Christmas Parades

Christmas parades are one of the most festive times of the season. Hordes of merrymakers gather together in a spirit of camaraderie and goodwill, ready to watch the colorful parade go by. There's usually plenty of hot chocolate, cheerful decorations, and creative floats at each parade. But there's one difference in places like Florida and California—there's not the cold that many cities deal with in December. 

Thanks to the warm weather and engaging things to do, Florida is packed with Christmas vacation destinations. California, too, celebrates the season under blue skies when the forecast calls for lovely weather. From the sugar-soft beaches of the Emerald Coast that look like snow to Christmas lights on San Diego's palm trees, these states know how to celebrate the holidays. The Sunshine State hosts two of the biggest Christmas parades around, the Winterfest Boat Parade and the Disney Christmas Parade. The Golden State gets into the fun of the season with the Hollywood Christmas Parade and Christmas events at Disneyland. 

Hollywood Christmas Parade

Hollywood Christmas Parade
Hollywood Christmas Parade

Hollywood hosts its Christmas celebration on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Those who book Christmas vacation packages during this time can join in the celebration. Part of the fun is watching for celebrities. Everyone from Bob Hope and Gene Autry to Magic Johnson and Arnold Schwarzenegger have served as grand marshal. Stars of stage and screen still can be found in the crowds or on the floats, while others are hosting the parade for the TV broadcast. The parade goes down Hollywood Boulevard, following a 3.5-mile trek. When it started in the 1920s, it had a mile-long route in an effort to encourage shoppers to make their way to Hollywood. Decades later, the parade continues to bring people to Hollywood for this kick-off to the holiday season. 

Winterfest Boat Parade

Winterfest Boat Parade
Winterfest Boat Parade

Down in Florida, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Resort hosts one of Fort Lauderdale's biggest events. The Wintefest Boat Parade, dubbed the “Greatest Show on H2O” has been a community favorite for more than 40 years. The calender of events unfolds over several days in mid-December, with the parade scheduled on Sunday. This is one of those rare Christmas parades where Santa is not the main attraction—the boats are. The 12-mile parade begins at the New River in Fort Lauderdale, by the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. The showboats and yachts then head east for along the Intracoastal Waterway, eventually turning north to Pompano Beach and Lake Santa Barbara. More than 1 million people gather along the route to see the twinkling lights, experience the music, and enjoy the decorations. Reserved seats are available under the grandstand at Birch State Park

Disney Christmas Parade

Disney Christmas Parade
Disney Christmas Parade

Many families are familiar with the Disney Christmas Parade, which airs every December 25 during Christmas morning. It's rather festive to see the parade on TV, but there's nothing like seeing it person. The parade brings the festivities to Main Street USA, right in the heart of the the Magic Kingdom. Of course, the parade is just one part of the Christmas celebration throughout the Disney Parks and cruises. Between mid-November and early January, Disney World celebrates the season with special events and plenty of festive celebrations. Epcot showcases Christmas around the world, and restaurants serve up hearty holiday feasts. Mickey hosts a special show filled with holiday songs and fun at the Magic Kingdom. Disneyland gets into spirit with the Jingle Jangle Jamboree. The park in Anaheim also hosts a Disney Christmas parade with the Christmas Fantasy Parade in early December. 

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