Top 10 Band Trips: Results

Halftime Magazine, a print publication and online community, has assembled a list of “Top 10 Band Trips” including parades, festivals and venues to perform. Of course, many more opportunities exist. Add your thoughts to the mix.

10. Band Day

Many high school bands take a day trip to a local university to experience marching on a college campus. Band Day often occurs during one of the host band’s home games and can be an eye-opener and learning experience for any marching participant without the huge cost and effort for the group.

In the September/October 2009 issue, Halftime Magazine will feature Band Day and how the opportunity can prove rewarding for both the high schools and the universities involved.

9. Gasparilla Pirate Festival

This festival in Tampa, Fla., is on the rise as a popular event for marching bands. Two parades occur, an alcohol-free child-friendly event and the more rowdy parade of pirates.

8. Presidential Inauguration Parade and National Memorial Day Parade

More than 1,000 groups took part in President Barack Obama’s historic inaugural parade this year in Washington, D.C.. Occuring once every four years, the event can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a band.

But if your group can’t make it to the presidential inauguration, other opportunities exist in Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital hosts major parades on both Memorial Day and July 4th with groups traveling down Constitution Avenue past the White House.

Read “Saluting the President” and “Happy Birthday, America!” about these patriotic events.

7. Waikiki Holiday Parade

This parade, held every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving in Hawaii, commemorates Pearl Harbor survivors and victims of the attack. The route travels 1.5 miles down scenic Waikiki. Performers can also relive history by visiting the actual Pearl Harbor.

Read “On the Road Again: A Pearl Harbor Experience” for an insider’s viewpoint on the trip.

6. St. Patrick’s Festival Parade

You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day, and there’s no better place to experience the holiday than in Dublin, Ireland itself. The Festival itself involves almost a week of music, film theater and other cultural events. The parade occurs in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators with Irish street theatre companies, ceremonial groups and international marching bands creating a carnival atmosphere.

5. Fiesta Bowl National Championship

While most major bowl games also sponsor a big parade, the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., is the only one with a high school band competition. Bands travel from all over the country to compete for the coveted Grand Master’s Trophy.

4. Mardi Gras Parade

Beads, masks and floats. These relics combined with all the revelry and jazz make New Orleans a major attraction. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, marching in New Orleans for Mardi Gras has taken on even more meaning as performers and Americans, in general, rebuild what might have been lost. A number of parades occur for several weeks prior to the actual Mardi Gras. With the recent re-establishment of the original parade route, performers have even more to enjoy.

3. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

It’ll be cold (it might even be raining or snowing) but a trip to New York City on Turkey Day won’t leave you squawking. Participants need to apply years in advance, will be broadcast on television and often have plenty of time for sightseeing and shopping in The Big Apple.

Read “Thanksgiving Treat” to read on individual’s personal experience.

2. Disney Magic Music Days

Contrary to the name, Disney’s Magic Music Days occurs every day, not on any particular group of days. In addition to marching in a Disney parade, performing groups have the opportunity to participate in clinics taught by leading instructors as well as … well, ride the rides.

According to one Halftime Magazine reader, “For marching bands, nothing compares to marching down Main Street in front of tens of thousands of spectators! … When I was in high school, I performed as drum major with my marching band. When I taught high school, I brought my band down to perform, and now I’m planning to take my university band this December. Even these 18- to 22-year-olds are excited about the trip! Who doesn’t love Disney World?”

Read “On the Road Again” and “Disney Magic” to find out more about this magical experience.

1. Tournament of Roses Parade

There’s no better way to celebrate the New Year for marching band participants. Being selected for the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., is an honor for any band. Groups submit a nomination package years in advance and must be prepared to march the six-mile route. In return, they will perform in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators, be televised in the most-watched parade in the world and have wonderful weather in January. 

See “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “The Road Through Pasadena” for our photo spread from the past two years.

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