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Fanfare and festivals

Courtesy Pasadena Tournament of Roses

From floral festivals with decades of tradition to Western events pitting cowgirls against cowboys to lasso up loads of fun, festivals and events around the globe offer one-of-a-kind chances to experience the uncanny and soak in the local culture for groups and church communities all over.

Festive foods, exciting rides and new sights are without a doubt a main attraction for annual festivals, but what keeps festivals thriving year after year is their devotion to their own time-honored traditions. Whether festival goers have been attending since they were children or they are experiencing that festival for the first time, it’s that sense of dedication to the cause that keeps drawing people, bringing the festival to life.

Here are a few festivals and events that offer wonderful traditions and memorable experiences for groups small and large, and their dates in 2013.

Pasadena Tournament of Roses
Pasadena, California
[ Jan. 1 ]

For more than a century, Americans looking to experience a wonderful and family-oriented way to start the New Year have enjoyed the annual Rose Parade and Pasadena Tournament of Roses.

Held each year on Jan. 1, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses is run by a volunteer organization that annually hosts the Rose Parade, presented by Honda; the Rose Bowl Game, presented by Vizio; and various associated events. The 124th Rose Parade, themed “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” will feature grandiose floral floats, high-stepping equestrian units and spirited marching bands. Following the parade, groups can experience the 99th Rose Bowl Game, where they can witness an exciting match-up between two of the nation’s top collegiate football teams.

“If you have only seen the Rose Parade and game on television you should make an effort to attend them in person,” said Sally Bixby, president and chairman of the board for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses. “It is wonderful to see the detail of the floats up close, smell the flowers, hear the bands playing and see the equestrian units perform in person.”

Ozark Mountain Christmas
Branson, Missouri
[ November and December ]

What began as a series of festive celebrations surrounding the winter months in Branson, Missouri, has now become known as one of the top 100 events in North America. Although certain celebrations date back to the early 1940s, the first official Ozark Mountain Christmas was held in 1989. The event has grown to include a bountiful family-oriented mix of entertainment, activities and loads of holiday spirit — Ozark style.

The schedule includes events such as the Titanic Christmas and Winter Celebration, the Branson Area Festival of Lights, the Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights and An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City. The Titanic Museum Attraction hosts two events: Happy Birthday Molly and Carter is a two-day celebration near Thanksgiving, and the Titanic Fantasy Princess Holiday goes throughout the holiday season.

The entire city comes together for the 64th Annual Adoration Parade and Nativity Lighting Ceremony downtown, which takes place this year on Dec. 2.

“I love seeing all of the lights and decorations,” said Tamra Jane Corbin, media relations manager for the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The drive-through light displays are great activities no matter what the weather may be like.”

Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade

[ Jan. 1 ]
Just as much of a Philadelphia mainstay as the Philly cheesesteak and hoagie, Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade is one event no self-respecting Philadelphian would consider missing. Since 1901, the Mummers Parade has welcomed the New Year with sequins, costumes, music and revelry all the way up Broad Street.

The all-day parade kicks off in the morning with men, women and children competing for prizes and bragging rights for their elaborate Mummers costumes as they strut their way up Broad Street toward City Hall, ending sometime before 6 p.m. The costumes are judged in five divisions: comics, wench brigades, string bands, fancies and fancy brigades. Along with the outdoor parade, there’s an indoor, ticketed show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center at noon and again at 5 p.m.

“The Mummers is a ground-up folk parade,” said Cara Schneider, media relations director for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation. “What it lacks in pinpoint precision is made up for in heart and authenticity. Don’t rush to get there for the 10 a.m. start; the outdoor parade is going strong mid-to-late afternoon, when you’ll see the more elaborate costumes.”