Parade of Lights

The next Parade of Lights is November 30, 2024.
Theme: TBD

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The 24th annual Champaign Center Parade of Lights presented by Christie Clinic returns on Saturday, November 30, 2024! This FREE community event is on Small Business Saturday and marks the official start off the holiday season! Come to downtown Champaign early to enjoy more festivities including an indoor market, horse and carriage rides, visits with Santa Claus, and more! Pre-parade activities start at 1 pm and the parade starts at 6 pm.

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Thanks to our 2023 Sponsors

Volunteer during the Parade

Be a part of the magic by volunteering for the 23rd Annual Parade of Lights. There are many different options to choose from that will get you front and center for the big event. We ask that all volunteers be 15 years of age or older and all volunteers under the age of 18 will need to provide guardian information before being allowed to participate.

As a way to say thanks, all Parade of Lights volunteers are invited to our Holiday Social at the Axe Bar on December 19 (to be announced).

Enter a Float into the Parade

Help us create an extraordinary event by entering the Parade of Lights! Businesses, civic groups, and non-profits are encouraged to take part in this magical experience. This year’s theme is Classic Holiday Movies.

Float entry fee: Early registration is $50 for non-profits and $100 for businesses until Oct. 31. $75 for non-profits and $150 for businesses until November 15 or until full. Float submissions will be limited to 65 total entries on a first-come, first-serve basis.

All parade entries will be judged by a guest panel of judges and a winner will be selected for the following categories:

  • Best Use of Parade Theme
  • Best Lights
  • Best Marchers
  • Best Vehicle
  • Best Float/Trailer

Parade Activities & Festivities

A variety of holiday festivities will give you and the whole family something to experience all day in Downtown Champaign! You can see the one and only Santa Claus, take a horse and carriage ride, get specialty hot cocoa, and so much more.

Parade activities will be updated regularly, so be sure to check back here often.

Mistletoe Market

Local artisans, makers, growers & creators will have their best locally made goods on offer in one cozy & welcoming community space.

10a-6p, Orpheum Theatre, 346 N Neil St
FREE to browse

Horse & Carriage Rides

You and the whole family can enjoy a scenic tour of downtown Champaign on a festive old timey horse and carriage.

1p-5p, North of the Orpheum Theatre, 346 N Neil St
Advance tickets only

Visit With
Santa

Get into the Christmas spirit with your little ones while you chow down on some delicious cookies and snap a pic with Saint Nick!

2:30p-5:15p, Big Grove Tavern, 1 E Main St.
FREE

Touch-a-Float

Have you ever wanted to get up-and-close and personal with a parade float or a decorated vehicle? Now you can with our new Touch-a-Float activity!

~2-4p, Walnut-Washington Lot
*1-2p Sensory-friendly*
FREE

The Popcorn Wagon

The historic popcorn wagon will be serving popcorn during the Parade, brought to you by the Champaign County History Museum!

times TBD, 1 E Main St.
$2

Beware of the Grinch!

Sneaky, mischievous Grinch will be roaming around downtown -- beware! He might steal your gifts and give you a rotten egg!

4:30-6p, Walnut St.
FREE

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Catch this classic movie at the hisotir Virginia Theatre before and after the Parade!

1p + 7p, Virginia Theatre, 203 W Park St.
$7

Illuminate the Tree of Lights

Santa needs your help to illuminate the Tree of Lights! With a bit of magic and a lot of audience participation, we can light up the tree and truly kick off the holiday season!

~7:30p, One Main Plaza, 1 E Main St.
FREE

Event Map

Need help orienting yourself to all of the activities? No problem! We’ve created this Google My Maps with the locations and times of everything happening before, during, and after the Parade of Lights. The map is updated regularly, so be sure to check back in later.

Shopping and Dining Out

Remember it’s Small Business Saturday and there are lots of businesses to explore during the event! Check out our list of favorite businesses to visit while you’re downtown.

More Holiday Events

Come back downtown for even more holiday events after the parade all December! Champaign is a great destination for holiday shopping, dining out, and other experiences. Let us help you make the most out of the holiday season!

Holiday events will be updated regularly, so be sure to check back here often.

Mistletoe Market

Local artisans, makers, growers & creators will have their best locally made goods on offer in one cozy & welcoming community space. Plus, Santa and carriage rides!

11a-5p, 12/17, The Venue CU, 51 E Main St
FREE to browse

Holiday Shop Hop

Local shops are ready to help you find the best gifts for your loved ones this year! Many shops will be open until 8 pm on Dec. 14.

12/14, various locations

Visit With
Santa

Santa returns to downtown and you can meet him at the Virginia Theatre!

5-7p 12/7, 12/14, + 12/20, The Virginia Theatre, 203 W Park St
FREE

Holiday Movies at the Virginia Theatre

Catch two holiday movie screenings at the Virginia Theatre this December!

It's a Wonderful Life, 1p + 7p, 12/02
Die Hard, 7p, 12/21
Virginia Theatre, 5203 W Park St
$7

Christmas at the Movies: Exploring the genre, history and theology of Christmas films

What defines a Christmas movie and what's a Christian to do with them anyway? Join the discussion

7:00 pm, 12/08, Windsor Road Christian Church, 2501 W Windsor Rd

A Magical Cirque Christmas

Embrace the holiday spirit with A MAGICAL CIRQUE CHRISTMAS, a variety show full of nostalgia, charm, and awe-inspiring performances for all ages.

7:30p, 12/09, Virginia Theatre, 5203 W Park St
$49-$89

Holiday in Whoville

Watch the classic 1966 television short, Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, on the Virginia’s 52-foot-wide movie screen.

1p + 2p +3p + 4p, 12/10, Virginia Theatre, 5203 W Park St
$4

Sponsors

Christie Clinic

Specialty Sponsors

Hickory Point Bank & Trust
Central Roofing LLC
Live Action Games

Standard Sponsors

The Venue CU Logo
The Venue CU
Busey
City of Champaign
Feldkamps Towing
UA Lcaol 149
MTD
1 Main Management
Commerce Bank
Carpenters Local 243
Midwest Construction Rentals
Big Grove Tavern