Updated for 2022
The holiday season is full of fun festivities for the whole family to enjoy. But if you live near a waterfront, there’s a chance you can catch an extra special sight this season: a holiday boat parade!
Boating destinations with warm winter weather may not have snow for the holidays. Boat owners have a fun time decorating their boats with elaborate lights and glowing fixtures, then cruise on a parade route past harbor fronts and marinas. It’s a wonderful sight to see and invokes a special sense of holiday cheer.
Now, after a few years of cancellations and irregular schedules, most boat parades are back in business for the 2022 holiday season. If you’re planning to be in any of these places, consider taking a stroll to see the decorated boats cruise by.
Newport Beach, FL
The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade takes place every evening from December 14th through December 18th in 2022. Starting at approximately 6:30 pm each night, the parade route starts at the east end of Lido Island and runs through the Newport Harbor. Public viewing of the parade on land can be enjoyed at Marina Park and the Dine & Watch Waterfront.
Want to experience the Christmas Boat Parade from the water rather than standing on the harbor? Consider booking a boat rental in Newport Beach and cruise out to see the lights from your own private boat.
San Diego, CA
The 52nd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights will occur on December 11th and December 18th, 2022. This year's theme is FantaSEA, and participating boaters will decorate their boats to fit this theme to provide spectators with a fantastic light show as they cruise past.
80 boats participate in the parade, and the event draws in over 100,000 attendees, making it a wonderful community event during the holiday season. The best part? It’s completely free to attend and enjoy. The San Diego Holiday Boat Parade starts at Shelter Island and proceeds along the pier at Cesar Chavez Park, eventually turning into Coronado.
Rent a boat in San Diego yourself to get in on all the fun!
Get into the holiday spirit on Sunday, December 11th, 2022, with the Destin Holiday Boat Parade! The parade starts at 6:00 pm on the east side of the Destin Harbor, proceeds west, and ends at the Destin Bridge. Upon completion, the fireworks display will kick off around the bridge, giving spectators a fabulous grand finale to the dazzling evening.
Enjoy fabulous views of the decorated boats as they cruise past from the best viewing vantage points by planning out your trip ahead of time — some of the best viewing spots for the parade include the Norriego Point beaches, the Destin Bridge, and the docks of the Harborwalk Boardwalk and the Destin Marina.
The Charleston Holiday Boat Parade is a wonderful way to get in the spirit. Taking place on December 10th this year, it’s bound to be a fun time at the Charleston Harbor. It’s free and starts around 5:30 pm, with the route proceeding from near Fort Sumter and ending before the Robert. B Scarborough Bridge. The Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, the South Carolina Aquarium, Liberty Square, and Riley Waterfront Park are great locations to view the parade from land.
Rent a boat in Charleston to enjoy the lights and skip the crowds with your own boat!
Live in Washington, D.C., or plan on visiting there over the holidays? Kick off the season in Alexandria with the boat parade on December 3rd. Taking place at Old Town Alexandria’s waterfront, the dockside celebrations start at 2:00 pm, and the parade kicks off at 5:30 pm. Enjoy the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights cruise past the harbor front, starting at Alexandria City Marina and proceeding past the public parks for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the water conditions.
Marina del Rey, CA
This year marks the 60th annual Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade, and now is the perfect time for renting a boat to get in on the festivities! This year the parade takes place on December 10th at 6:00 pm, cruising down the main channel of Marina del Rey.
Some great viewing locations on land for the boat parade are Burton Chace Park and Fisherman’s Village. The fireworks kick off the parade at 5:55, and then the procession lasts about 2 hours as the boats cruise around the channel.
Want to see the Marina del Rey Boat Parade on the water? Book a boat rental in MDR with a local captain to be your guide, and enjoy being a spectator on the water.
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Last but certainly not least, the Fort Lauderdale Winterfest Holiday Boat Parade is a wonderful procession on the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale that'll take place on December 10th at 6:30 pm. There's a pre-show at 6:00 pm of non-motorized boats that are decorated, too, which is fun to catch before the motorized boats start cruising the Intracoastal.
The parade starts at the Stranahan House and moves east and then eventually north, ending in Pompano Beach at Lake Santa Barbara. The boats are not only decorated with beautiful lights, but many feature live entertainment, music, beauty queens, art installations, and more. You might even see a celebrity on board!
Want to get in on the fun? You can enter the Winterfest Holiday Boat Parade for just $35, or rent a boat in Fort Lauderdale and enjoy being a spectator of the holiday lights on the water.
Are you participating in a holiday boat parade during the 2022 season? We'd love to feature your photos and videos. Please feel free to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to include your social media account names so we can tag you!