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Checklist: How to plan a special event

Here are some basic guidelines for planning your special event. Be sure to read the City of Ottawa event planning guide for more information about the things you need to know, such as special rules for serving alcohol and limiting consumption.

Three Months Before

  • Form a Special Event Committee.
  • Hold a planning meeting and elect a lead person for the event.
  • Decide what type of event you wish to hold and when.
  • Create a list of roles for the event and assign committee members to them:
    • publicity
    • finances
    • food and refreshments
    • activities and entertainment
    • permit applications, insurance and other legal requirements
    • clean-up
  • Plan your finances:
    • Set a budget for the event
    • Decide if you will seek sponsorships or donations
    • Decide the cost of entry for guests to cover your expenses
  • Decide whether food and alcohol will be served.
  • Apply for permits you will need to host the event.

Six Weeks to One Month Before

  • Review the city’s Noise By-Law to make sure your event adheres to it.
  • Promote your event with posters in the neighbourhood, by email and Facebook, as well as through the local media.  
  • Organize barricades to block off the streets, if required.
  • Purchase insurance to cover the event.
  • Book portable toilet facilities, if needed.
  • Reserve equipment you need to rent (tables, tents, sound system, etc.)

One Week Before

  • Continue with event promotions.
  • Confirm all arrangements that have been made with emergency, police and fire departments.
  • Confirm arrangements for barricades, entertainment, food, refreshments, tents, tables and any other equipment that will be rented or borrowed.

After the Event

  • Join forces with your neighbours to clean up.
  • Send thank yous to sponsors, donors and anyone else who helped make the event a success.
  • Meet to evaluate the event’s success and things that might be improved.
  • Set a date for next year’s event.