Licensing and Approvals

Beer Gardens

Extended Service Areas

Alcohol Caterers

The City of Seattle and the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board set conditions for the operation of any alcohol service areas at your event.

Licensing and Approvals

Alcohol Service on City Right of Way 

Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has the initial authority for any extended service area that is intended to be operated on the public right of way (streets or sidewalks). Once SDOT has approved the location, the vendor can seek permitting from the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) if liquor sales are involved. Seattle Fire Department must also be consulted for assembly, occupancy and other approvals and permits.

Alcohol Service in Seattle Parks

Seattle Parks and Recreation has the initial authority for any alcohol sales or service in Seattle Park. Once Parks and Recreation have approved the activity, the vendor can seek permitting from the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB). Seattle Fire Department must also be consulted for assembly, occupancy and other approvals and permits. 

Alcohol Service on Private Property

If the intended space is not in the public right of way (streets or sidewalks) or in a Seattle Park but is on private property, the vendor should still include the space in the main application but can go directly to WSLCB for the individual permitting.

Any alcohol service must be licensed/permitted by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. In general, special event organizers must have one of the following:


Special Occasion License -- allows a bona fide nonprofit organization to sell liquor at a specific time, date and place.
Available to bona fide nonprofit organizations

  • All proceeds of liquor sales must be retained by the nonprofit
  • Allows sales of spirits, beer and wine by individual serving for on-premises consumption
  • The local authority (i.e. mayor or county executive) will be notified of your application and have the opportunity to weigh in on the application
  • Organizations are limited to 12 single-day events per calendar year
  • Special occasion licensees may not advertise or sell alcohol below cost
  • You may purchase spirits from a domestic (in-state) Spirits Distributor, Spirits Retailer licensee, Craft Distillery, or Distillery. You may also purchase spirits from a U.S. distillery holding a Spirits Out-of-State Certificate of Approval (COA) with Washington to ship spirits directly to licensed retailers. Beer or wine may be purchased wholesale or retail.

Banquet Permit -- allows the service and consumption of liquor at a private, invitation-only banquet or gathering held in a public place or business.

  • Banquet permits are available to for-profit businesses, societies, organizations, and individuals
  • Retail liquor licensees may not obtain banquet permits
  • Attendance must be by invitation only
  • The event may not be open or advertised to the public
  • Liquor must be free of charge, or brought by individuals attending the event. No separate or additional charge may be made for liquor, and donations cannot be accepted
  • The event cannot be for business promotions
  • Liquor must be purchased from a retail store at full retail price

In addition to your WSLCB permissions, your alcohol service areas must be approved by the City of Seattle Special Events Committee.

Beer Gardens

A "beer garden" is an enclosed area where any type of alcoholic beverage (beer, wine, cider, spirits) is served and/or sold.

You must submit a detailed schematic/map of any beer garden with your Special Event Permit Application. The map must include:

  • Fencing/barriers including dimensions
  • Entrances and exits including dimensions
  • Equipment/furniture: tables, chairs, bars, stage, etc. including dimensions

See example map


There are two options for fencing:

  1. Single fencing that is at least 6 feet high
  2. Double fencing that is at least 42 inches high. The space ("moat") between the double fencing must be at least 6 feet wide.

Maximum Occupancy
The maximum occupancy limit for any enclosed space is set by the Fire Marshal's Office according to a fixed set of requirements for safety, including the usable space inside the area (total space minus any furniture or structures) and the number, size, and location of entrances and exits.

An accurate count of number of people inside the beer garden must be maintained at all times. Most event organizers accomplish this with an in/out counter.

The level of security staffing for the beer garden must be sufficient to insure compliance with State and local laws and must require that every exit/entry to the beer garden be staffed to ensure that no alcoholic beverages are removed from or brought into the beer garden.

ID Check
For the purpose of admission to the beer garden and service of alcoholic beverages, operators of the beer garden must ensure that all persons who appear 30 years of age or younger present appropriate identification attesting their age to be at least 21 years.

Serving Containers
No glass serving containers are permitted for use in beer garden services or food/beverage services associated with the beer garden.

All food packaging at events must be in compostable containers. All beverage serving containers must be in compostable or recyclable containers. Adequate recycling/composting bins must be provided within the service and consumption area.

Extended Service Areas

Restaurants and bars that seek to operate extended service areas (outside of any existing public space permitted) within a special event (such as a street festival), must work through the event organizer.

The event organizer has the street use permit for the footprint of their festival within a specific date range. If a restaurant or bar within that footprint seeks to alter the public right of way, permission to do so will only be granted as part of the organizer's special event permit. Permits will not be issued to individual establishments.

Restaurants and bars that wish to use the sidewalk area to extend their service area may use the whole portion of the adjacent sidewalk, out to the curb. Temporary curb ramps must be installed on each side of the closed sidewalk section. A minimum 10' wide section of the street adjacent to the closed portion of the sidewalk must be kept clear at all times.

If you plan to have restaurants or lounges within your event footprint operate extended service areas, you're required to do the following at the time you apply for a special event permit:

  • Include the names of each establishment on your event map
  • Submit the dimensions and fencing plan for each establishment and include these service areas on your event map (areas are limited to the curb)
  • Submit a description of the services planned (selling food, liquor, etc)

Generally, the following rules and regulations will also apply:

  • Any extended service area must be adjacent and contiguous to the business premises
  • Any extended service area may NOT be adjacent and contiguous with any other area licensed for liquor sales (i.e., may not be adjacent to other restaurants or differently-licensed liquor "gardens")
  • Proprietor of business is responsible for securing entrances and exits with staff checking for twenty-one (21) and over identification for alcohol consumption
  • One layer of 42-inch tall barrier must be in place around any extended service area

Alcohol Caterers

Restaurants with a catering endorsement to their liquor license may cater alcohol at private events (no ticket sales) and events sponsored entirely by a non-profit. Third-party promoters may not be involved with this type of event.


Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board

Special Events

Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 5752, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94708, Seattle, WA, 98124-4708
Phone: (206) 684-8017
Fax: (206) 684-7025

The City of Seattle plays a strong role in helping event planners bring people together safely and successfully in both city-wide and neighborhood events.