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Park Permits & Picnics
If you’re planning a gathering with more than 30 people in a City of Evanston park, please call the Evanston Recreation Division at 847-448-8237 and we’ll let you know which parks can accommodate your group. Policies and procedures for picnics at the lakefront are different and are listed separately.
Park Permits (in parks other than at the lakefront)
One permit is issued per day per park. Some of the more popular parks are: Leahy, Mason, James, Butler, Harbert and Lovelace. A few park locations have washroom facilities.
- Small gathering (30 or fewer people; without permit): There is no fee if you do not wish to purchase a permit. However, picnic areas are available on a first-come, first-served basis. No deposit and no insurance is required.
- Small gathering (30 or fewer people; with permit): If you want a permit in order to reserve a section of the park for four hours, the fee is $40. No deposit and no insurance is required.
- Medium gathering (31-99 people): There is a $50 permit fee. A $100 deposit is required, which will be returned if your guests do not damage the park. Insurance is needed.
- Large gathering (100-249 people): There is a $105 permit fee. A $100 deposit is required, which will be returned if your guests do not damage the park. In addition, the permit holder must clean up all trash in the park in order to have their $100 deposit returned. Insurance is needed.
- 250 or more * There is a $125.00 permit fee. A $100.00 damage deposit is required, which will be returned if your guests do not damage the park. In addition, the permit holder must clean up all trash in the park in order to have their $100 deposit returned. Insurance is required. Non-lakefront park events of 250 or more and lakefront parks events of 100 participants or more are considered special events and require a special event permit in addition to the park permit. Special event permit applications can be obtained through the Parks, Recreation and community services department or online at wwww.cityofevanston.org.
Please note that tents, amplified music, dance floors, disc jockeys, and inflatable play apparatuses are not allowed.
Please use this application for gatherings in Leahy Park, Lovelace Park, Mason Park, the "Lighthouse Beach picnic shelter" and Harbert Park (canal lands). Harbert Park use is restricted because there are no bathrooms on site.
Permit Fees are based on gathering size. For 99 or fewer people, the fee is $50. For 100 or more people, the fee is $75. Gatherings of 100 or more people at the lakefront are considered “special events” and must be approved by Evanston’s City Council. Please call 847/866-2914 for more information or download the Special Events application form located here>>>.
Weddings in the Park
Interested in holding a wedding ceremony in a City of Evanston park?
Visit this page>>> for more information and an application.
Lakefront Picnic Permits
Garden Park at Keeney St.
Elliott Park at Dempster St.
Dawes Park - Greenwood St. to Church St.
Centennial Park - Church St. to Clark St.
Permits are now issued to both Evanston residents (60201 & 60202) and nonresidents for lakefront picnics. Any table not posted as reserved may be used by any person on a first-come, first-served basis. Evanston residents can reserve picnic tables and grills for 2 hours for a $30 fee and for 4 hours for $50. The nonresident fee is $40 for two hours and $65 for four hours. Lakefront picnics are limited to 99 or fewer people.
To reserve a table on Evanston’s lakefront (except the Lighthouse Beach/Landing) from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, please go in person to the Dempster Street Beach Office with proof of residency. Click here for beach office hours. Permits must be purchased before the day of your picnic so the reservations can be posted.
If you wish to have a picnic at the lakefront with 31 or more people before or after the picnic season, a permit will be issued from staff at the Civic Center. You may download the Park Permit Application posted above on this page and mail it, drop it off or fax it to the Civic Center. Just check "other" and list the lakefront park name. Please call 847/448-8237 for more information. See below for Lighthouse Beach/Landing information.
Lighthouse Beach Picnic Shelter
Starting in 2008, the City of Evanston became the agency responsible for issuing year ’round park permits for the Lighthouse Landing park and picnic shelter. Permits are issued from the Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Avenue, not the Dempster St. Beach Office. There is a $70 permit fee for gatherings of 99 or fewer people. Insurance coverage and a $100 damage deposit is required for all picnics at this site. Questions? Please call 847/866-2900 or download the application form for the Lighthouse Beach Picnic Shelter.
Lagoon Picnic Shelter
The Lagoon Picnic Shelter is adjacent to Lake Michigan, at the north end of the lagoon at Dawes Park, Sheridan Rd. at Church St. The building has lovely views of the park, three indoor picnic tables, public washrooms, and an outdoor BBQ grill. You and your guests may enjoy the adjacent public brick patio, but the patio area is not included in your reservation.
Evanston residents may rent the shelter between 11am and 8pm, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The fee is $30 per hour (3-hour minimum). The nonresident fee is $50 per hour (3-hour minimum).
No reservations are accepted on Tuesdays when Starlight Concerts are held; the shelter also is reserved for a few days due to the Independence Day celebration and two arts festivals; please call 874/866-4167 for the exact dates. Reservations are taken in person at the Dempster Street Beach Office. Click here for beach office hours.
Parks, Recreation & Community Services
Housing and Homelessness Commission - RESCHEDULED
Downtown Evanston Farmers' Market
Senior "Love Boat Cruise"
Senior Spelling Bee
City of Evanston Schedules for the Memorial Day Holiday
- E.P.D. Continues with Police Presence by Fleetwood-Jourdain
- ComEd Work Set for May 28-31 at Clark St. & Maple Ave.
- Evanston Police Honor C.P.A. Class Number 37
- Comcast Launches WiFi "Hot Spots" in Evanston
- Madison St. Lane Closure between Chicago Ave. & Custer Ave. May 25 for CTA Work