Everybody loves a good parade – the candies being thrown to the excited children, the upbeat marching bands and of course the beautiful local princesses waving to the crowd. Minnesota features dozens and dozens of parades throughout the state all the summer long, with lots of different themes and events surrounding them. Check out our list of the can’t-miss parades coming up this summer!
Grand Old Day Parade
Sunday, June 2nd
Saint Paul, MN
This huge Saint Paul celebration is the official beginning of summer for many Twin Cities residents. The largest one-day festival in the Midwest, Grand Old Day welcomes 250,000 visitors to historic Grand Avenue to stroll, eat, dance and play. The Grand Old Day Parade begins at 9:30 am at the corner of Dale Street and rolls all the way across Grand to its end at Fairview Avenue. The parade itself draws over 180,000 spectators, with the Grand Old Day Parade Best in Show trophy being awarded to best parade unit. This Minnesota tradition is an excellent way to kick off the summer in style.
Rum River Festival Parade
Thursday, June 8th
Princeton’s annual Rum River Festival is a two-week celebration of the city of Princeton and its rich history. One of the highlights of the event is the parade, which features floats from local business, youth groups, and performances from area bands and dancers. Several trophies are awarded at the end of the route, including Favorite Tractor Unit and Best Animal Entries. Get to town early and browse the citywide garage sale before securing your spot on the route.
Winona Steamboat Days Grande Parade
Sunday, June 16th
Winona’s annual community-wide celebration features five fun days of music, boat races on the Mississippi River, a carnival and of course – a parade. The event – which runs down historic Broadway in the heart of the city – is the culmination of the weeklong festival and always impresses the crowds lining the streets. In addition to the Grande Parade on Sunday, there is also a Kiddie Parade on Friday, June 14th. This mini-parade at the East Lake Winona Band Shell encourages local youngsters to create their own costumes and displays around a different theme each year. This year’s theme is Magic, so expect to lots of little wizards and witches running around the town.
Saint Cloud Granite City Days Parade
Saturday, June 27th
Saint Cloud, MN
Granite City Days is one of the biggest citywide events held every year in Saint Cloud, and the parade is a great example. Featuring more than ten local marching bands, dozens of floats and of course lots of candy for the kids. Instead of awarding trophies to parade units based on categories, three overall winners are chosen by a panel of judges. These three winners are automatically invited to return to the beginning of next year’s parade. This year, there will be a karaoke contest after the parade, so stick around and belt it out.
Delano 4th of July Celebration Parade
Saturday, July 4th
Delano’s 4th of July celebration is the state’s oldest and biggest, with thousands of visitors flocking from across the state to their daylong Independence Day events. The parade always features a very special Grand Marshal, normally an important politician or entertainer with local ties. This year’s Grand Marshal is Kat Perkins, she will also be performing live on Wednesday, July 3rd to kick off the 2019 celebration. The parade begins at 10:30 am at Delano High School and organizers recommend coming early if you want to secure a good seat.
Pelican Fest Parade
Saturday, June 29th
Pelican Rapids, MN
The yearly Pelican Fest brings a boatload of fun to this small city in the northwest corner of Minnesota. With a “turkey trot,” classic car show and of course the parade, this five-day celebration is a winner. The parade is free to enter for local businesses and organizations in order to encourage community-wide participation. While it is a bit of a trek for Twin Cities residents, the Pelican Fest could be an excellent reason to get out of town for a weekend.
Minneapolis Aquatennial Torchlight Parade
Wednesday, July 24th
Downtown Minneapolis, MN
The Aquatennial is the official civic celebration of the City of Minneapolis and always brings loads of fun and excitement to the beautiful downtown area. The Torchlight Parade is one of the festival’s flagship events, alongside the River Rats Water Ski Show and the epic Target Fireworks display. The parade runs down Hennepin Avenue from Dunwoody College of Technology to 5th Street during the evening, illuminating the Minneapolis skyline with impressive floats and displays. The Aquatennial Parade is one-of-a-kind, and this year’s special guest Grand Marshal is Mark Rosen of the WCCO-TV Weather Team – do not miss this one!
Doc “Moonlight” Graham Days Parade
Saturday, August 4th
Chisholm’s annual fest pays tribute to the longtime town doctor and secret Major League Baseball player Doc “Moonlight” Graham, whose story was the inspiration for a character of the same name in the film “Field of Dreams.” The long weekend of events includes a 5K, carnival, and parade all designed to honor its namesake’s legacy. The parade will feature all of the usual fun and flair but with a very unique theme.
Paws and Pigtails Pet Parade
Thursday, August 15th
Part of the annual Hoghead Fest in lovely Proctor – close to Cloquet and a hop and skip from Duluth – is the Paws and Pigtails Pet Parade. This fun event invites community members of all ages to bring out their favorite animal to the Proctor Area Historical Society for a wagging good time. Sponsored by the Proctor Journal, the pet parade features costumes, awards, agility demonstrations and of course yummy treats for both humans and their animal pals. The larger city-wide Hoghead Parade will be held the following Saturday, the 19th in downtown Proctor.
Minnesota State Fair Mall Parade
August 22nd – September 2nd
Falcon Heights, MN
The Great Minnesota Get-Together – and the unofficial end of summer – is a tradition for people all over the state. The daily State Fair Mall Parade begins at 2:00 pm near the Haunted House with a jaunt throughout the fairgrounds ending back towards the start. Featuring marching bands and royalty from across Minnesota, the parade also has lots of fun floats, specialty units and of course animals. The parade is so popular that it is held every day of the fair, ensuring that all of the 100,000 people who visit get a chance to see it.
If you want more fun outdoor summer events check out Life In Minnesota’s list of Best County Fairs in Minnesota!
Photo Credits: City of Delano – Parade Photo Stock