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General Press Releases

29 Giant Balloons, 10 Bands and Much More to Entertain in the 2018 Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade

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 the Solar Turbines 5k run/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 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.

Streets along the parade route will be closed to traffic beginning at 7:45 a.m. Closures include:

  • Harbor Drive from Grape Street to Broadway
  • Harbor Drive from Broadway to Pacific Highway
  • Pacific Highway from Harbor Drive to Broadway
  • One southbound lane on Pacific Highway will be closed from Grape Street to Ash Street

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.  Please visit the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System webpage at for routes and schedules.

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 (in the Greater Los Angeles area, Las Vegas and Hawaii), and Fox Sports Southeast (Florida).



About THE Port of San Diego

The Port of San Diego serves the people of California as a specially created district, balancing multiple uses on 34 miles along San Diego Bay spanning five cities. Collecting no tax dollars, the Port manages a diverse portfolio to generate revenues that support vital public services and amenities.

The Port champions Maritime, Waterfront Development, Public Safety, Experiences and Environment, all focused on enriching the relationship people and businesses have with our dynamic waterfront. From cargo and cruise terminals to hotels and restaurants, from marinas to museums, from 22 public parks to countless events, the Port contributes to the region’s prosperity and remarkable way of life on a daily basis.

About Port of San Diego Experiences

Port of San Diego Experiences welcomes businesses, residents and visitors from across the globe to enjoy and prosper from our dynamic waterfront.

As a treasured destination, the Port provides unique opportunities to captivate visitors and ensure everyone is welcomed, connected and inspired by our beautiful waterfront.