The 2013 annual Santa Claus Parade kicks off the holiday season today, bringing crowds and festivities to downtown Montreal.

At 11 a.m. the first float will depart from Fort Street, where the parade will make its way down Sainte-Catherine Street west to Saint-Urbain Street.

The parade route will be closed to traffic during the event, and twelve bus routes will be affected in the morning and early afternoon — 15, 55, 57, 61, 66, 80, 107, 129, 165, 166, 168 and 715. 

For more details, visit the STM website.

The Santa Claus Parade — also known as the Défilé du Père Noël — has been an annual tradition since 1925, except for a few skipped years.

The parade will feature 20 floats, singers, dancers, street performers, and of course, Santa Claus.

The event is presented by Destination Centre-Ville and is produced by Daniel Bouchard, known for his work with the Carnival de Québec.

Maxime Landry, the winner of Star Académie 2009, will warm up the crowd with Christmas carols, and Canadian Olympic figure skater Joannie Rochette will play the parade’s Star Fairy.

The parade's guest of honour will be Pierre Lavoie, the Quebec triathlete who leads hundreds on a charity cycling challenge every year to raise money for orphan diseases.