Rose Bowl tickets are now on sale but Pasadena isn’t just about football this time of year. The build-up to New Year’s Day is something to see even if you don’t know the difference between a post pattern and a buttonhook.
There’s the 129th Tournament of Roses Parade (Jan. 1, 8 a.m.) of course—which, purists will remind you, has been around longer than the game itself (the game is only 115 years old this year). Get up early on New Year’s to grab a spot along the parade route, or reserve tickets for the Rose Parade Grandstand.
The last days of December offer a lot of pre-game excitement, too, depending on which part of the festivities you prefer. Check out Equestfest in nearby Burbank on Dec. 29 to watch drills, dances, and tricks by the many horses that appear in the parade; hear marching bands do their last rehearsals at Bandfest (Dec. 29–30); or go watch the floats being created at Pasadena’s Rosemont Pavilion (Dec. 28–31), as the last bits of flowers, grasses, vegetables, seeds, and bark are put on the floats.
In fact, you can even help build the floats. Throughout December, the parade’s mix of commercial and community-driven float builders welcome all kinds of volunteers (you just have to sign some forms and dress in clothes that you don’t mind getting messy). Check the Tournament of Roses volunteer page for information on signing up.