Your Guide to Holiday Parade Day in Alexandria 2022
Minutes from D.C., Alexandria, Virginia’s Biggest Holiday Weekend takes place December 2-4, 2022, with the city’s two signature parades occurring on Saturday, December 3. Spend the day in Alexandria and attend the 51st Annual Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Parade at 11 a.m. and the 22nd Annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights sponsored by Amazon at 5:30 p.m. with riverside festivities starting at 2 p.m. From transportation tips to where to refuel to all the happenings between parades, keep reading for the details you need to spend a magically festive day in Alexandria.
Both parades will occur rain or shine. Text “ALXEVENTS” to 888777 to receive event updates.
Getting Here and Getting Around
Based on anticipated attendance, arriving early and using public transportation and alternative modes of transportation are highly encouraged. Transportation options include Metrorail (blue line) from the King Street station, water taxi, Capital Bikeshare, taxi and free DASH buses, which run from 6 a.m. to midnight. Throughout Saturday, the free King Street Trolley will run a modified route from the King Street Metro to the Lyceum (201 S. Washington St) and back.
If you do drive, plan to park a fair distance from the parade locations. Find a map of garages on the City of Alexandria’s parking page. Avoid driving in the parade zone, and find additional details on road closures and the community impact around Scottish Walk and the Boat Parade.
Make a weekend of it with special holiday hotel packages at The Alexandrian, Lorien Hotel & Spa, Hyatt Centric, Morrison House and more.
Pictured: Chadwicks; Image Credit: Scott Suchman for Visit Alexandria
Before the fun begins, grab breakfast at Table Talk, Hen Quarter, Chadwicks or one of Alexandria’s popular brunch spots. For a quick grab-and-go option, pick up a fresh pastry and hot drink to-go from the Old Town Farmers’ Market, located steps from the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade. Select vendors will stay after the parade ends and into the afternoon.
51st Annual Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Parade
Image Credit: Matt Chenet for Visit Alexandria
The city celebrates its Scottish heritage with the iconic 51st Annual Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Parade beginning at 11 a.m. Dozens of Scottish clans dressed in colorful tartans parade through the streets of Old Town, joined by pipe and drum bands from around the region, as well as terriers and hounds and more.
Bring a pop-up chair to enjoy the parade from anywhere along the mile-long route through Old Town; just be sure not to block sidewalks, streets and residences. While we love furry friends, they may be more comfortable at home given the high volume of attendees and dogs participating in the parade.
Dining Between Parades
Pictured: Yunnan by Potomac Noodle House; Image Credit: Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
For dining post-Scottish Christmas Walk Parade, we recommend making a reservation to guarantee you’ll be seated during a busy day. Try Old Town restaurants slightly off the beaten path of the parade, but within walking distance, like Mason Social, Southside 815, Yunnan by Potomac Noodle House or Sisters Thai. Or, warm up with a latte from Dolci Gelati, Café du Soleil or Turkish Coffee Lady.
Can’t-Miss Afternoon Events
Image Credit: Evan Michio for Visit Alexandria
After the morning parade and re-fueling, meander to Carlyle House, home of Scottish merchant and city co-founder John Carlyle, for the free Scottish Walk Open House, happening 12 to 4 p.m. Squeeze in some holiday shopping as you pick up stocking stuffers from The Old Town Shop, King Street Souvenirs and Bellacara.
Then, check out the pre-Boat Parade programming, including the following:
Old Town North Waterfront
- NEW: The Holiday Soirée at Canal Center includes 40+ artist vendors, a gift-priced art gallery, live music, beverages, treats and more. Plus, the Old Town North Alliance presents music, food and drink vendors, interactive demonstrations and kids activities at Oronoco Bay Park. (2 to 7 p.m.)
- Boats arrive for parade assembly at 4:30 p.m. near Canal Center; boats get into parade formation at 5 p.m. near Oronoco Bay Park
Alexandria City Marina (0 Cameron St.)
- Holiday Festival at Torpedo Factory Art Center (2 to 8 p.m., 105 N. Union St.)
- Santa arrives by fireboat at the Alexandria City Marina (3:30 p.m., 0 Cameron St.)
Waterfront Park (1A Prince St.)
- Activities (2 to 5:30 p.m., 1 King Street)
- Letters to Santa postcard station from Penny Post
- Holiday ornament craft activity from AR Workshop Alexandria
- Leather coaster-making and make-your-own gift wrap from Shop Made in Virginia
- Holiday music and giveaways (from 2 to 4 p.m.) from 97.1 WASH-FM
- Food and Drink Options (2 to 8 p.m.)
- Pop-up beer garden from Port City Brewing Company
- Hot chocolate from Dolci Gelati
- Gourmet popcorn from America’s Favorite Gourmet Popcorn
- Shortbread from Allens Scottish Shortbread
- New York style pizza by the slice from RedRocks Old Town
- Delicious lineup from Common Plate Hospitality’s Alexandria-based restaurants Augie’s, Mason Social and Urbano 116
22nd Annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights Sponsored by Amazon
Image Credit: Evan Michio for Visit Alexandria
At 5:30, more than 50 brightly lit boats will cruise along Old Town Alexandria’s Potomac River shoreline during the 22nd Annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights sponsored by Amazon.
- Be sure to arrive as early as possible to minimize delays due to traffic or crowds.
- Leave your car behind and travel via Metrorail (blue line to King Street Metro), bus, Lyft, Uber, taxi, Capital Bikeshare and more.
- Note that parking garages closest to the waterfront fill up in advance of the event, and new traffic patterns and street closures near the waterfront go into effect at around 3 pm.
- The following garages in Old Town North will offer $5 parking from 2 to 7 p.m.
- 44 Canal Center, courtesy of Canal Center Plaza
- 1033 N. Fairfax Street, courtesy of TideLock at TransPotomac Plaza
- Check out more transportation and parking information.
Viewing Vantage Points:
Avoid the crowds near King Street at the Alexandria City Marina and Waterfront Park and watch the boats assemble near the Old Town North waterfront around 4:30 p.m. by the Canal Center festivities or bring blankets and cozy up in Oronoco Bay Park to watch them get into formation around 5 p.m.
The parade route begins at the Alexandria City Marina/Waterfront Park at 5:30 p.m. and extends one mile southward, ending at Ford’s Landing Park near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Please note that times are subject to change based on cruising speeds and other factors. The duration of the parade can vary from 30 minutes to an hour. Below are suggested parade viewing areas:
- Founders Park, 351 North Union Street
- Alexandria City Marina, 0 Cameron Street (limited visibility)
- Waterfront Park, 1 King Street and 1A Prince Street
- Point Lumley Park, 1 Duke Street
- Robinson Landing, 7 Pioneer Way
- Windmill Hill Park, 501 South Union Street
- Shipyard/Harborside Park, 1 Wilkes Street
- Ford’s Landing City Park, 99 Franklin Street
Extend the Evening
Pictured: Kismet Modern Indian; Image Credit: Scott Suchman for Visit Alexandria
Keep the fun going and clink glasses with a reservation for drinks or mocktails at King & Rye, Kismet Modern Indian or Brabo Brasserie. Or, warm up with an elevated dining experience at 1799 Prime Steak & Seafood or Vermilion.
Text “ALXEVENTS” to 888777 to receive event updates.
Discover everything Alexandria has to offer this holiday season.
Header Image Credits: Matt Chenet for Visit Alexandria (left); Evan Michio for Visit Alexandria (center and right)