Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade

palm springs festival of lights paradeLined up in neat rows of folding chairs and sprawled on blankets along the edge of Palm Canyon Drive, thousands of people have come out to see the annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade.

When is the Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade?

The holiday spectacle draws large crowds as families gather together to celebrate the unofficial start of the holiday season, and the 2021 parade is December 4.

Things often kick off with a marching band from Palm Springs High School at around 5:45 near Ramon Road, before wrapping up at Tamarisk Drive.

While kids huddle with their parents at the curb, diners and drinkers fill the many bars and restaurants where they enjoy prime views while nibbling food or sipping drinks. Many came well before sunset to get a prime spot, then made themselves at home for the two hour duration of the parade. Costumes and fun outfits abound!

palm springs festival of lights parade

Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade: what to expect

There were many famous faces passing by in lit-up convertibles. Past years have seen supermodels like Beverly Johnson snapping glamorous selfies as the Celebrity Grand Marshall, or perhaps boxer Tim Bradley Jr grabbed your attention as one of several Community Grand Marshalls, along with the Palm Springs Police Chief or “The Original Palm Springs Santa”. Palm Springs Mayor and City Councillors also take part.

The Festival of Lights has been going strong for 29 years. Originally conceived by former Mayor Will Kleindienst, the idea for the parade was that it would “allow residents and visitors to celebrate the spirit and joy of the holiday season while at the same time creating a unique tourism event, which over the years has brought in an estimated 100,000 people annually to the downtown,” according to the event’s website.

The crowd is also captivated by the giant balloons bobbing down the street, which include a colorful candy shapes, a nutcracker and a giant penguin. That is, until a throng of Harley-riding motorcyclists with deafening pipes drive by to wow spectators as they shake up the night and dazzle the crowd.

Post-parade many residents and visitors crowd into neighborhood restaurants for a late supper or after-show beverage, reveling in the holiday feel for just a bit longer.

Each year the Parade of Lights is held the first Saturday of December. For more information, visit the organization’s website.

palm springs festival of lights parade

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Palm Springs Traveller Staff