NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It’s almost time to set the streets aglow in Downtown Norfolk. The 37th Annual Grand Illumination Parade happens Saturday, Nov. 18.

This year’s theme “Gingerbread Dreams” will be brought to life by marching bands, motorized units, walking units, floats and an appearance by the big guy himself — Santa Claus.

The Grand Illumination Parade is the official kick off of the holiday season in Norfolk. Each year, tens of thousands of people pour into Downtown Norfolk to experience the spectacle of lights.

The parade immediately follows the Grand Illumination that lights up the Downtown skyline.

“This is the 37th year of the region’s favorite holiday parade,” said Mary Miller, president and CEO of Downtown Norfolk Council. “We are proud of the continued quality of this beloved tradition and thankful for the hundreds of participants and volunteers that make it happen.” 

The parade will also be streamed on Facebook Live @DowntownNorfolk and at on Nov. 18 at 7p.m. 

Parking and Public Transportation

Things get underway at 7 p.m. but visitors are encouraged to arrive before 5 p.m. to avoid traffic. Early bird parking rates of $3 are available from 5 a.m. until 5 p.m. in most city garages. For a list of garage locations click here.

Hampton Roads Transit is also offering a special event pass to get to the parade and increased frequency on parade day. The round-trip passes are $4 each and valid for Nov. 18 only. You can buy them starting on Nov. 10 at on Ticketleap.

Starting at 4 p.m., The Tide will operate on a 10-minute schedule up until one hour following the end of the parade. Then, from 10 p.m. to midnight, light rail will run every 30-minutes. HRT will not serve the Harbor Park light rail station between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. on the day of the parade, as Harbor Park is a staging area for parade participants.

The Elizabeth River Ferry will operate every 15-minutes from 4 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. from Waterside, High Street, and North Landing.

Bus service will be suspended at stops in Downtown Norfolk impacted by traffic restrictions for the parade.

Road Closures

Saturday, Nov. 18

  • Park Avenue (from Holt Street to Main Street) – closes at noon for parade staging.
  • Water Street (from I-264 overpass east to Park Avenue) – closes at noon for parade staging.
  • Waterside Drive
  • St. Paul’s Boulevard (southbound from City Hall Avenue)
  • Main Street
  • Granby Street (from Main Street to Freemason Street)
  • Boush Street (from Freemason Street to Main Street)

Waterside Drive Street Closure: Waterside Drive will reopen following the Grand Illumination Parade for egress out of Downtown. At approximately 10:30 p.m. westbound Waterside Drive will close from Atlantic Street to Main Street and eastbound will close from Main Street to Martins Lane. Waterside Drive will close completely at 4 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19 for the Norfolk Harbor 5K race. The race starts at 8 a.m.  Click here for a map of the 5K course to view all impacted streets.