Any links in this post to a merchant may contain an affiliate link, which means that if you click on that link and then buy something, I may earn a commission from it. However, all opinions in this link are 100% mine and 100% honest. If I didn't believe in a particular product, I wouldn't recommend it to you.
The Rose Bowl, or the Tournament of Roses, as it is also called, is one of the oldest bowls in existence. It is affectionately referred to as the “Granddaddy of Them All.” It is the ultimate bowl game experience. We were fortunately able to attend the Rose Bowl a few years ago. It was an amazing experience that I will treasure forever. If you ever have the chance to go, jump at it. You won’t regret it. And to help you enjoy it to the fullest, here are some tips for getting the most out of your Rose Bowl experience.
Typically, the Rose Bowl is held on January 1 every year. However, the Bowl has a tradition of “never on Sunday.” Since 1893, it has never been held on a Sunday. So, if January 1 falls on a Sunday, the game is moved to January 2. The Rose Bowl is held in the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California. You can find all of the information for this year’s Rose Bowl at the official Bowl Game website. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Rose Bowl has been canceled.
The Tournament of Roses Parade
Unlike other bowl games, the Tournament of Roses Parade actually predates the football game. The parade started in 1890 by Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club as part of their effort to promote the area to those living on the East Coast. They used fresh flowers on the parade’s carriages to showcase the beauty of Southern California in the dead of winter. This use of flowers has always been an essential element of the Rose Parade. Even today, every float in the parade is required to be covered completely in natural materials.
Because of this unique requirement, these are some of the most beautiful parade floats that you will ever see anywhere in the world. They are incredibly detailed and the float designers are amazingly creative in their use of natural materials. Even if you are not a big parade person, you should definitely take the time to go watch the Rose Parade if you are in Pasadena during New Year’s. You will be blown away by these floats!
Decorating a Float
While you can enjoy the parade just by showing up and watching it live, you can’t truly appreciate the detail of the floats or the work and creativity that goes into them unless you get up close to them. The best way to do this is to volunteer to help decorate one of the floats. Most of the floats are sponsored by corporations and built by professional float companies. But, there are a few that are sponsored by local communities and built completely by volunteers.
Because of the use of fresh flowers, much of the float decorating activity takes place the last couple of days before the parade. The float builders, both corporate and self-built, are always in need of volunteers to help finish the floats in time. If you will be in the Pasadena area during the week leading up to the Rose Parade, you should consider volunteering on a float. You can find information on volunteer opportunities here.
When we went to the Rose Bowl, I spent several hours one night helping to glue flowers on the City of Downey’s float. It was one of the best parts of the entire Bowl experience! It gave me such an intimate, behind-the-scenes look into the Rose Parade and made me realize just how much work goes into each of the floats. I will never looked at the Rose Parade the same way again. I highly recommend taking part in this unique bowl activity.
Parking at the Stadium
Like most of the Rose Bowl experience, parking at the stadium is unlike any other bowl game. Parking at the Rose Bowl stadium is actually on a golf course. You park on the fairways of the course. This can present some unique challenges, specifically in remembering where you parked or finding others in the parking lots. There are literally thousands of cars parked all over the grass. They do have some large balloons with numbers on them to help designate different areas, but it is still difficult to find people. So, beware of this!
The stadium is not far from the parade location. So, if you are going to both the parade and the game, park at the stadium and then walk to and from the parade route. This way, you only have to fight traffic to park your car once. It will make things much easier than trying to move your car in between the parade and the game.
Tailgating is a lot of fun regardless of which college game you are attending. However, there is something extra special about tailgating at the Rose Bowl. If you typically tailgate at games, you should definitely make plans to also tailgate at the Rose Bowl. You can either attend the official tailgate of one of the teams or have your own. Tailgating is also a great way to spend some time after the game while you let the traffic clear out. Just don’t forget to pack for your tailgate!
There are many official events that take place in the days leading up to the Rose Bowl. You can find a complete list of these events on the official website. These include team tailgates, battle of the bands, and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Induction. I recommend attending at least some of these events. They are a great way to build excitement for the game.
Of course, the game itself is the highlight of the Rose Bowl. Whether your team wins or loses, whether you are a die-hard football fan or a casual observer, you can’t help but get excited and appreciate the Rose Bowl. It is a classic game set in a beautiful location with all of the pageantry and tradition that you would expect of a big bowl game.
The Rose Bowl is not called the Granddaddy of Them All for nothing! This is one of the oldest and best bowl games in existence. From amazing floats to energetic marching bands to thrilling college football, you can’t beat it when it comes to excitement and entertainment. If you ever get the opportunity to attend the Rose Bowl, you should take it. It will be an experience you will never forget! And these tips help you get the most out of the Rose Bowl experience. For more tips, see how to maximize your bowl game experience, how to get football tickets, and surviving football games with kids. Happy travels!
P.S. You definitely need to tailgate at the Rose Bowl. In order to simplify your tailgate packing, get our FREE tailgate packing list! Grab your copy now in the box below. Plus, as a bonus, you’ll get our weekly email newsletters full of travel tips and inspiration.