Florida's Holiday Boat Parades You Can't Miss
“Look Dad... the lights are dancing on the water.”
This is what my 6-year-old daughter said while we were sitting on an outdoor patio of a popular bistro watching a wonderfully lighted boat parade float by. Then she wipes marshmallow from the tip of her nose after finishing her cup of hot cocoa. And she is right! Thousands, maybe millions, of colorful lights shimmer and reflect on the Intracoastal Waterway while a holiday flotilla sails by in all its glory. Strings of red, blue, yellow, and green lights navigate sleek sailboat masts then twinkle and swirl like an invisible brush painting an impressionist canvas.
Those of us who live in Florida have come to grips with the fact that – like all holidays here – it will be warm. You probably won’t hear “Let it Snow. Let it Snow. Let it Snow.” or “Frosty the Snowman” on the playlist at the mall. Most Floridians came here to get away from snow so it doesn’t pay to reminisce about it every December. But we do love our holiday decorations and the best way to see them is to find a prime seat to watch a lighted parade of boats. There are dozens of these nautical promenades with plenty of opportunities for fun, food, and entertainment.
Much like the boats, the lighted boat parades are all different sizes too. The huge high-profile holiday events with significant crowds of viewers are downtown events where the parades pass through cool urban entertainment districts. No matter which way you look - beautiful holiday decorations abound.
Here’s wishing you catch the holiday spirit at a Florida lighted boat parade this year. Start a new family tradition. Create a new date night. Lighted Boat Parades are the perfect way to celebrate the Holidays in Florida. See you there!
TAMPA / ST. PETERSBURG
Tampa Holiday Lighted Boat Parade - Sat Dec 17 at 6pm
Tampa Riverwalk, Hillsborough River.
Tampa’s largest lighted boat parade adds extra brightness to downtown’s beautiful holiday decorations. The parade starts on Davis Island then travels along the Hillsborough River through the Convention Center Basin, then up to the Heights. You can view the lighted festivities all along downtown Tampa’s Riverwalk or watch the judging at Tampa’s latest outdoor entertainment district, Sparkman Wharf.
Treasure Island Lighted Boat Parade - Sat Dec 17 at 5pm
A dazzling nautical spectacle on Boca Ciega Bay starting at the Treasure Island Golf & Tennis Club, floating around the Isle of Palms and Capri Isle, then ending in St. John’s Pass. This nautical promenade is the featured event of Treasure Island’s Holiday Celebration featuring live entertainment and food & beverage concessions. Santa and Mrs. Claus are making a surprise visit to view this spectacular boat parade
Tampa Suds & Grub Walkabout with Holiday Lighted Boat Parade - Sat Dec 17 at 3pm
Tampa Marriott Water Street.
Tarpon Springs Christmas Boat Parade – Fri Dec 2 at 5:30pm
Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks.
Apollo Beach Lighted Boat Parade – Sunday Dec 11 at 4:30pm
Canals of Apollo Beach.
Dunedin Holiday Boat Parade & Tree Lighting – Sat Dec 3 at 6pm
Edgewater Park, Dunedin.
Downtown St Petersburg. Christmas Boat Parade - Sat Dec 10 at 6pm
St. Pete Pier.
St. Pete Beach Holiday Lighted Boat Parade - Fri Dec 2 at 6pm
Horan Park, St. Pete Beach.
Madeira Beach Festival of Lights Holiday Boat Parade - Sat Dec 10 at 4pm
ROC Park & John’s Pass.
Where to stay:
Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade – Sat Dec 3 at 6pm
Intracoastal Waterway (North Palm Beach to Jupiter)
A floating Zambelli fireworks display leads this popular parade starting in Palm Beach then navigating north to Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. Enjoy over 80 boats sporting thousands of holiday lights. This family friendly event is also a water-based toy drive featuring a fleet of “toy” boats accepting donations. There are plenty of public places to view the parade, including Juno Park, Waterway Park, Sawfish Bay Park, Jupiter Riverwalk, Harborside Place and Lighthouse Park.
Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade - Sat Dec 10 at 6:30pm
This parade extravaganza lights up Downtown Fort Lauderdale along the New River from Stranahan House to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Corporate mega-yachts, giant showboats, and all sizes of private boats in full holiday regalia are the real stars of the show, but live music and celebrity appearances add to the festivities. This boat parade, sponsored by the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, expects over a million viewers along the waterway.
Boca Raton Boat Parade - Sun Dec 17 at 6pm
Red Reef Park, Boca Raton.
Boynton Beach Holiday Boat Parade - Fri Dec 9 at 6:30 pm
Boynton Harbor Marina.
Jupiter Beach Holiday Boat Parade - Sat Dec 3 at 8pm
Harbourside Place & Jupiter Riverwalk.
Where to stay:
St. Augustine Regatta of Lights 2022 - Sat Dec 10 at 6pm
Bridge of Lions, Bayfront.
This brightly lighted regatta reflects the heritage of America’s Oldest City and its historical nautical image. Huge yachts, big cruisers, trawlers, shrimp boats, sailboats... you’ll see them all with millions of lights dancing across the Bayfront just north of the Bridge of Lions. Best viewing venues are the Castillo de San Marcos and the Bridge of Lions
Palm Coast Holiday Boat Parade - Sat Dec 3 at 6pm
Palm Coast Yacht Club.
This parade is so prominent that it is broadcast live on KOOL-FM. Considered the largest community boat parade in Florida, there are over seventy-five boats decked out in holiday lights meandering down the Matanzas River. You can find prime parade viewing along Waterfront Park. Sunshine, a supremely decorated 55-foot Viking is the lead boat in this year’s parade.
Palm Valley Boat Parade - Dec 3 at 6pm
Where to stay:
Written by: Gary Jordan