Last updated on April 27th, 2020 at 04:55 pm
Florida’s waterways come alive during the Christmas season, imaginations gone wild in holiday boat parades around the state.
Colorful illuminated vessels cruise our waterways almost any night, but they gather on selected weekends into flotillas of overindulgence.
Our calendar offers a comprehensive listing of organized boat parades around the state.
Tips for watching holiday boat parades
- Drawbridges rise for hours at a stretch to allow boats to pass. If you need 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.
If you’re planning your visit for next year, individual parade dates usually are held on the same relative weekends in November and December — but not always!
2019 Holiday Boat Parades
Saturday, November 30, 2019
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.
Friday, December 6, 2019
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.
Tomoka River Christmas Boat Parade, Ormond Beach. Cozy up riverside and watch the 7th annual Tomoka River Christmas Boat Parade. Best viewing from Ormond Outdoor Adventures, 1385 North US Highway 1, Ormond Beach, or the River Grille on the Tomoka River, 950 N. U.S. 1, Ormond Beach. Bring new, unwrapped toys to donate to Volusia County Toys for Tots. Bring lawn chairs for comfort to Ormond Outdoor Adventures, where a food truck will be on hand for munchies.
Saturday, December 7, 2019
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. Prime viewing areas of the parade are the Chart House Restaurant, Daytona Marina and Boat Works, City Island, Manatee Island, Halifax Harbor Marina.
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.
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
Lake Weir Yacht Club Christmas Boat Parade, Ocklawaha. Carney Island Recreation & Conservation Area, 13275 SE 115th Ave, Ocklawaha, Florida 32179. Winners to be announced at Eaton’s Beach Steam Shack after parade. 4:30 pm to 9 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.
25th Annual Palm Beach and Jupiter Holiday Boat Parade, North Palm Beach to Jupiter. The parade begins at North Palm Beach Marina on Marina Drive, traveling north to Sawfish Bay Park on A1A. Some of the best viewing can be found at Juno Park, Bert Winters Park, Waterway Cafe, Seasons 52, Jupiter Riverwalk, Waterway Park, Harbourside Place, Sawfish Bay Park, U-Tiki,Jetty’s, Square Grouper Tiki Bar and Lighthouse Park. Sponsored by the Marine Industries Association. 6-9 pm.
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.
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
Stuart Christmas Boat Parade. Starts at the Jensen Beach Causeway at 6 pm and proceeds to Sandsprit Park and into the Manatee Pocket, where the parade will end about 7:45 pm at the Twisted Tuna. The event is free for spectators and participants.
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. 8.
Sunday, December 8, 2019
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.
Key Colony Beach Christmas Boat Parade. Sponsored by the Key Colony Beach Fishing and Boating Club. Begins at dusk.
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
Friday, December 13, 2019
Boynton Beach/Delray Beach Holiday Boat Parade. The parade begins at Boynton Beach Inlet and proceeds south along the Intracoastal Waterway to the C-15 canal. Some of the best spots for viewing at Boynton Harbor Marina (Two George’s Restaurant and Banana Boat), Intracoastal Park, Jaycee Park and in Delray Beach you can see the parade at 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 and the second year the boat parade is being held on a Friday night. 6-9 p.m.
Treasure Island Holiday Boat Parade. Features boats of all kinds making it the 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 14, 2019
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.
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.
Carabelle Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Along the Carrabelle River, east of Apalachicola on U.S. 98. Followed by a fireworks show.
Clearwater Holiday Lighted 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. Free and family-friendly!
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.
Deland-St. John’s River Christmas Boat Parade. Parade starts in Lake Beresford about 6 pm, to the St. Johns River, passing Hontoon State Park about 6:30 pm, then downriver (north) to the Whitehair Bridge (SR 44) and Ed Stone Park (about 7 pm), ending past the St. Johns Marina and the North River Grille, 2999 State Road 44 West, DeLand.
48th Annual Fort Lauderdale Winterfest Boat Parade. The grand poopah of holiday boat parades starts on the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale and moves 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 Dec. 12, 2020).
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.
Gulfport Holiday Boat Parade. The 34th annual parade presented by the Boca Ciega Yacht Club will kick off at 6:00 pm. Parade-goers can get a good look from Gulfport’s Williams Pier and the beach near the Gulfport Casino. Free and family-friendly!
Key West Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade, 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.
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
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.
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. 39th 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. For best viewing, sit along the bayfront by the seawall or enjoy the view from the many restaurants that face the bay.
Steinhatchee Light Up The River Boat Parade. 6-8 p.m. Begins at Fiddler’s Restaurant and ends at Roy’s Restaurant.
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.
Date TBA Labelle Christmas Boat Parade. Along the Caloosahatchee River.
Sunday, December 15, 2019
Boca Raton Boat Parade. 6:30-8 p.m.. Parade along the Intracoastal Waterway from Delray/Boca line south to Hillsboro Boulevard Bridge in Deerfield Beach. Free bleacher sitting areas will be set up at Red Reef Park, Silver Palm Park and at Wildflower Property where you can enjoy a variety of food and drinks from local vendors.
Friday, December 20, 2019
Lake Osborne Holiday Boat Parade, Lantana. 7:30 pm. Starting at the Lakeside Anchor Inn, 2412 Floral Rd, near Hypoluxo Road at 7:30 pm, arriving at the area of Lantana Road and Lake Osborne Drive at 8 pm. The boats will continue north to the Lake Worth Road boat ramp, then loop around the entire lake. Great viewing areas in John Prince Park and the campground area.
Saturday, December 21, 2019
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.
Indian Rocks 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.
Key Largo Boat Parade. Blackwater Sound will shimmer as decorated boats parade along the shoreline in celebration of the holiday season. Best viewing and libations at Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill, Sundowner’s, and the Caribbean Club, MM 103-104 Bayside. Parade starts at 7:30 p.m. Sponsored by Rotary Club of Key Largo Sunset.
Satellite Beach Boat Parade, 6 pm. Boats line up at the north end of Satellite Beach Grand Canal and travel south.
Tampa Riverwalk Lighted Boat Parade. Along the water at the by Davis Island, Harbour Island and the Channelside District. Parking is available at several public parking lots.
Welaka Boat Parade. River Bend to Sportsman Harbor. Starts at 6:15 pm. Party starts 3 p.m. at the Welaka Lodge and Resort Boathouse Bar and Grill, 1001 Front Street, Channel Marker 50.
Sunday, December 22, 2019
Redington Beach and Indian Shores Holiday Boat Parade. From the Tom Stuart Causeway to Caddy’s Pub restaurant in Indian Shores. The parade kicks off at 6 p.m. Prizes will be awarded after the parade that evening at Caddy’s Pub, 20025 Gulf Blvd, Indian Shores.
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