Nothing brings people together more than the holidays, and for the town of Guerneville there’s no holiday tradition quite like attending the Parade of Lights. Sponsored and organized by the Russian River Alliance and the Russian River Chamber of Commerce, this annual event takes place in early December and is one of the highlights of the holiday season in the Russian River area. Although the parade took a break in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, the Guerneville Parade of Lights is back for the 2023 holiday season with the theme “The Spirit of Love and Light”.
Last year we saw the brilliant return of the Guerneville Holiday Parade of Lights after being gone for 2 years due to the pandemic. We are incredibly happy to announce that we’re keeping the tradition going. Last year we had 43 amazing floats that ranged from the engine and basket of a hot air balloon, to pink flamingos towing Santa’s jeep, to the fabulous float and flash mob dance by the R3 and the Woods.
Apply to Include Your Float in the 2023 Guerneville Parade of Lights
Applications for float entries are now being accepted. Applications with parade rules and regulations are available online. The fee is $25.00 per entry and all entries must be received by November 18th, 2023.
This Year’s Theme is “The Spirit of Love and Light”
The theme this year is “The Spirit of Love and Light”. Winter on the River is a time of cooler weather and misty, magical days – which is why we light up downtown Guerneville with a sea of color, light and the warmth of thousands of people cheering each other on in celebration of each other and our community.
Guerneville hits the news occasionally because of winter river flooding or fires. It is the largest town (population about 5,000) in the lower Russian River and has a reputation as quirky and funky, a haven for LGTBQA+ and hippies. Its eclectic residents embrace diversity and exude small-town friendliness and charm and all of this is reflected in the parade of lights.
The parade route runs down Main Street for a few blocks. It takes about an hour to complete the procession with spectator viewing on both sides of the street.
“We are so happy that our hard work has brought back the amazing Parade of Lights. Last year was truly spectacular. Everyone turned out and there were so many beautiful and creative floats. If you have never been, come! Winter in Guerneville is truly magical and this small town parade is truly spectacular”, said Bryan Hughes, Board Member of the Russian River Alliance and parade organizer.
It’s a weekend filled with exciting things to do throughout Downtown, from taking care of your holiday shopping to dining out in some of the finest restaurants in Sonoma County, all while enjoying the holiday spirit of the country’s top holiday parade.
“I’m beyond excited to be part of Guerneville and the parade. The whole community gets involved and looks forward to it all year. We pride ourselves on the Parade of lights!” said Mags, President of the Russian River Chamber of Commerce and owner of Piknik Town Market.
Whether you’ve lived here your whole life, a few years, or you’re just in town for the weekend – all are welcome! We want to show the world the love and light that is the Lower Russian River. Get out your lights and the love and come join us.
Please note that we pick the first Saturday of the month in part to give us some wiggle room. Last year we ended up having it on the 17th because it rained on the 3rd, so rain will be postponed. A misty evening won’t, but it is about safety.
The Guerneville Parade of Lights attracts visitors from throughout the region and is a beloved tradition for many residents. The parade itself features dozens of elaborately decorated floats, marching bands, and other performers, all lit up with colorful lights and other festive decorations. Participants often dress up in holiday-themed costumes, and the parade culminates in a visit from Santa Claus himself. During the ongoing parade, many downtown merchants host simultaneous open houses with refreshments, carolers and festive decorations.
The parade route
The Guerneville Parade of Lights occurs strictly in the downtown district to promote small businesses and community togetherness. Since the main viewing area is relegated to River Road between Armstrong Woods Road and Mill Street, Highway 116 traffic is detoured for the evening. Spectators can view the parade from both sides of the street during the procession. The floats march down the 2-block route starting at 7:00 PM and the parade takes roughly an hour to complete.
Come Visit Russian River for the Holidays
In sum, the Guerneville Parade of Lights is a festive and colorful celebration of the holiday season, with floats that reflect the creativity and community spirit of the Russian River area. While the parade was sorely missed during its absence, we look forward to its return this holiday season and to its ongoing success for years to come. If you’re considering visiting the Russian River Valley, why not visit for the holidays and take in the sights of the Guerneville Parade of Lights.