Holiday Parade & Tree Lighting

Saturday, December 7, 2019 (Rain date is 12/8/19)

The theme of the 2019 holiday parade is Hometown Holiday. Festivities will begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 7th (rain date December 8th), beginning with music in Market Square and then the Mayor lighting the tree at 5:30 p.m. The parade follows, stepping off from Islington/Summer Street at 6:00 p.m.

All participants and spectators are encouraged to participate in the City’s annual food drive during the parade. Participants can bring food to the start of the parade for pick up by the student volunteers. Parade spectators can drop food at the parade platform in Market Square or hand deliver their donation to the volunteers walking through the parade with shopping carts. Thank you to the Portsmouth High School students for volunteering their time to this worthy cause each year.

Parking & Transportation


Foundry Place Garage parking: $2 flat rate for parking from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, December 7 (or rain date).

Portsmouth's free parking shuttle operates from 4 p.m to 11 p.m. This shuttle allows for easy parking at the Connect Community Church's parking lot off Market Street, and quick transportation to the downtown at the Hanover Street bus stop - all free of charge.

High/Hanover Parking Garage: $1.75 per hour standard rates apply.

Road Closures & Detours


Click here for details from the Portsmouth Police Department about street closures and detours. 

Parade Route

Holiday Parade Route
Viewing of the parade for spectators starts at Summer/Islington Street.


Grand Marshal


Each year a Grand Marshal is chosen who exemplifies the good work that has been done in Portsmouth. The 2019 Holiday Parade Co-Grand Marshalls are outgoing Mayor, Hon. Jack Blalock and outgoing City Manager, Mr. John Bohenko.

The Tree


The 2019 Market Square Christmas tree is being donated from Martins Point Health Care, located at 161 Corporate Drive. It will be a Colorado Blue Spruce, weighing in at approximately 3000 pounds. Public Works will lower into place in the heart of Market Square on November 25. The tree will be beautifully decorated with 200 lights and several hundred ornaments. 

Key Deadlines


Below please note key deadlines for participating in the parade, as well as the document that includes full rules, regulations and the application form:

  • Monday, November 4: Application deadline for floats, flatbed trailers and towed trailers
  • Monday, November 4 at 6:30 p.m.: Safety Meeting for float entries and any entry carrying someone outside a vehicle cab. Portsmouth Police Station – 1 Junkins Avenue (see special rules for floats/towed trailers. Please bring 3 things to the meeting: Pics or schematics of float (if pulling a trailer-- photos must show that wheels are not exposed); proof of registration & insurance for trailer; and photocopy of the drivers license of the driver of the float unit. All drivers will be re-checked on parade night.
  • Monday, November 25 at 12:00 p.m.:  Deadline for other entries. (A $25 late fee must accompany ALL applications following the deadline.)