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Rose Parade 2023: Everything To Know About Ringing In The New Year On Monday

Large banners that look like roses in the air on the parade route. In the background are grandstands with spectators and a sign that says Rose Parade
The Rose Parade in 2022
(Alborz Kamalizad
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It’s time for Pasadena’s most popular tradition: the 134th Rose Parade.

The parade is our yearly time to get together and cheer on a fresh start. And while I have yet to see the parade up close, I know there’s likely no better way to ring in 2023 than braving the cold to see it in person. It’s our rite of passage.

Whether your jive is watching the floats roll across Colorado Boulevard, or across your TV screen, here’s the rundown on everything you need to know about this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade.

Why This Parade Is Different (And On A Monday)

This parade’s theme is “Turning the Corner.” That’s not a reference to the few turns the floats make, but more about the symbolism the new year brings. I, for one, can’t wait for 2023 because we’ve been through a lot. We elected a new mayor, the City Hall scandal is anything but over, the heatwave was way too long and P-22 is no longer with us (to name a few).

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Everything is back to normal (whatever that means) for this year’s shindig. Unlike last year’s parade, you aren’t required to wear a mask or show proof of vaccination. It’s still recommended that you wear a mask, though, and get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu at least two days in advance. Hospital beds have been running low in L.A. County with COVID, RSV and flu cases.

Unusually though, the parade is on Monday, Jan. 2, not Sunday, Jan. 1 (sorry to everyone who has work). Why? It’s an old rule that the event can never be held on a Sunday. The practice began in 1893 to avoid disturbing any horses that would be hitched up outside of church services. In the early days, the event had horse-drawn carriages covered in flowers, instead of the massive floats we’re used to. It was felt that if all these horses were to meet, it could cause a disruption.

Churches in Pasadena don’t have horses tied up outside anymore, but it’s a practice that’s become more about tradition than policy. It even saved the Rose Parade from being rained out in 2017. Since the parade started in 1890, the “Never on Sunday” rule has been used about two dozen times.

What’s In The Parade And Where It Goes

A marching band in red uniforms has the Pasadena Tournament of Roses logo displayed on the tubas.
A marching band participates in the 131st Rose Parade in 2020.
(Robyn Beck
AFP via Getty Images)

This year’s Rose Parade will have 39 floats, 21 marching bands and 16 equestrian units struttin’ down a 5.5-mile route in Pasadena. The journey begins at 8 a.m. at the corner of Green Street and Orange Grove Boulevard, then it moves north on Orange Grove Boulevard with a right turn onto Colorado Boulevard, where it stays before ending near Sierra Madre Boulevard at around 10:30 a.m.

The parade’s Grand Marshal is Gabby Giffords, the former Member of Congress from Arizona who survived an assassination attempt in 2011. Bella Ballard, a 17-year-old high school senior from Altadena, is our Rose Queen. She and the rest of the royal court will ride on a special float and preside over the Rose Bowl game.

The floats are like mini floral islands making their way downtown at a 2.5 mph pace. Every year, volunteers make these roaming displays with flowers and other natural materials, like leaves, seeds and bark. This time, 935 volunteers helped with the parade, down to placing delicate flowers in individual vials of water.

The Rose Parade’s marching bands are another huge deal. It’s a chance for high school bands to play next to colleges, the U.S. Marines and international players. This year, you can dance and jive to performances from Panamá, Mexico and Japan and more, alongside the local groups we see every year, like Pasadena City College.

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Camping Overnight Do’s And Don’ts

Three people with light skin tones wearing sweaters and beanies sit in camp chairs on a grassy area with blankets during the day.
Victoria Garcia of San Bernardino, left, Bobbi Taylor of Hemet and Dustin Ingle of San Jacinto camp out on Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena in 2014.
(Maya Sugarman

Maybe this is the year for you (and me) to camp out, but my colleague Sharon McNary has good advice: You don’t have to. You can roll out of bed the day of and see a lot. Still, camping out is a tradition you might find joy in.

If you camp out, sidewalk spots are on a first-come, first-served basis. January weather is usually chilly in Pasadena (it might even rain this year). You’ll want to bring plenty of blankets, fold-up seating, warm clothing, food and water. You’re allowed to bring a small manufactured barbecue that sits one foot off the ground and is at least 25 feet away from any building. Keep a fire extinguisher close.

There's a lot you can't do, like:

  • Leaving your chair unattended to hold your spot
  • Using a tent to camp
  • Blocking off public areas
  • Using a ladder or another type of scaffolding to snag a view
  • Making a bonfire to keep warm

You’re allowed to claim your spot starting at noon the day before the parade. You must stay on the curb until 11 p.m. that day. After that, you can move out to the blue “Honor Line.”

Grandstand Tickets And Getting The Best View

If camping doesn’t interest you, the Rose Parade has ticketed seating in the grandstands.

You can buy them through Dec. 31, 2022, as long as there’s still open seats. The better spots are at the TV corner, costing $110 and $120. That’s where the parade turns the corner onto Colorado Boulevard. Other seats can cost as low as $70 further down the route.

You can also snag a spot under the sloped wall of the 210 Freeway overpass over Sierra Madre Boulevard (note the small wooden seats that definitely aren’t official).

People sit on small wooden seats that help them perch on a sloped wall under a freeway overpass.
The People's Grandstands: Local craftspeople make small wooden seats that fit in the mortar notches in the sloped wall under a the 210 Freeway overpass at Sierra Madre Boulevard.
(Sharon McNary

Remember: You don’t need to try and beat the crowds for this one. You could have more fun strolling along the route and seeing all the excitement rather than trying to spot every piece of the action. If you do arrive later, you likely won’t be that far from the people who camped out anyway.

The best seat for you could be the one at home in your pajamas with a warm coffee (that’s my favorite). You can watch the parade live on ABC, NBC, KTLA 5 — and if you have these channels — RFD TV and The Cowboy Channel. If you’re a streaming person, NBC’s Peacock streaming service will have it live too.

Arrival, Parking And Road Closures

Hundreds of people walk on the streets in the early hours before the Rose Parade under a dawn sky.
Colorado Boulevard before the 2022 Rose Parade.
(Alborz Kamalizad

I’m going to be real with you: the Rose Parade has never been a good event to drive to. It’s better to take public transit or rideshare, but it’s not impossible to drive if that’s what you decide.

You can take the Metro L Line (the Gold Line) to Pasadena and get off at any stop between Del Mar and Allen, and walk to Colorado Boulevard. Be prepared for crowds and some walking to get up to the parade.

If you do choose to drive, paid parking spaces for cars and RVs can be reserved at:

Again, these are first-come, first-served spots. The city allows for overnight parking on the streets not on the parade route beginning at noon the day before. If you've ever been to Pasadena, you know the city is a stickler for parking tickets. So a word from the wise, read the signs carefully!
Pasadena has an interactive map showing closures, parking restrictions and detours.

A detailed map of Pasadena showing what roads will be closed at different time periods between January 1st and January 2nd, with alternate information. Routes are listed after this image, but the whole parade route is closed off as well as the intersecting streets.
(Courtesy of the city of Pasadena)

To get through downtown, the city recommends using Walnut Street or the 210 freeway for east/west travel north of Colorado Boulevard and using Del Mar Boulevard or Cordova Street for east/west travel south of Colorado Boulevard.

These cross streets to Colorado will be closed from 10 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1 to 6 a.m. Monday, Jan. 2:

  • Allen Avenue
  • Altadena Avenue
  • Craig Avenue
  • El Molino Avenue
  • Fair Oaks Avenue
  • Hill Avenue
  • Lake Avenue
  • Los Robles Avenue
  • Marengo Avenue
  • Pasadena Avenue
  • St. John Avenue
  • Wilson Avenue

These freeway ramps will be closed on Sunday, Jan. 1 to Monday, Jan. 2

  • Westbound I-210: Sierra Madre off-ramp at (8 p.m. Sunday to 4 p.m. Monday)
  • Eastbound I-210: San Gabriel off-ramp (8 p.m. Sunday to 4 p.m. Monday)
  • Eastbound SR-134: Orange Grove off-ramp (8 p.m. Sunday to 2 p.m. Monday)
  • Westbound SR-134: Orange Grove off-ramp (10 p.m. Sunday to 2 p.m. Monday)
  • Westbound SR-134: Orange Grove on-ramp (12:01 a.m. Sunday to 2 p.m. Monday)

The Orange Grove Boulevard overpass will also be closed starting at 12:01 a.m. Sunday to 11 a.m. Monday.

Equestfest, Bandfest And The Rose Bowl Game

A man dressed in a white uniform with red and blue accessories is leading a marching band
Members of the LAUSD-All District Honor Band perform during the 40th annual Tournament of Roses ‘Bandfest’ on Dec. 30, 2019, in Pasadena.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)

A lot of New Year festivities happen outside of the Rose Parade. These events give you the chance to see each act up close, rather than trying to spot their skills in the middle of a massive parade.

On Dec. 30, the horses you’ll see in the parade will make an early showing with drills, dances and tricks for Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank.

Starting that same day is Bandfest, which lets you do exactly what it sounds like: See the Rose Parade bands perform early. It's at Robinson Stadium at Pasadena City College at 2 p.m. Dec. 30 and 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 31. Use the free parking in Structure 4 off Del Mar Avenue.

Before you leave Pasadena after the parade, catch the 109th Rose Bowl Game. The game takes place a few hours after the parade, starting 1 p.m. at the Rose Bowl stadium. This year, the Utah Utes play the Penn State Nittany Lions. Get tickets here.

You can take the free shuttle bus from Old Town Pasadena to the stadium. Hop on at Corson Avenue between Walnut Street and Fair Oaks Avenue anytime from 10 a.m. to two hours after the game is over. If you’re not driving, the shuttle is two blocks away from the Metro L Line (Gold)'s stop at Memorial Park station.

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