Downtown Parade of Lights

Tucsonans have been enjoying the Parade of Lights & Holiday Festival downtown since 1995.

Ron Medvescek / Arizona Daily Star 2012

Downtown Tucson is going full Christmas this Saturday with a festival and light parade, and it's nothing like Winterhaven or Zoo Lights. You only get one night to experience Downtown Tucson's Parade of Lights, so don't miss it. 

The evening starts with a festival and fiesta. The Downtown Holiday Festival at Military Plaza Park in Armory Park will have children's activities, entertainment and local food vendors from 4-8 p.m. Or enjoy a fiesta instead. The Stone Avenue Fiesta on Stone Avenue between Broadway Boulevard and Corral Street will have more food vendors and a Spanish language emcee station from 4-8:30 p.m. 

At 5:30 p.m., join Mayor Jonathan Rothschild at the park for a sing-a-long and the annual tree-lighting ceremony.

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Facebook reader Kristin D' Ann Anderson sent in this photo of the 2014 Downtown Parade of Lights: "The folkloric dancers"

The parade kicks off at 6:30 p.m. It starts at 17th Street and Stone Avenue and snakes its way to Military Plaza Park in Armory Park. You'll see one-of-a-kind floats and performances compete to win one of five awards: Grand Marshal’s Award for best entry, Pioneer Award for best historical and cultural theme, Holiday Spirit Award for best use of lights, Harmony Award for best musical group, and Bright Horizon Award for best youth group. Wave to Santa as his float ends the parade.

Route breakdown (check out the map here):

• Starts at 17th Street and Stone Avenue

• Heads north on Stone Avenue to Ochoa Street

• Turns right to Scott Avenue to 12th Street

• Turns left on 12th Street to Sixth Avenue

• Heads south on 6th Avenue ending at Military Plaza Park in Armory Park.

* The staging area labeled on the map is where the floats set up. Don't try to get into the staging area if you're not part of the parade.

Sit anywhere along the streets to watch the parade. Don't forget your camera.

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A Star Wars stormtrooper helmet rests next to a string of Christmas lights as members of the 501st Legion get their vehicle decorated for the 20th Annual Downtown Parade of Lights.


🌟 Here's your chance to win something 🌟

Local First Arizona is hosting its fundraiser Love Local Parade of Lights Viewing Party at the Downtown Clifton. There will be music, drinks (two drinks included for adults), light appetizers and — best of all — access to bleacher seating at the hotel to watch the parade. It's right on the route, near the start. Enjoy non-alcoholic beverages and hot chocolate, too.

Buy your tickets here or enter our giveaway for a chance to win your way in.

#ThisIsTucson is giving away two adult and two children's tickets. All you have to do is comment on our Facebook post about Parade of Lights by Friday at noon. We'll randomly pick a name to win the ticket package and you can pick them up at will-call the night of the event.


If you go

When: Saturday, Dec. 17, 5-10 p.m.

Where: Downtown Clifton Hotel, 485 S. Stone Ave.

Cost: Adult tickets are $20 and $8 for kids. 


Stay downtown all day, there's plenty to do:

Make snowflakes with Carrie Levesque

Start the day with a snowflake-making workshop at Johnny Gibson's. Carrie Levesque is leading the class and offering instruction. We tried it and it was super fun. 

If you go

When: Saturday, Dec. 17, 9 a.m. to noon

Where: Johnny Gibson's Downtown Market, 11 S. 6th Ave.

Cost: Free

Santa and his elves will camp out at the former Pizzeria Bianco space every weekend through Christmas Eve. There will also be crafts, cocktails and snacks. The Humane Society will be there (WITH PUPPIES) to accept donations and adoptions.

If you go

When: Saturday, Dec. 17, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Between Playground and Hub, 272 E. Congress St.

Cost: Free

All aboard the Holiday Express! Hang out with Santa right in front of Locomotive 1673 — the star of the movie "Oklahoma", and get goodies from AMTRAK. Other fun activities include a holiday sing-a-long, writing letters to the North Pole and a reading of the Polar Express.

While you're there, check out the arts and craft show, take a look at the Museum's operating model train exhibits and climb into the cab of Locomotive 1673. 

If you go

When: Saturday, Dec. 17, 12-4 p.m.

Where: Tucson Historic Trail Depot, 414 North Toole Ave.

Cost: Free

Santa's SO will be at the Carriage House meeting, taking photos with and reading to nice children. There will be hot chocolate and cookies.

If you go

When: Saturday, Dec. 17, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Where: The Carriage House, 125 S. Arizona Ave.

Cost: $20 per person.

Tucson Symphony Orchestra's Magic of Christmas

Enjoy the spirit of the holiday with music from the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus. Sing along to your favorite Christmas carols and watch the UA School of Dance perform excerpts from the Nutcracker. The whole music hall also becomes a snow globe, as flurries fall from the sky for a winter wonderland.

Santa is scheduled to make an appearance, so be sure to bring your wish list as he will be taking requests in the lobby after the show.

If you go

When: Saturday, Dec. 17, 4 p.m.

Where: Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave.

Cost: $25-76 for adults, $12.50-38 for children under 18. Buy tickets here.

Watch "Polar Expres"s at Fox Tucson Theatre

Believe in holiday magic again with a free showing of Polar Express (free for children 12 and under). 

If you go

When: Saturday, Dec. 17, 3:30 and 8 p.m.

Where: Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St.

Cost: Free for children 12 and under and $7 for everyone else.