Deck the Hulls: Famous Festive Christmas Boat Parades

Thu, Dec 07, 2023 at 10:26AM

Deck the Hulls: Famous Festive Christmas Boat Parades

The holiday season brings joyful traditions to cities and towns across America. And what better way to celebrate than a delightful Christmas boat parade? From California to Florida, these merry maritime events add extra magic with glittering lights and nautically-themed floats. So let's set sail on a tour of 5 of the most famous parades that really float holiday spirits. If you’re in these areas, take part in your Monterey boat!

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Anchors away in sunny San Diego for the longest-running light boat parade in the Western United States. Dazzling yachts and boats of all sizes deck their decks with lights and decorations for two magical December evenings. The parade route winds along the San Diego Bay waterfront, past Downtown and Coronado Island. Locals and visitors gather on beaches and parks to ooh and ahh at the shimmering nautical display. Favorites include the American Pride with red, white and blue lights, the Jungle Barge filled with wild animal floats, and the Grinch's green and mean houseboat. The parade sets sail into our Christmas hearts, San Diego style.

Seattle Christmas Boat Parade

Fueling seasonal cheer along the Pacific Northwest shoreline is Seattle's delightful Christmas Ships Festival. At the heart of this celebration is a nightly boat parade featuring over 50 uniquely adorned vessels touring Puget Sound waterfront communities from Thanksgiving into December. On deck is none other than Santa and his crew of spirited volunteers caroling and dancing with flashing lights and flair. This citywide party also features decorated cruise ships, illuminated tugboats and fireworks finale shows. Visitors to Seattle can catch the Christmas Ships spirit by finding viewing parties at restaurants like Ivar’s or snuggling up around shoreline firepits. Either way, on land or sea, Seattle knows how to showcase some serious maritime merrymaking!

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

In Orange County, California, they really know how to celebrate the holiday season in style. The Balboa Island Christmas Boat Parade lets Newport Beach locals showcase their creative decorating skills with dazzling nautical displays. For over 100 years, gorgeously illuminated yachts and boats have sailed past the picturesque island community into Newport Harbor. Usually led by the official vessel carrying Santa himself, participating boats make five circuits around the harbor for spectators to enjoy. Onshore celebrations include a holiday craft bazaar, beer garden and snow play area for families. With its beautiful setting and cheerful procession of lights, Balboa Island provides a beloved Christmas boat parade tradition for Southern California.

Fort Lauderdale Winterfest Boat Parade

Sunny Fort Lauderdale heats up the holidays with Winterfest and its delightful evening lighted boat parade. For over 50 winters, the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Grand Float has led the parade down the Intracoastal Waterway as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus wave to excited crowds. Behind them flows a glittery fleet of over 100 boats and yachts flashing with lights choreographed to music. Spectators enjoy bleacher seating, street festivals, viewing parties from waterfront restaurants, and Venetian boat tours to soak in all angles of the sparkling procession. With palm tree backdrops and sunny skies, Fort Lauderdale's boat parade supplies a tropical twist on Christmas tradition.

Charleston Holiday Parade of Boats

Southern hospitality meets coastal traditions at Charleston's delightful Annual Holiday Boat Parade. The parade’s route winds through Charleston Harbor from Mount Pleasant past Patriot's Point into the heart of the historic city. Over 50 charmingly decorated vessels, including boats, kayaks and stand up paddleboards, participate to raise money for area children's charities. Cheerful crowds gather along neighborhoods, bridges, parks and beaches to catch sight of the sparkling procession. Mr. and Mrs. Claus even make a cameo to wave at fans along the Cooper River. Onshore, spectators enjoy dock parties plus Carolina culinary delights like she crab soup, sweet tea, and shrimp and grits. From sailboats with strands of lights to Santa having a beachfront break, Charleston makes the season bright southern style!

Christmas boat parades bring extra sparkle to the holidays. As Santa slides from sleighs to sport boats, communities gather to embrace the season from festive harbors and waterfronts. The merriment, lights, and cheers from the crowd inspire joy wherever they're found. So this Christmas, consider heading to the harbor on your Monterey and setting your sights on a celebration that only comes this time of year. ‘Tis the season for spreading good tidings from shore to shore!

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