Christmas may not be until December, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until then to celebrate the holiday season. The 2011 WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade will be held Saturday, November 19th this year, and the whole family is invited.

The Raleigh Christmas Parade is approximately 1.4 miles, the largest of its kind between DC and Atlanta. This fun, spirited event is hosted by the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association and sponsored by WRAL News. Awards will be given to parade entries in four categories: best use of the imagination to depict the “Spirit of Raleigh,” outstanding showmanship and design concept, most entertaining, and people’s choice.

Parking can be hard to come by at some parades, but check out this parking map to plan ahead and make getting to the parade a breeze. After the event, spectators and participants alike are encouraged to dine, shop and enjoy downtown Raleigh. View this comprehensive list of downtown restaurants and check out all of the fun things to do in the area before you plan your trip, or download the visit Raleigh iPhone app to plan as you go.

The parade starts at 9:40 a.m., so plan to rise and shine and celebrate a wonderful upcoming Christmas and holiday season.