The world-famous Tournament of Roses Parade celebrates its 130th year on January 1st, 2020. This parade is attended by nearly 700,000 and watched by millions more worldwide. Use this post as a guide for everything you need to know about attending the parade. We’ve also included additional events that happen before and after the parade as well as some parade history and fun facts.
- How to Get to Rose Parade
- Parade Route
- Best way to see the Parade Floats
- Things To Do Before the Rose Parade
For more ideas on how to spend your time in Pasadena, make sure to check out our master Things to do in Pasadena post.
Tip: If you plan to spend an extended time in the LA area, check out our Things to do in LA post for even more ideas!
HOW TO GET TO PASADENA FOR THE PARADE
The best way to arrive in Pasadena is via public transportation, as parking is limited and there will be street closures and heavy traffic to consider. The Metro Gold Line will run throughout the evening of December 31st and January 1st from downtown LA to Pasadena. Trains run between 5am-9pm every seven minutes. There are four stations in Pasadena that serve the parade route: Memorial Park, Del Mar, Lake, and Allen.
If driving and parking better suits your needs, it is strongly encouraged that you reserve your parking spot ahead of time. You can contact SharpSeating at 626-795-4171, or LAZ Parking at 626-578-1705 to reserve the best spots at the cheapest prices.
WHAT IS THE PARADE ROUTE?
The Rose parade travels five and a half miles in total. It begins at the corner of Orange Grove Boulevard and Green Street in Pasadena, travels north on Orange Grove at a two and a half mile pace then turns right on Colorado Boulevard. It’s typically here on Colorado Blvd that the majority of the viewing takes place. Towards the end of the route, the parade will turn north on Sierra Madre Boulevard and end at Villa Street.
From any given point, the duration of the parade is roughly two hours.
GRANDSTAND TICKETS + OTHER VIEWING LOCATIONS
Grandstand tickets are available for purchase until December 31st. Everyone who sits in the Grandstand must have a ticket with the exception of children under 2 years of age who qualify to sit on the lap of their parent or guardian. All GrandStand tickets are available for purchase here. Prices vary but tend to be between $55-$100.
Additionally, beginning at noon on December 31st, curb side viewing is available at a first come, first serve basis mostly along Colorado Boulevard. Sleeping bags and folding chairs are allowed. At 11pm the night of December 31st, curbside spectators are allowed to move to a blue “honor line” on the street. This is a very popular event so if you plant to secure free, curbside viewing plan ahead and come early!
For more information, check out the full Rose Parade viewing guide.
HOW TO SEE THE FLOATS UP CLOSE
If seeing the parade floats from a distance during the parade isn’t enough, there are a couple of opportunities to get up-close and personal with the floats. This is a great way to view all of the intricate details and thousands of flowers!
From December 28-31 head over to the Rosemont Pavilion in Pasadena to get an intimate look as volunteers add the finishing touches to the floats. This includes adding flowers, grasses, fruit, vegetables, bark, and seeds (all of the perishable stuff!). Tickets for this event are $15 and children under 5 years of age are free. It’s encouraged to buy your tickets in advance to avoid long lines. The pavilion will be open for viewing:
December 28-29 from 11am-7pm
December 30 from 11am-5pm
December 31 from 11am-1pm (tickets will not be sold on-site on December 31).
Following the parade, nearly 150,000 people will attend the Showcase of Parade Floats. It’s at this event where the floats are lined up on Sierra Madre and Washington Boulevards and made available for visitors to walk within feet of to get a closer look! Additionally, there will be parade volunteers on hand to answer questions and talk more about the float process. This showcase of floats spans over two miles of city streets. Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and arrive early to beat the crowds. Tickets are $15 and children under the age of 5 are free. It’s highly recommended to purchase tickets in advance. The floats are showcased from the following dates and times:
Jan. 1, 2019: 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm (ticket sales end at 3:00 pm, last entry at 4:00 pm)
Jan. 2, 2019: 7:00 am - 9:00 am (reserved for seniors & disabled visitors)
Jan. 2, 2019: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (ticket sales end at 3:00 pm, last entry at 4:00 pm)
Additionally, as parking is limited, the city of Pasadena will offer a free shuttle to the float showcase from both the Rose Bowl and Pasadena City College. More information and advance tickets can be found here.
ADDITIONAL PRE-PARADE ACTIVITIES
There are many exciting events happening city-wide that lead up to the Rose Parade. Below are a couple of options to get a “behind the curtain” peak at some of the most pivotal components of the parade.
Tip: For more ideas on how to spend your time in Pasadena, don’t forget to check out our Things to do in Pasadena post.
Come see a sneak peak of the dozens of bands who will perform the field-shows that led to their selection for the Rose Parade! These talented and award-winning musicians and dancers will be hosting shows on December 29th and 30th as they prep for the big day. Tickets are $15 for adults and children under 5 are free. The following BandFest performances will be held at Robinson Stadium at Pasadena City College and parking is free on campus. Check the website for more information and tickets.
- Bandfest 1 - Dec. 29th 1:30 pm
- Bandfest 2 - Dec. 30th 9:30 am
- Bandfest 3 - Dec. 30th 2:00 pm
A Wonderful family event, EquestFest allows you to get an up-close look at the Equestrian teams as they prepare for the parade. You’ll have the opportunity to watch horses and their riders practice their drills and dances in addition to roping and trick riding. Additionally, enjoy a vendor court, music, food & drinks. Tickets are $15 for adults and children under 5 are free to enter! This event takes place December 29th from 10am-3pm with the equestrian show happening from 12pm-2pm. Click here for more information and tickets.
HISTORY AND FUN FACTS
1890--The first Tournament of Roses and Parade was held after Valley Hunt Club members decided to hold a parade before the competition. Because of the abundance of blooms in January in Pasadena, it was decided to show off this “paradise” for the world to see. That year, people decorated their carriages with hundreds of colorful blooms.
1920--With an increase in technology, motor driven floats took over as the horse-drawn era came to an end.
1999--to represent the 20th Century, four grand marshals were chosen for the first time in Rose Parade history. They were actress Shirley Temple Black, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, filmmaker David L. Wolper, and baseball legend Jackie Robinson (posthumously and who was also a Pasadena native).
Some Fun Facts:
- Parade floats overtime have been sponsored by professional sports teams, the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America, and motion picture companies like Paramount.
- Nearly 700,000 people from around the world come to Pasadena to watch the parade and millions more watch the parade on television.
- The floats compete for one of 24 awards each year that awarded by 3 judges although Honda is ineligible from competing, as it is the parade’s sponsor
- Dozens of equestrian units participate annually in the parade. In 2018, the parade included 400 horses
- Top high school, college, and organizational marching bands from around the globe participate each year in the parade
- Previous Grand Marshals have included Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Bob Hope, Jane Goodall, John Wayne, and Walt Disney
- Every year in September, nearly 1,000 women (and some men!) between the ages of 17-21 compete for the honor of serving in the Tournament of Roses Court. There is one Rose Queen and six Rose Princesses chosen to ride in a special float during the parade and attend over 100 events in Southern California as brand ambassadors to the Tournament of Roses. . Former Rose Queens include actress Sophia Bush.
- Thousands of volunteers participate annually. The parade requires roughly 65,000 hours of manpower which is the approximate equivalent to 7.5 years!
- Dozens of these volunteers are on the “Pooper Scooper Patrol.” That is, they are responsible for walking behind the hundreds of horses and picking up their mess.
- The 2006 parade was the worst weather yet--breaking a 51 year record for pleasant conditions. Winds sustained 45 mph and Pasadena received nearly 5 inches of rain that day.