by Laura Berthold Monteros
The Tournament of Roses is more than the Rose Parade, though that’s how “America’s New Year Celebration” got started in 1890. The 129th Rose Parade and 104th Rose Bowl Game will be the grand events in Pasadena on Jan. 1, 2018, but they aren’t the only game in town over the long weekend*. This guide has information and tips on the how-to of the activities. Information on dates, times, locations, and pricing for events are in our complete calendar and our articles on events and Rose Parade ticketing. With a little planning, your visit to Pasadena should sail along like—well, like a Rose Parade float!
- Dress casually and wear comfortable shoes. There will be a lot of walking and standing.
- The only thing predictable about Southern California weather is its unpredictability. It might be cold in the morning and evening, and hot during the day. Layers are a good idea. So is a weather app!
- Travel light—carry only what you need for the place you’re going. For all venues, we recommend keeping money or a wallet in a front pocket and limiting valuables to cash, ID, car keys, and tissues.
- Carry a bottle of water.
- Accessibility—Pasadena is continually working to increase accessibility for the handicapped and those with sight or hearing difficulties. Questions can be directed to the Accessibility Issues Coordinator at (626) 744-4782 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Get your tickets in advance for pre-parade and post-parade events from Sharp Seating Company. They are also available at the venues, but the lines are long and some of the events sell out.
- Grandstand tickets for the Rose Parade must be purchased in advance, but there is always room to stand for free.
- Plan your driving route and an alternate ahead of time. Traffic is heavier during the days before and after the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game.
- Many streets are closed to all vehicles except those of residents on New Year’s Day, as indicated on this map.
- Public transportation is available using Metro trains and buses and Pasadena Transit.
- The train servicing Pasadena is the Gold Line; extra trains are added for the Rose Parade. From the west (North Hollywood and Glendale), the 501 Orange Line bus stops at the Del Mar Gold Line station.
- Pasadena Transit goes to all the venues within the city limits, but schedules and stops may change in the days leading up to the Rose Parade. There are no Pasadena Transit buses on New Year’s Day.
- Metro Bike Share is available at many locations around the city, including close to train stations, the Rose Parade route, and two in the Arroyo Seco where the Rose Bowl and Rosemont Pavilion are. Fees and a map are on the Metro Bike Share website.
Decorating Places (pre-parade float viewing), Dec. 28-31, is a great way to see the final floral touches being applied to the huge constructions. There are two locations: Rosemont Pavilion, in the Rose Bowl area, and Rose Float Plaza South in Irwindale. The two are about 16 miles and a 25-to-45 minute drive apart, depending on traffic. An alternative is to take the Metro Gold Line from Pasadena to the Irwindale stop and walk about a mile south. For Rosemont Pavilion, take Pasadena Transit Route 51 or 52.
Live on Green is a free event at the Pasadena Convention Center, Dec. 29-31. There are activities, music, food, exhibits, and demonstrations for all ages. Parking is available in Convention Center garage (expensive) or at meters on the streets (1-2 hours only). Pasadena Transit Route 10 stops a block to the north.
Equestfest on Dec. 29 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center shows off the skills of the equestrian groups in the Rose Parade. Food and concessions are available on site, and visitors can tour the barns. The 501 Mero Bus is the only public transportation, and the closest stop is about a mile-and-a-half away. Parking in unpaved lots is sold at the venue.
Bandfest has three field shows on Dec. 29 & 30 featuring the bands that march in the Rose Parade at Pasadena City College. Visitors will be in full sun all day, so sunblock and water are musts. Parking is free, and food and concessions are available. Pasadena Transit Routes 10 & 60 will get you there.
Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Dec. 30 at noon in Rose Bowl Lot K, is an opportunity to enjoy a luncheon with the inductees into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Class of 2017. Parking is free in the lots surrounding the stadium, or take Pasadena Transit Route 51 or 52.
Public Tailgate & Fan Fest, begins at 8 a.m. on Jan. 1 on the Brookside Golf Course north of the Rose Bowl. The event is free. Activities include interactive games, television, music, and other family fun. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Contact the Rose Bowl Stadium at (626) 577-3100 or at www.rosebowlstadium.com for more information.
A Showcase of Floats, Jan. 1 & 2, is the best way to see the floats up close and personal in all their grandeur. There is a lot of walking and standing and almost no shade, so even in cool weather, it can feel quite warm. White Suiters and builders are on hand to offer details about the floats and flowering, and the animation on self-built floats is often running. There are food and merchandise vendors on site and free water from the City of Pasadena. Park-N-Ride shuttles are available, but there are also several lots in the area that sell parking to benefit schools and churches. Free street parking is also available.
THE ROSE PARADE
Driving: Bring a map or use GPS, as some streets and freeway ramps will be closed. Try to stay a half mile or more above or below the parade route for as long as possible, and allow at least three times as much time travel as you normally would.
Parking: In addition to commercial parking vendors, there are plenty of spaces available from churches, businesses, and schools in the vicinity. Check out Craigslist Los Angeles for merchants selling reserved parking. Park on the same side of the route that you are coming from to avoid having to cross Colorado Blvd. in a car. Street parking is available for free if you don’t mind walking three-quarters or a mile or more, and the no-overnight-parking rule in Pasadena is suspended within a certain distance of the parade.
Public transportation: Metro Gold Line has several stops within walking distance of the parade. West to east, these stations are Del Mar, Memorial Park, Lake Avenue, and Allen Avenue. Metro runs additional trains and more frequent Gold Line service from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on parade day.
When to get there and where to sit
- The parade starts on Orange Grove just south of Colorado Blvd. promptly at 8 a.m. and takes about two hours to get to the end of the route on Sierra Madre Blvd. Grandstands provide the assurance of a reserved seat and a place to sit; the vendor will let purchasers know when to arrive. Parade-goers who don’t mind standing can usually find a good spot up to an hour or two before the parade arrives, especially further east on the route. Viewing is best from the south, or “camera side” of Colorado Blvd.
- Be sure to look up just before the parade starts, to catch the B2 bomber flying over from west to east!
Take a tote bag to stash snacks, beverages and the layers you shed. Keep money or your wallet in a front pocket and limit valuables to cash, ID, car keys, and tissues. Food, beverages and souvenirs are sold along the parade route.
Who: Adults and children with adults. No one under the age of 18 may stay overnight on the street without a parent or guardian. Curfew is in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
What to bring: Bring enough layers to keep warm, including a sleeping bag. Chairs and small professionally made barbeques (such as hibachis) that stand at least one foot off the ground are allowed. Tents, couches, ladders, scaffolding, boxes, alcoholic beverages, and bonfires or open fires are prohibited.
When & Where: Chairs and bags can be placed beginning at noon the day before the parade. No one is allowed to stand, sit, or have gear in the street until 11 p.m.
Don’t rope off any public area, including the sidewalk, curb, gutter, and street; sell items without a permit; throw anything onto the parade route at any time, including tortillas, marshmallows, and spray string; walk in the street; or block the sidewalk so people cannot easily pass.
Know the players
An official Rose Parade program is well worth the price. They are available on the street, online from Sharp Seating, in stores around town, or at the Pasadena Museum of History.
When the parade is over
Getting home from the Rose Parade can take even longer than getting there. Some people grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant or pack a lunch to eat in their cars while they wait for the traffic to disperse or the lines at the train station to go down. Please remember to put trash in the receptacles provided.
Audio and Braille
A free audio tour of the floats can be downloaded to a cell phone by calling (626) 321-4768. A special version of the Rose Parade program guide is available in Braille by calling (800) BRAILLE.
ROSE BOWL GAME
- Rose Bowl Stadium parking lots open at 4 a.m.
- Gates open at 10 a.m.
- Pre-game activities in the stadium being at 1:00 p.m.
- No matter how you go, allow plenty of time. Traffic will be extremely heavy.
- Stadium and parking map is on the Rose Bowl Stadium site.
- Parking is $40 per car at the Rose Bowl. There is no reserved parking and no in-and-out privileges, but tickets can be purchased in advance at https://www.parkjockey.com/rose-bowl
- Parking is $40 per car at the Parsons lot in Old Pasadena at Union Street and De Lacey Avenue. with entrances off of Walnut Street and Holly Street in Pasadena. Reserved parking can be purchased in advance through LAZ Parking. Overnight parking is also available for $80. Bus parking and RV parking also available. Call LAZ Parking at (626) 578-1705 for further details.
- By rail, take the Gold Line to the Memorial Park Station.
- By taxi, ride-share, or to be dropped off, the designated drop-off, pick-up and taxi zone is on Holly Street between Fair Oaks Avenue and Arroyo Parkway. There are no provisions for drop-offs and pick-ups at the stadium.
A free shuttle at the Parsons lot on Fair Oaks and Holly takes visitors to the stadium whether they arrive by foot, rail, taxi, or car. The shuttle runs continuously from 10:00AM until approximately two hours after the end of the game.
- Please read the Game Safety Guidelines carefully. They are very specific and designed to ensure everyone has a good time. Briefly, they are
- Everyone and every bag will be searched.
- Only approved bags will be allowed; details and illustrations are on the site.
- Strollers are allowed but will have to be checked with an usher or at the checked items tent.
- The Rose Bowl abides by the Southern California Fan Code of Conduct.
- If you see something, say something.