To celebrate the unofficial start of the holiday season near Monument Village, just head downtown and take in the Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade on the morning of Nov. 23. The parade, which begins at Veterans Plaza and proceeds south on Georgia Avenue to Silver Spring, is absolutely free and open to the public, and it’s filmed for television broadcast on Thanksgiving Day. The Montgomery County parade will have many of the features you expect–marching bands, floats staffed by community organizations, and giant inflatable character balloons—but you’ll also get unexpected treats, like performances from Bolivian dance troupes and the Gandhi Brigade youth media group from Silver Spring’s public school system.
No advance tickets are needed, but it’s best to check the website ahead of time to stay abreast of parking information and road closure announcements. The official start time is 10 am, but you’ll want to arrive a bit earlier than that to stake out your spot along the parade route.