Parades have a magical way of making spectators feel all the feels and celebrate. I don’t care if it’s the Fourth of July, homecoming, or Christmas, decorated floats combined with festive music bring a sense of community and wholesome goodness to hearts.
One parade in particular has become crazy popular for its show-stopping lights, performances, and neighborhood involvement. For 37 years, the Fort Worth Parade of Lights has decorated the streets of Cowtown. It’s become so popular that it can be overwhelming to attend, but not with our inside scoop on how to navigate the event.
Sarah, a local mom, Central Fort Worth Neighbor Group leader, and manager of Corner Bakery Cafe on Main Street (smack dab in the middle of the parade route), has some useful tips. As a mom, she’s has a beat on what questions parents may ask, and as a businesswoman, she has insight on how it affects her store and how that translates to attending the parade.
When to Show Up
Sarah says to show up AT LEAST an hour before the parade, which begins at 6:00 p.m on November 24. The Parade of Lights website recommends parking by 4:00 p.m.
“Thousands of people come,” she says, and advises checking the parade’s route to plan your trip accordingly.
If crowds aren’t your thing, check out the Christmas tree lighting the day before on November 23. “The tree lighting is less crowded,” Sarah says. “It’s getting busier, but nothing like the parade. This is a good option for those hoping to be more low key. It’s the night before the parade, and there is more parking since no streets are blocked for the parade.”
What to Bring
If possible, Sarah recommends not bringing a stroller since there are SO MANY people and wheeling a stroller can just complicate things and hurt passersby ankles. But if you have little ones who can’t walk or get tired in a hurry, by all means, roll on.
Part of the fun of going downtown is hitting up local restaurants. But again, with increased foot traffic comes long lines at nearly every store. “I work at a cafe and see people wait in line for 30 minutes for just a hot chocolate,” she says. “I know it might be part of the tradition (and I appreciate the business!) but bringing your own hot chocolate or driving thru on your way over is much easier.”
The parade route takes an estimated 40 minutes, so in addition to hot chocolate, bring enough snacks to keep littles occupied (and maybe a blanket for sleepy eyes).
Where to Park
Sarah says street parking will be free downtown since it will be the weekend, but it will be tough to find a good spot. “Anything with a meter is free, you just may need to walk a bit, and show up early,” she says.
The Parade of Light’s parking and access page says there are several free and low-cost parking options, plus the Trinity Railway Express and TexRail will be running.
Where to Watch
With more than 100 illuminated floats in the parade, you’ll want a good seat! You can buy reserved seats if you don’t want to have to scope out a spot early. Reserved spots consist of street-level chairs, elevated chairs, and bleachers, and the price will vary for those options. For example, Gold Level seats are padded chairs with complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and private portable restrooms (yes, please!). Infants, as long as they can sit in a lap, will not need a ticket.