Tips for watching Christmas holiday boat parades
- Drawbridges are closed to street traffic for hours to allow boats to pass. If you need to cross a bridge along the parade route, you need a plan.
- Restaurants with outdoor dining are great places to view parades. Make reservations weeks in advance.
- Public parks along parade routes provide excellent viewing. Bring beach chairs.
- Arrive early. Most boat parades start at dusk, between 6-7 pm.
2023 Holiday Boat Parades
Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023
Jacksonville Lighted Boat Parade and fireworks show can be clearly viewed from the north and south banks of the St. Johns River. The parade route begins at 6 pm at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel and follows the Northbank Riverwalk to the Fuller Warren Bridge. The parade will then cross to the south bank and follow along the Southbank Riverwalk. The evening concludes with one-of-a-kind waterfall fireworks on the Main Street and Acosta Bridge. Held annually on Thanksgiving weekend. Confirmed
Friday, Dec 1, 2023
Tarpon Springs Illuminated Boat Parade. Vessels will proceed down the Anclote River at 6:30 pm and into the bayous where Santa will give out treats in Spring Bayou. The best viewing is from Whitcomb Bayou/Craig Park/Spring Bayou. Boats enter Spring Bayou around 8 pm. Boats are scheduled to pass Craig Park for judging at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge to participate, but all vessels must be registered to enter. Confirmed
Saturday, Dec 2, 2023
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). 5-7 pm. Sponsored by the Fishhawk/Riverview Rotary Club. Confirmed
Bradenton Beach Boat Parade. Best viewing from Longboat Pass Bridge (6-6:30 PM), Bridge Street Pier (6:30 PM to 7:00 PM). Confirmed
Dunedin Lighted 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. Staging in the basin area just South of Marker 1 Marina, located on the Dunedin Causeway. The parade will follow the ICW South to the Dunedin/Clearwater border, turn North, and proceed into the City of Dunedin Marina. (First Saturday in December) Sponsored by the Dunedin Boat Club. 6-9 p.m. Confirmed
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Fort Myers Beach Boat Parade. The parade begins at Salty Sam’s Marina and will pass though Matanzas Harbor and the Back Bay area. 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. Starts at 6 pm. Confirmed
Jiggs Landing Holiday Boat Parade, 6106 63rd Street, East Bradenton, FL, 34203. Parade begins and ends at Jiggs Landing. This year’s plans call for the parade to stay near the landing due to aquatic debris upriver. “If we get a good rain to wash
it out, we may go all the way to Linger Lodge as in years past.” Parade starts at sunset. Confirmed
Light up Lake Weir Holiday Boat Parade. Food & craft vendors, live music, fundraiser raffle for charity, toy drive and an appearance from Santa Clause & K County’s 93.7 Radio Host “Big Red”. Pre-parade festival begins at 10 am; Boat launch at 5:30 pm; Parade begins at 6:30 p.m. Canary Island Park, 13275 SE 115th Ave., Ocklawaha, FL 32179. Confirmed
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. From 6 to 9pm, the Marine Corp Reserve will welcome guests at the marina for the donation of a new unwrapped toys or cash donation. Confirmed
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Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade, North Palm Beach to Jupiter. The parade begins at North Palm Beach Marina on Marina Drive, traveling north along the Intracoastal Waterway to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. Sponsored by the Marine Industries Association. Benefits Toys for Tots. A “toy fleet” of volunteer boats traveling the parade route will make dockside pickups during the parade. Wave a flashlight when you see a boat with a flashing amber beacon or Toys for Tots signage. 6-9 pm. Viewing at North Palm Beach Marina, Juno Park, Bert Winters Park, Sawfish Bay Park and Harbourside Place. Confirmed
Palm Valley Boat Parade. Starts one mile south of the Palm Valley Bridge (CR 210) and proceeds north to the last home in Marsh Landing, approximately 7 miles. Viewing near the bridge, or at the end of Canal Street, Mickler’s Wharf, or restaurants along Roscoe Blvd. Begins at 6 pm and reaches the final viewpoint by 9:30 pm. Confirmed
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. Confirmed
Everglades City Boat Parade. In past years, this boat parade started at the mouth of the Barron River at 5:30 p.m. and moved towards the school. To watch the parade, find a spot along the Barron River. Be respectful of docks and boats and watch your children. No information is available for 2023, or even if one will be held.
Sunday, Dec 3, 2023
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. Confirmed
Friday, Dec 8, 2023
Cocoa Village Holiday Boat Parade. 6-7:00 p.m. Join Cocoa Village Main Street for the largest charitable Holiday Boat Parade on the Space Coast! All proceeds will benefit the Sharing Center of Central Brevard. Cocoa Riverfront Park, 401 Riveredge Blvd, Cocoa, FL Confirmed
Holiday Boat Parade, Lantana, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach. At 6:30 PM, the parade will form at the Ocean Avenue Bridge in Lantana (near Old Key Lime House) and travel south to the C-15 Canal in Delray Beach (south of Linton Boulevard). Best viewing at Boynton Harbor Marina (Two George’s Restaurant and Banana Boat), Intracoastal Park, Jaycee Park. In Delray Beach, view the parade at Veterans Park and Knowles Park. Bring a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots. (Second Friday in December) 6:30-9 p.m. Confirmed
South Pasadena Lighted Boat Parade. Kicks off at 6:30 p.m. on the northeast side of Pasadena Isle just outside Marine Max St. Petersburg, then follows the coastline of South Pasadena, going under the Corey Causeway bridge, then through the inlets near Harbourside Condominiums and Bay Island Condominiums, ending behind Causeway Village and The Fountains. Viewing party at Barbara Gilberg Habitat, 1600 Pasadena Avenue South. Confirmed
Tomoka River Christmas Boat Parade, Ormond Beach. The Tomoka River Christmas Boat Parade was cancelled last year, and it’s unknown if it will return in 2023. Based on information from past years, the best viewing is 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. No date set for 2023. Details unavailable.
Saturday, Dec 9, 2023
Apollo Beach Lighted Boat Parade, 1250 Apollo Beach Blvd. Apollo Beach. The parade will begin at dusk near marker 12 in the south basin of Apollo Beach. Charity event sponsored by the Tampa Sailing Squadron. 6-9 p.m. Confirmed
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Boca Ciega Yacht Club’s Holiday Boat Parade, Gulfport. The 38th annual parade presented by the Boca Ciega Yacht Club will kick off at 6 p.m. starting at Osgood Point. The parade continues to the Municipal Marina, on to Gulfport’s Williams Pier, Casino, and beach before moving on to Town Shores, Kipp’s Colony, Skimmer’s Point, and other communities. Here’s a map of the parade route. Confirmed
Bonita Springs Christmas Boat Parade. The parade starts at Bay Water Boat Club at 5:30 p.m. and moves east on the Imperial River past Riverwalk Park and U.S. 41. Sponsored by the Bonita Springs Rotary Foundation. Confirmed.
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, Panchos Fuel Dock, Burdines Waterfront & Sombrero Marina Dockside. Held on the 2nd Saturday of December. Confirmed
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Carabelle Holiday on the Harbor and Boat Parade of Lights. Along the Carrabelle River, east of Apalachicola on U.S. 98. Enjoy music while holiday shopping with downtown merchants and festival vendors from 11 am-6 pm. Children can visit with Santa! Watch the Boat Parade of Lights along the Carrabelle River from your favorite viewing spot with a Fireworks Show Finale. Confirmed
Clearwater Holiday Lighted Boat Parade. Beginning in Mandalay Channel at 6 p.m., boats travel along the inlets of Island Estates before going under the Memorial Causeway Bridge and finishing at the Clearwater Yacht Club, 830 Bayway Blvd. Parade to pass Coachman Park around 8:30 p.m. Free and family-friendly! Confirmed
Cocoa Beach Christmas Boat Parade Starting at Marker 101 near Centennial Park on State Road 520 (across from Cape Canaveral Hospital) at 6:30 p.m. 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. Confirmed
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 begins at 7:30 p.m. Sponsored by Rotary Club of Key Largo Sunset. Confirmed
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Key West Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade, 8:00 p.m. Scores of delightfully decorated motor and sailing vessels compete for bragging rights (and prizes!) Don’t forget the conch shells, add a sprinkling of the Grinch, spinning ornaments, dancing gingerbread men, reggae and calypso bands, and you have the makings of a Key West maritime holiday tradition. Key West Bight Marina at the Historic Seaport in Key West. Festivities begin at 6 pm at Schooner Wharf. Confirmed
Festival of Lights Illuminated Boat Parade Madeira Beach. The parade begins at the American Legion Post 273 at 6:30pm, travels all the finger canals through the city, and ends at John’s Pass, ending at 9:45-10 pm. Best viewing at ROC Park and enjoy holiday music, food, and spirits. Confirmed.
Manatee River Holiday Boat Parade, Bradenton. The boat parade gets underway at 6:30 p.m. Viewing areas include Riverhouse, Pier 22, and the Bradenton Yacht Club. After-party ($15) at the Bradenton Yacht Club. Arrive downtown early for Sounds of the Season, the annual Christmas celebration on Old Main Street sponsored by Realize Bradenton. Here’s a map of the parade route. Confirmed
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Christmas Boat Parade on Naples Bay. 6:15 pm to 8:30 pm. The parade may be viewed from: Naples City Dock (ticketed), Pinchers Tin City, Riverwalk Restaurant, Naples Landing, Kelly’s Fish House, The Boat House on Naples Bay, and Bayview Park. Admission is free. Confirmed
New Smyrna Beach Boat Parade. The parade will pass Riverside Park in Historic Downtown NSB, then along the North Causeway to the Riverview, then west parallel to Bouchelle Island back to Riverside Park. 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. Confirmed
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Palm Coast Holiday Boat Parade. New route is more than a mile longer than the usual one. The route will now begin at Cochise Waterway and head south past the Cimarron and Club House Waterways, sailing under the Hammock Dunes Toll Bridge. It will continue past St. Joe Walkway and Waterfront Park before turning around at the Grand Haven gazebo to return to home port. Parking available at Palm Coast Community Center, 305 Palm Coast Parkway NE, where buses will shuttle to and from The European Village, where parking continues to be available as well as at the Waterfront Park. 6-9 p.m. Confirmed
St. Augustine Regatta of Lights. 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 seawall between Bridge of Lions and the Castillo de San Marcos. Enjoy the view from many restaurants that face the bay. 6-7:30 pm. Confirmed
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St. Lucie County Holiday Boat Parade, Fort Pierce. Parade starts at 6 p.m. Best viewing Fort Pierce City Marina Boat Ramp/Park, South Causeway, Museum Pointe Park, Riverside Restaurants along A1A (many of them are doing special seatings for the evening), South Jetty Park. Confirmed
Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade Of Lights. Parade begins at 6 p.m. and lasts about an hour. Best viewing for this event, begun in 1986, is from Bayfront Park (Near O’Leary’s Tiki Bar) and Marina Jack. (Reservations are required for Marina Jack.) It’s presented by Suncoast Charities for Children and Marina Jack. Confirmed
Sebring Christmas Boat Parade will light up Big Lake Jackson, moving clockwise around the lake starting at 7 p.m. from Don Jose Mexican Restaurant. Boats will tour the lake and return to the restaurant. Viewing areas include Don Jose’s, Veterans Beach, City Pier, Hidden Beach, Crescent Beach and Sunset Grill. About 30 boats usually participate. Confirmed
Sunday, Dec 10, 2023
Destin Harbor Lights Boat Parade, Watch the Destin Boat Parade from various waterfront restaurants in Harborwalk Village, the Destin Bridge, the docks of the Harborwalk Boardwalk, and from the beaches at Norriego Point. The Boat Parade will light up the harbor beginning at 6 pm with fireworks following the parade about 7:30 pm. Confirmed
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. Here’s a map of the parade route. Confirmed
Key Colony Beach Lighted Boat Parade. Along the 7th Street canal, Key Colony Beach. Begins at dusk. Confirmed
Friday, Dec 15, 2023
Lake Osborne Holiday Boat Parade, Lantana. 7 pm. Starting at The Hive Waterfront Restaurant and Tiki Bar (formerly the Anchor Inn), 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. Confirmed
Pompano Beach Holiday Boat Parade. Pompano Beach, Lighthouse Point, Deerfield Beach. In its 61st year, the oldest holiday boat parade in the nation. Leaving from Lake Santa Barbara at 6 p.m., the parade heads north, under the Atlantic Boulevard Bridge and 14th Street Causeway all the way to the Hillsboro Boulevard in Deerfield Beach. Public viewing stands at Sullivan Park (1633 Riverview Road, Deerfield Beach) and Alsdorf Park (2901 NE 14th St., Pompano Beach). Confirmed
Saturday, Dec 16, 2023
Boca Raton Boat Parade. 6:30-8 p.m. Annual holiday boat parade lights up the Intracoastal Waterway beginning at C-15 Canal, traveling south from Delray Beach to the Hillsboro Boulevard Bridge in Deerfield Beach. Bleacher viewing at Red Reef Park (1400 N. Ocean Blvd.). Also, Wildflower Park (551 E. Palmetto Park Road) and Silver Palm Park (600 E. Palmetto Park Road). Parking limited at Wildflower and Silver Palm Parks, but adequate at Red Reef Park. Confirmed
Crystal River Christmas Boat Parade. Details were unavailable, but according to information posted online for the 2022 parade, the viewing areas, from beginning to the end, are: Crackers Restaurant, Dockside Ice Cream/Charlie’s Restaurant area, The Crab Plant, 3rd Street Pier, Pete’s Pier, The Port Hotel/Waterfront Social Restaurant. The parade begins at 6 pm in the bay. It’s ends around 9 pm. Date confirmed. Details sketchy.
Daytona Beach Christmas Boat Parade. Along the Halifax River. Sponsored by the Halifax River Yacht Club to benefit the Veterans Support Fund. Watch the boats travel south along the Halifax River starting at the Seabreeze Bridge and culminate at the Halifax Harbor Marina for a truly spectacular boat show. Prime viewing areas of the parade are the Chart House Restaurant, Daytona Marina and Boat Works, City Island, Manatee Island, Halifax Harbor Marina. Starts at 6 p.m. Confirmed
Fort Lauderdale Winterfest Boat Parade. The grand poobah of holiday boat parades in Florida returns to 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 areas at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and Las Olas Intracoastal Promenade Park (300 Las Olas Circle). Multiple waterfront restaurants along the parade route feature special seatings for the parade. 6:30-9:30 pm Confirmed
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Indian River County Holiday Boat Parade, Vero Beach. Parade begins at 6 p.m. Best viewing at Merrill Barber Bridge, Riverside Cafe, Riverside Park, Veterans Memorial Island (Farley Island), Quail Valley River Club, Young’s Park and Royal Palm Pointe. Date Confirmed
Martin County Holiday Boat Parade, Stuart. Parade begins 6 pm. Be viewing from Stuart City Docks, Stuart RiverWalk, Evans Crary Bridge, Sandsprit Park and Manatee Pocket docks. Confirmed
Marco Island Christmas Boat Parade. 6 pm. Recommended viewing includes The Esplanade on Smokehouse Bay and Snook Inn on the Marco River. Confirmed
Miami Outboard Club Holiday Boat Parade. The boats will stage at Watson Island at the Miami Outboard Club. The parade starts at 7 pm and can be viewed from Bayside Marketplace, Bayfront Park and Brickell Park. There will not be any fireworks this year. Donations and toys collected benefit Centro Mater Childcare Centers, Centro Hispano Catolico Child Development Centers and the children of Miami Stadium Apartments. For more information, call 305-379-3000.
Treasure Island Holiday Boat Parade. The parade will begin promptly at 6:20 p.m. just south of the Treasure Island Causeway. The route travels south of Paradise Island, back through the Treasure Island Causeway Bridge at 7 p.m., around the Isles of Palms and Capri, and finishes at John’s Pass at approximately 8:15 p.m. Viewing areas at Treasure Island Golf & Tennis Club, along the Treasure Island Causeway Bridge, and at John’s Pass. Confirmed
Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023
Punta Gorda Boat Parade, Punta Gorda Isles. 6:30 pm. The parade route is within Punta Gorda Isles. Best place to view is from a boat. While there are no designated public viewing areas on land along the 4.5-mile parade route, there are many viewing areas along Almar Drive. Do not park on the street. Find your spot early and bring chairs. Here’s a map of the parade route. Always held the Saturday night before Christmas Eve. Confirmed
Tampa Riverwalk Lighted Boat Parade. The parade begins at the southern tip of Davis Island, travels through the Convention Center basin and up to the Heights where the boats will turn around and head to Sparkman Wharf, where judging will occur and the parade will end. Public viewing at Armature Works, Channel Drive, Curtis Hixon, Davis Island, Harbour Island, Sparkman Wharf, Water Works Park. Parking is available at several public parking lots. Confirmed
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Bob Rountree is a beach bum, angler and camper who has explored Florida for decades. No adventure is complete without a scenic paddle trail or unpaved road to nowhere. Bob co-founded FloridaRambler.com with fellow journalist Bonnie Gross 14 years ago.