San Diego

2018 Holiday Bowl Parade Filled With Balloons, Floats Along San Diego Waterfront

What organizers call the largest balloon parade in the U.S. sets off from the County Administration Building on North Harbor Drive at 10 a.m.

Before Northwestern and Utah face off before the New Year, colorful balloons, large float displays and upbeat marching bands will parade down the Embarcadero for the annual Holiday Bowl Parade. 

What organizers call the largest balloon parade in the United States sets off from the County Administration Building on North Harbor Drive at 10 a.m. with a "New Year's Eve on the Wonderfront" theme. 

The parade is filled with 40 marching bands, four floats, 20 specialty units and boasts 29 large balloons, according to the Port of San Diego, which organizes the parade. In comparison, this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade had 26 giant and novelty balloons, the parade’s website says.

The Port of San Diego encourages guests to line up early, as more than 100,000 spectators are expected to line the streets as the parade, with former county supervisor Ron Robers at the helm, travels south on Harbor Drive to Pacific Coast Highway ending near Seaport Village.  

Following the parade is the annual Holiday Bowl at 4 p.m. at SDCCU Stadium. The 41st annual game matches up top teams from the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences and this year, for the first time in both school's history, No. 17 Utah will face No. 22 Northwestern.

Where to Watch

It is free to watch the parade from anywhere along North Harbor Drive. The port is offering reserved grandstand seats for $25 until they are no longer available. 

How to Get There:

Parking is limited near the Embarcadero, so the port recommends parade-goers to use rideshare options or public transportation, like the Metropolitan Transit Authority's trolley system. 

Guests can park for free at Fashion Valley, Old Town or the One America Plaza stations and hop on a trolley to Harbor Drive and the Embarcadero areas. For schedules and routes, visit here.

For those who choose to drive, parking may be found at metered spots in downtown San Diego, which will be paid on Dec. 31, or at paid lots. Close lots can be found using this map

Street Closures:

Due to the parade, several streets will be closed starting at 7:45 a.m., including: 

  • Harbor Drive from Grape to Broadway 
  • Pacific Highway (one southbound lane) from Grape to Ash
  • Pacific Highway from Harbor to Broadway 
  • Harbor Drive from Broadway to Pacific Highway 
Contact Us