Top 10 Lighted Boat Parades to Check Out This Holiday Season

Written by Boatsetter Team
January 5, 2018

Last Updated on June 9, 2022 by Boatsetter Team

This year, we got to thinking… why walk in a holiday parade, when you can boat in one? Whether you want to participate, or just soak in the festivities, we’ve rounded up our list of this year’s top Ten Holiday Boat Parades, so no matter where you live, we’ve got you covered.

10. St. Petersburg, FL 27th Annual Holiday Boat Parade

Organized and presented by the Rotary Club of St. Petersburg, proceeds from the Illuminated Boat Parade will support Rotary House, a collaboration between the 5  Rotary Clubs in St. Petersburg and The Free Clinic to provide transitional housing for homeless families in St. Petersburg. So be sure to check out this great event and you’ll be supporting a good cause!


9. Lake Havasu Boat Parade

For the past 31 years the Annual Boat Parade of Lights has been the must-see event of the holiday season with over 50 boats brightly decorated in their holiday best! Watch the boats cruise through the Bridgewater Channel beginning in Thompson Bay and continuing under the London Bridge to the north end of the Channel, with a turnaround at Windsor Beach and back. Bundle up and take a stroll through the Channel – and you’ll see the Channel packed full of boats and boaters in winter gear at night.


8. Charleston’s Parade of Boats

Thousands of spectators view the parade along the route from Mt. Pleasant to Charleston each year! Captains and crews will be invited to the Captain’s Party. Prizes will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place boats in both the power and sail categories, with the best-in-show award going to the highest scoring boat overall.


7. The Fisherman’s Wharf Boat Parade, in San Francisco

The Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District and the St. Francis Yacht Club will join once again to present the oldest and largest lighted holiday boat parade on San Francisco Bay. More than 60 boats, each festooned with lights and holiday decorations, will parade along the waterfront.


6. Twinkle in Tampa Bay Channelside Boat Parade

This Tampa Holiday Lighted Boat Parade takes place along the water at the by Davis Island, Harbour Island and the Channelside District. You will be able to see the parade along the a great stretch of land from Davis Island to Channelside near downtown Tampa.


5. Sausalito Lighted Boat Parade

Whether you’re on a boat or watching from shore, suit up in your best foul weather gear, pack some Thermoses full of spicy hot beverages and invite your hardiest friends for a holiday parade they’ll never forget (depending on what’s in the Thermoses)!


4. Alexandria Virginia’s Annual Holiday Parade of Lights

Experience one of the a boat parade with the backdrop of the Nation’s Capitol with the 14th Annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights on Saturday, December 7, at 5:30 p.m. Dozens of brightly lit boats will stretch along the Potomac River during the colorful parade at Alexandria’s historic harbor. The parade is led by Alexandria’s fireboat Vigilant and Washington, DC’s fireboat John Glenn.


3. San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is a time-honored holiday tradition brought to San Diego by the boating community, featuring more than 80 boats lavishly decorated according to a new theme each year. This year’s theme is “Big Bay Toy Parade” and if you decorate your boat, you will qualify for a chance to win a Grand Prize package worth over $4,000!


2. Newport Beach, California’s 105th Annual Holiday Boat Parade

Join over a million viewers to watch beautifully decorated yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes sail along the harbor in the 105th Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. Hosted by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, this year’s theme is “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree!”


1. Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Holiday Boat Parade of South Florida

Winterfest is best known for it’s one of a kind Boat Parade celebrating 42 years.  Spurred by the continued popularity of that event, a not-for-profit organization was formed in 1988 to administer the Boat Parade and to build a festival around it.  The rest, as they say, “is history.”  Winterfest is a multi-cultural event, which encourages and promotes diversity and is proud to have representation from a variety of races and religions.  The Winterfest organization is comprised of a huge contingency of volunteers, supporters, sponsors and Board of Directors.  Winterfest, Inc. is entirely dependent upon sponsorship from local and national corporate sponsors.  As most of the events are free to the public, we are particularly dependent upon our sponsors to assure the continued success and future growth of the Winterfest Celebration.


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