Skip to main content

Tis the season to be trawling for restless mariners on the go

Traditionally, most folks stay at home when the Yuletide season looms even closer on the calendar But for some boating enthusiasts, the idea of exercising those land legs on terra firma just won’t do, as they’ll find plenty of spots that celebrate the holidays in their own unique way.

Here’s a look at 10 of them, with options evenly divided between the Atlantic and Pacific destinations.

Boca Raton Boat Parade (Boca Raton, FL)

Going on for nearly a half-century, this parade that runs Dec. 18 is a serious matter.

Tons of boats get dressed to the Yuletide nines as they set sail with the hopes of winning a $10,000 grand prize. Everyone else can watch the festivities from their own decks or the bleachers in Red Reef Park.

Cape Coral Holiday Boat Along (Cape Coral, FL)

The Dec. 18 procession takes place in Bimini Basin as festively decorated boats pass the multitudes at Four Freedoms Park, followed by the annual visit from Santa Claus.

If you don’t have a boat of your own to catch the action, stay on dry land and bring a lawn chair.

Carol Ships Parade of Lights (Vancouver, BC)

For the past 50 years, this Canadian coastal city has hosted a kaleidoscopic procession in the harbors, taking place every weekend in December.

Several cruise ships break out all the LEDs that illuminate the decks and hulls, inviting spectators to come on board or stay onshore to gaze at the displays.

Christmas Ship Festival (Seattle, WA)

Technically, there’s only one cruise ship that’s the hub of these nightly festivities running until Dec. 23, but that doesn’t stop score of other boat owners from decorating their decks to be part of the fun.

Watch the procession from your own boat or take in the revelry in the Argosy liner.

Marco Island Christmas Boat Parade (Marco Island, FL)

Still going strong after more than 30 years, the island town gets into Yuletide party mode to celebrate marine participants large and small hook up strings of lights to provide a bright contrast to the evening sky Oct. 18.

Also expect a visit from Santa who just might be on one of those vessels.

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade (Orange County, CA)

Those with boats get a front row seat to see scores of boats break out the bulbs for a panoramic experience of color, while those who aren’t fortunate to own a vessel can board one of those lit attractions.

Either way, everyone showing up for the event Dec. 15-19 has an equal opportunity to catch the dazzling fireworks that crown the night spectacle.

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights (San Diego, CA)

This year’s theme will focus on the 12 Days of Christmas, which is ironic, since this festival of lit boats only takes place Dec. 12 and 19.

More than 80 boats will break out the illuminating finery with some 100,000 locals and visitors predicted to take in the event.

Smack’s Bayou Christmas Boat Parade (St. Petersburg, FL)

This year, Dec. 18 marks the second time the community-oriented event will take place, with volunteers getting their boats into festive mode all full of Christmas Cheer.

Those who aren’t floating can catch all the revelry from designated viewing point on docks around the harbor.

Ventura Harbor Parade of Lights (Ventura, CA)

The inlet that separates the city from the ocean serves as the parade route for this event running Dec. 18-19, featuring a two-lap procession of boats all decked out for the holidays.

Stick around for the fireworks at the end of the evening and take in the clubs and restaurants along the harbor.

St. Barth’s New Year’s Eve (St. Barth’s, British Virgin Islands)

The bright lights on the ocean continue Dec. 31 for the ultimate Caribbean pilgrimage to ring in the New Year.

Superyachts sound their fog horns when the clock strikes midnight, while fireworks light up the sky the moment 2021 becomes history.

Leave a Reply