Florida’s waterways come alive at Christmas, the convergence of imaginations gone wild. Almost every waterfront community in Florida has some form of boat parade during the holidays.
You can see colorful illuminated vessels cruise Florida’s waterways almost any night, but they gather on selected weekends into flotillas of overindulgence.
This calendar offers a comprehensive listing of organized boat parades around the state.
Tips for watching holiday boat parades
- Drawbridges rise for hours at a time to allow boats to pass. If you have to cross one, you need a plan.
- Waterfront restaurants and parks are great places to view the parade, so make reservations early.
- Party boats in parades may be open to the public. Money raised is often donated to charity.
- Most boat parades start at dusk, 6-7 pm. Arrive early.
The 2018 Holiday Boat Parade Calendar
Boat parades change dates from year to year. The 2018 parades were last updated on Nov. 24, 2018. Links go to more information.
Saturday, November 24, 2018
Jacksonville Light Boat Parade and fireworks show can be clearly viewed from the north and south banks of the St. Johns River. The parade route will begin at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel and follow the Northbank Riverwalk to the Fuller Warren Bridge. The parade will then cross to the south bank and follow along the Southbank Riverwalk to the Duval County School Board building. Parade, 6:30 pm; Fireworks, 9 pm.
Saturday, December 1, 2018
Alafia Lighted Boat Parade, Riverview Park & Civic Center. This year’s parade will start at Williams Park and will conclude at River’s Edge for awards and a special VIP party. (First Saturday in December). 5-8 pm.
Apollo Beach Lighted Boat Parade and Chili Cook-Off, 1250 Apollo Beach Blvd. Apollo Beach. Charity event sponsored by the Tampa Sailing Squadron. 6 p.m.
Cotee River Christmas Boat Parade, New Port Richie. Along the Pithlachascotee River from Miller’s Bayou in Port Richey to Sims Park. Starts at 6:30 p.m.
Daytona Beach Christmas Boat Parade. Along the Halifax River. Sponsored by the Halifax River Yacht Club to benefit Light The Way Foundation.
Fort Myers Beach Boat Parade. The parade begins at Salty Sam’s Marina and will pass though Matanzas Harbor and the first two canals of Siesta Isles. The hammerheads at the end of those canals are a great spot to set up a lawn chair to watch the event. Another good viewing location is the fountain next to Nervous Nellies. 6-8 pm
Dunedin Holiday Boat Parade, Decorated boats parade through the Dunedin Marina and Edgewater Park. Santa to arrive by boat for the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree. (First Saturday in December) 6-9 p.m.
Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade, North Palm Beach to Jupiter. The parade, led by a Zambelli traveling fireworks display navigates up the Intracoastal Waterway from North Palm Beach to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. Sponsored by the Marine Industries Association. 6-9 pm.
Pensacola Beach Lighted Boat Parade. From Sabine Marina to the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk. 6:30-9 p.m.
Venice Christmas Boat Parade. The parade starts just north of the Albee Road bridge and continues south on the Intracoastal and out to the channel marker in the jetty before doubling back and continuing south on the Intracoastal to the Circus Bridge (near the airport). (First Saturday in December) Begins at 6 pm. Rainout date is Sunday, Dec. 2.
Sunday, December 2, 2018
Leesburg Christmas on the Water. Venetian Gardens Park. Ski Beach. Food served from 5 p.m. Entertainment, 5:30 p.m. Light Up Venetian Gardens, 6 pm. Boat parade 6:15 pm
Mount Dora Lighted Boat Parade, Downtown Waterfront and Donnelly Park, beginning at the Lighthouse across from Gilbert Park on Tremain Street and Liberty Street. 7:30 p.m.
Friday, December 7, 2018
Blackwater Pyrates Christmas Lighted Boat Parade, 7:45 pm. Milton Riverwalk.
St. Pete Beach/South Pasadena Holiday Lighted Boat Parade, The parade starts at St Pete Beach City Hall (155 Corey Ave) and heads west down Corey Ave, south on Blind Pass Rd, east on 73rd to Bay Street and back to City Hall. There will be art projects, movie and a special visit from Santa at the end of the parade so be sure to follow Santa to the fun. Best parade viewing areas will be along Corey Ave. Parking available at the Community Center
I Love Stock Island Lighted Boat Parade, Starts at the Stock Island Marina Village. Guests will delight seeing the bright lights on everything from tri-masted schooners to dinghies to the Shrimp boats that call Stock Island home. 6-8 pm
Tarpon Springs Boat Parade. Vessels will proceed down the Anclote River and into the bayous where Santa will give out treats. Your best bet for viewing these holiday decorated vessels is from Craig Park/Spring Bayou. The event is free and boats are expected to enter Spring Bayou around 8 p.m.
Saturday, December 8, 2018
Bonita Springs Boat Parade. Parade route begins at Bay Water Boat Club, 5124 Bonita Beach Rd SW, and travels up the Imperial River and returns to the Fish House Restaurant,4685 Bonita Beach Rd SW. Best viewing at U.S. 41 Bridge and Riverwalk Park.
Clearwater Holiday Lights Boat Parade. Festively decorated boats will parade past Coachman Park around 8:30 p.m. From there, the fleet will cruise under the Memorial Causeway Bridge turning into the Clearwater Marina Channel, then proceed south through the navigable canals to Clearwater Point.
Cocoa Beach Christmas Boat Parade. Starting at Marker 101 near Centennial Park on State Road 520 (across from Cape Canaveral Hospital). Best Places to Watch: Sunset Cafe, 520 and Banana River; Wildlife Watersports, 129 Manatee Lane; End of S. Banana River Blvd.; Cove Park, 540 McNabb Pkwy (just west of the end of 3rd St. North) 6:30-10 p.m.
Hernando Beach Boat Parade. From Hernando Beach Yacht Club on Snapper Canal, up Marlin Canal and up Cheek’s Creek Canal, down Tarpon Canal to the public boat ramp. Reverse course to the yacht club. Entry fee: Toys for Tots donation. 6 p.m.
Key Largo Holiday Boat Parade, Blackwater Sound. Boats line up at Dusenbury Creek at 6:30 p.m. and head north along the shoreline to Stillwright Point at 7:30. Best viewing at the Marriott Resort, Sundowners, Senor Frijoles, Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill and the Caribbean Club.
28th Annual Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade, Key West .8:00 p.m. The Holidays’ Magical Nautical Display of Lights and Creativity. The Judges’ Stand is located at Schooner Wharf. Key West Bight Marina at the Historic Seaport in Key West. Festivities begin at 6 pm at Schooneer Wharf.
Labelle Christmas Boat Parade. Along the Caloosahatchee River. 7 p.m. start.
Festival of Lights Illuminated Boat Parade in Madeira Beach. 6:45 pm. 52nd annual Boat Parade will kick off at John’s Pass with a shop local holiday extravaganza, tree lighting, and boat parade kickoff party. Head to ROC park for the best view of the parade and to enjoy holiday music, food, and spirits.
Boot Key Harbor Christmas Parade, Marathon. Parade starts at 6 p.m. from the west end of Boot Key Harbor and transits the harbor. Good viewing from Marathon Marina, Lazy Days South, Pancho’s Fuel Dock, Burdines Waterfront and Sombrero Marina Dockside.
Martin County Christmas Boat Parade, Stuart. Begins at the Jensen Beach Causeway at 6pm and proceed to Sandsprit Park and into the Manatee Pocket where the parade will end at the Twisted Tuna, 4290 SE Salerno Rd, Stuart.
Manatee River Holiday Boat Parade, Bradenton. The boat parade gets underway at 6:30 p.m. Arrive downtown early for Sounds of the Season, the annual Christmas celebration on Old Main Street sponsored by Realize Bradenton. Sounds of the Season continues until 10 p.m., so you can go after the boat parade, too.
Naples Christmas Boat Parade . 6:15 pm to 8:30 pm. View parade from Pincher’s Crab Shack, Riverwalk Restaurant, Naples Landing, Kelly’s Fish House, The Boat House Restaurant and Bayview Park. 100% of the proceeds benefit Ricky King Foundation
Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. 6:45 pm. The best areas for viewing are Marina Jack Restaurant, Bayfront Park, City Island and Centennial Park. Bayfront Park spectator viewing area has been expanded to include the entire Northern tip of island near the fountain. Parade route extended.
St. Augustine Holiday Regatta of Lights 6 pm. 38th year held on the bayfront north of the Bridge of Lions. Reflects the maritime heritage of the Oldest City and is in keeping with St. Augustine’s historical seaborne image. Hosted by The St. Augustine Yacht Club. Sailboats, sport-fishermen, trawlers, shrimp boats, and many other vessels take part.
St. John’s River Christmas Boat Parade, Deland. Parade starts in Lake Beresford about 6pm and travels along the shores of the lake to the St. Johns River, past Hontoon State Park (about 6:30pm) up the river northbound to the Whitehair Bridge (SR 44) and Ed Stone Park (about 7 pm) and ENDING past the St. Johns Marina North River Grille.
St. Lucie County Boat Parade, Fort Pierce. 28th anniversary. Parade route begins at Taylor Creek near Harbortown Marina, 6:30 pm, and proceeds past the South Beach Causeway, turning around west at Fort Pierce Inlet, ending at the Fort Pierce City Marina.
Sunday, December 9, 2018
Destin Harbor Lights Boat Parade, Visit with Santa Claus starting at 1pm at HarborWalk Village’s Main Stage then enjoy a special performance of the Nutcracker from the Ballet Conservatory of the Destin School of Music & Dance at 4:45pm. The Boat Parade will light up the harbor beginning at 6pm with fireworks following the parade.
Friday, December 14, 2018
Boynton Beach/Delray Beach Holiday Boat Parade. Can be viewed in Boynton Beach at Boynton Harbor Marina, Intracoastal Park, Jaycee Park and in Delray Beach from Veterans Park and Knowles Park. Bring a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots. 6:30-9 pm
Pompano Beach/Lighthouse Point Holiday Boat Parade. Lake Santa Barbara north to Hillsboro Blvd. Bridge. This is the longest running holiday boat parade in the nation. This is the first time it’s being held on a Friday night. 6-9 p.m.
Lake Osborne Holiday Boat Parade, Lantana. 7:30 pm. Starting and returning to the Lakeside Anchor Inn, 2412 Floral Rd, Lantana.
Treasure Island Holiday Boat Parade. Biggest lighted boat parade in Tampa Bay. Boats will depart from The Club at Treasure Island at 6:20 p.m., sail past the Treasure Island Causeway Bridge at 7 p.m. and end at 8:15 p.m. at John’s Pass.
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Cape Coral Holiday Boat Along, 4-10 pm at Four Freedoms Park on Cape Coral Pkwy. Food, Christmas music, and a visit from Santa Claus along with the boat parade. See the boats line up in Bimini Basin and watch the parade from the park’s beach before winding through canals in South Cape Coral. Bring lawn chairs.
Fort Lauderdale Winterfest Boat Parade. The grand poopah of holiday boat parades starts on the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale and travels east to the Intracoastal Waterway, then north on the Intracoastal to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. Prime viewing area is Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. 6:30-9:30 pm (Future Dates are Dec. 14, 2019 and Dec. 12, 2020).
New Smyrna Beach Boat Parade. The parade will start at dusk in Edgewater near marker 53 (lighted) and continue north to Riverside Park in NSB. Vessels will then proceed to the north side of Chicken Island along the North Causeway, east to the Grille at Riverview, south towards Bouchelle Island, and then west parallel to Bouchelle Island back toward Riverside Park. Edgewater and New Smyrna Beach are hosting events at their respective parks. Spectators can also see the parade along Riverside Drive, Smyrna Yacht Club, Riverside Park, Anglers’ Yacht Club, NSB Boat & Ski Club, Outriggers Tiki Bar & Grille, The Grille at Riverview, & Bouchelle Island Condominiums.
Palm Coast Christmas Boat Parade, Departing at 6 pm from Cimmaron Basin south on Intracoastal Waterway, turning at the Grand Haven gazebo back to Clubhouse Waterway. The Parade will pass the Tidelands, Marina Cove, and the Palm Coast Legacy Vacation Resort. It will then proceed under the Hammock Dunes Bridge along St. Joe’s Walkway and Canopy Walk, pass by Waterfront Park, Grand Haven, Island Estates, the Hammock, and Yacht Harbor Village before disbursing at the Clubhouse Waterway.
Satellite Beach Boat Parade, 6 pm. Boats line up at the north end of Satellite Beach Grand Canal and travel south.
Vero Beach Holiday Boat Parade. Begins at 6 pm in the intracoastal waterway between the two bridges and finish at the Vero Beach City Marina. Viewing stations include: Royal Palm Point and Vero Beach City Marina. Consider taking lawn chairs and blankets for seating. The event is free for spectators and participants.
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Indian Rocks Beach/Reddington Beach Holiday Boat Parade. Festively decorated boats will meander through the Intracoastal Waterway from the Tom Stuart Causeway to Caddy’s Pub restaurant in Indian Shores. The parade kicks off at 6 p.m.
Saturday, December 22, 2018
Boca Raton Boat Parade. 6:30-8 p.m.. Parade along the Intracoastal Waterway from Delray/Boca line south to Hillsboro Blvd. Bridge. Public viewing possible at Red Reef Park, Intracoastal side.
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