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Unwrapping the Top 5 Holiday Parades for Marching Bands

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by Rhoda Venture
Performance Trip

Top 5 Holiday Parades for Marching Bands

I’m one of those people who gets excited when the stores put up Christmas lights beside pumpkins. I can’t wait for the holiday music to start playing on a loop and I buy wrapping paper in bulk. We get a few short weeks when it seems as if the world is just a bit cheerier and people a little kinder. I want to soak it all in for as long as possible!

One of my favorite ways to kick off the magic of the season is with a holiday parade. Lively marching bands, exquisite floats, and giant balloons make for big smiles and happy hearts!  Here are the top 5 holiday parades for marching bands.

1. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City is the world’s largest! Bands of all shapes and sizes can apply to entertain crowds of nearly 3 million live spectators and 50 million television viewers.

It’s packed with celebrities, floats, performances, and of course, those giant floating bits of pop culture! Applications are usually due no later than April 1st for the following year’s parade so start planning now.

2. Hollywood Christmas Parade

If you want a warmer parade route, think about sunny southern California and the Hollywood Christmas Parade. This one is held the Sunday after Thanksgiving and bands of all types are welcome to apply.


Participation is based on a variety of criteria, including musicianship, marching ability, uniqueness, and entertainment value. Bands must also be able to perform field show-type maneuvers while marching.

The Hollywood Christmas parade promises to be packed with star power and pageantry so be sure to submit your application by the February 1st deadline of the parade year.

3. Nashville Christmas Parade

The Nashville Christmas Parade has been a Tennessee tradition since 1927. It includes celebrity appearances, elaborate floats, balloons, and performing groups.

The parade route travels the “Musical Mile” with hundreds of thousands of spectators ready to cheer on your group! It’s a great way to kick off Christmas – country style!

top 5 holiday parades for marching bands

4. 6abc Dunkin’ Thanksgiving Day Parade

First held in 1920, the 6abc Dunkin’ Thanksgiving Day Parade is the oldest in the country! Balloons, floats, and fan favorites are the hallmarks of this iconic Philadelphia event, along with talented marching bands and performers. There are spots for 19 talented bands of 90 or more!

5. America’s Thanksgiving Parade® in Detroit

Finally, mark the start of the holiday season with a Michigan tradition!  America’s Thanksgiving Parade® Detroit starts bright and early as hundreds of thousands of spectators line historic Woodward Avenue. They’ll watch as colorful floats, gigantic balloons, and thunderous marching bands pass.


Your band can take part in the fun and excitement based on their performances and quality of music as well as overall presentations. It’s a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience sure to set the mood for a joyful holiday.

Top 5 Holiday Parades for Marching Bands

These top 5 holiday parades are great opportunities for marching bands and performance groups. There’s nothing like a live crowd or a chance to be in front of a televised audience.

When the department store trees go up in September, think of them as cheerful reminders that the holidays are almost here…

It’s time to plan your holiday parade performance trip!

top 5 holiday parades for bands

Updated October 2023

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