Downtown Fort Worth will light up with holiday spirit a few days before Thanksgiving, as the 2022 GM Financial Parade of Lights ushers in the festive season on Sunday, November 20.
This year, the area will shine extra bright because the old tradition of lighting the Fort Worth Christmas Tree in Sundance Square on parade night is returning (more on that in a sec).
Themed “Lights, Camera… Christmas,” the Parade of Lights is marking its 40th year as the city’s official kick-off to the holiday season. Attendees can expect more than 100 festive floats festooned with holiday decor and over half a million sparkling lights, plus marching bands and carolers, sparkling antique cars, precision equestrian units, festive horse-drawn carriages, and the big arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus.
But first you've got to get there. Here's what to know about road closures, parking, and more before you head downtown. All information is provided by the parade organizers, and more can be found on their website.
Tree lighting details: The lighting of the 65-foot Fort Worth Christmas Tree in Sundance Square Plaza will take place at 5 pm Sunday, November 20, an hour before the parade starts. It will feature ornaments made by local artists.
Time and place of parade: The parade begins at 6 pm Sunday, November 20 near the intersection of Weatherford and Throckmorton streets. The whole parade takes about 40 minutes to make its way along the 1.59-mile route.
When to arrive: Traffic will start getting congested by 3 pm. Parade-goers, especially those with reserved seats, should plan to arrive in downtown no later than 4:30 pm (earlier if they're attending the tree-lighting). Refunds will not be given if parade-goers are unable to make it to their reserved seats due to traffic or congestion.
Street closures: There will be about 35 street closures, and they'll begin as early as 6 am Sunday. Closures include portions of Weatherford Street, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd streets, Taylor, Lamar, Burnett, Cherry, and Florence streets. Spur 280 from Interstate 35 will close at 4 pm. (Belknap, Houston, and North Main streets will remain open to traffic during the parade.) For a full list of street and intersection closures and times, check this very detailed chart.
Parking: Downtown garages offer free parking on Sundays, and many lots will be available. Hint: Visit this Fort Worth parking site for many nearby options. Do not, under any circumstances, park at roped-off meters.
Navigating there: Organizers say to turn off your GPS unit and use this map. "Determine where you would like to sit along the route, and then approach from that direction into downtown," they advise. "Try to stay on the side of your viewing area and do not attempt to drive all the way through downtown to get to your seats. Come in from that side. There are plenty of streets accessing downtown, and you do not have to come in Spur 280."
Public transportation: If you've never tried a local train or bus, this is an excellent night to start. What to know:
- TEXRail will operate on parade-day, transporting attendees to and from Fort Worth Central Station, located two blocks from the parade route (the last eastbound train will depart at 10:40 pm).
- TEXRail riders can park for free at six different Trinity Metro park-and-ride stations and ride the train to downtown.
- Trinity Metro will offer bus service to downtown via bus routes 1, 2, and 15, and also operate its electric bus service – The Dash – throughout downtown and the Cultural District until 10:30 pm.
- TRE will not be running on Sunday.
- Visit www.RideTrinityMetro.org for operating schedules and more info.
Parade route: The 1.59-mile route snakes through downtown, beginning at Throckmorton and Weatherford streets, precisely at 6 pm. The parade will proceed east along Weatherford Street and turn south on Commerce Street all the way to 9th Street. At 9th Street, the parade will proceed west to Houston Street, and then turn north on Houston Street all the way to 2nd street. At 2nd Street, the parade will proceed west to Throckmorton Street, then turn south to conclude at 3rd and Throckmorton Streets. The complete route is here.
Free or paid viewing? The parade itself is free to attend; almost all sidewalks along the route will be open for free public viewing. However, there are reserved "street seats" still available. Tickets start at $18 and can be purchased here. Discounts are available for seniors (60 and older) and children (12 and younger); infants, as long as they can sit in a lap, will not need a reserved seat.
Restrooms: Portable restrooms will be set up around the parade route.
TV and digital viewing: The parade will be broadcast live from 6-9 pm on KTXA-TV (TXA-21), and via the Parade of Lights’ Facebook event page: www.facebook.com/ParadeofLightsFW as well as at CBSDFW.com. You can follow along on Facebook or Instagram using the official hashtag, #ParadeOfLights2022. The parade will also air Christmas Day at 7 pm.
Grand marshal: This year's grand marshal is John Sharp, 72-year-old Texas A&M University System Chancellor, humanitarian, Texas politician, and former second lieutenant in the United States Army Reserves.
What else to do: Downtown Fort Worth restaurants, bars, and retailers will offer pre-parade music, displays, and specials to make a day of it. Filled with holiday spirit afterwards? Pile into a car and head to some spectacular Christmas light displays and drive-thrus, many of which will be shining bright by Sunday.