“Let’s have a parade!”
Those words kick off a Lawrence holiday tradition, the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade, held at 11 a.m. the first Saturday in December. This year, on Dec. 2, it will be for the 30th time.
If you love horses, holidays and history, you’ll love the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade.
Held since 1993, this all-horse parade features historically accurate wagons, carriages and horse-drawn vehicles of every sort decorated in holiday finery. The parade is part of the Downtown Lawrence Winter Wonder Weekend with everything you need for holiday shopping, dining and entertainment.
From a humble beginning, the Lawrence Christmas Parade has grown to a major event in the Midwest with as many as 85 entries. As news of this event spread, the number of entries increased each year, and the crowds who came to watch grew dramatically.
With entries traveling from five states, the parade acquired national recognition, and was named a Top 10 Things to Do During the Christmas Season by USA Today.
Here are some tips for making memories at the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade:
• Take advantage of the multiple parking garages and surface lots just off of Massachusetts Street. Parking spots on Massachusetts generally fill up the night before, but plenty of parking, free and paid, is available just a block on either side of Massachusetts. See the parking map for all your options.
• Come early. The parade officially begins at 11 a.m. but the fun starts much earlier. Parade-watchers begin gathering several hours before the starting time to settle in, bringing blankets, chairs and even a recliner from home. The excitement is contagious, and it’s hard to tell whether the entries or the spectators are having more fun.
• Downtown Lawrence offers multiple options for breakfast and brunch before the parade so you can fuel up before claiming your viewing spot. Enjoy Breakfast with Santa and the Lawrence Festival of Trees at Maceli’s, for example. (Tickets for that event are available at this link.)
• Other pre-parade activities include the Watkins Museum’s Tails & Trails Holiday Festival and the opening of the Parades as Community exhibit on the second floor of the museum at the corner of 11th and Massachusetts streets. Local businesses offer hot drinks and special parade-day promotions, as well.
• Plan to stay after the parade and let the traffic disperse while you enjoy the variety of shopping and dining options. Capture a holiday memory by getting your photo taken with Santa at Weaver’s. The Lawrence Festival of Trees is open for viewing starting at noon. Enjoy any of the coffee shops, breweries and restaurants for lunch or refreshment. Earn points as you shop to win prizes with the Winter Wonder Pass, free from eXplore Lawrence.
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