Stroll on State is held the weekend after Thanksgiving each year in downtown Rockford, Illinois. It is a fun way to celebrate the city, its people, and the upcoming holiday season with your family and friends.

Stroll on State isn’t just a celebration of all things holiday, it’s also an event to support our local small businesses downtown. This year, it’s more important than ever to shop local! Rockford businesses are ready to welcome you into their stores for Small Business Saturday which falls on the same day as Stroll on State.

While you’re attending Stroll on State, you can enjoy food and drinks from local vendors, listen to live holiday music, go ice skating, watch the tree lighting and fireworks, take a wagon ride, dance with princesses, see Santa Claus, and more. Head downtown to experience the magic of the holidays this year!

This is Stroll on State’s NINTH year. The event gets bigger and better each year. Stroll on State is FREE to attend!

Stroll on State organizers are working closely with the Winnebago County Health Department and the City of Rockford to ensure that Stroll on State is a safe event that complies with the current mandates.

Stroll on State is Saturday, November 27, 2021 from 2 pm – 9 pm

COVID Precautions for 2021

Stroll on State organizers are working hard to make the event safe during the pandemic. They’ve made the following changes for the 2021 event:

  • A larger footprint for activities and attractions downtown
  • Santa pop-up visits
  • Indoor and outdoor Letters to Santa mailbox locations
  • Facemasks required for all indoor locations
  • Additional space between vendors and hand sanitizing stations throughout the event

New in 2021

Stroll on State grows every year and gets a little bit more festive and magical. Some of the exciting additions to this year’s festivities include:

  • Later start and new location for the Dasher Dash 5K Run / Walk – This year, the race will start at noon and take place throughout the Stroll on State event area.
  • Three tree lightings – Tree lightings will be held at Eddie Green Park, Davis Park, and N. Main Street and Mulberry during the event.
  • New fireworks location – Fireworks will launch from the Jefferson Street bridge at 8 pm.
  • Santa visits will not be in one place with a long line. Instead, they will take place throughout the event. Santa will walk around, do storytimes at the tree lightings, and ride a Zamboni.
  • Blitzen’s Ball is a new dance party with princesses and characters inside Stewart Square.
Image credit: GoRockford

Stroll on State Timeline

Stroll on State is a whole day packed with fun downtown! Here’s the Stroll on State 2021 schedule.

  • 12 pm – Dasher Dash 5K
  • 2 pm – Stroll on State Parade
  • 5 pm – Tree lighting at Eddie Green Park (1st & State Street)
  • 6 pm – Tree lighting at Davis Park
  • 7 pm – Tree lighting at N. Main & Mulberry Street
  • 8 pm – Fireworks launched from Jefferson Street Bridge

Dasher Dash 5K Run / Walk

Image credit: Stroll on State Facebook page

The day starts off with the Dasher Dash, a 5K run through historic downtown Rockford at 12 pm. The course will cover new ground this year with runners traveling along E. State, Madison, and Wyman streets. Runners will get a sneak peek of the decorated downtown and finish the race at Davis Park where there will be a post-race party. Participants will receive a medal and shirt and prizes will be awarded to the top male, female, and age groups finishers. The race costs $35 to enter for adults and $20 for kids 12 and under. Registration closes on November 25th. Register here.

Stroll on State Parade

Image credit: GoRockford

The Stroll on State parade starts at 2 pm from South Main Street and Chestnut Street. It will move north to State Street and east across the State Street bridge, ending at 3rd Street. If you’d like to watch the parade, you are encouraged to find a spot around 1 pm. The parade will feature eight large holiday-themed character balloons, festive floats, live music, and the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Stroll on State Attractions and Activities

Image credit: GoRockford.com

There are a ton of things happening from 2 pm – 9 pm downtown! This includes wagon rides, live music, ice skating, smores, shopping and more. All of the activities are free unless noted otherwise.

Attractions include:

  • Tree lighting ceremonies (3 locations) – The ceremonies include a holiday storytime reading, a visit from Santa, live music, and tree lighting.
  • Fireworks will be launched from the Jefferson Street bridge at 8 pm. People will be able to see the fireworks from anywhere the bridge is visible.
  • Santa visits – Santa will be walking around the event talking to kids, reading stories during the Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, and riding a Zamboni!
  • Davis Park will have a tree lighting at 6 pm and hot chocolate, smores, fire pits, beverages, live music, reindeer, and a visit from Ana and Kristof.
  • Horse and wagon rides will happen throughout the event. They will be walking in a continuous loop with pick up and drop off at the corner of Wyman and Elm.
  • Letters to Santa can be written at several locations: City Hall, near the Davis Park city tree, and JS Social Cafe.
  • Ice sculpting and Fire and Ice will be outside the Rockford Register Star building creating their awesome displays.
  • Ice skating will take place at the BMO Harris Bank Center on the IceHog’s home rink! Ice skates are available free of charge. There will be street hockey and family-friendly activities in the parking lot of the BMO.
  • Live music and performances will take place inside Veterans Memorial Hall and on many stages throughout the event.
  • Blitzen’s Ball allows kids to dance with princesses and characters inside Stewart Square.
  • Holiday markets with retail and food vendors including smores stations and grill masters.

Stroll on State Live Performances

Image credit: Stroll on State Facebook page

Catch a live music or theater performance on three outdoor stages and two indoor stages while you’re strolling!

  • Performers will be announced soon!

Stroll on State Vendors

Image credit: GoRockford.com

Try something new or enjoy an old favorite! New vendors will be added up until the event.

  • List of vendors will be published soon!

Stroll on State Parking and Transportation

Downtown Rockford gets pretty busy during Stroll on State. They expect more than 90,000 people to attend this year. On-street parking, parking decks, and parking lots will be available. Here’s a map of places where you can park.

If you’d rather not deal with parking, you can take a shuttle bus. The first shuttle will leave at 1 pm and the last shuttle will be at 9:30 pm.

Shuttle bus locations:

  • YMCA at 200 Y Blvd.
  • Forest City Church, 1280 S. Alpine Road
  • Third location TBA

Stroll on State is an incredible event that makes us proud to call Rockford our home! We hope to see you there this year!

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