the Wine Country Balloon company float at the annual Guerneville Parade of Lights

What is the Guerneville Parade of Lights?

West County Published Friday, Nov 2022

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. Organized by 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 2022 holiday season. 

About the Parade of Lights 

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.  

Floats in the Parade of Lights

The Guerneville Parade of Lights is known for featuring a variety of creatively decorated floats, each adorned with thousands of twinkling lights and other holiday decorations. The exact types of floats may vary from year to year, but they are all united in a singular parade theme. For example, this year’s theme is A Very Fairy Christmas. Visitors and participants alike are encouraged to attend in costume with fairy wings.  

Floats submitted for the parade are put together by private individuals or local businesses. And while participating parade floats must match the parade theme, each float represents their sponsoring business in one way or another. For instance, each year the Wine Country Balloon company submits a float in the guise of a balloon basket featuring a working propane burner that lights up the nighttime sky. The Guerneville Bible Church puts on a live Nativity scene. And Wendell Joost, a prominent Guerneville figure, always enters one or more of his vintage vehicles for display or to tow a participating float.  

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.