Today, a million people turn out every New Year's Day to watch dozens of floats, bands and equestrian groups.
That's a far cry from when The Rose Parade began at a Pasadena Valley Hunt Club meeting in 1890, and Professor Charles Holder suggested holding a festival to tell the world about California. That first year, just 2,000 people watched flower-covered carriages travel down Colorado Avenue.
Watching the Rose Parade
The Rose Parade
- Starts at 8:00 a.m.
- Is held on January 1 (January 2 when the January 1 is a Sunday)
- Lasts about two hours
- Travels along a 5.5-mile route through Pasadena starting at Ellis Street and Orange. The Rose Parade reaches the last viewing area near Sierra Madre Blvd. and Villa Street at about 9:30 a.m.
Curbside viewing space for the Rose Parade is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The City of Pasadena lets people claim a sidewalk viewing space up along the route starting at noon the day before the parade, and the best spots are taken soon afterward. Overnight camping on the street is permitted, and fires (in fire-safe containers which are off the ground) are allowed if it's not windy.
Rose Parade Grandstand Tickets
Grandstand Viewing is the easiest and most comfortable way to see the goings-on. It's also the most expensive. You can reserve one of 70,000 elevated Rose Parade grandstand seat tickets online in advance from Sharp Seating. Everybody, regardless of age, must have a ticket for the grandstands. Tickets cost as much as $30 less near the route's end than at the beginning.
You and any items you bring into the Rose Parade grandstands will be searched. Backpacks, coolers and large bags are not allowed.
More Rose Parade Events
Modest admission fees are charged for each of these Rose Parade events. Buy tickets online in advance from Sharp Seating.
Float Decorating: As the finishing touches go on, some floats-in-progress are on view. Find out how you can see them in action.
Post-Parade Float Display: The afternoon after the Rose Parade and all day for the next two days, you can see the beautiful creations close-up. Allow about 2 hours to see them all. Parking is limited at the viewing area, and your best bet is to use the park-and-ride service. Buy viewing tickets in the shuttle bus parking lots. Arrive early: not only is it less crowded then, but you won't miss out in case they stop selling tickets later because of the crowds.
Equestfest: Horses and their riders strut their stuff at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, 480 Riverside Drive, Burbank. Visitors can tour the stables, talk to riders, take pictures and watch the trick riding and roping demonstrations,drills and dances.
- Bandfest: Two days before the Rose Parade, the all-star bands that will march in the parade perform in a field show at Pasadena City College, 1570 E. Colorado Blvd.
Rose Parade the Cheap, Easy Way
You don't have to sit on Colorado Boulevard all night with the folks throwing marshmallows and spraying Silly String. You don't have to spend lots of money for bleacher seats and parking, either. Few people know that the Rose Parade itself is the least fun way (and at the same time most expensive) to see the astonishing floats. If you have two to three days for your Rose Parade experience, here's what to do:
- Buy tickets to view the float decorating. You'll get a chance to see the floats under construction, up to about midday the day before the parade
- Head for Orange Grove Boulevard late on the night before the parade, when the floats move into position. Giant spotlights make the scene almost as bright as day
- On Rose Parade morning, sleep late while everyone else fights the crowds. Watch from your home or hotel. You'll be comfortable, and you can hear all the commentary.
- Buy tickets for the best and most interesting part of the Rose Parade: float viewing, where you can get close to the floats and talk to their builders. Crowds will be smaller if you arrive immediately when they open on the morning after the parade. Use an area park-and-ride lot, or if you have a car full of people, try for one of the paid lots near Pasadena High School.
Where to Stay to See to the Rose Bowl Parade
If you're determined to see the parade in person, you're going to have to get up early. How early depends on where you stay. Which, in part, depends on how far ahead you plan your Rose Bowl Parade trip.
If you're coming to Pasadena from out of town, get some ideas for the best places to stay, but by late November, all the Pasadena hotels near the parade route are likely to be full. Your next best bet would be a hotel in east Pasadena along East Colorado Boulevard and within walking distance of the Metro Gold Line.
Downtown Los Angeles is your next best bet, where you can catch the Metro Gold Line toward Pasadena-Sierra Madre Villa, then exit at Del Mar, Memorial Park, Lake, and Allen Stations, which are all within a short walk of the parade route. However, downtown hotels are expensive on New Year's Eve. Staying anywhere else is a balance between how money and sleep.
Driving to the Rose Bowl Parade
Directions to the Rose Parade from every direction are on the Rose Parade Website.
Paid parking for the Rose Bowl Parade is available on a first-come, first-served basis at lots and parking structures near the Rose Bowl Parade route, or you can reserve a spot through Sharp Seating.
Overnight parking on Pasadena streets is permitted beginning at noon the day before the parade, for that evening only. No Parking areas and red curb zones remain off-limits. The Pasadena Police Department can answer questions about Rose Bowl Parade parking at 626-744-6470.
Public Transportation to the Rose Bowl Parade
Metro Rail's Gold line makes it easy to get to the Rose Bowl Parade, but you may have to change trains to get there if you start from somewhere other than downtown Los Angeles. Exit the Gold Line at the Del Mar, Memorial Park, Lake or Allen stations; all are a short walk from the Rose Bowl Parade route.
If you have grandstand seats, check your seat location address to see which stop is closest:
- 400 West Colorado through 300 E. Colorado: Del Mar or Memorial
- 300 East Colorado through 1200 E. Colorado: Lake
- 1200 East Colorado through Sierra Madre: Allen
Rose Bowl Parade in Your RVIf you own a motor home or RV, parking it along the Rose Bowl Parade route may be the least expensive, most comfortable and convenient way to go. You can find a list of places to park at the City of Pasadena website. Frontline parking along the Rose Bowl Parade route can be reserved through Sharp Seating.