ALEXANDRIA, VA-During Alexandria’s Biggest Holiday Weekend, celebrate the return of top signature events, including the 52nd Annual Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Parade sponsored by Wegmans in historic Old Town Alexandria at 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 2, 2023. Dozens of Scottish clans dressed in colorful tartans parade through the streets of Old Town, joined by pipe and drum bands, as well as terriers and hounds, community groups and more. Alexandria was founded in 1749 by Scottish merchants and was named after Scotsman John Alexander who owned the land that became Alexandria. Today, the city continues celebrating its heritage with the iconic parade.
This year’s Grand Marshals are Congressman Don Beyer and Director of the Office of Art in Embassies at the U.S. Department of State Megan Beyer. Don is serving his fifth term as the U.S. Representative from Virginia’s 8th District and is dedicated to public service across climate change, advocacy for Virginians with disabilities and beyond. Megan is an award-winning journalist, civic activist, public diplomacy leader and founder of Megan Beyer Associates. Don and Megan live in Alexandria.
The 2023 Master of Ceremonies is Ian Houston, an international non-profit leader in the Washington, D.C. area who is dedicated to promoting cultural links between Scotland and the U.S. Houston is a GlobalScot and journalist who writes a monthly column for the Herald Scotland newspaper, among other professorial and advisory positions.
New musical appearances and entertainment include:
- U.S. National Scottish Fiddle champion Seán Heely presented by The MacMillan Spirit House
- New Christmas album selections from pop singer SHENNA, who hails from Northern Virginia
- Traditional dance, music and costumes showcasing the rich traditions of the Ethiopian community presented by the Ethiopian Community Support Center (ECSAC) and volunteers
- Scotland’s national animal – the unicorn – showcased in a parade unit created by local Torpedo Factory artist Lisa Schumaier in collaboration with UpCycle Creative Reuse Center and Girl Scout Troop 52117
- LEGO®’s NINJAGO® character Kai will rove King Street and offer a limited number of LEGO® commemorative bricks to parade-goers
- LEGO® Discovery Center Washington, D.C.’s 29th Master Builder Andrew Litterst will bring a special creation along the parade route
More than 120 parade units include nearly 35 Scottish clans from around the D.C. region and other parts of the U.S. Featured units and delegates include:
- A pipe band and color guard presented by St. Andrew’s Society of Washington, D.C., which is a charitable and social fraternity of Scottish descendants established in Alexandria in 1760, and a founding parade partner along with Campagna Center and the Old Presbyterian Meeting House.
- Bagpipers including the Kiltie Band of York and the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums plus a bagpiping Santa closing the parade.
- Crowd favorite Clan Bell Society marching once again in Star Wars costumes, escorting a mini horse as a modern twist on the clan’s history as a border reiver family.
- Scottish country and highland dancers from Northern Virginia Branch, Royal Scottish Country Dance Society and Alexandria School of Highland Dance
- More than 10 dog groups including Scottish breeds of West Highland Terriers, Gordon Setters and Scottish Terriers along with other rescues and clubs
- Representatives from Scottish Government USA and Scottish university alumni groups.
- Groups from the community include local nonprofits, scout groups and arts organizations. Many parade units distribute candy to the crowd.
After the last parade unit has finished the parade route, participating pipe bands will reassemble at Market Square under the direction of City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums’ Drum Major Joshua Cease to play a few tunes as part of a massed band concert.
Parade-goers should plan ahead to avoid traffic delays resulting from road closures and high event attendance by arriving early, taking alternative transportation and, if driving, parking outside of the immediate parade zone. The parade kicks off on S. St. Asaph Street at the corner of Wolfe Street and progresses north to Queen Street, east to Fairfax Street, south to King Street, and west to terminate in front of City Hall. For the best views, spread out along the one-mile parade route. For a map of the parade route, visit ALXScottishWalk.com.
The Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Parade sponsored by Wegmans is produced by Visit Alexandria in partnership with Campagna Center and the City of Alexandria. Additional support is provided by Scottish Government USA and First Watch Strategies & Events. The parade would not be possible without the support and coordination of public, private and community entities.
“Community collaborations like the Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Parade help make our neighborhoods stronger. We’re thrilled to join the effort to sustain and enhance this beloved holiday tradition,” said Mike Anthony, store manager for Wegmans, Carlyle Crossing. “Since opening in May 2022, my team has been devoted to being a good neighbor in Alexandria.”
The Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Parade, paired with the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights sponsored by Amazon, creates the foundation for Alexandria’s Biggest Holiday Weekend. Make it a winter weekend getaway with a hotel stay, cozy cafes and pubs for unforgettable meals, holiday shopping at hundreds of independent boutiques and festive happenings all weekend long. The weekend kicks off on Friday, December 1 with the Campagna Center’s Taste of Scotland sponsored by The Goodheart Group, a festive cocktail party at The Atrium Building featuring top-quality Scotch tasting stations and delectably paired cuisine. Proceeds from the event benefit Campagna Center programs.
For more details on the parade route, transportation alternatives and weekend happenings, visit ALXScottishWalk.com.