Your guide to Raleigh's 2021 Christmas Parade

Thousands gathered to watch Raleigh's famous Christmas Parade this year.

The Christmas parade — notably the largest parade from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. — featured 115 different themed floats, bands, marchers and twirlers.

The parade started at 9:30 a.m., but many people began arriving to downtown Raleigh to get a good seat at around 5 a.m.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year's parade was entirely virtual. The parade's sponsor, ShopLocal Raleigh is a long-time supporter of local businesses and was proud to host this parade.

This year's parade route

The parade began on Hillsborough Street at the intersection of St. Mary's Street. It proceeded down Hillsborough Street and stopped at the North Carolina State Capitol.

After hitting the Capitol, the parade will turned onto Salisbury Street, then turned left onto Morgan Street. After turning on Fayetteville Street it continued for several blocks and end at the intersection of Fayetteville and Lenoir streets.

Roads that were closed on Saturday morning

  • Hillsborough Street from West Morgan Street to St. Mary's Street
  • St. Mary's Street from College Place to West Morgan Street
  • Hillsborough Street from St. Mary's Street to Salisbury Street, and all cross-streets one block in each direction
  • West Hargett Street from McDowell Street to Wilmington Street
  • Fayetteville Street from Hargett Street to Lenoir Street and all cross-streets one block in each direction

These areas were closed off from 6 a.m. to around 2 p.m.

Free Parking

All city-owned parking decks offered free parking on the morning of the parade:

  • Parking deck off North West Street
  • Parking deck at the block of West Morgan Street and South McDowell Street
  • Parking deck at the block of West Hargett Street and South Salisbury Street
  • Parking deck off West Hargett Street and South McDowell Street, across from Nash Square
  • Two parking decks off the northern portion of South Wilmington Street, one near Beasley's Chicken and Honey and another across from Slim's Raleigh.
  • Parking garage on East Martin Street and South Blount Street, across from the Marbles Kids Museum
  • Three additional parking decks off South Wilmington Street, one near Red Hat's offices and two across from Duke Energy
  • Two parking decks at the intersection of South Salisbury Street and West Cabarrus Street.
  • Parking off West Davie Street near Myriad Media

WRAL-TV coverage

Saturday morning's broadcast was the 48th annual on WRAL-TV and was be hosted by WRAL News anchors Renee Chou and Jeff Hogan.

COVID-19 Information

Face masks are required in all businesses and restaurants in the city of Raleigh.

The city of Raleigh strongly encourages the use of face masks in outdoor spaces when social distancing is not possible but masks outside are not required.

Remembering our troops

The 82nd Airborne Division of Fort Bragg was honored by the Christmas Parade Grand Marshal. The event showcased13 Fort Bragg paratroopers and a helicopter flyover. Two Apache helicopters and one Black Hawk Med Evac helicopter zoomed over the city to honor the 19,000 82nd Airborne troopers at Fort Bragg.

The paratroopers in the parade escorted a float with 13 American Flags on it to honor those who lost their lives during the recent U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan.

The Deputy Commanding Officer of the Division, Col. Shane Morgan, joined the parade.

Events after the parade

There were plenty of holiday-themed happenings in downtown Raleigh on Nov. 20 after the parade ended.

Runners were able to race through Dorothea Dix Park lit up with holiday lights as a part of WRAL's Night of Lights 5K

  • Red Hat Amphitheatre's Ice Skating rink opened Saturday
  • North Hills hosted a Holiday Shop and Stroll from noon to 4 p.m. Later that night, North Hills held its annual tree lighting from 4 to 7 p.m. The village was filled with local artisans and live music.
  • Pop-up Raleigh hosted a holiday market at Trophy Brewing & Taproom on Maywood Avenue.
  • The Merry Moore Market with more than 50 vendors was held at Moore Square Park in downtown Raleigh on Saturday night

Parades of the past