Toted as America’s Largest Balloon Parade, the San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade is returning to downtown San Diego on Wednesday, December 28. Featuring more inflatable and animated characters than ever before, this year’s parade promises to be even bigger (and hopefully warmer) than last year. Be on the lookout for familiar faces such as Jay Jay the Jet Plane, Raggedy Ann and Andy, Leonardo the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and more. In addition to the parade, there’s also a 5K run sponsored by Bumble Bee Foods, the Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals final and the Amtrak Big Bay Family Festival–a free event filled with family activities and the annual Battle of the University Marching Bands.

Wednesday, December 28 at 10:00am–11:30am.

The parade starts on Harbor Drive near the County Administration Building. It runs south on Harbor Drive, ending on the corner of Harbor and Pacific Highway near Seaport Village. See the entire parade route here.

Street viewing of the parade is free of charge. Grandstand seating is available for $20 per person (Kids 3 and under are free but must be sitting on your lap).

Where to Watch:
The best views of the parade are in the grandstand seating near the Maritime Museum, but standing street-side as the parade goes by will give you the chance to move around and explore different stops on the parade route. The parade will also be broadcast live on Cox Channel 4 on Wednesday, December 28 beginning at 10:00am if you’d prefer to enjoy the parade in your pj’s. The national broadcast is scheduled for Friday, December 30 at 8:00am ET/PT.

Directions from East County – Take I-8 West to Highway 163-South. Continue on 163 into downtown and make a right on Broadway. Continue down Broadway to the parade site.
Directions from North County – Take I-5 South and exit Front St. Make a right at Broadway. Continue down Broadway to the parade site.
Directions from South Bay – Take I-5 North and exit on 6th Avenue. Take a left on 6th Avenue. Continue down 6th to Broadway. Make a right on Broadway and continue down to the parade site.

Parking/Getting There:
Parking is available in any metered or pay parking lots in the downtown area. Try the parking lot at the corner of Pacific Highway & Broadway, but get there early as spots fill up fast!

If you’re thinking of taking public transportation, visit for the most current trolley and bus schedules. The nearest trolley stop to the parade route is the America Plaza stop on the Orange Line. Exit towards Broadway and turn right down Broadway to the Parade route. From North County, visit for the schedule for the COASTER train. Exit at the Santa Fe Depot station and walk three blocks West.

While there are no sponsored food vendors at the parade, cafes and restaurants along the parade route sell food and drinks.

We want to hear what your recommendations are for watching this sweet San Diego tradition.

–Scott Wardell

Photo credit: JoeJ via Blogspot