Phoenix Electric Light Parade

A Holiday Tradition in the Valley of the Sun

Electric Light Parade in Phoenix

Steven Gerner / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The APS Electric Light Parade, one of the most important and beloved holiday traditions in Phoenix, returns to the streets of central Phoenix on Saturday, December 5, 2020. The theme for 2020 has not yet been announced, but the 2019 parade theme was "Walking in a Desert Wonderland". The Electric Light Parade features holiday lights on everything from elaborate floats to marching bands and attracts up to 100,000 spectators along the route every year. In addition to the floats, performance groups and marching bands also take part. It's a celebration that is especially fun for the children in your family.

Electric Light Parade Route

The parade begins promptly at 7 p.m. and travels along Central Avenue from Montebello Avenue to Camelback Road, east on Camelback to Seventh Street, and Seventh Street south to Indian School Road. It typically lasts about one hour, but the duration can vary.

What You Need to Know

The parade goes on in rain or shine. Bring blankets and chairs so you'll be comfortable along the route. You can bring a cooler for drinks but leave the alcohol and glass containers at home. Parade-watchers often start arriving hours before parade time to reserve spots, so get there early if you want a prime view. You can park on the street if you are lucky enough to find a spot or on a private lot near the parade route. If you want to ditch your car, you can reach the parade route via Valley Metro Rail at the Central and Camelback station.

Parade Float Judging

If you are really into the floats, go to the parade float judging on the Friday before the parade, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the event staging area at North Phoenix Baptist Church. There you will see the floats lit up and glittering for official review. You can get much closer to the floats here than during the parade and can see the details. And as a bonus, kids can play holiday games, get their faces painted, and participate in arts and crafts in Santa's Village. They can also get a photo with Santa. Admission to Santa's Village is free. 

Restaurants and Bars in the Area

Before or after the parade, you'll no doubt get hungry. Restaurants in the area of the parade route include:

  • Windsor: Located in its namesake historic Phoenix neighborhood, Windsor is a neighborhood bar and restaurant with a backyard-style patio where they serve wine and beer on tap, cocktails, and upscale globally-inspired bar food.
  • Postino Central: Here you'll be able to find beer, wine, small plates, charcuterie boards.
  • Lou Malnati's Pizzeria: A restaurant and bar featuring Chicago-style deep dish pizza.
  • Joyride Taco House: A local favorite for cocktails, tacos and American-Mexican cuisine.
  • St. Francis: Serving up, new American cuisine served in a modern, family-owned restaurant, they offer happy hour every-day, healthy meals for kids, and a seasonal menu that incorporates fresh ingredients.
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