Best holiday parade? Readers vote America's Thanksgiving Parade

Detroit event among the oldest and largest in the country

Holiday parades, like these 10 voted as the best by our readers, bring holiday cheer in the form of festive floats, dancing elves, Santa and his sleigh and millions of twinkling lights. 

  • America's Thanksgiving Parade
    Detroit

    Detroit has been hosting America's Thanksgiving Parade (originally called the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade) since 1924. Since then, it has grown to become one of the largest and most popular parades in the country, complete with marching bands, helium balloons and colorful, larger-than-life floats making their way down historic Woodward Avenue each Thanksgiving morning.
    Photo courtesy of Jon / Flickr

  • Sparks Hometowne Christmas
    Sparks, Nev.

    The Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade celebrates its 32nd installment in 2018. This Northern Nevada tradition includes seasonal carols by marching bands, festive floats and Christmas costumes. The parade marks the beginning of the City of Sparks Toy Drive, encouraging spectators and the local community to give back this holiday season.
    Photo courtesy of Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade

  • Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade
    Gatlinburg, Tenn.

    The holiday season in Gatlinburg heats up with its annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade, now in its 43rd year. This annual event in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains features big balloons, marching bands, dancing troops and an appearance by St. Nick himself.
    Photo courtesy of Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau

  • Ford Holiday River Parade
    San Antonio

    The theme for the 2018 Ford Holiday River Parade on the River Walk is Christmas in San Antonio. Viewers of this nighttime event, now in its 38th year, watch as 21 floats covered in holiday trappings and twinkling lights float by, as costumed riders perform to seasonal tunes. Some 50,000 spectators turn out for the event, which is also televised.
    Photo courtesy of San Antonio River Walk

  • Reston Holiday Parade
    Reston, Va.

    The Reston Holiday Parade has been a holiday tradition on the day after Thanksgiving since the first parade marched in 1991. Now in its 28th year, the parade through Reston Town Center features antique cars, musicians, dancers and floats carrying special guests and local dignitaries. 
    Photo courtesy of Reston Town Center / Facebook

  • Scottish Christmas Walk Parade
    Alexandria, Va.

    This year marks the 48th Scottish Christmas Walk Parade in Old Town Alexandria. The event celebrates the season in an Old World style, complete with marching units wearing tartans of Scottish clans parading to the sounds of drums and bagpipes. Dancers, Scottie dogs, classic cars and Santa join the fun.
    Photo courtesy of Rob Shenk / Flickr

  • Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade
    Newport Beach, Calif.

    Over a million spectators show up each year to watch the twinkling lights of the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, now in its 110th year. Festively decorated yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes float along the harbor for five nights each December. Waterfront homes and businesses along the route also take part with their own colorful lighted displays.
    Photo courtesy of David McNew/Getty Images

  • Mayor's Annual Christmas Parade
    Baltimore

    For the last 46 years, business associations in Baltimore's Hampden and Medfield neighborhoods have sponsored the annual Mayor's Christmas Parade. The procession along a 2.5-mile parade route includes floats, local TV personalities, a steam calliope, marching bands, Santa and more than 100 Harley Davidson motorcycles.
    Photo courtesy of Jennifer Grimes / Flickr

  • Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
    New York

    Each Thanksgiving morning, 50 million people across the country tune in to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, while 3.5 million watch live from New York. This traditional holiday season opener since 1924 is famous for its giant inflatable balloons, depicting popular characters like Charlie Brown, Hello Kitty and Elf of the Shelf. Live performances along the parade route highlight pop icons and the Rockettes.
    Photo courtesy of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

  • San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
    San Diego

    Each year, the San Diego bayfront fills up with spectators awaiting the annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights. Celebrating its 47th year, the 2018 event, themed Tropical Island Christmas, will feature some 80 elaborately decorated boats, with prizes for the best decorations.
    Photo courtesy of Tony Webster / Flickr

The top 10 winners in the Best Holiday Parade category are as follows:

  1. America’s Thanksgiving Parade - Detroit
  2. Sparks Hometowne Christmas - Sparks, Nev.
  3. Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade - Gatlinburg, Tenn.
  4. Ford Holiday River Parade - San Antonio
  5. Reston Holiday Parade - Reston, Va.
  6. Scottish Christmas Walk Parade - Alexandria, Va.
  7. Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade - Newport Beach, Calif.
  8. Mayor's Annual Christmas Parade - Baltimore
  9. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - New York
  10. San Diego Bay Parade of Lights - San Diego

Congratulations to all these winning events!

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