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The AFL grand final parade is today. Here's how to watch, what time it starts and the new route

The Cats and Sydney Swans will play off in the AFL grand final on Saturday. But first, the two teams will take part in the traditional grand final parade. Here's everything you need to know about it.

The AFL season culminates tomorrow with the grand final between the Geelong Cats and the Sydney Swans.

But first, the two teams will float along the Yarra River and then make their way to the MCG in the traditional grand final parade.

What's happening?

It will be the first grand final parade in Melbourne since 2019, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to hold the season decider in Brisbane and Perth in the last two years.

A group of Sydney Swans players hug and smile on an oval, with Collingwood players in the background.
Sydney is through to the final after its victory over Collingwood last weekend.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

For the first time, the parade will be held partly on the Yarra River, before finishing at the MCG, where the two teams will be presented to fans and the coaches and captains will speak at a press conference.

A "footy festival" will also be held in Yarra Park, next to the MCG.

Who takes part?

Players and coaches from the two teams, club mascots, Auskickers and, of course, the premiership cup. 

A drawing of a parade of boats on the Yarra River.
The AFL released this artist's impression of the Birrarung/Yarra River leg of the parade earlier this year.(Supplied)
What's the route?

The two teams will travel in boats along the Yarra River from near the Swan Street Bridge to Princes Bridge, before turning around and disembarking at Birrarung Marr.

From there they'll drive in utes over the William Barak Bridge and through parkland to the west of the MCG to Gate 3 of the stadium.

A map of the grand final parade route
The AFL has released this map of the grand final parade route.(Supplied)
What time does the parade start?

The festivities begin at 9am when the footy festival kicks off.

The boat leg of the parade begins at 10.30am, before the participants transfer to utes at Birrarung Marr at 11.10am.

The players will presented on stage at the MCG at 11.45am, and fans can enjoy a concert at the footy festival at 12.30pm.

Jeremy Cameron screams in delight while in a group of Cats teammates
Geelong Cats star forward Jeremy Cameron celebrates with teammates during the preliminary final win over the Brisbane Lions (AAP: Joel Carrett)

Three AFLW games will take place over the course of the afternoon:

  • The Western Bulldogs will play North Melbourne at Punt Road Oval at 12:40pm
  • Collingwood and Essendon will clash at Olympic Park Oval at 3:10pm
  • Sydney and Hawthorn will meet at Punt Road Oval at 5:10pm.
What are the best places to view the parade?

Alexandra Gardens will be the best spot to watch the boat leg of the parade. There will also be a big screen showing the rest of the parade, food trucks, music and "roaming entertainment", according to the AFL.

A man in a large Richmond-coloured balloon suit walks down the middle of the grand final parade.
Melbourne's CBD hasn't seen the colour and fan fervour of a grand final parade since 2019.(ABC News: Dylan Anderson)

There will also be food trucks, big screens, music and roaming entertainment in Birrarung Marr, where the players will come ashore.

Fans can watch the motorcade from William Barrack Bridge, as well along Jolimont Street and the external concourse at the MCG.

The parade ends in Yarra Park on the north side of the MCG.

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