The 34th Annual Grand Illumination Parade kicks off on November 17, 2018 at 7 pm in Downtown Norfolk. The parade, presented by MacArthur Center, starts at the corner of St. Paul’s Blvd. and Main Street and follows a two-mile course. The theme “The lights are bright on Broadway” 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, per tradition, brings Santa to Downtown on a spectacular float.
The parade immediately follows the Grand Illumination that lights up the Downtown skyline at 7 pm. The lights will continue to adorn Downtown Norfolk throughout the holidays.
“This is a nationally recognized holiday tradition that brings thousands of people to Downtown,” said Mary Miller, president and CEO of Downtown Norfolk Council. “We are especially proud of the quality of the parade and innovations that we bring each year.”
This October, DNC received a Merit Award from the International Downtown Association in the category of marketing and communication for the Facebook Live and television broadcast of last year’s parade. Those innovations increased viewership and engagement with the parade and decreased the cost to reach more than 116,652 people. The Grand Illumination Parade has been a Southeast Tourism Top 20 Event, since 1985.
Parade Tips & Extras
General admission Street Seats offer the option to reserve a seat on Granby Street or Main Street for the ultimate parade experience for $10. VIP seats are SOLD OUT. Service fees apply. Children 4 and under who can sit on a lap of an adult do not need a reserved seat. Tickets may be purchased online here or at the Downtown Norfolk Council office, 223 E. City Hall Avenue on Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 5 pm.
Waterside District VIP Experience $40
Waterside District offers a reserved outdoor VIP seating area. Enjoy food and drinks inside and then have a front-row view during the parade. Each ticket includes: $25 Waterside District gift card*, reserved VIP viewing area along Waterside Drive (bring your own chairs, no seating provided by Waterside District), one hot cocoa ticket. Children 10 and under are FREE *limited to three children. Click here to purchase Waterside District VIP Experience tickets.
*Waterside District gift cards can be used at Blue Moon Tap House, Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse Norfolk, PBR Norfolk and The Market.
Miracle on 34th Street – Exclusive Screening
Regal MacArthur Center will show the original Miracle on 34th Street movie exclusively on parade day at 1 and 3:30 pm. Tickets are $3.34. Click here for tickets and more information.
Come Early and Enjoy the Fun
Spectators are encouraged to arrive before 5 pm to avoid traffic. There’s plenty to do for the whole family including Dickens’ Christmas Towne at Nauticus, 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 pm.
Special Event Parking Prices
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 pm – 6 pm CASH or CREDIT. For all garage locations click here.
See the Parade Online or on Television
The Grand Illumination Parade will be on Facebook Live @DowntownNorfolk on November 17 at 7 pm. Just like the televised live broadcast in the past, you will be able to see the parade’s marching bands, giant balloons, floats and walking units along with colorful commentary from our hosts. And, you will be able to interact with them 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 holidaysinthecity.net. The Facebook Live broadcast will be available after the parade on Facebook and holidaysinthecity.net. The edited version of the parade, complete with behind-the-scenes footage, new interviews and never-before-seen action, will be broadcast on WVEC Cox Channel 13 on Saturday, December 8 at 7 pm and Saturday, December 16 at 1 pm.
The Grand Illumination Parade, produced by Downtown Norfolk Council, kicks off the annual Holidays in the City celebrationsin both Downtown Norfolk and Olde Town Portsmouth. It’s a magical time to visit with holiday music, festive lights decorating the streets and special creations at nearby restaurants. Greenery and holiday displays adorn doorways and windows of shops and hotels, and there are special events and festivities scheduled for people of all ages. For a complete list of activities and events, visit holidaysinthecity.net.
MacArthur Center, located on Monticello Avenue in downtown Norfolk, features one million square feet of retail offerings, including Hampton Roads’ first Nordstrom and the region’s flagship Dillard’s department store. Entertainment and dining options occupy approximately 25 percent of the tenant mix. Shopping hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. For seasonal hours and information, visit ShopMacArthur.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Downtown Norfolk Council is a private, not-for-profit membership organization comprised of businesses and individuals working toward a dynamic, attractive and prosperous Downtown. DNC also manages the Downtown Norfolk Improvement District, a 48-block special services district with enhanced services that keep Downtown friendly, safe and spotless. Connect with Downtown Norfolk on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or visit DowntownNorfolk.org.