There's no surer sign of the holiday season quickly approaching than the return of one of Raleigh, N.C.'s best (and biggest) annual traditions—the ABC11 Raleigh Christmas Parade! An event truly made for the whole family, the parade provides endless entertainment in downtown Raleigh for one Sat. morning each year. Here's everything you need to know—when, where and how—about the 2019 parade.
 

What is it?

The Raleigh Christmas Parade, the largest such parade between Atlanta and Washington, D.C., marches through downtown Raleigh for more than two hours, drawing nearly 65,000 visitors to the streets to see marching bands, dancers, classic cars, superheroes and Santa Claus (more than 115 entries are expected to peruse the route in 2019).

The 2019 version of one of Raleigh's favorite holiday traditions will be the 75th annual edition of the parade!

Raleigh Christmas Parade

 

What day is it? What times does it start and end?

The Raleigh Christmas Parade will take place on Sat., Nov. 23. It will start at 9:30am and end around noon.

To get front-row seating/viewing, you likely want to arrive at 8:30am (or earlier!).

Raleigh Christmas Parade

 

Who puts it on?

The Raleigh Christmas Parade is presented by Shop Local Raleigh, an organization committed to promoting and supporting locally-owned, independent businesses in Raleigh.

ABC11 is the media sponsor of the event and will broadcast the parade live from 9am to noon, with Clay Aiken and Amber Rupinta as hosts. A re-broadcast airs on Christmas morning.

 

Why does it take place before Thanksgiving?

History and tradition. The Raleigh Christmas Parade has been held the Sat. before Thanksgiving dating back to 1939 (the parade took a hiatus for a few years because of World War II). The parade has always been organized by local shops and merchants and provided exposure for local businesses right as holiday shopping season kicks into high gear.

An early parade date has its benefits—chances are good for sunny weather and gorgeous fall foliage at this time of year!

Raleigh Christmas Parade

 

What is the route like? Where should you watch from?

The 1.4-mile parade route starts near the corner of Hillsborough St. and Glenwood Ave., cruises down Hillsborough St. for several blocks where it runs into the North Carolina State Capitol, then snakes its way onto Fayetteville St., makes a turn to pass directly in front of the Raleigh Convention Center and finally makes its way down Lenoir St. where it ends at the corner of Lenoir and McDowell Sts. Note: This is a new finishing location.  View the route here.

Following the parade is a Christmas Village post-parade party at Lichtin Plaza in front of the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, where you can see the giant balloon floats up close, drop off a letter for Santa, hear live musical performances and shop for local goodies. The party wraps up at 1:30pm.

All the viewing for the parade is street-side, meaning it's first-come, first-served for those who want to set up chairs in the front row for unimpeded views. If you do that, there are certainly no bad spots to watch from. Crowds are likely heaviest on Fayetteville St. just outside of the ABC11 studios (where some bleacher seating is typically available); crowds are likely thinnest near the start and end of the route.

The Alexander Square Parking Deck, located at 230 S. Wilmington St., offers elevated views as the parade swings by the Capitol but will likely fill up very, very early in the morning.

Raleigh Christmas Parade

 

Where should you park?

Street parking is available for free in downtown Raleigh.

The parade map shows available parking decks, some of which may charge a fee.

Raleigh Christmas Parade

 

What should you bring with you?

Chairs, blankets, warm clothes and some cash (you may be able to scoop some cotton candy, pastries or hot chocolate from a vendor or local shop).
 

More questions about the parade or visiting Raleigh, N.C., in general? Shoot us a note on Twitter or Facebook—we're here to help!

 

Note: Authored by David Menconi, this piece has been produced in partnership with Raleigh Arts. The ongoing COVID-19 virus... View More

Raleigh, N.C., is a place where entrepreneurial spirit and creative grit thrives, a place where the community collaborates for... View More

Learn. Discover. Distract. It's no secret that times are tough right now, especially in the hospitality industry. Much of... View More

The hospitality industry needs your help. In Raleigh and Wake County, the hospitality industry employs more than 67,000... View More

We are closely monitoring event cancellations and postponements and updating visitRaleigh.com info accordingly. However, we... View More

We are closely monitoring event cancellations and postponements and updating visitRaleigh.com info accordingly. However, we... View More

Paint the town “green” with a holiday visit to the Raleigh area for St. Patrick’s Day. From parades to pub... View More

The James Beard Foundation announced its list of chef and restaurant semifinalists for their 30th annual James Beard Foundation... View More