Downtown for the Holidays: 2023

New Name, New Spirit: “Holidays on Higgins” brings the Magic of the Season to Downtown Missoula


Downtown Missoula is gearing up to welcome the holiday season with a fresh and exciting transformation. Formerly known as the Parade of Lights, Downtown’s beloved event has undergone a rebranding to become “Holidays on Higgins”. This new name mirrors the evolving spirit of the event, promising a day filled with festive activities, heartwarming traditions, and countless opportunities of fun for all ages. Sponsored by Good Food Store and TrailWest Bank, Holidays on Higgins will be Saturday December 2, 2023 as Downtown Missoula shines bright with holiday cheer!

The shift from Parade of Lights to Holidays on Higgins represents change in the event’s format. Instead of a moving parade, the occasion features stationary floats adorned with holiday lights, bringing a unique charm to Higgins Ave. This evolution allows for families and attendees to enjoy and interact with the floats at their own leisurely pace, shop at Downtown Businesses, and revel in the splendor of Downtown Missoula.

The Missoula Makers Collective Market will be a highlight, featuring 40 local makers offering an array of holiday goods.  In addition to the market and the floats, Holidays on Higgins will feature burn barrels to keep everyone warm and cozy, carolers filling the air with holiday tunes, and festive drink specials courtesy of the Rhinoceros Bar.

Bailey Durnell, Committee Member and co-owner of Missoula Makers Collective, expressed her excitement about the change: “After nearly two decades of the Parade of Lights, we felt it was time for a change and a fresh approach to the event. Holidays on Higgins is all about bringing the community together where families and individuals can stroll at their own pace, and interact with the floats, makers and businesses. It’s no longer just about braving the cold to watch floats pass by; it’s about fostering meaningful interactions and a sense of togetherness that amplifies the magic of the holiday season”

Downtown businesses will be hosting fun and festive activities for children at more than 20 Downtown locations throughout the day. Ornament making at Cranky Sam’s with Frame of Mind, Letters to Santa at Noteworthy, and Paint-A-Cookie plate at the ZACC are some examples of activities children and families can enjoy. Visit for a full list of activities. The MDA welcomes additional participants for children’s activities and float entries until Nov. 15.

Santa will arrive in Downtown Missoula at 11am at the Missoula Public Library (455 E. Main) on his horse-drawn carriage. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available for “take your own” photos from 1am-3pm. Families are encouraged to get in line early and no later than 2:30pm, as Santa will be participating in the stroll and Lighting the Holiday Tree promptly at 6pm at the Red XXXXs.

The Resort at Paws Up will offer free horse-drawn carriage rides for three consecutive weekends from 12pm-4pm December 2-3, 9-10, and 16-17. Rides start at the Missoula Art Park at Pine and Pattee, and the carriage can hold up to 12 people per ride. Two beautiful Fjord/Pecheron cross horses named Daisy and Duke will be our hosts.

Additionally, the Missoula Downtown Association will host Teddy Bear Tea Parties at the Governor’s Room in the Florence Building for one weekend: Dec 9 and 10. Tickets are available online at

More information on Holidays on Higgins and other holiday happenings in Downtown Missoula can be found online at or by contacting the Downtown Missoula Partnership office via phone (406-543-4238) or email ([email protected]).

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