While the floats, and the royal court, and the game, all grab the lion's share of our attention come New Year's Day, we adore the bands that provide the soundtrack at the Rose Parade. Good news, then, that there is a way to see the bands in action before the famous event. It's called Bandfest, it's a Tournament of Roses tradition, it's at Pasadena City College, and it's a swell, bundle-up-and-go-brassy way to spend a late December day.
It's also an easy, pleasurable way to hear entire songs as the people making the music stay right in front of you (the nature of parades being that everyone participating in them tend to be moving in a particular direction, and eventually move away from you and out of earshot).
There is one show on Monday, December 29, and two shows on Tuesday, December 30; each event features a bevy of different bands (the Pasadena City College Honor Band is scheduled for all three performances). You'll recognize local ties in many of the outfits' names -- this band is from Alhambra, that band hails from Riverside -- and the big, golden, percussive tunes? An auditory treat regardless of where a band calls home.
Plus, figure how cool it will be come New Year's Day when you can point out to the relatives what bands you heard live as they march by on your television screen.
Monday, December 29 (2PM) and Tuesday, December 30 (10AM and 2PM)
$10; see site for ticket info
Pasadena City College (at the football stadium)
1570 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena