Columbus Festival of lights

December 2, 2023


Parade Entry 

This is an application for the 2023 Columbus Festival of Lights Parade. The application does not guarantee entry due to a limited amount of 100 entries. Entries are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Accepted applications will be contacted via email to arrange entry fee payments. The goal of the committee is to contact every applicant by September 30, 2023, to inform if they have been accepted or not. 
Thank you to all of our 2023 Parade Entries, we are so excited to see you on the night.

Unfortunately we have reached the maximum amount allowed for entries, if you were hoping to get an entry in, please send us a message and be added to our mailing list for our 2024 Parade Entry.
2023 Parade Rules
  • All participants must abide by the Columbus Festival of Lights Parade Entry Guidelines
  • All entries must have lighting displayed, even walking entries.
  • For safety, nothing may be thrown from any float or parade entry (such as candy, promotional flyers, etc.)
  • Primary Contact, Walking Marshalls, and all Drivers of entry in the Columbus Festival of Lights Parade are required to attend one of the entry meetings. Each entry will provide a walking marshal. All drivers will have to provide a valid driver's license and proof of insurance.
  • Participants are responsible for cleaning up their own litter, including any animal droppings.
  • There is only ONE official Santa & Mrs. Claus in the event. This official Santa and Mrs. Claus are designated by the event organizers. No other Santa Claus outfits or costumes are PERMITTED in the parade. Santa hats are acceptable.
  • The Columbus Festival of Lights and Red Arch Community Events, Inc. retain the right to refuse participation by any entry that fails to comply with any of the above rules at all times. Failure to adhere to any of the rules or other directions made by parade officials during the event will put the parade and the community at risk.
  • Staging is open from 11 am - 4:30 pm. No late arrivals. A float can arrive during this time and the participants can arrive closer to the start of the parade.
  • Entry inspections start at 4 pm.

    Entry Type (Select One)
    General ($50 Entry Fee)Non-Profit / Community ($25 Entry Fee)First Responder ($1 Entry Fee)Sponsor
    Accepted applications will be contacted via email to arrange entry fee payments.

    Entry Category (Select One)
    Float (pulled by vehicle)Float (motorized)Semi (cab with trailer/flatbed)Business Truck (tow truck, UPS truck, etc.)Construction Vehicle (cement truck, bulldozer, etc.)Police / Fire VehiclePassenger CarEquine / Animal RidingWalking Unit (No Vehicles)Marching Band

    Valid Driver's License

    Parade Unit may be no wider than 8 feet, no taller than 13 feet and must safely navigate the route due.

    Will your entry have music?
    Will your entry use horns or sirens?
    Will you need handicap accessible location for staging?
    Do you plan to return to the destaging area after the parade?

    I understand that if our entry is motorized (car, truck, towing apparatus or other vehicle of any size) OR uses a generator, the unit must be equipped with a 2-A, 10-B:C rated portable fire extinguisher for every 20 linear feet of the entry that is readily accessible to the operator.

    I understand that if our entry is a motorized unit or has a generator, we must have an emergency spill kit on board in case of hazardous material spills. I further understand that we will be responsible for making the first effort to clean up any spills that may occur in the staging areas or along the route.

    Parade Waiver
    I am the organizer and responsible party for this participant entry in the 2023 Columbus Festival of Lights Parade. In exchange for the privilege of participating in the Parade, I hereby take responsibility for all persons who will on, in or walking with the entry. I and everyone I represent also hereby waive, by this writing, any and all claims of liability against the Columbus Festival of Lights Committee, Red Arch Community Events, Inc, City of Columbus, all sponsors of the event and its members and volunteers, individually and collectively, which arise from or may arise from the incident or event related to such Parade. If representing a company, group or association, the writing covers all the people participating in that capacity. By checking this box, I agree to abide by the Columbus Festival of Lights Parade Entry Guidelines.
    Red Arch Community Events, Inc. encourages your organization to create and have everyone participating with your entry to sign a waiver acknowledging their risk of injury and weather-related circumstances by participating, and that event cancellation is a possibility if weather conditions deem necessary for safety concerns.

    To make sure you aren't a naughty elf, please answer the quiz below

    Printable Application

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Get Involved
    What is the Columbus Festival of Lights Parade?
    The Lights Festival is an event where people of all backgrounds and beliefs can come together to have an uplifting, positive, and unforgettable experience! We love seeing the variation of significance this event has for different people. We hope you’ll join us!
    What is the date of the event?
    Saturday December 2, 2023 at 6 pm. The parade lasts approximately an hour.
    (The event will happen the first Saturday of December each year following.)
    Where Can I Park?
    You can park in any of the legal street, garage or parking lots available throughout the downtown area that is not blocked off. Plan to arrive up to an hour early and to walk a bit. For more parking information and resources visit the City of Columbus website here.
    What if the Event is canceled?
    INCLEMENT WEATHER POLICY: The Columbus Festival of Lights Parade is an outdoor event we sometimes encounter unpredictable or bad weather. We will make a final decision on moving forward with the event based on the safety of our entries and attendees by noon on the day of the event. Once a decision has been made, we will email all entries via the email provided, post to our website and all social media feeds, and inform local media outlets.

    Parade entry fees for accepted entries are non-refundable. There is no ‘reschedule date’ should the parade be canceled or shortened due to inclement weather.

    Usually, the parade will be held in rain, snow, or clear weather. In the event of inclement weather, the parade will go on schedule, except in the event of extreme and/or dangerous conditions such as ice storms, temperatures (including wind chill) nearing zero degrees, blizzards, etc. The Parade Committee defines these conditions as situations when the downtown streets cannot be cleared by the City of Columbus AND/OR it is deemed unsafe to be outside by the National Weather Service. Should inclement weather occur prior to the parade, the Festival of Lights Parade Committee will determine if it is sufficiently severe to cancel or delay the parade.

    If the parade is canceled, it will not be rescheduled for a later date.

    All participants should make provisions for foul weather.
    Is the parade family and animal friendly?
    The Lights Fest is for all ages! There’s nothing like seeing the amazement in a child’s eyes while they gaze up into this genuinely magical sight. There is ample security at each event.

    We love your pets! … but we caution bringing them to the event. We do make exceptions for service animals. Keep in Mind that loud music and flashing lights may provide an uncomfortable atmosphere for your animal. They must be kept on a leash.

    Creating memories that will last a lifetime is what we are all about! We hope to see you at The Lights Fest!
    Can I throw things from my entry in the parade?
    Per the City of Columbus and Columbus Police Department, candy or any other objects MAY NOT be thrown from parade entries. If you wish to distribute any goodies, walkers may hand items to spectators along the route. Walkers must be at the curb. Safety is our primary concern and we will enforce this policy.
    What is the Parade Route This Year?
    See the map below. Or click here for a PDF version.

    To come Spring 2023

    Will There Be Awards Given for the Best and Most Creative Floats?
    Award winners will be named at the end of the parade. A list of float categories for this year will be announced soon.
    Where’s the best place to sit to see the Parade?
    There are many great places to view the Parade. We suggest Washington Street from 4th Street to 9th Street. Please be aware of the safety line and try to remain behind that line. We also ask that you respect law enforcement and security as they are there to keep the parade safe and fun for everyone.
    What types of groups are in the parade?
    The parade has a variety of units including floats, bands, balloons, and marching units.
    What Can I Do to Help with the Parade?
    We hope you’ll get involved with us and make this the best Christmas parade we’ve ever had. Here are just a few things you can do: Like us on Facebook, share the event with your friends, and click here to volunteer for the parade.
    How do I register to have a float in the parade?
    You will need to fill out an application on the applications page. 
    How can my business get involved?
    There are various ways businesses can be involved in the Parade, from sponsorships to parade entries. Email Below
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