By Patricia Hall, FairfaxFamilyFun.com
In town for Thanksgiving? You’re in luck — you get to see a fun holiday parade without having to go to New York! One of our favorite holiday events in Fairfax County is the annual holiday parade in Reston. This is one of Northern Virginia’s largest and most beloved parades. Reston’s Holiday Parade, which takes place the day after Thanksgiving, is a big and festive event. This year’s it’s on Friday, November 23, 2018, and the theme is “Winter Wonderland.”
We love this event and if we are not traveling somewhere to visit family or in New York for the Macy’s parade, you can bet we will be in Reston on that Friday!
The one-hour, half-mile parade along Market Street in the Reston Town Center features Macy’s-style giant balloons, antique cars, musicians and marching bands, dancers, and community groups. The finale is the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus on a horse-drawn carriage! Of course, this event is nowhere near as big as the New York parade, but it’s just the right size and just the right length to kick off the holidays without standing around too long.
That said, get to the parade early so you can get a good spot and receive one of the many giant jingle bells they hand out to spectators. These help you cheer on participants and are nice keepsake items. The parade begins at 11 am — see the parade route here.
The parade theme is part of a fun day of fun that kicks off the holiday season and includes the Gingerbread Man Mile run for kids, ice-skating in the pavilion, and horse-drawn carriage rides. The Gingerbread Man Mile is a 1-mile loop “fun run” around Reston Town Center, starting at 8 am. Registration is just $8 and proceeds go to charity. The untimed run groups children by age: 8-8:15 am for ages 12-14, 8:15-8:30 am for ages 10-11, 8:30-8:45 am for ages 8-9, 8:45-9 am for ages 6-7, 9-9:15 am ages 4-5 (first loop only), and 9:15-9:30 for the Tot Trot (two blocks). Parking is free at the Reston Town Center that day.
At night, the fun continues with a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus, who arrive at Fountain Square to light the Christmas tree and lead the community in a sing-along. The day’s schedule is:
- 11 am to noon: 28th annual Reston Holiday Parade
- 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm: Santa & Mrs. Claus visits and photos, plus mini-train rides
- 6 pm to 6:30 pm: Tree lighting and sing-along
- 6:30 to 10 pm: Horse-drawn carriage rides
You also can spend time in the seasonal ice-skating rink, now open as well. If you plan to head to the parade, get a peek at the sort of groups and balloons you might see with our photos of some previous Reston Holiday Parades below!
All photos (c) P. Hall