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Dockwa's 2017 Guide to Holiday Boat Parades & Harbor Events

Post by Becky at Dockwa - Published on 11/21/17 10:57 AM
Happy Holidays, boaters! If you're in search of spirited gatherings, look no further. Deck the spars and head to these harbors to light up your winter nights.

Nothing kicks the holiday spirit into gear like spending an evening with friends, family, and community all experiencing the glittering harbors we boaters enjoy so much of the year. 


In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and well before, community members from towns, counties, marinas, and yacht clubs throughout the country have been planning a little extra sparkle for the holidays. Below is an ongoing list of the 2017 harborside events to ring in the holidays. 

Did we miss one? Let me know!


Nov. 30 - Dec. 10: Head to Kennebunkport's 36th annual Christmas Prelude for events from caroling, cocktailing, and the Cape Porpoise Lobster Trap Tree Lighting.

Dec. 1: Camden's Christmas by the Sea kicks off!


Rhode Island

Nov. 24: Newport Harbor's Annual Illuminated Parade begins at 6:15PM. The Newport Yacht Club will be open to the public for the event.

Nov. 25: Gurney's Newport Lighthouse Lighting complete with carolers, hot chocolate, live music, and cenic views of the famed Newport Bridge. 


Mystic boat parade.png


Nov. 25: Santa visits Mystic from 2-3PM followed by the Tree Lighting and Boat Parade at 6PM. 


New York

Nov. 14 – Dec. 22: Festival of Trees in Clayton

Nov. 24: Take in the 6th Annual Huntington Harbor Parade of Lights, hosted by the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society. 

Dec. 9: The South Bay Cruising Club hosts their annual Christmas party at the Anqua Corinthian Yacht Club in Amityville


New Jersey

  • Nov. 24 - Dec. 23: Every year, Red Bank hosts a bunch of activities for the month leading up to December 23, kicking off this Friday with Santa's ride into Red Bank from Little Silver Train Station for the annual Town Lighting and Holiday Express concert. See all of Red Bank's holiday events, and stay the night with a slip at Irwin Marine

  • Through January 1, 2017: Visit An Old Fashioned Christmas in Cape May to see a seaside town transform into a Dickens village complete with candlelight tours, breakfast with Santa, and (my pick, if I was Jersey-bound) a Ghost of Christmas Past Trolley Tour. 


  • Nov. 29: Things kick off in Solomons with a community tree decorating. The Lighted Boat Parade takes place December 2 at 6:15PM starting at Solomons Yachting Center, traveling up Back Creek, and proceeding up the Patuxent River along the boardwalk. Stay in Solomons with spot at Spring Cove Marina

  • Dec. 10: Voted one of USA Today's Best Holiday Parades, don't miss Eastport Yacht Club's Lights Parade in Annapolis Harbor! 



Washington, D.C. 

Now that The Wharf in Washingon D.C. is open (complete with brand-new state-of-the-art docks you can reserve on Dockwa), they city is more equipped than ever to host holiday merriment. 

  • Dec. 1: Head to the Light Up the Wharf event for the official Christmas tree lighting! Word has it there will be a fire pit with the requisite s'mores, cocoa, crafts, and music. 

  • Dec. 2: The Holiday Boat Parade begins at 4pm with "the guaranteed first snow of the season" (what a claim!). Bonus points if you make it out on the ice rink.

North Carolina


South Carolina



  • Nov. 25: Head to the Savannah waterfront at 5PM to watch the tree lighting ceremony, the Boat Parade of Lights, and end the night with fireworks at 9pm! Don't forget to bring a toy or gift card to donate to the Green Briar Children's Center. 

  • Dec. 3: Tybee's 9th Annual Lighted Boat Parade will send boats floating down the Back River



With 10x the coastline of some of the other states on this list, it follows that we'd find 10x the Florida boat parades to share! In the interest of time, here's the rundown:

December 2

December 8

December 9

2017BoatParadeTradewinds.jpgDecember 10

December 15

December 16

December 17

December 23

Click here for a full list of Florida waterfront holiday activities.









  • Dec. 10: Port Angeles is set to host its annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade along the waterfront. 

  • Dec. 15: Seattle's Christmas Ship Festival is a Northwest tradition! The parade route spans 45 waterfront communities around Lake Washington and Puget Sound. 


  • Dec. 2: Los Angeles's 55th Annual Holiday Parade of Boats marks the start of the holiday season. This event doesn't skimp on ceremony: The Exy Johnson andIrving Johnson, the official Tall Ships and Maritime Ambassadors of the City of Los Angeles, participate alongside power, sail, and fishing vessels. The parade theme is Peace Around the World, will be televised on Channel 35, and boats can earn prizes in several categories. One recommended vantage point is Cabrillo Way Marina

  • Dec. 2: If you're in the San Francisco area, check out Oakland's Lighted Yacht Parade.

  • Dec. 13 - 17: Newport Beach seems to have this lighted boat parade thing on lock. From their site: 

As the 109th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade moves its way through the Newport Harbor this December, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade Committee, with the leadership of The Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, announces its new parade starting and ending point at Tip of Lido Isle. The parade will begin at approximately 6:30 p.m. each night from December 13 – 17.

Parade participants will start from the east end of Lido Island following the celebrated route, with the first public viewing destination now at the new 10.5-acre Marina Park. 

  • Dec. 10 & 17: San Diego hosts its 46th Annual Parade of LightsPresented by the Port of San Diego, this event brings more than 100,000 spectators to the harbor each year. The procession will start at 5pm. Boats are encouraged to decorate for the 2017 theme: Arrrgh! A Pirate's Christmas. 


The Islands


Make a weekend of your holiday adventures – reserve a slip or mooring near the action: 


Post by Becky at Dockwa

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