2020 Parade of Lights Saturday, December 5!

Join us for the 18th Annual Parade of Lights on Saturday, December 5, 2020 as we kickoff the holiday season with a day of free family activities that brings the community together for free and low cost children’s activities, holiday carolers and performers, hot cocoa and cookies, all culminating with the annual Parade of Lights and annual Lighting of the Christmas Tree at Circle Square!

The Parade of Lights is a full day filled with fun the entire family can get behind. Be sure to keep your calendars clear for Saturday, December 5 and put you and yours in the holiday spirit. The day includes:

  • Family Friendly Activities throughout Downtown all day
  • Arrival of Santa at the new Missoula Mercantile Residence Inn by Marriott at 1pm, followed by photos with Santa!
  • Parade down Higgins Ave. starting at 6pm
  • Downtown Holiday Tree Lighting (Red XXXXs N. Higgins) after the parade.
  • Much More!

Did you miss the 2019 Parade of Lights? Do you want to relive the magic? Watch MCAT’S live stream here! 

The Parade of Lights is an entire day filled with fun free and/or low cost activities for children of all ages! Check back here closer to December 5!

2019 Activities & Workshops Schedule

Help-Portrait, Holiday Portraits for Those in Need | Rocky Mountain School of Photography | 9:30 am – 4:30 pm | FREE

Animal Wonders Holiday Celebration | The Public House | 10:30 am – 12:55 pm | FREE

Hand Rolled Beeswax Candle | RhapsodyMontana | 10 am – 12 pm | $2

  • Come Light Our Corner of the World by creating a hand rolled organic beeswax candle for a gift or a holiday keepsake in the DIY Craft Room of the new shop of RhapsodyMontana. Activity Cost of $2 to help cover cost of supplies.

Beaded Snowflakes | Bathing Beauties Beads | 10 am – 2 pm | $5/snowflake

  • Beaded Snowflake: Join us for the 17th annual Parade of Lights: Lights Around the World! We will be making our beaded snowflakes from 10am to 2pm. Using Czechoslovakian glass beads and Swarovski Crystals these snowflakes will light up your home throughout the winter. There is a small fee of $5 per snowflake that includes all the beads and supplies you need to make a snowflake!

2 First Night Buttons for $15 | Arts Missoula @ Fact & Fiction | 10 am – 5 pm

Fair Trade Lights Around the World | Jeannette Rankin Peace Center | 10 am – 7 pm | FREE

  • Fair Trade Lights Around the World: 11am-3pm Peace Crane Making Fair Trade Store Discounts * 25% off for members * 10% off for non-members Delicious Refreshments

Custom Gift Tags | Hazel & Fawn | 11 am – 1 pm | FREE

Personalized Picture Frame Ornaments | Frame of Mind @ Green Source | 11 am – 3 pm | FREE

DIY Ornaments | Upcycled | Noon until supplies run out | $2 Donation

Scent Bar with Coming up Rainbows | Betty’s Divine | 12-2 pm | $5

Popcorn & Cranberry String Ornaments | Kornutopia | 12-4 pm | FREE

Drop-In Crafts | Missoula Public Library | 12-4 pm | FREE

  • In the children’s department we will have a drop in craft from 12-4pm. The craft will have a winter lights theme in celebration of the parade.

Letters to Santa | Noteworthy Paper and Press | 12-4 pm | Donation

Candy Christmas Tree | Rattlesnake Creek Distillers | 12-4 pm | Donation

  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Christmas Tree making! Make your very Candy Christmas Tree!

Classic Animated Holiday Films | The Roxy Theater | 12-4 pm | FREE

Make Your Own Cookie Plate | ZACC | 12-4 pm | Starts at $10

  • Make sure Santa remembers your house by painting him his very own special cookie plate! A unique item that can be customized and used year after year, this cookie plate is sure to become a memorable family tradition. The ZACC has a wide variety of sizes and styles of plates from which to choose, so you’re guaranteed to find something that will make Santa smile! Pottery pieces start at $10. (Pricing includes glazing and firing.)

Board Breaking & Ninja Ornaments | Big Sky ATA Black Belt Academy | 12-4:30 pm | FREE

Make Your Own Tea Blend | Lake Missoula Tea Company | 12-5 pm | FREE

  • Make your own blend and design a label! Choose from a variety of herbs and tea to concoct your own unique tea blend. Come up with your own tea name and design the label. Take home your and brew your blend! Did it turn out the way you thought it would?

Holiday Tree Ornaments | Montgomery Distillery | 12-5 pm | FREE

  • Make gorgeous holiday tree ornaments from upcycled cardboard, yarn, and sparkly pom-poms. All materials provided!

Tour of Trees | Festival of Trees | 12-6 pm | FREE

Create A Christmas Ornament | CREATE art bar | 12-6 pm | $5-10

  • Kids can come in a make a Christmas ornament, we’ll have all the materials and supplies and instructions, as well as hands on help as needed. Projects will be $5 or $10 and will appeal to all ages (younger children with adult supervision).

Cookie Decorating | Bernice’s Bakery | 1-4 pm | 1st Cookie is FREE for kids; $1 for each cookie after & for adults

Light Up Your Future with Head Start | Child Start Inc. | 1-4 pm | FREE

  • “Light up your Future with Head Start” Join us and come make a clear snow globe to enjoy all year long!

S’more Making | A Carousel for Missoula | 1-5 pm | FREE

Basement Arcade | GILD Brewing | 2-4 pm | FREE

  • We will be opening our basement arcade and providing free tokens for kids from 2-4 p.m.

Jen Nitz and Rubix Ruckus Rubenstein | Fact & Fiction | 2-4 pm | FREE

  • Jen Nitz and Rubix Ruckus Rubenstein Meet the Author and the Star of the local children’s book series Rubix Ruckus Reubenstein! Jen and Rubix will be autographing and “pawtographing” copies!

DIY Paper Lanterns | The Dram Shop | 3-5 pm | FREE

Missoula Butterfly House & Insectarium  |  spectrUM Discovery Area  |  3-5pm  |  Admission is $3.50 for people four years and older, kiddos three and under are free

  • Join the Missoula Butterfly House & Insectarium at the spectrUM Discovery Area to meet and hold friendly Bug Ambassadors, learn a bit about what bugs do to survive the cold winter months and make a bug ornament to add to your tree.This activity is free but normal spectrUM admission rates apply. Admission is $3.50 for people four years and older, kiddos three and under are free. Thanks to spectrUM’s participation in the Museums for All program, families with an EBT card get in free.
This event would not be able to happen year after year without the generosity of our sponsors.
2019 Sponsors:


The Parade of Lights wouldn’t be what it is without the parade – duh! Connect to the community and line Higgins Avenue at 6pm on Saturday, December 5 to be swept up in the magic of the holiday parade floats designed by organizations and community members. The fun continues after the parade at Circle Square (near the XXXX’s) for the lighting of the Downtown Holiday Tree, caroling, and hot cocoa. Rain, snow or shine, this parade delights the young and old alike. Bundle up and we’ll see you on the parade route!

Parade Details:

  • Entry Fee: $25
  • Parade Lineup: 4:45 pm
  • Parade Route: Begins in front of the Missoulian on 4th Street and Higgins Avenue, proceeds across the bridge and then East on Alder Street.
  • Parade Line Up: Your parade line-up position is first come, first serve. Please arrive by 4:45 pm and lineup behind previous arrivals. A confirmation letter will be mailed to you a week before the parade. If you have any special needs regarding your entry, please note them on the back of this form.
  • **NOTE**: Organizations are not allowed to have a santa on their float.
  • **NOTE**: Absolutely NO throwing candy during the parade!
  • **NOTE**: Floats need to have lights on the vehicle – it’s the Parade of Lights!
  • Reminder: Music can really liven up your float!
  • Generators are available at: Eastgate Rental & Party Center – (406) 549-5114 and Star Rental – (406) 728-5092. Adapters for lights that need to be converted into car power jacks are available at Radio Shack and other electronic stores.