The first Rose Parade in 1890 was staged to show off California’s sun-kissed climate. The tradition is still going strong, complete with elaborate floral floats, musical performances and marching troupes (not to mention the crowning of the fresh-faced Rose Queen and her court), but the celebration now draws more than a million spectators who line the streets of Pasadena. The big Rose Bowl football game follows the parade. Later in spring, the event is spoofed with a day of costumed mayhem at the Doo Dah Parade.
The parade—held on January 2 this year since New Year’s Day is on a Sunday—kicks off at 8am at the corner of Green Street and Orange Grove Boulevard before making its way east onto Colorado Boulevard. Near the end of the route, the parade turns north onto Sierra Madre Boulevard and concludes at Villa Street, where you can see the floats showcased.
Bleacher seats are available—about $120 in the TV zone and closer to $70 farther east—but you can grab a spot on the sidewalk for free. People traditionally camp out overnight, but if you’d rather show up the morning of, head east of Lake Avenue and you’ll have an easier time.