Rose Parade - Tips and Frequently Asked Questions

The Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA

Tournament of Roses

The tradition of the Rose Parade (AKA the Rose Bowl Parade) is over a hundred years old in the city of Pasadena, California. The New Year's Day parade is part of the Tournament of Roses, which includes the Rose Bowl college football game and several other parade-related events.

The most unique element of the Rose Parade is that all floats must be decorated in organic matter, which includes flower petals, seeds, grasses and other plant matter. On a side note, if you're expecting to see Black Roses from Turkey, you'll be disappointed. That's a fake internet meme.

Teams, including hundreds of volunteers, work for weeks to decorate the elaborate floats in accordance with the year's theme and the creative inspiration of the participants.

The floral masterpieces are paraded down Route 66, also known as Colorado Boulevard. The floats represent cities around Southern California and various civic organizations and companies. The moving gardens are accompanied by the top marching bands and equestrian teams from around the country.

When is the Rose Parade?

The Rose Parade begins at 8 am on January 1st, unless the 1st falls on a Sunday, then it's moved to January 2nd, so for 2017, it is on January 2. The parade takes about 2 hours to walk its 5.5-mile route, so if you're planning on watching the parade near the Sierra Madre finish, the parade will begin there closer to 10 am.

What is the Parade Route?

The parade starts at Ellis Street & Orange Grove in Pasadena, then continues North on Orange Grove then East on Colorado Blvd. to Sierra Madre Blvd., then north on Sierra Madre Blvd. to Paloma Street.

How Long is the Rose Parade?

The Rose Parade is a total of 5 1/2 miles in length.

Do I need a grandstand seat or can I watch the parade from the sidewalk?

There are stretches of sidewalk without grandstands and also some areas in front of grandstands where people can watch the parade for free. People are allowed to take up positions on the sidewalk starting at noon the day before the parade and move out to the blue line in the street starting at 11 pm New Year's Eve. No tents are allowed. Check the Tournament of Roses website for restrictions.
There is no curbside viewing of the parade along the televised route on Orange Grove Blvd. from Del Rosa to Colorado Blvd. and on Colorado from Orange Grove to Terrace.

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Which are the best grandstand seats?

View from the bleachers across from the Norton Simon Museum at the Rose Parade in Pasadena
Photo by Roy Niswanger via Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Seats at the beginning of the parade along Orange Grove and around the corner onto Colorado have an unobstructed view and there is no curbside viewing in front of the grandstands. These are the most expensive seats, and you have to be there the earliest. 

The cheapest seats are the $48 seats midway along Colorado Blvd. The view in this area may be partially obstructed by poles, trees or the corner of a building, so they are not great seats for photography, but you can see everything. Most of the other grandstand areas have a clear view. All the grandstands are built up so that the lowest seats are 5 feet off the ground, so people seated at the bottom should be able to see over curbside viewers. It's just a matter of choice whether you prefer to be higher up and farther back or lower and closer.

Look for seats on the South side of the street (most of them are) so you won't have the sun in your eyes the whole time.

Reserve grandstand seating through ​

GUIDE TIP: The best seating bargain is the section of grandstand seats near Pasadena City College. The seats are $58 for an unobstructed view. Many band families sit here so it is a very lively section and there is s good chance the bands will perform as they go by the grandstands.

Is there access for the disabled?

There is a free curbside viewing area reserved for the disabled. Contact the ​Tournament of Roses for reservations. They usually fill up by early December. There are additional paid seats available for people with disabilities through Sharp Seating.

Where should I park?

Reserved parking is available for $35-45 through Sharp Seating. If you get your grandstand seats and parking together, you will be assigned a space in the nearest structure or lot to your grandstand. You can also reserve parking if you are planning to view curbside.

There is also parking available at lots in Pasadena around the parade lot on a first come basis and limited street parking on side streets and several blocks off the parade route beginning at noon the day before the parade. Watch the signage carefully. All parking limits will be enforced.


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How do I take the Metro to the Parade?

Riding the Los Angeles Metro
Kayte Deioma

The Metro Gold Line begins at Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles and travels through Pasadena. The Red Line runs from North Hollywood through Hollywood to Union Station. The Blue Line begins in Long Beach and meets up with the Red Line in downtown LA. See the Metro Maps for full Metro routes. Park and Ride locations along the Metro train routes are indicated on the map.

The Metro Gold Line will take you to several stops within easy access of the Rose Parade.

Memorial Park Station is one of the closest to the parade route, two blocks north of Colorado Blvd at Arroyo Parkway. Grandstands from 120 to 500 Colorado are closest to the Memorial Park Metro Station.

Lake Metro Station is about four blocks north of Colorado on Lake Ave. The closest grandstands are at 792 Colorado. There are not a lot of grandstands between Lake and Hill, so this is a good area for curbside viewing.

Allen Metro Station is Four blocks north of Colorado at Allen. It is the closest Metro stop to the Pasadena City College Grandstands (Colorado 1500-1680). There are additional Grandstands on the other side of Allen at 1880 Colorado and beyond.

Sierra Madre Villa Station at the Sierra Madre and the 210 Freeway is near the end of the parade route on ​the Sierra Madre. It is actually the shortest walk to the parade route, but there aren't a lot of grandstands at this end of the parade. If you take the train to Sierra Madre Villa Station, you can get there a little later, since the parade takes about two hours to get to this point.

Bus routes are diverted because of street closures. Call 1-800-COMMUTE for holiday bus routes and schedules.


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Where should I stay to go to the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl?

A Rose Parade float passes in front of the Travelodge in Pasadena
Photo by madz pacpaco via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There are plenty of places to stay in Pasadena, many along the parade route. However, what are normally Budget Hotels in Pasadena, are way overpriced for the Tournament of Roses. Hotel rooms that are normally $70 go for over $200 over New Year's weekend. If you're willing to spend $600 per night you can get a nice room in Pasadena right up until the last minute. If you're looking for a better deal, try hotels in Glendale or Monrovia. Or better still, look for New Year's bargains in Downtown LA or Hollywood, where some of the hottest New Year's Eve parties are happening. Then take the Metro to the parade in the morning.

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