Balloon Parade Returns to San Diego Bay

Created: 27 December, 2018
Last update: 20 April, 2022

By Ana Gomez Salcido

The Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade, known nationwide as America’s largest balloon Parade, will take place on Monday, December 31, 2018 along the shoreline of San Diego Bay.

The festivities begin at 9:45 a.m. with a 5k run and walk. Participants will begin the race at Harbor Drive and Ash Street along the North Embarcadero area in San Diego. They will run along Harbor Drive and finish at Ruocco Park, just past G Street and the Port’s commercial fishing basin.

Beginning at 10 a.m., the parade will kick off on Harbor Drive in front of the County Administration Building. It will then proceed south on Harbor Drive and end where Harbor Drive meets Pacific Highway. The entire route takes approximately two hours to complete.

“The Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade is one of the Port’s signature events, bringing approximately 100,000 spectators, including many from out of state, to the beautiful San Diego bayfront,” said Rafael Castellanos, Chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners. “It’s a wonderful way to activate the waterfront and to add an economic boost to the region.”

With 29 giant balloons, including characters such as the Very Hungry Caterpillar, Underdog, My Little Pony, Garfield, Bob the Builder, and more, the parade is a delight for children of all ages. Music lovers will be entertained by the ground-shaking beats of the Northwestern University Wildcat Band and the University of Utah Marching Band. Marine Band San Diego will also perform, as well as several high school bands from across the United States. In total, 10 bands will march in the parade. There will also be floats and specialty units featured in the parade.

This year’s theme of the Holiday Bowl Parade is “New Year’s Eve on the Wonderfront” and the Grand Marshal is San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts.

This is the 27th year that the Port of San Diego has been the title sponsor of the Holiday Bowl Parade. An annual tradition for many residents and visitors, it is the precursor event before the Holiday Bowl, which takes place in the evening of December 31. This year’s game is being played between Northwestern University and the University of Utah.

Parking along the parade route is extremely limited and traffic can be heavy in the area before and after the parade. The Port of San Diego encourages the use of public transportation. There are convenient trolley and bus stops adjacent to the parade route.
The parade will air locally and nationally. On the national level, it will air live on Fox College Sports. It will also air live on Fox Sports San Diego, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, and Fox Sports Southeast.