Christmas in Greater Palm Springs is celebrated a little differently than in most parts of the country – we hang out by the pool while others make a snowman, for example – but, the Coachella Valley does have its Holiday traditions and the Festival of Lights parade is one of the bigger ones.

Here are five things to know about the event:

What is it?

It’s a festival of lights, man. C’mon, it’s right there in the name! Okay, it’s not really a festival at all, but a parade that was prominently featured in a Christmas movie that no one ever saw.

The parade includes a bunch of vehicles outfitted with lights of some kind along with high school bands, various city trucks draped with lights, and a Celebrity and Community Grand Marshall, neither of which is you – which was really a dumb oversight by the parade’s committee. By the way, you might want to bring a chair or two to kick it in as this thing is held on a street and not a stadium.

Where is it?

The parade travels along Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs from Ramon Road heading northbound past many, many t-shirt shops to Tamarisk Road. The route is a total of 1.25 miles, so those with a Fitbit walking the route should get about 2,500 extra steps that day. For those not in the parade, there’s also a few bars along the way (Moxie, Brickworks, etc) with seating areas where you can view the parade while (legally) having a cocktail. You will want to reserve your spot at these places early.

When is it?

The Festival of Lights Parade is always held on the first Saturday of December and starts at 5:45 pm because I guess 6 pm was just too much of a round number for the event’s organizers. The whole thing is usually done by 7:30, which means many of the old people who attend will miss the night’s airing of “Wheel of Fortune.”

Where should I park?

Where ever you can find a spot. If you don’t get there early, this might be a problem. The city says that 100,000 people attend the parade. There is no evidence of this and, well, it’s seems like it might be a bit of an exaggeration.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still crowded af in the city’s small downtown area. Bottom line: be prepared to walk to get there and, more importantly, plan on kicking it somewhere after the parade is over because traffic getting out is gonna suck.

So it’s really just a parade and not a festival?

Yes.  Palm Springs is weird like that.

You can get more info on the parade, errr festival here.


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