Illuminating Missoula: Annual Parade of Lights Returns for 2022

Every year, the Downtown Missoula Association holds the Parade of Lights, this year’s occurring on Saturday, Dec. 3. This annual celebration has been a longtime Missoula tradition that for the last 19 years has had an extreme local backing.

The Parade of Lights, although primarily known for the floats that funnel down Higgins street, is an entire day of events. Local businesses such as ZACC, the Jeanette Rankin Peace Center, the Roxy Theater, and many others all provide free activities targeted for children and families. 

The celebration this year allows for many special experiences, such as photos with Santa at the Missoula Public Library from 1-4 pm. Other special events include carriage rides at no cost given by Paw’s Up on both Dec. 3 and 4, as well as countless opportunities to make holiday themed crafts across the strip. The goal of this event is to essentially give kids across Missoula the opportunity to celebrate. 

The Winter Makers Market will be featured. Initiated by the Missoula Makers Collective,  it allows local vendors to provide individual gifts for the holiday season. During the parade, the traditional Downtown tree lighting ceremony will occur at 6 p.m., besides the XXX statues.

This fun event has had many effects on the Missoula community, as even when I was much smaller, going into storefronts and looking at the intricate holiday figurines was a highlight. Frosting cookies at Bernice’s Bakery, watching the extravagant parade float over Higgins Bridge, dressing up and taking photobooth pictures, and then drinking hot chocolate from Butterflies are among memories that I won’t forget. 

My experiences with the Parade of Lights are common, as the general consensus is that it truly is a special event that people of all ages can appreciate, without breaking the bank. 

Below is a complete list of the events that will be occurring Saturday and Sunday, courtesy of Downtown Missoula Partnership. 


Grinch Slime | Studio Sweat | 11 am-1 pm | FREE

Open House | Carroll-Henderson School of Dancing | 4:30-5:30 pm

Beaded Snowflakes | Bathing Beauties Beads | 11am-2pm | $5 per Snowflake

Letters to Santa | Noteworthy Paper and Press | 11am-3pm | $1 Donation

Snowflake Making | Draught Works | 10am-6pm | $2 Donation to Watson’s Children’s Shelter

Design a Cookie Plate | ZACC | 12pm-4pm | $10+

Winter Lights Crafts | Missoula Public Library | 12pm-4pm | FREE

Make your Own Tea Blend and Label | Lake Missoula Tea Co. | 12pm-5pm | FREE

Cookie Decorating | Bernice’s Bakery | 1pm-4pm | 1st cookie is FREE for kids; $1 for adults & for each additional cookie

DIY Felt Garlands | Dram Shop | 3pm-5pm | FREE

Block Printing | Betty’s Divine | 1pm-3pm | FREE if you bring your own item, bandanas available for purchase

Free Carousel Rides | 12pm-5 pm | A Carousel for Missoula

Peace Ornaments | Jeanette Rankin Peace Center | 12pm-2pm | FREE

Nordic Skiing Coloring Pages | Missoula Cyclocross | 10am-4pm | FREE

Coloring Pages Workshop | Pearl Boba Tea & Missoula Makers Collective | 3pm-5pm | FREE

Crafts and Cocoa with Local Author Hauna Hochstetler | Glacier Sotheby’s | 12 pm-4 pm | FREE

Gift Tag Making | Hunter Bay Coffee | 9:30am-12:30pm | FREE

Ornaments With Personalized Photo | Hosted at Cranky Sam’s by Frame of Mind | 11am-3 pm | $3 ornament

Children’s Animated Holiday Films | Roxy Theater | 12-4 pm | FREE

Hair Tinsel and Live Music | UM Entertainment Management Student Group at the Dana Gallery | 2pm-6pm | $3 per piece of tinsel

Create a Tree Ornament | Create Art Bar | 12-9 pm | $8 plus free hot cocoa for kids with purchase

Acrylic Ornament | Hosted at Bicycle Hanger by Cancer Support Community | 12pm-4pm | $5 suggested donation