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The Sunshine State is home to more than 42 annual Florida holiday boat parades. With extensive waterways throughout the state, unlimited options for adventures are available. Here are some of our best Florida Christmas boat parades!
Just because it gets cold doesn’t mean you can’t keep the beach party going. Destinations all across the state host captivating Florida Christmas boat parades. It’s when illuminated ships come out to grace the waters. Besides the Florida holiday boat parades, many events enrich the ceremony. Event organizers bring music, food, and fun to ensure everyone enjoys the party. This post mentions the best Florida holiday boat parades before the year ends. Travelers shouldn’t miss these.boa
Top 10 Best Florida Holiday Boat Parades
1. Destin Harbor Boat Parade
December 11th, 2022
6:00 to 8:00 CST
This event means a day with holiday activities and cheers on Destin Harbor. The annual Florida Christmas boat parade kicked off last December 11. Also, it happened at 6:00 p.m. Still, the East and Gulf Coasts start the parade season in the top cities. Destin Harbor holiday boat parade on the Gulf of Mexico gives stunning lights to guests. A spectacular fireworks show follows the illumination. These occurrences often leave visitors in awe and make them cheer
Visitors can still roam around Santa in the afternoon. They can do so to enjoy live performances on stage. Folks prepare when it’s dusky to join thousands of spectators. After all, it’s fulfilling to witness decorated boats and yachts of all sizes. Viewers can see them make their way through Destin Harbor.
2. The Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
December 10th, 2022
Since 1986, the Sarasota Annual Boat Parade of Lights has attracted crowds. The event continues to draw thousands of viewers. They line the shores of Sarasota Bay from Centennial Park to Bayfront Park. Some guests bring their folding chairs. Others have a cooler filled with snacks and drinks to enjoy the festivities. The 37th ceremony in 2023 will likely have plenty of watchers too.
The Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade of Lights kicks off from City Island. It cruises across Sarasota Bay to Centennial Park. After that, it travels south under the Ringling Bridge. The Florida Christmas boat parade features more than 25 embellished and illuminated watercraft. These ships brighten the holiday mood of the onlookers on shore.
Moreover, the boat parade includes a collection of various stylish yachts and boats. Some ships provide live performances aboard. Hence, travelers often get more than the boat parade and onboard holiday music.
People consider some spots the top places to enjoy the festivities. Centennial Park, Bayfront Park, and City Island are perfect. They are often where the Sarasota Christmas boat parade happens.
3. The Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade
December 10th, 2022
On December 10, 2022, at 6:30 p.m., the 51st Annual Holiday Boat Parade launched. The festival featured a preshow of non-motorized vessels. They arrived at the launch site at 6:00 p.m. to greet guests. Also, the event started at the Stranahan House. The parade cruised east along the New River Fort Lauderdale. It reached the Intracoastal Waterway and then went north to Lake Santa Barbara. This site is near Pompano Beach.
This one-of-a-kind Florida holiday boat parade featured a voyage of artistic-looking ships. It did more than draw thousands of viewers along the 12-mile parade route. The event had various crafts displayed. The display included private boats, giant showboats, and corporate mega yachts. Folks adorned these watercraft with thousands of lights. Spectators also saw epic live performances. Music, musical groups, and beauty queens were aboard the ships or near the parade. Still, other amusements amused travelers.
4. Tampa Lighted Boat Parade
December 17th, 2022
Tampa’s largest lighted boat parade happened the Saturday before Christmas. It launched along the Hillsborough River in Downtown Tampa. Tampa’s lighted boat parade began at the southern tip of Davis Islands. It cruised through the Convention Center basin up to the Heights. From there, boats and yachts will turn around, traveling to Sparkman Wharf. It’s where the judging took place to end the parade.
The top three winners of the parade got a trophy. All registered yachts and boats also received other prizes. More than the boat parade, people also appreciate Tampa’s Riverwalk area. Folks recognize it for its dining and entertainment. Still, spectators there do more than watch the parade. They also explore the attractions and Holiday Islands.
Visitors near St. Pete Beach put on their holiday attire too. They do it for the St. Pete Beach boat parade and Winter Festival. Also, they enjoyed the attractions on Madeira Beach at the Festival of Light.
5. Dunedin Holiday Boat Parade
December 3rd, 2022
06:00 to 09:00 p.m.
Dunedin Holiday boat parade and tree lighting are entertaining and worth the effort. Folks see them as one of the best Florida holiday boat parades. Often, the holiday season begins with the annual waterfront celebration. The stunning and whimsically adorned yachts and illuminated boats appear. These ships make their way to Loggerhead Marker 1 Marina on the Dunedin Causeway.
The artistic watercraft often sail south along the Intracoastal to Union Street. At 7 p.m., they then head north to conclude at the Dunedin Marina. Moreover, a surprise visit from Santa follows this Florida Christmas boat parade. This feature allows the little ones to have a meet-and-greet with Kris Kringle.
Still, last year, visitors enjoyed the holiday music and tasty seafood. They received greetings from city dignitaries throughout the night. Also, the night settled with Christmas tree lighting at Edgewater Park. Moreover, the Americans with Disabilities Act viewing is at the Marina Pier. Yet, limited capacity means seating will be on a first-arrived, first-served basis.
6. Pensacola Beach Lighted Boat Parade
December 3rd, 2022
It’s also one of the most spectacular Florida Christmas boat parades. The journey begins from Sabine Marina and goes around the Santa Rosa Sound. It then reaches the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk. Leading up to the decorated boat launch, a kid’s party will kick off from 04:00 to 06:00 p.m. at Shaggy’s Pensacola Beach. Following the boat parade, kids can greet Santa at the Quietwater Shell.
Observers also witness the lovely and beautified watercraft sailing. They move from Little Sabine or Pensacola Beach. All unique boats with various sizes, colors, and shapes are welcome to join the parade. They can also compete in the boat and yacht decoration contest.
7. Boot Key Harbor Lighted Boat Parade
December 11th, 2022
Boot Key Harbor lighted boat parade is yet another fascinating ceremony. This Florida Christmas boat parade takes place on the harbor’s west side. It’s along the 7-mile bridge side. Last year, it featured diverse ships and yachts. These vessels curve eastward past Lazy Days, Pancho’s, Marathon Marina, and Burdines. Also, the journey leads to Dockside at the other end of the harbor. It stops there for a while before turning around in the basin at Yacht Haven Marina.
Spectators at the Dockside took part in the parade awards party. It happened at Dockside café after the boat pageant. During the spectacle, visitors appreciated the participating ships turning the harbor sparkly.
Some viewing sites are best for witnessing this parade. It’s good to watch on or near Marathon Marina and Lazy Days South. Still, Dockside Tropical Café and Burdine’s Waterfront are excellent for viewing too.
8. Holidays, Florida Style
December 9th, 2022
The Boynton Beach Community welcomes all local boaters to the Holiday Boat Parade. The event is associated with the City of Delray Beach, the Town of Lantana, and Hypoluxo. Also, last year, it happened on the Ocean Avenue Bridge in Lantana (Old Key Lime House). The ceremony winded south to the C-15 Canal in Delray Beach.
Entry for joining the Holiday Boat Parade is free. Yet organizers ask each captain to bring new unwrapped toys. They present these items to the Marines Toys for Tots Foundation. The event also awards the top three participating boats with a prize.
Moreover, the breakwater is the ideal spot to view the moonrise over the Atlantic Ocean. It also permits seeing creative and beautified boats and yachts pass by. But, the Boynton Harbor Marina is the official place to begin watching the parade. Still, more than the Florida Holiday Boat Parade, tourists can do other activities. Guests can spend time with their families, listen to music, and get a visit from Santa. Of course, local cuisines are also there to enjoy.
Furthermore, spectators can also witness this epic boat parade from other locations. Viewing can happen at Jaycee Park, Intracoastal Park, and Harvey E. Oyer Jr. Park. You can also enjoy the light show at Banana Boat, Two Georges, and Prime Catch.
9. Treasure Island’s Holiday Boat Parade
December 17, 2022
The 37th annual Treasure Island’s Holiday Boat Parade also occurred last year. It welcomed observers and shipmasters across the United States. This dazzling nautical spectacle featured a variety of boats and yachts. Also, it was among the area’s largest Florida Christmas boat parades. Last time, the holiday celebration was at Treasure’s Bay from 05:00 to 07:30 p.m.
Besides the interactive entertainers, watchers loved the DJ’s epic performance. Guests also got a visit from the Claus couple with food and beverage concessions. Likewise, the boat parade began at 06:20 p.m., south of the Treasure Island Bridge. Its route traveled south of Paradise Island. It led to Treasure Island Causeway Bridge, the Isles of Palm, and Capri, finishing at John’s Pass around 08:15 p.m.
10. Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade
December 10th, 2022
At 08:00 p.m.
At 08:00 p.m., the 31st annual Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade kicked off. Yet, the festivities happened early on the Harbor Walk of Lights Bight. Spectators enjoyed an epic performance from the elementary students. Also, they performed with the Bahama Village Steel Pan Band. Paired with them was the folk Christmas music. Thus, it was a fascinating experience.
Likewise, the event allowed seeing the incredible shows of the island’s favorite artists. The band played classic holiday tunes paired with contemporary songs and classics. Also, this family-friendly parade occurred in the Historic Seaport. It made a close pass in front of Schooner Wharf.
Moreover, the variety of sights there is fantastic. Also, the place offers an endless supply of diverse aquatic creatures. The ones there include dolphins. They often leaped out of the sea to dazzle observers. Kayaks, ships, and dinghies were all eligible to join and compete for plenty of prizes.
Watching Florida Holiday Boat Parades is an enthralling experience. Yet, to make the most out of your experience and to make it more enjoyable, consider the following tips:
- Authorities close the areas for pedestrian and vehicle traffic during the parade. So, remember to plan your route and crossings ahead of time.
- Outdoor eateries can be perfect spots to view Florida Christmas boat parades. So, we highly recommend making reservations at restaurants.
- Public spaces and parks can also be excellent viewing areas. Try to arrive ahead of time to secure a prime spot. Likewise, discover if these areas allow chairs for sitting and viewing. After all, some establishments and other places disallow carrying portable seats.
We hope we have provided a vivid picture of Florida Christmas boat parades. They are festive events that suit friends and families. It’s also when strangers can come together and enjoy a familiar feeling of happiness. If you plan to visit the Sunshine State at the end of the year, please revisit this article. May it help you decide which location to try to enjoy the festivities. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you in our next post!
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What is the history of Florida Christmas boat parades?
It’s been a yearly tradition for the citizens of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Since the 1970s, illuminated boats have graced the city’s waters. Still, other places in the US have Christmas ships. For instance, there’s the Newport Beach Christmas boat parade too. It began in 1913 with Walter Gustin establishing the ceremony. He endorsed the illuminated water parade. So lighting up the waters has been a long American tradition.
What are some valuable tips when watching the festivities?
Participating in the event as a boat owner or spectator has its challenges. After all, it’s not enough to have a ship with creative ornaments attached. You still have to ensure your vehicle’s safety. Hence, it would be best to be patient when passing waterways and other boats. As an observer, you should arrive early on viewing sites. This strategy ensures securing a spot to have exceptional sights later. Still, either way, bring food and drinks whenever possible. Parades usually take a while to finish.