Five Awesome Parades for High School Marching Bands

Five Awesome Parades for High School Marching Bands

If you’re part of your high school’s marching band, you already understand how important marching bands are at parades. Whether you travel down the street or across the country for a parade, parades are a quintessential way to celebrate holidays and traditions throughout the year. Regardless of the size or location, parades are an opportunity for marching bands to showcase their talents to a local and national audience. From Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade to the Tournament of Roses, here are a few top parades for high school marching bands.

Disney Performing Arts OnStage

This year-round program gives marching bands the opportunity to perform on stage in one of Disney’s Orlando-based theme parks or march during a parade in the Magic Kingdom. As an added bonus, optional workshops with Disney cast members are available. Workshops include Jazz It Up, where you’ll join a recording session of jazz versions of Disney songs, and a workshop with Disney’s Flag Unit, where you’ll learn firsthand how to work together as a unit. Available to middle school, high school, and college bands, this is a great opportunity regardless of your grade or skill level. In order to apply, ask your band director to submit the required materials at least eight weeks before the desired performance date. Applications can be accepted up to one year in advance, and audition materials will be judged based on appearance and costumes, music, choreography, marching skills, stage presence, and overall show value. The Disney Performing Arts OnStage program is also available in Anaheim, California.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

With 3.5 million people in attendance and 50 million viewers across the country, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the most well-known annual parades in the United States. Each year, the parade accepts about ten different high school and college marching bands from across the nation, meaning spots are difficult to come by. This isn’t to say your high school marching band shouldn’t try- just ask your director to submit an application video to the Macy’s Band Selection Committee by the deadline. Decisions are typically made by May. If you’re wondering what the committee looks for in applicants, be sure to send in samples that show the full range and experience of your performance. Their selection process begins with what you put on the field, so provide the committee with the highest quality, most outstanding field show footage you possibly can.

Tournament of Roses Parade

Also referred to as The Rose Parade, this Pasadena-based parade is one of the biggest opportunities for marching bands to showcase their skills. The parade takes place each year on January 1st, and has a million live spectators and tens of millions joining in from around the world. Those bands that are accepted not only have the opportunity to march in the famous six-mile parade, but they’ll be able to take a photo in front of the Rose Bowl stadium and perform with other bands in a three-day show at Bandfest. Bands are selected based on their musicianship, marching skills, individuality, and overall entertainment value. In order to qualify, bands have to be able to perform field shows while marching in a parade block. If you think your marching band has what it takes, apply today. Invitations are issued in the fall (more than a year in advance) so you’ll have plenty of time to raise money for the big trip.

Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade

Now in its 46th year, the Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade is the “Spirit of the Southwest”, featuring brightly colored floats, giant balloons, and performances by the Fiesta Bowl Band Championship participants, winners of the Fiesta Bowl Twirl-Pom-Cheer & Flag Championship, and the Fiesta Bowl Queen & Court. Held at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, the Fiesta Bowl Band Championship is the only major bowl parade where the bands are judged. Known to be one of the most prestigious high school band competitions in the United States, the Fiesta Bowl has hosted highly rated bands from 44 states throughout its nearly five decade history. Here’s a fun fact you may appreciate: it takes a tuba player approximately 3,622 steps to walk the route of the Fiesta Bowl Parade.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade

This annual festival honors the gift of cherry trees given to the United States by the mayor of Tokyo in 1912 to symbolize the growing alliance between the two countries. Since its inception in 1927, the festival has grown to include a variety of events, including a parade and street festival. The parade takes place each year in Washington D.C. during the two-week National Cherry Blossom Festival in mid-April, and entertains over 300,000 people with balloons, dancers, singers, and marching bands. Washington D.C. is full of history, so it only makes sense you’ll pass by historical buildings, including the Washington Monument and the White House, on this one-mile route. In order to participate, marching bands must have at least 90 members. If you’d like to apply, the application deadline is September 15th the year before the next parade.


Landed the parade spot and need to prepare? From dressing comfortably to protecting your instrument, check out our marching band tips!


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