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!
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.
Nov. 25: Santa visits Mystic from 2-3PM followed by the Tree Lighting and Boat Parade at 6PM.
Nov. 14 – Dec. 22: Festival of Trees in Clayton
Dec. 9: The South Bay Cruising Club hosts their annual Christmas party at the Anqua Corinthian Yacht Club in Amityville.
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!
Dec. 9: Hampton's 28th Annual Downtown Hampton Lighted Boat Parade starts at 7:15PM.
Dec. 2: Alexandria's Annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights begins at 5:30pm (Santa arrives at 4:15) following a day of events accompanying the the Scottish Christmas Walk parade. The parades are a culmination of a weekend of holiday festivities throughout Old Town Alexandria.
Dec. 3: If you're near Yorktown, head to the harbor at 6PM for the Christmas Lighted Boat Parade to partake in caroling, a beach bonfire, cider, and more!
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.
Dec. 2: Catch the Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla from the shores of Morehead City and Beaufort! Cash prizes will be awarded for excellence and creativity at the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center afterparty.
Dec. 3: Head to the New Bern riverfront for the Annual Coastal Christmas Flotilla from 6PM - 8PM, part of New Bern's weekend of Beary Merry Christmas programming.
Dec. 2: Beaufort's Light Up the Night events start at 5:30PM!
Dec. 9: Charleston hosts its 36th Annual Holiday Parade of Boats at 5PM near the Mt. Pleasant side.
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:
Click here for a full list of Florida waterfront holiday activities.
Nov. 17: St. Joseph Luminary Festival
Nov. 18 - Dec 9: Holland's Dutch Winterfest Kerstmarkt
Nov. 22 - Dec. 3: Muskegon's Festival of Trees
Nov. 24 - Jan. 7: Fremont's Hayes Train Special
Nov. 17–19: Sturgeon Bay Christmas by the Bay
Nov. 18: Milwaukee Holiday Parade
Nov. 24: Capture the Spirit in Sister Bay
Nov. 24–25: Egg Harbor Holly Days
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 Lights. Presented 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.
Dec. 2: If you're in reach of The Bahamas, head to Freeport for the Nautical Mile of Lights Annual Boat Parade! The festivities kick off at 8PM and proceed west through Randall Bay before circling back.
Dec. 9: Key West's Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade begins at 8PM.
Dec. 9: Key Largo Boat Parade begins at 7:30PM.
Make a weekend of your holiday adventures – reserve a slip or mooring near the action: