The 7 Coolest Marching Band Competitions In The World - EXP Trips

The 7 Coolest Marching Band Competitions In The World

Okay, I fess up–I was NOT in marching band in high school. But I was in choir and jazz band, and literally, all of my best friends were true marching band devotees. I’m talking all-four-years, never-missed-a-marching-practice, killed-it-on-the-football-field-AND-the-competition-stage badasses.

Marching band is often unfairly maligned as a hub for social outcasts when everyone in or near marching band knows the truth–the world opens its doors to dedicated instrument-playing marchers.

Particularly during parades.

If you’re in marching band (or you direct one!), you’ll want to consider these 7 upcoming parades as the next incredible stage to show off your serious skills.


Calgary Stampede (July 7, 2017)

McMahon Stadium does its part to try and contain one of the oldest parades in North America–an event that spans ten days and the whole city of Calgary.

The event has a parade and an indoor show band portion, and winning bands have the opportunity to snag $34,000 of prize money. Plus, you’ll have a huge audience–350,000+ spectators (not counting your TV audience) will watch you do your thing in Canada.

Plus, you’ll also get to hear performances from professional bands–including the Calgary Stampede Showband, who kinda owns this event.


DCI World Championships (August 7-12, 2017)

It’s my understanding that if you’re in marching band, Drumline (feat. Nick Cannon) is basically required viewing. If your school’s drum corps has the chops, you could very well end up here–the so-called “pinnacle of the annual DCI [Drum Corps International] Tour,” featuring the “very best in the world of marching music.”

High-pressure. But goals are meant for aiming high, right?

The 2017 competition, featuring 40 of the top ensembles competing for the gold, takes place in Michigan City and Indianapolis, Indiana.


Philadelphia Independence Day Parade (July 4, 2017)

What better day than Independence Day to walk in the literal footsteps of the founders of the United States?

This parade doesn’t just have a significant location, though–let’s face it, everywhere in Philadelphia is positively steeped in history–it also has a deeper symbolic meaning.

The parade is supposed to be a “chronological procession of history,” and traditionally moves from Native Americans through the American Revolution, through the Civil War, and up to the present-day, which includes “historic and military music groups.”

Plus, you’ll march right past Independence Hall. This parade is a super-cool opportunity for any marching band to celebrate the birth of the United States, and the different cultures that make it what it is today.


New York City Veterans Day Parade (Nov 11, 2017)

Marching up Fifth Avenue in New York, New York is amazing for tourists–and even more amazing for marching bands. Billed as the “oldest and largest parade of its kind in the United States,” marching bands participating in this historic parade can count on half a million spectators…and super recognizable views.

Come on, what high schooler in marching band HASN’T thought about playing some sick tunes while marching past Rockefeller Center or the Empire State Building?


Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Parade (Nov 18, 2017)

This one is pretty selective–the roster is limited to a handful of marching bands per year. (Five or six, according to But if you’re in one of the lucky bands, you’ll get to march down Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, where lights overhead are illuminated as the parade progresses.

A delightful sign of general winter holiday cheer, this sweet little parade also features lighted floats and performing artists.


Hollywood Christmas Parade (Nov 26, 2017)

Sure, you’ve marched onto plenty of football fields–but have you ever marched down a red carpet? That’s what you’re in for if you’re lucky enough to be part of the Hollywood Christmas Parade on none other than the Hollywood Boulevard.

A staple of Hollywood since 1928, this event includes marching bands–but also, duh, Hollywood’s biggest stars. So, hey –wish upon a star, and maybe you’ll get to march alongside one!


We bet it does, Jacob Tremblay.


Rome New Year’s Day Parade (Jan 1, 2018)

So not everyone’s got a band director willing to fly ’em to Rome for a marching performance. But if you do, maybe you’ll get to spend New Years in St. Peter’s Square, making your way down the grand Via Della Conciliazione, breathing in the Roman air and breathing music back out at the Italian spectators.


Honolulu Festival Parade of Bands (March 11, 2018)

A grand parade in Hawaii, anyone? Though you need to be invited to participate in this music bash, if you manage to get in you’ll be rubbing elbows with thousands of highly talented musicians, performers, and dancers–and you’ll be competing for some pretty awesome trophies.

And you’ll be marching down the streets of Hawaii. It doesn’t get much better than that.



For more cool events, check out for all things Marching Band related.


Photo credit: Katrina Kroger//Scutter//Thomas//Rachel Kramer//U.S. Pacific Fleet//Brett Eldridge

Leave a Reply