One of the best parts of being in Rockford for the holiday season is the Stroll on State festival. This year they are celebrating their 10th year of bringing holiday cheer to the Stateline!

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. With the recent closings and relocation of several downtown Rockford businesses, 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 10th year. It’s hard to believe that this event has been happening for a decade already! The event gets bigger and better each year. Stroll on State is always FREE to attend!

Stroll on State is Saturday, November 26, 2022 from 2 pm – 9 pm

New Additions to Stroll on State in 2022

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

  • One tree lighting – For the 10th anniversary, Stroll on State is going back to the basics and holding one big tree lighting during the festival. The lighting will happen at 6 pm at Main Street and Elm Street.
  • Block 5 Party – Located near Abreo, the Block 5 Party will have fire pits, the fire and ice show, and music.
  • Indoor Movie – Watch a showing of The Grinch and warm up inside of Stewart Square.
  • Holiday Car Show – Katie’s Cup Cars and Coffee will be hosting a Holiday Hot Rod vintage car show in the parking lot behind CJ’s (115 N. Madison).
  • Ice Skating at the BMO Center – Families can ice skate inside the BMO Center or play street hockey outside.
  • More Balloons in the Parade – The Stroll on State parade will feature 10 balloons this year.
  • Selfie Stations – There will be 10 selfie stations throughout the event. Post your photo on social media and use the hashtag #strollonstate10 to be entered to win a prize.
  • Return of Blitzen’s Ball at new location – This dance party for kids will take place inside the former Rockford Register Star news building (99 E. State Street). The event will feature characters including princesses and superheroes from Forest City Fairytale Company.
  • 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 ending and beginning at Beattie Park on N. Main.
  • Return of Santa On the Streets – Santa will again be roaming the streets during the event and stopping for pictures.
Image credit: GoRockford

Stroll on State Timeline

Stroll on State is a whole day packed with fun downtown! Here’s the Stroll on State 2022 schedule.

  • 12 pm – Dasher Dash 5K
  • 2 pm – Stroll on State Parade
  • 6 pm – Tree lighting at Main and Elm St.
  • 8:30 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 starting and ending at Beattie Park on N. Main and traveling in a loop downtown to see the decorations. Participants will receive a medal and shirt and prizes will be awarded to the top male, female, and age groups finishers. The race costs $40 to enter for adults and $25 for kids 12 and under. Registration closes on November 24th, but be sure to register before November 7th to guarantee your shirt size. 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 ten 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 ceremony – The ceremonies include a visit from Santa, live music, and the tree lighting at 6 pm at the Main Stage at Main St. and Elm St.
  • Fireworks will be launched from the Jefferson Street bridge at 8:30 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, taking care of his reindeer, and getting a hot chocolate to warm up.
  • 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 and dropped off in the specials Letters to Santa mailbox at City Hall.
  • Fire and Ice: Block 5 Party – This new event will take place in the 500 block of E. State (near Abreo). The party will include a DJ battle, fire pits where you can warm up, shopping, dining, and the very popular Fire & Ice carvers.
  • Ice skating will take place at the BMO Center on the IceHogs’ home rink! Ice skates are available free of charge.
  • Snow Much Fun Kids’ Play Area – Kids can run, jump, and play with the Rockford Park District in the lot outside of the Nordlof Center on N. Main. There will also be a blow-up rink for street hockey.
  • Blitzen’s Ball will be held in the former Rockford Register Star news building (99 E. State). Kids can dance and enjoy meet-and-greets with princesses and superheroes.
  • Live music and performances will take place on many stages throughout the event. Santa will also be making appearances on stage throughout the event.
  • Indoor and outdoor movies – Families can watch a movie outdoors in the lot next to Jimmy Johns or experience the new indoor movie land in Stewart Square. The Grinch will be shown at both locations.
  • Holiday Hot Rods Classic Car Show – Check out vintage and classic cars decked out for the holidays in the parking lot behind CJ’s (115 N. Madison). Prizes will be awarded for best-in-class and best-decorated vehicles.
  • Holiday markets with retail and food vendors including three smores stations and grill masters.
  • Hot Chocolate stations will be available in the Veterans Memorial Hall parking lot (N. Main) and next to the Outdoor Movie Land on E. State.
  • 10 selfie stations will be located throughout the Stroll. Post your selfies with the hashtag #strollonstate10 to be entered to win a prize. The more you post the more chances you have to win!

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! Live performances start at 3 pm and end at 9 pm.

SILVER BELL STAGE SCHEDULE (EDDIE GREEN PARK: CORNER OF FIRST AND E STATE ST.)

2:00-3:00pm – WREX Parade MC
4:45-5:00pm – Santa Reading
5:15-6:00pm – Tito Cevallos
6:45-7:45pm – Lone Canary with Grassroots Band

MERRY & BRIGHT MAIN STAGE

3:00-4:00pm – RPS 205 Elementary Choir
4:30-5:30pm – Clark Kelly and the Jingle All The Ways
5:45-6:00pm – Santa Reading – Representative Maurice West
6:00-6:15pm – Tree Lighting Production
6:15pm – TREE LIGHTING
6:15-7:15pm – City First
7:45-8:30pm – Loud Library

JINGLE BELL STAGE SCHEDULE

12:00-2:00pm – Dasher Dash DJ
3:00-4:00pm – Ancora of the Nielsen Chorale
4:30-5:30pm – Barb Kronau-Sorensen
6:30-7:00pm – TBD
7:15-7:30pm – Santa Reading – Representative Maurice West and Junior League
7:30-8:30pm – Kristina Puzin

BLOCK 5 STAGE

5:00-9:00pm – DJ Battle

VETERANS MEMORIAL HALL (INDOOR STAGE)

2:00-3:30pm – Train Display
3:30-4:30pm – Christmas Cabaret by Belvidere Theatre Company
4:30-5:00pm – Junior League Story Time
5:00-6:00pm – ECHO Ecumenical Community Handbell Organization
6:15-6:45pm – Junior League Story Time
6:45-7:15pm – FAB Dance & Fitness Academy
7:15-7:30pm – Remarks by SOAR
7:30-8:00pm – SOARing Into Christmas
8:00-8:30pm – Train Display
8:30-9:00pm – Fireworks Outside

RPL NORDLOF CENTER (INDOOR STAGE)

3:15-4:00pm – Rockford Dance Company
4:15-5:00pm – Rockford Dance Company
5:15-6:00pm – Rockford Dance Company
7:15-8:00pm – Rockford Dance Company

Stroll on State Vendors

Image credit: GoRockford.com

Try something new or enjoy an old favorite! You can find these vendors at the Frosty’s Merry Markets locations: Rockford City Market Pavilion at the corner of E. State and Water Street and along Wyman Street.

  • Taco Don Chato
  • Eternal Sunshine
  • Downtown Fancy Franks
  • The Olive Branch
  • Vintage Goose Café
  • Taco N Madres
  • Teppan X-Press
  • Wave Avenue Boutique
  • The Taco Shop 815
  • Rucci’s Cinnamon Roasted Nuts
  • Hermes Popcorn
  • Sweet Poppy & Co.
  • Alta Clothing Boutique
  • Teddy Mountain Build A Bear
  • Lulu’s Roasted Corn
  • Scentsy
  • Ann’s Kreations
  • Batchz BBQ
  • LD’s Gourmet Popcorn
  • La Calle Food Truck
  • WC Build A Buddy
  • CynD’or Candles
  • Ben’s Soft Pretzels
  • Olivo Taco
  • Las Nenas Food Truck
  • Earthly Escapes

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 (200 Y Blvd.)
  • Forest City Church (1280 S. Alpine Rd.)
  • Crusader Community Health (1200 W. State St.)

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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