Holiday Whiplash: Grand Rapids Santa Parade is BACK ON for 2023


City of Grand Rapids has Gathered Forces to Put on 2023 Grand Rapids Santa Parade

In late September, one of the region’s most iconic Christmas Events was cancelled, due to lack of man (and woman!) power to pull it off.

But thanks to the city of Grand Rapids and many generous sponsors and community members, the Gentex Santa Parade is bringing all the holiday cheer to downtown Grand Rapids on November 18, 2023.

Merry Christmas to US, Grand Rapids!

grand rapids santa parade

The parade, known for its festive floats, marching bands, and of course, the much-anticipated appearance of Santa Claus, has brought joy and festive cheer to countless families.

The streets of Grand Rapids come alive every year with the sights and sounds of Christmas, with local businesses, schools, and community groups all participating, making it a true community event.

Historically organized by the Grand Rapids Junior Chamber (previously the Grand Rapids Jaycees), this parade has been a local tradition since 1919 and is one of the 11 area Christmas Parades typically held each year.

It is always held on the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving in downtown Grand Rapids and kicks off the holiday season in West Michigan.

The Santa Parade has Become a True Community Event

Since the Junior Chamber’s announcement on September 28, the city’s special events department has been working tirelessly with organizers and volunteers to make Santa’s sleigh fly again through the streets of downtown.

Our (santa) hats off to them.

According to the City of Grand Rapids, many area sponsors have been able to participate in the parade this year. Sponsors include Gentex, Meijer, Experience Grand Rapids, AHC Hospitality and WOOD TV8.

santa parade grand rapids

What the Grand Rapids Santa Parade Is Like

Parade-goers of all ages show up, hoping for a feast for the eyes with floats, giant balloons, marching bands, and of course, the real Santa Claus.

We all love seeing Santa Clause cruise down Monroe Avenue with his iconic red sleigh.
grand rapids santa parade

GR Santa Parade 2020

Floats and entrants start at Michigan Street, travel down Monroe Avenue, and turn onto Louis Street, before finishing on Ottawa Avenue.

grand rapids santa parade grinch

2023 Grand Rapids Santa Parade

The 2023 Santa Parade features:
– Activities and large yard games 
– Photo opps with Other characters Elsa, Anna, Snow White, some Marvel Superheroes and other holiday movie-theme characters
– a Winter Coffee/Hot Cocoa station

grand rapids santa parade


10 AM – Parade Starts!
11 AM – Parade events conclude in the parking lot of First United Methodist Church (227 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids, MI 49503).
11 AM & later: Party for kids and families! See Santa and enjoy activities from Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and Family Promise of West Michigan.

santa parade grand rapids michigan

2023 Grand Rapids Santa Parade FAQs

What is the parade route for the Santa Parade?

The parade starts at Lyon St and Monroe NW at 10 AM. This is different from past years where it started further north on Monroe.

From the corner of Lyon Street and Monroe Avenue NW the parade travels south on Monroe to Monroe Center Street, southeast to Division, south to Fulton and east to Jefferson Street NE.

How long is the parade?

This parade is on the longer side. The parade starts at 10 AM and is about an hour long.

GR Santa Parade 2020

Where is a good place to park for the Grand Rapids Santa Parade?

There are many parking ramps in downtown Grand Rapids close to the action, but any along the route (like the government ramp on Monroe) are blocked off for the parade.

The Monroe Center parking lot (above Leo’s) has an hour of free parking.

We’ve got the scoop on parking in downtown Grand Rapids if you’d like more info.

Are there restrooms on the parade route?

Plan ahead for any restroom needs you may encounter while in line for the parade. Public restrooms are often available in hotel lobbies. There are also restrooms inside DeVos Hall.

What should we wear/bring to the Santa Parade?

Just like at the North Pole, you need to dress for the weather. Bundle up.
Wear layers. Bring scarves, mittens, and hats.

Warm boots and socks are a great touch, as well as hand and toe warmers.
If you bring a wagon, bed it with blankets. Even if you don’t have a wagon, blankets are still a good idea.

Bring camp chairs to sit on. Bring a bag if you’re hoping to collect candy.

watching the grand rapids santa parade

How early do we need to get to the Santa Parade?

If you don’t want front-row seats, you can arrive minutes before the parade starts and still see the action.

If you want to be in the center of the action and (hopefully) get candy, arrive an hour or two before the parade starts to put out your chairs. Spend the extra time getting hot chocolate or visiting the library if you need an indoor warm-up.

Where is the best place to sit on the parade route?

The best place for you depends on your parade goals. Scope out the tips listed here and then look at the parade route to find a good parade viewing spot.

If you want less a crowded experience, station yourself near the Children’s Museum or MeXo. It’s near the end of the parade route.

If you want candy, sit near the start of the parade route. Sometimes the floats run out of candy.

waiting for candy at the grand rapids santa parade

For the best pics, find a location on the east side of Monroe. The sun will be at your back and won’t cast Santa or any of the amazing musicians or floats into shadow.

GR Santa Parade 2020

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23 thoughts on “Holiday Whiplash: Grand Rapids Santa Parade is BACK ON for 2023”

  1. My company is wanting to be in the parade ? How do we join or is there a phone number I can call to set up something ?

  2. Where photos with Santa take place Disney’s Fancy Nancy star and Santa Parade Grand Marshall Mia Sinclair Jenness and Miss Michigan 2019 Mallory Rivard will be present for a Meet and Greet with fans as well until 12:15pm!

  3. Would you ever consider doing a night parade. So much prettier with the lights. I think you would get more people and easier for the little ones!

  4. would like to know where the route is located? I checked the website and nothing came up. Do you know which route the christmas parade is taking?

  5. Christine Donazzolo

    We drive from an hour away and yes we have to get up early but we have always enjoyed the entertainment and exciting floats and entries. We love hopping over to the library afterward.

    1. While our family likes to be at the beginning of the route you should be able to arrive around 10am if you plan to watch from the end of the parade route!

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