Special Events Principles & Policies

Special Event Definition

Generally speaking, special events bring a group of people together in one or more locations for a limited period of time for a particular activity. A special event is defined as any enterprise or activity held upon public property (or impacting public property) for a limited period of time, for which any of the following is true:

  1. City expenditures are contemplated or deemed necessary by the City to maintain public health, safety and welfare
  2. A temporary land use approval is needed (including events using private property in a manner that varies from its currently permitted use)
  3. Impacts on the site or surrounding area will occur (including but not limited to visual, noise or environmental impacts)

Impacts to Public Property

Concerts, sporting events held in City parks or using City streets or trails, parades, and outdoor art shows are all examples of special events. “Impacts to public property” include, but are not limited to, impacts on:

  • Essential public services, such as:
    • Emergency services
    • Fire
    • Police
    • Transportation
  • Parks
  • Sidewalks
  • Roads


City code section 14.20.010 should be consulted for the legal definition of special events. In addition, Section 26.450 of the Code defines temporary land uses.

Special Event Principles & Policies

Special events held within the City must be consistent with the principles and policies below. The principles represent our “givens” - our fundamental assumptions about the nature and characteristics of acceptable special events.

The policies represent our overarching requirements for the management of special events. In addition to these principles and policies, each agency reviewing special events has more specific requirements applicants must meet. Together, the policies and the department requirements help assure events are managed in a way that keeps them in conformance with the principles.


Special events held in the City of Aspen will make a positive community contribution. Events will:

  • Be consistent with the Aspen philosophy, contributing to growth in mind, body and spirit.
  • Take precautions to protect the health and safety of participants, residents, businesses and visitors.
  • Not adversely affect the long-term viability of permanent businesses.
  • Avoid disruptions to other community events and activities held at the same time.
  • Build upon and support existing Aspen community assets when possible.
  • Seek to minimize adverse impacts on neighborhoods and essential public services.
  • Create a positive experience for visitors and residents.
  • Be consistent with community needs and priorities.


  1. The City requires special event applicants to demonstrate they have the capacity and experience necessary to successfully carry out the event they propose. Applicants must have a proven track record of successfully hosting special events, or must be able to otherwise demonstrate their capability to host a successful special event.
  2. The City requires special event applicants to demonstrate they have the financial resources necessary to carry out their event successfully.
  3. The City requires special events applicants to demonstrate they have taken steps to mitigate potential harm, negative impacts on essential public services and liability associated with their event. To that end, applicants must:
    • Provide adequate insurance and bonding for their events.
    • Provide adequate event design, security services, emergency services, transportation services and other services and precautions necessary to support a safe event with minimal negative impacts upon the community.
  4. The City requires applicants to seek out and coordinate with others who may be hosting events or activities elsewhere in the community at the same time.
  5. The City will have a preference for special events who use local suppliers to the extent reasonable. Local suppliers include for-profit and non-profit businesses located 1) within Aspen or 2) within the Roaring Fork Valley.
  6. The City requires special events to be in keeping with community norms regarding event saturation. In determining whether events have reached the saturation level, the City will consider criteria such as the number and size of events scheduled within a particular time frame, noise, the season, the likelihood of disruption of normal transportation patterns and the level of other activities going on in the City at the same time. In addition, the City will consider whether proposed events are intended to enhance the experience of visitors who are already here, or whether they are intended to bring in an influx of additional visitors.
  7. The City requires applicants to comply with special events approval processes and requirements, including:
    • The securing of special event and other required permits prior to the time the event is held
    • Completion of all required inspections
    • Resolution of issues that may arise as a result of inspections
    • Participation in after-action review