35th annual Grand Illumination Parade in Downtown Norfolk on November 23

Posted at 12:24 PM, Nov 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-12 12:25:26-05

NORFOLK, Va. – The 35th annual Grand Illumination Parade starts the holiday magic on November 23!

The parade will once again be in Downtown Norfolk around 7 p.m. The parade, presented by MacArthur Center, starts at the corner of St. Paul’s Blvd. and Main Street and follows a two-mile course.

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The theme “Toyland” will come alive through marching bands, animal brigades, motorized units, walking units and floats. The parade is free and open to the public. The finale brings Santa to Downtown on a spectacular float!

The Grand Illumination Parade is a beloved holiday tradition for many local families. The parade follows the Grand Illumination that lights up the Downtown skyline at 7 p.m. The lights will continue to adorn Downtown Norfolk throughout the holidays.

“We’ve produced the region’s ultimate holiday parade for 35 years and are proud of the hundreds of volunteers and participants who bring their creativity and energy to Downtown each year,” said Mary Miller, president and CEO of Downtown Norfolk Council.

The Grand Illumination Parade won a Merit Award from the International Downtown Association and it has been a Southeast Tourism Top 20 Event, since 1985, according to the city’s government website.

Norfolk will welcome thousands of people to the Mermaid City during the weekend of November 23-24. The city has set up two ways for citizens to stay connected and receive information about parking, street closures and emergency alerts.

  • Sign up for Norfolk Harbor alerts by texting NFKHarbor to 888-777
  • Sign up for Grand Illumination Parade alerts by texting NFKParade to 888-777

Click here for full holiday coverage and local events.

Parade Tips & Extras

Waterside District VIP Experience $40
Join Waterside District for a VIP viewing experience of the parade and annual lighting of the Downtown, along with access to festive food, drinks and holiday activities! Bring your own folding chair for a comfortable seating experience. Admission to the VIP Viewing Area is $40 and includes $20 promotional gift card to Waterside District and one ticket for hot cocoa. Enjoy a festive holiday atmosphere with food tents, holiday garb and non-alcoholic drinks available for purchase. Kids 10 and under are free to attend. Click here for more information. 

Come Early and Enjoy the Fun
Spectators are encouraged to arrive before 5 p.m. to avoid traffic. There’s plenty to do for the whole family including Dickens’ Christmas Towne at Nauticus, Impulse Giant Seesaw Experience and ice skating at MacArthur on Ice, and plenty of shopping and dining options. Various entertainment options will also be available at Waterside District and on the parade route starting at 5:30 p.m.

Special Event Parking Prices
Early bird parking rates of $2 are available until 5 p.m. All city garages, including MacArthur Center, are collect-on-entry and accept cash or credit. The garage at Norfolk Hilton The Main Hotel will not be collect-on-entry. Regular hourly rates apply. Dominion Tower is $5 collect-on-entry from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m, cash or credit. For all garage locations click here.

See the Parade Online or on Social Media
The Grand Illumination Parade will be on Facebook Live @DowntownNorfolk on November 23 at 7 p.m. You can enjoy the parade’s marching bands, giant balloons, floats and walking units along with colorful commentary, and you will be able to interact with hosts in real time. On your mobile device, follow @DowntownNorfolk on Facebook. If you don’t have Facebook, you can still watch live on your laptop or desktop at this link. The Facebook Live broadcast will be available after the parade on this Facebook.