?
  • when is the best time to hold the event (night, day, weekend, summer, autumn)?
  • where is the ideal location for this event (indoors, outdoors, street, park)?
  • why are you having the event (fundraiser, awareness, generating profit)?
  • how are you going to pay for this event (in-kind grants, corporate sponsorship, and charge exhibitors)?

Permits and licences

You may need to apply for a permit or licence before your event.

Some items that need a permit or licence would include:

  • food vendors
  • fireworks
  • midway
  • road closures
  • tents
  • alcohol
  • temporary vendor

Learn more on our business licences page.


Special events team

Staff manage city-run events in Kitchener. You, the event organizer, are responsible for the planning and implementation of your event.

Our special events team acts as a liaison to internal staff, a link to external resources and is your support to ensure a safe and successful event.

Contact our special events staff to rent a city facility, including spaces in City Hall and Victoria Park.


Accessibility

We are committed to offering programs and services to persons of all ages and abilities. Our goal is to offer inclusive opportunities that encourage residents’ full participation in our programs, services, facilities, volunteer opportunities, and our advisory committees.

By including accessible design features in your event planning, you will help to ensure that your event enjoyed by all. We support the goals of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and encourage all event planners to make their events as accessible as possible.

Helpful links


Alcohol

If you want to serve alcohol at an event, you need to apply for a Special Occasion Permit (SOP) through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

Locations that require an SOP for service of alcohol during events include city-owned buildings, facilities, parks, properties, public squares and city public rights-of-way.

In cases where city property is being used, individual departments have the final decision as to site layouts and approvals where alcohol is involved.

Helpful links


Amusement devices and carnivals

Amusement Rides are governed by the Technical Standards and Safety Association (TSSA) who administer and enforce public safety laws in the Province of Ontario. In order to have amusement ride be considered for use at a special event or festival, you must have TSSA Certification and Insurance.

Venues and facilities may also have restrictions and policies governing the use of amusement rides.

Helpful links


Aud and arenas

You can rent one of our arenas for ice and floor rentals, hall rentals, corporate meetings, and special events.


Buildings, structures and tents

Our building division reviews permit applications, issues permits and conducts inspections in accordance with the Ontario Building Code, the city’s zoning bylaws and other legislation.

Staff can, if needed, consult with event organizers on what permit requirements for structures (such as scaffolding and stages), buildings and tents over 645 sq ft may be needed.

As an event organizer, you may need to hire your own engineers and professionals to tell you about proper policies, offer structural drawing and other documents.

Most rental tent companies will guide you and supply proper documentation.

Helpful links


Carl Zehr Square

Carl Zehr Square, in front of City Hall, is home to events and festivals throughout the year.

Whether we are celebrating youth hockey in our community through HockeyTown or playing host to thousands during Canada Day, Carl Zehr Square continues to be one of the main hubs of activity in downtown Kitchener.

Learn more on our City Hall rentals page.


City Hall room rentals

Whether you're looking to rent space for a meeting or a special event, the room rentals at City Hall can meet your needs and make your event memorable.

Located at 200 King Street West, Kitchener City Hall offers many meeting rooms that vary in capacity from small groups of 12 to the formal council chambers that can accommodate up to 150.

The open-concept rotunda can be adapted for a wide range of events and holds up to 220 people. This is a prime location and is an excellent venue for receptions, banquets, corporate functions, performances, fundraising galas and other events.

Learn more on our City Hall rentals page.


Community centres

We run 14 community centres, where collaboration between staff, volunteers, community organizations, seniors’ groups and neighbourhood associations ensure quality recreational services and programming is provided to citizens in every corner of the city.

Helpful links


Corporate contact centre

The corporate contact centre provides the community with contact information to departments within the City of Kitchener 24/7.

Phone number: 519-741-2345


Downtown Kitchener

The Downtown Kitchener Business Improvement Area (BIA) is a non-profit organization enacted in 1977 by the City of Kitchener. The Downtown Kitchener BIA exists to be a collective voice that fosters collaboration within the downtown business area and acts as a catalyst for prosperous growth in our community. If you are a property owner or commercial tenant within the BIA boundary, you are automatically a member of the Downtown Kitchener BIA.

The Downtown Kitchener BIA offers services to help the members including streetscape beautification, marketing the Downtown and supporting events that bring energy and foot-traffic to our core.


Emergency plans

In your day-to-day living, disasters may seem a distant possibility. Yet emergencies, such as floods or tornadoes; technological or environmental accidents, including chemical spills; and service disruptions, like the massive power blackout in 2003, can strike at any time.

Like all other municipalities across the province, we have been proactive in preparing and constantly reviewing and updating our official emergency plan.

The plan gives guidance to key officials, agencies and departments across the city on the expected response to a serious, large-scale emergency; as well as an overview of what the individual responses of these groups should be.

Helpful links


Fireworks

Under the City of Kitchener Municipal Code, fireworks can only be set off on Victoria Day and Canada Day and the day immediately before and after Victoria Day and Canada Day. Fireworks cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18.

For more fire regulations, visit our Kitchener Fire pages.

Learn more about bylaws and enforcement in Kitchener.


First aid

Emergency medical care is an important aspect in planning a special event. Involving experts in identifying, planning and executing medical needs for events, festivals, concerts, parades, motor races and more and will assist you to develop a specific medical services plan for your event.

Contacts

Helpful links


Food

Public Health Inspectors with Region of Waterloo Public Health provide a wide variety of programs and services designed to protect the health of residents in the Region. This includes inspection of public facilities (and businesses) where government regulations are enforced under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. These regulations relate to food safety, infection prevention and control, and recreational water safety.

Helpful links


Gaming and lottery

If you want to hold any type of lottery at your event (including bingo or raffles), you need to apply for a lottery licence.

We consider lottery licences for eligible charitable, religious or non-profit organizations.


Insurance

A standard requirement of hosting a special event in the City of Kitchener is obtaining insurance coverage. Insurance can cover many aspects of the event from liabilities, to cancellation, to emergencies. Event organizers are responsible for the participants and audience members taking part in your event.

Applications for city facilities, civic squares, and road closures all required the event organizers to obtain a minimum of $2,000,000 in liability insurance, some venues require $5,000,000 or more. The amount of insurance can also depend on your activities (e.g. food festival to outdoor licensed concert).

Insurance coverage is provided by private insurance providers. We suggest starting with your organization’s or your personal insurance provider.


Kitchener Market

The Kitchener Market is a feast for the senses and one of our community's most beloved gathering places.

The year-round market hosts thousands of visitors each week - people who want to shop, browse, and meet their neighbours and friends.

Learn about rentals at the Kitchener Market.


Music licensing

Any music that is played at an event needs to be licensed by SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada). This can include background music or music being performed by a band.

Without a SOCAN licence you would have to get permission from every composer, songwriter, lyricist and music publisher for every piece of music you perform. The SOCAN licence gives you the freedom to play almost every song ever protected by a copyright.


Noise exemptions

The city’s noise bylaw prohibits making noise that is likely to disturb a resident. This by-law is in effect 24 hours a day, however there is typically a bit more tolerance for noise during the day and early evenings.

If you are charged and found guilty of an infraction under the noise bylaw, you will be fined a minimum of $300 for each offence.

Apply for a noise exemption.


Road closures

If you want to hold any of the events listed below, you need a special event permit.

  • parade/procession
  • ceremony
  • street dance/party
  • beer garden
  • solicitation of donations from a motor vehicle (toll road)
  • sidewalk/street sale
  • festival/carnival
  • race/walk-a-thon
  • demonstration

You will need a special event permit for a similar event that requires a lane or road closure or may interfere with the normal flow of traffic on a Regional Road, but does not include a wedding or funeral procession, picketing, or an activity for which the Region has granted a filming event permit or a work permit.

Our staff review and approve all street closure applications to ensure that emergency access is available at all times. Every street closure must have an emergency access route.

Apply for a special event permit:


Victoria Park Pavilion

Nestled among natural gardens and mature trees, the 1920s-era pavilion is a stately building overlooking Victoria Park, one of the city's oldest and largest parks, located in downtown Kitchener.

The large, well-lit room features a stage, large windows and capacity for 250 people. It is an ideal location for banquets, corporate presentations and stage performances and is sought after as a premier wedding reception venue.

Learn more about the Victoria Park Pavilion.