During the holiday season, all across the U.S., small towns and big cities compete to put together the biggest, most festive and entertaining holiday parades. While some parades seem so over the top it’s hard to believe the organizers can do better next time, they continue to be some of the most anticipated events of the year. These four are at the top of the list for must-see classic and quirky holiday parades.
Christmas Ship Parade, Portland, OR
Five dozen or so boats decked out in strings of lights sail up and down the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, drawing audiences from across the country. Many watch the ships come and go from any of the numerous riverside restaurants. This quiet parade is a unique celebration that promises to inspire holiday spirit—making it a worthy holiday voyage destination. For more info, go to www.christmasships.org.
The Lighted Tractor Parade, Calistoga, CA
The Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade—coupled with a wine stroll through the Napa Valley town—is a holiday event so popular it’s quickly becoming tradition. Vintage and modern tractors, old and new cars, construction vehicles and fire trucks are decked out with holiday lights and then paraded down Main St. in Calistoga in celebration of the town’s agricultural heritage. During the day, the Calistoga Chamber of Commerce invites attendees to take a trip to one of their 15 local wineries for tastings. This is undeniably one parade that you have to experience in person. For more info, go to visitcalistoga.com.
Mummers Parade, Philadelphia, PA
One of the longest running traditions in the U.S., the one-of-a-kind Mummers Parade, held every New Year’s Day in Philadelphia, is an homage to the area resident’s European heritage. First started in the 1800’s, this parade is a large-scale, old-fashioned mummer’s (actor/entertainer) play that features many different groups of actors moving their sets along a parade route as they act out their performances. Usually of comical plot, featuring magic, elaborate costumes and music, the parade serves as an intricate showcase of unique talents. For more info, go to www.phillymummers.com.
Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade, Orlando, FL
Every kid—and quite a few adults—dream of visiting Disney World in Orlando, Florida at least once in a lifetime. After all, it’s a place where dreams come true. Disney characters come to life, fireworks brighten the sky every night and you can try out some of the most elaborate theme park rides ever created. It’s a magical place year round, but during Christmas, Disney ups the ante, and visitors line Main Street in the Magic Kingdom to watch the famous Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade, cheering on their favorite characters, Disney Channel stars, musical guests, local high school bands and performers. The parade is taped ahead so, for the best possible view, watch the premiere event on ABC. For more info, go to disneyparks.disney.go.com.