Updated for 2020
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There’s nothing better than watching a parade during the holiday season. Wait!…maybe there is. It’s a boat parade! You can’t help but get into the spirit of the season with lights gleaming off the cool ripples of the water and the holiday sounds coming from the lavishly decorated vessels.
That’s why at SoCal Field Trips, we have created an extensive list of Holiday Boat Parades in Southern California for your enjoyment!
From Santa Barbara to San Diego, we have listed over 14 spectacular events. You can either attend a large one like the L.A. Harbor Holiday Afloat Parade with over 100 boats or a smaller one such as the Naples Island Annual Boat Parade, which has a hometown feel. So spend the evening with your family and friends down at the water front enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season!
Holiday Boat Parades in Orange County
Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights, Dana Point
December 4, 5, 11 & 12 @ 7:30 pm
This year’s parade theme is “Fiesta Holiday.” 100 boaters compete in the categories of style, intricacy and outlandishness. Past years’ entries have featured towering light displays and inflatable snowmen riding motorcycles and planes. In 2008, one boater even outfitted his craft with rotating wooden attachments that gave the appearance of dolphins swimming alongside. The parade starts by the water’s edge at 7:30 pm.
Huntington Harbor Boat Parade, Huntington Beach (returning in 2021!)
A “Rock and Roll Fantasty” is this year’s theme which means decorators will have a wide list of songs and start to choose from. Besides the fun and excitement, they have 16 trophies to award in categories ranging from ‘Most Religious’ to ‘Best Commercial Entry’. Unlike many other boat parades, the Huntington Harbour Boat Parade is an entirely volunteer effort.
Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, Newport Beach
December 16, 17, 18, 19 & 20 @ 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
The Christmas Boat Parade is one of the oldest and most popular holiday traditions in southern California and even the nation. In 1908, a gondola and eight canoes decked out in Japanese lanterns started the tradition, which has grown into a spectacle expected to draw more than a million viewers over its five nights. The parade starts at 6:30 p.m. with boats leaving from Bay Island, making their way around the harbor, and returning at 9 p.m. In all there are just under registered 100 boats taking part in the contests.
For the first time in its 112-year history, the parade will also be streamed to viewers, giving the world a front-row seat to the annual Southern California spectacular. The virtual viewing experience will take place on multiple platforms including web, social media and the city’s local broadcast channel NBTV and will run all five nights of the parade.
The show will include the parade’s entirety, the Ring of Lights home competition, entertaining interviews with participants and spotlights on the Grand Marshal frontline heroes and local charities.