Event Planning Guidance and Requirements

Completing the event plan is your responsibility.

Every event requires planning and many require the use of city services. Services can include use of city streets, barricades, the city stage, trash pick up, electricity use, facility use, public safety officers and more. Better planning and management of events will not only assist event organizers, but will assist the city in understanding the needs/requests for city service.

To stage an event or activity in public space, managed by the City of Madison, you must have an approved event. This guide has been designed to assist you in developing your event plan while  informing you of your responsibilities and other permits that may be required. This ensures public safety and amenity in Madison’s public spaces and assists in the sustainable management of our parks.

An event organizer is responsible for compiling an event plan and submitting a draft at the beginning of the road closure and facility use application process. The size, scope and complexity of an event will determine what elements to include in the event plan. This guide outlines the compulsory requirements, as well as other areas you may need to address. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and you may be required to provide additional information.

Event Planning Checklist: 

    • Event Details Overview
    • Public Liability Insurance
    • Contact List
    • Event Running Sheet
    • Site Plan Map
    • Business and Residential Notification Plan
    • Pedestrian and Crowd Management Plan
    • Traffic Management Plan
    • Advertising of Road Closures
    • Vehicle Management Plan
    • Emergency Management Plan
    • Signage
    • Waste Management Plan
    • Utilities Management Plan
    • Infrastructure, Facilities, and Parks Usage

Event Details Overview

The event details overview section of your event plan should provide a high-level summary to give the city of Madison a broader understanding of your event, your event timeline, and the impact your event will have on the city residents, businesses, and visitors to Madison. Information in your event details overview should include:

• event name,
• event location(s),
• a description of your event,
• the main purpose of your event,
• nature of attendance (public or private event),
• targeted audience,
• event times and dates (including set-up and tear-down),
• city facilities and parks requested,
• stage usage, 
• road closure requests,
• an overview of your event’s key entertainment, live performers, and activities,
• how the event is being promoted, 
• estimated attendance. 

Public Liability Insurance 

Event organizers must make sure they have a public liability insurance policy underwritten by an insurance broker/company authorized to conduct insurance business. A Certificate must be provided showing that the proposed event is fully covered for a minimum of $1 million. Event organizers are required to obtain copies of current certificates from sub-contractors providing event services (e.g., performers, stage rental companies, fireworks, vendors).

Contact List

A contact list is necessary for all events and should outline all key contacts for the event, including but not limited to staff, volunteers, contractors, vendors, stakeholders, security officers, andpublic authorities (if applicable). It is also essential to add in any emergency contact details.

Vendors: If your event includes any form of selling in a public place, a vendor list will need to be completed, outlining vendor contact details, a description of items for sale, and all vendors must be list on the required detailed site plan. Forms of selling include, but are not limited to goods, services, food, beverage, carnival rides, entry tickets and merchandise. 

Event Running Sheet

A running sheet sets the timing and sequence of your event so that you, the City of Madison, and other key stakeholders know what is happening and when. A good running sheet includes a timeline of the event production schedule, set-up and tear-down timing, road closure timing, event timings, locations, and program details. If your event includes vendors, your event running sheet must include an approved time and date for vendor inspection prior to the start of the event. This time and date must be arranged with the City of Madison Fire Department. Please note vendors are also subject to a Health Department inspection. Event organizers must coordinate this inspection with the county health department. 

Site Plan Map

You must provide the City of Madison and public authorities with your site plan during pre-event planning. In the initial stages of planning, a draft site plan is acceptable. Your site plan should be clear, drawn to scale, with a legend noted on the plan. The site plan must identify the location of all aspects of the event including the event itself, equipment, activities, permanent and temporary infrastructure, crowd control infrastructure, road closure barricade/barriers, fencing, generators, amenities, parking and no parking area, pedestrian and vehicle access routes, water/restroom facilities, seating, emergency access, emergency operations center, licensed areas, food outlets, alcohol outlets, and merchandise stalls.

Correct site selection is a critical success factor for an event. The site you select should match your expectations of size, location, and available facilities. Crowd and infrastructure capacities vary depending on the chosen site with only some being easily accessible and in close proximity to transport. The submitted site plan should consider turf protection measures and other nearby venues/events that may have an impact on your event.

Please note that a site meeting with relevant City of Madison authorities may be requested by the city to make sure that the site is suitable and meets your event’s needs and requirements. The more complex your event, the more likely it is that pre and post event site meetings will be required. 

Creating a Site Map

The city has a black and white base map that can be shared with event organizers as a pdf. This map can be edited in adobe software or free programs such as Canva to identify all necessary aspects of the event. The map must be printed large enough that all aspects of the event are easily identified, and colour coding may be necessary. Printing is the responsibility of the event organizer. The city can provide an example. 

The map can also be printed by a printed company on materials that will allow for editing year to year. The map must be printed large enough that all aspects of the event are easily identified, and colour coding may be necessary. Printing of the map is the responsibility of the event organizer. The city can provide an example. Another option, if the event organizer prefers a coloured map is to use google earth to obtain a screen grab. From there the event organizer can add all aspects of the event using adobe software or free programs such as Canva. The map must be printed large enough that all aspects of the event are easily identified, and colour coding may be necessary. Printing of the map is the responsibility of the event organizer. The city can provide an example. 

Please note that the city can provide examples of maps, but the city is not responsible for teaching event organizers how to use software programs to edit the map. 

Business and Resident Notification Plan

To minimize any impact on surrounding businesses and residents, communication is required and is vital to the success of your event. A formal letter must be sent to all businesses and residents within the event footprint. The City of Madison can help you develop a list of who should be targeted directly and identify the areas and streets to be included in your distribution. It is the event organizer’s responsibility to make sure that adequate business and resident notification is conducted. Your letter must include the following details:

  • the name, date, and location of your event (including set-up and tear-down times),
  • the purpose of the event,
  • the expected number of participants,
  • activities being conducted as part of the event,
  • what the likely disruptions to residents and businesses will be with respect to noise, transport, and road closures,
  • a contact number for further information or queries.

Your first letter must be written as a ‘proposal’ (keeping in mind that your event has not been approved by the City of Madison) and a draft submitted to the City of Madison for approval before distribution. A follow up notification letter may also need to be sent one week prior to the event. 

Small scale events may choose to hang door hangers in residential areas impacted by the event. These must be approved by the City of Madison and must be place no later than two weeks prior to the event. The City of Madison can help determine which events require a formal letter versus door hangers. 

Pedestrian and Crowd Management Plan

Pedestrian Management Plan

When planning an event that will be held in a public open space, event organizers must consider maintaining access for all members of the general public. A pedestrian management plan must be developed for approval by the City of Madison. This plan should tie in with your crowd management plan and vice versa. Your pedestrian management plan must outline your strategies for managing pedestrian access and egress at the event site, as well as taking into consideration non-attendee pedestrians who may be affected by it. The City of Madison can help you determine the numbers and types of infrastructure required to manage pedestrian movement. Your pedestrian management plan must include:

  • locations of barricades and fencing,
  • locations of diversion and closure signs,
  • location of all pedestrian entry and exit points at the event,
  • time and date for installation of infrastructure,
  • locations of event security,
  • timing of walkway closures and openings,
  • shuttle service pick up and drop off areas,
  • access for people with disabilities.
Crowd management plan

Event organizers must develop a crowd management plan outlining your crowd control strategy. In the situation where the crowd becomes unruly, it is the event organizer’s responsibility to implement the crowd management plan; however, if you cannot control the situation, emergency services will take over. Your crowd management planning must take into account all elements of your event. Some questions you should consider are:

  • what type of event are you holding? For example, a concert, sporting event, parade and/or fundraising activity.
  • What location have you chosen for your event? For example, an indoor facility, a street, or a park.
  • What will the capacity of the site be with your event infrastructure in place?
  • What is the expected size, demographic and nature of the crowd who will be attending your event?
  • Are there suitable access and egress points into and out of the venue? Is there emergency vehicle access?
  • What communication methods will be used for your event?
  • What crowd control measures (such as barricades, signage, security will you be putting in place?
  • Will vehicles and crowds be separated or in the same area?
  • Who will take on what roles in regard to crowd management and what is the chain of command?
Traffic Management Plan

If your event impacts on any street, whether through a full street closure or a ‘block and hold’ arrangement, the City of Madison will require the submission of an approved traffic management plan and a street closure request form. Traffic management planning includes determining how to ensure that all traffic is accounted for, and impacts covered through your event traffic management plans. Your traffic management plan must include:

  • locations of diversion and closure signs, road closures, barricades, traffic controllers;
  • positioning of variable message signs (if used);
  • time and date for installation and dismantle of infrastructure;
  • timing of road closures and re-openings;
  • implementation and management of closures and openings*;
  • Emergency access routes which must be discussed with city emergency management personnel.
Access and Egress for Emergency Services

Public safety is the key priority of any event, and it is vital that your traffic management plan accounts for access and egress by emergency services. For example, this may mean the inclusion of a dedicated emergency lane within a road closure. You will be required to work with the public authorities to ensure a quick and effective response in the event of an emergency. Any deviation from the originally approved plan must receive approval from the City of Madison Board of Public Works and city emergency personnel.

*The City of Madison Street Department will pre-set barricades, but it is the responsibility of the event organizer to set barricades the day the road closures begin and to remove the barricades the day the event ends. The event organizer is also responsible for assigning marshals to all roadblock areas to prevent the removal of barricade. 

Advertising of Road Closures

If your event involves a major road closure(s), you will be required to submit a communications plan detailing how these impacts will be advertised. There are several different mediums that can be used to advertise your event; including; but not limited to;

  • Printed press (newspaper),
  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram),
  • Websites (both the event website and paid advertising),
  • Radio,
  • Television advertisements.

The advertisement must include the name, date and location of the event, road closure locations, opening and closing times, and a contact number and website, for further inquiries. If your event includes “Tow Away Zones”, it is mandatory to advertise in newspapers. You must send a copy of the communications plan, to the City of Madison for review prior to advertising commencing. If you are planning or required to have printed press advertising, you must provide a copy of the draft advertisement at least 14 days prior to the date of publication for approval. 

Vehicle Management Plan

Where vehicle access to event spaces is required, a vehicle management plan should be created to ensure that movement is managed in a safe manner. Some points to consider when developing a vehicle management plan include:

  • Access points are to be locked at all times, or be managed to ensure non-event vehicles cannot gain access
  • Vehicles should be moved at walking pace, under the supervision of a spotter in a high visibility vest
  • Warning signage should be placed to advise public of vehicles operating within the event space;
  • Every effort should be made to avoid the need for vehicles to drive on lawn areas. If this is to occur, protective matting should be installed, for example track matting. Food vendors using SAS powered equipment shall refrain from setting up on grassy areas.

Emergency and Risk Management Plan

Any event, regardless of size, will have risks associated with it and it is important that the event organizer has considered potential risks and measures that will mitigate the risk. City of Madison needs all event organizers to undertake a risk analysis, to make sure that you manage and control the risks posed by your event. The plan must include identification and measurement of the risks, together with the proposed management and mitigation strategies of those risks. If your event is large or complex, several emergency services may need to be present. You may also need to develop an emergency response plan in consultation with the City of Madison Police, City of Madison Fire Department, and Jefferson County EMA. The following is a list of things you should take into consideration as part of your emergency and risk management plan.

First Aid

You shall develop a first aid plan outlining how you will manage an incident if one were to occur. This may include the involvement of on-site first aid providers and/or other pre-hospital care providers (if you request their attendance). It is essential that you provide parking for emergency service vehicles and include this in your site plan. First aide providers need to be suitably equipped to do their job and have access to a facility, in which they can work. Consider patient confidentiality and dignity. The best advice is to approach a recognized body that provides such services, to determine the minimum level of first aid you will require at your event.

Evacuation plan

Part of your emergency plan shall include an evacuation plan. This plan is a map of the event area, clearly indicating all evacuation points, meeting points, and emergency 
services’ locations. It shall also highlight how the crowd will be informed of any evacuation need and who will be the person that is charged with this responsibility. This evacuation plan shall be prepared in conjunction with your crowd and pedestrian management plans.

Weather contingency planning

The City of Madison’s public places are outdoor sites; meaning events will be subject to weather conditions. It is important to consider the impacts of the weather on your event and put into place plans to account for the various conditions that may occur. Planning for a public street parade will differ from a function within a park; however, all events should consider contingency plans for weather and make sure this is part of their risk management planning. Event organizers are advised to monitor long range forecasts, leading up to their event. 

Safety and Security

Safety is of high importance to the City of Madison. The nature of your event and anticipated crowd numbers will determine the type of security you require. It is important to design a security plan with security providers to clarify roles and responsibilities related to event security. The main responsibilities of security staff are likely to include crowd management, asset protection, managing lost children and handling confiscated items. Depending on the size and scope of your event, event marshals may be used in place of security. Please discuss this with the city. 

Safe and Healthy Crowded Places

All event organizers, who plan events involving large numbers of the general public or high-profile attendees need to address security issues with the city, who then will facilitate communication with the Madison Police and relevant authorities. 

Event Operations Center

Regardless of the size of your event, it is likely that you will need to have set aside an area where your staff and volunteers can meet for debriefs and/or meetings, as well as run 
the operations of your event. This needs to be detailed on your site map. Major events held in the City of Madison may require an Event Operations Center (EOC), which is an operations area where a member of the event organizing team, public authorities, stakeholders, service providers and staff gather to manage the event. 

There are four requirements for the EOC:
  1. A representative of the event organization must be present in the EOC at all times,
  2. The representative must be authorized and prepared to act on behalf of the event organizer in all matters,
  3. Those present must be able to immediately address any problems arising during the event,
  4. The event organizer must be responsible for the logging of incidents throughout the event,
A contact list of all EOC representatives, must be provided to the city. 

Your organization must absorb the cost of the EOC. Public authorities are responsible for their own laptops and communications. City of Madison Police and Fire departments may need to be involved in the planning and enactment of your event from a traffic management, crowd control, and emergency management perspective. However, the City of Madison Police and fire are not responsible for developing the traffic management and crowd control plans; nor are the City of Madison Police Department responsible for providing security services at your event. 


The event organizer must provide a detailed signage proposal, that outlines all the proposed directional, amenity, emergency evacuation and assembly points, vehicle access for entry and exit on and off site, pedestrian access, accessibility options, event/program schedule, and event branding signage. Please include details such as quantity, size, positioning, and installation method. Signage includes variable message signs (VMS boards), billboards, banners, maps, and flags. Also include sponsorship/corporate logos attached, temporary site sheds/buildings, or fencing. 

Please note the event organizer is responsible for the placement of signs, including no parking signage which are required to be placed 24 hours prior. 

Waste Management Plan

You will need to produce and implement a waste management plan for your event. This is required and the City of Madison is not responsible for trash pickup in your event footprint. As events have the potential to draw increased crowds to streets, parks and other public spaces, this puts extra demand on the City of Madison’s usual public trash bins and street cleaning services. It is your responsibility to assess your event and arrange for suitable street cleaning and waste collection. 

You are also responsible for coordinating waste management resources and facilities to areas affected by the event, including those outside of the permitted area, where City of Madison’s normal services cannot access. This includes all areas affected by road closures. For most events, it is likely that additional trash bins will be required. At the conclusion of the event, all displays, and promotional material, excess trash, hazardous materials, and other equipment associated with the staging of your event, are to be removed and the area left in a clean and tidy condition. If the City of Madison is required to undertake any reinstatement, additional cleaning, or removal of trash or other materials, you may incur a charge to restore the area to its pre-event condition. Waste, including vendor cooking grease, is not to be poured into storm drains, under any circumstance. 

Utilities Management Plan

Requirements for power, lighting, water, and wastewater, must be clearly outlined in the event plan. 

In some city locations, it is possible to use City of Madison power distribution. Your event plan must include: locations and source of power, specifications of power used (such as amperage and 
voltage), details of certified electricians or generator companies engaged for the event, a contingency plan, in the event of a power blackout, and details of how lighting will be provided to guarantee the safe access and egress into the event precinct. If you require the use of City of Madison power and it is available at your event location, the city will provide you with the details of the City of Madison electrical contractor to arrange access. You can then source your own licensed electrician, to manage power requirements during your event. Please note fees apply and the event organizer is responsible for ensuring that any independent operators comply with the appropriate safety regulations.

In some city locations, it is possible to use the City of Madison water meters. If you require the use of City of Madison water meters and it is available at your event, you will need to fill out a festival meter form, at least one week prior to the event. This form should be filled out at the City of Madison Water Office. Please note, fees apply, and the event organizer is responsible for complying with appropriate safety regulations.

The event organizer is responsible for proper coverage of electrical cords, water lines, and all other tripping hazards, across streets and sidewalks. Accidents, as a result of electrical cords, water lines, and other trip hazards not being properly covered, is the responsibility of event organizer.

Wastewater management must be included in your plan and must be discussed with the City of Madison Wastewater Superintendent, prior to the event. The city can provide and place graywater tanks in advance, monitored and maintained tanks during events, and retrieved, emptied, and cleaned tanks afterwards, but there is a fee associated. Past events have worked with A1 Porta Potty for wastewater management.

Infrastructure, Facilities, and Parks

All infrastructure and facilities to be brought onsite for your event, including marquees, banners, barricades, site sheds, amusement rides, toilets, water facilities and stalls, must be listed on your infrastructure and facilities list, as well as marked on your site plan. Careful placement of infrastructure needs to be considered to avoid creating crowd issues or damage to the site and city assets. Please make sure that you include the dimensions and weight loadings where applicable. All infrastructures and facilities are subject to inspection and approval by the C.O.M and state fire marshal’s office.

Toilet Facilities

Your site plan must show the location and number of public toilets and disabled facilities being provided for your event. The number of toilets you will need to provide will depend on anticipated crowd numbers, whether there is service of alcohol and the event duration. Accessible facilities must be available. Toilet facilities must be well lit for security and safety reasons, provided with soap and hand drying equipment, and must be cleaned and re-stocked regularly. The City of Madison staff is not responsible for cleaning or re-stocking facilities during your event, this includes City of Madison owned facilities in your event footprint.

City of Madison Parks Facilities

If an event requests the uses of City of Madison Parks Facilities this request must be approved by the Parks Director, no later than three weeks prior to the event. The event organizers must meet with the Parks Director to receive approval. A fee may be assessed for the rental of the facility and/or the use of supplies. The event organizers will be responsible for cleaning of the facility and ensuring the facility remains secure throughout the duration of the event. The City of Madison staff is not responsible for cleaning or re-stocking facilities during your event. 

City of Madison’s Parks

The City of Madison manages several parks located in the municipality. These public spaces are environmentally sensitive, and as such, need to be protected where possible. The erection of structures, including pop-ups and marquees, may be permitted in city parks with prior written approval, in accordance with City of Madison Park guidelines, and must be detailed on your site map. Protocols applicable are as follows:

  • Where permission is given, structures are to be placed not less than 15 feet from any tree or shrub, or near a tree canopy, or within 10 feet of garden beds.
  • Pop-ups, where permitted, must be weighted, and not staked.
  • Commercial tents, where permitted, must be weighted or staked. 
  • When using water-weighted structures, water weights must be pre-filled and cannot be emptied onto the grass. Under no circumstances should items such as rope, string, signage, or balloons be tied, stapled, or attached to any tree limbs or park infrastructure.
  • Damage to trees, shrubs, lawns, flower beds or park infrastructure, arising from the event or activity remains the responsibility of the event organizer and repair costs will be sought from the permit holder and/or event owner. The permit holder and/or event owner remains responsible for any damage incurred by third parties, suppliers, event patrons and any contracted service providers.
  • Vehicles, including golf carts, are not permitted to enter City of Madison parks grounds without prior written approval.
  • No open fires are permitted in city parks (outside of the city owned campground).
  • Depending on the specific site chosen and the prevailing weather conditions, the City of Madison Parks Department may require that protective boards or flooring are laid to protect the lawns. The protective boards or flooring may be lifted to aerate the surface if the event runs over multiple days. The location of all structures is to be considered in relation to protecting all the lawn surfaces. Where possible, structures should be located on hard spaces to limit the impact on the lawns.
  • Most park pathways are not designed for heavy vehicle use. Lawn areas also become compacted and damaged because of ongoing use by vehicles. Event organizers should consider this in determining the site plan and request specific weight loadings for each site. 

Download document below:

City of Madison Organization Plan Requirements