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11 Delightful Holiday Boat Parades in SoCal 2023

Updated for 2023

Here in Southern California, we can celebrate the holidays at the beach and the mountains (even on the same day), but if you’re looking for something near the shore, we suggest a boat parade! Families can enjoy several annual Christmas Boat Parades and Holiday Boat Parades that are scheduled throughout the month of December.

These terrific, unique events are all about boat owners decorating and showing off their boats, which are the true Parade Floats, if you think about it! Holiday Boat Parades are held at night, so fabulous lighting is the key to standing out.

Some boats will be decked out in twinkle lights, and some will go much further, with Christmas trees and Santa Claus, some even go all out with inflatables. Many of these Christmas Boat Parades have a bonus fireworks shows, which make them even more festive! Boat Float makers often compete for trophies and prizes, too.

Each parade can be viewed from the shore or from a boat (or flotation device) of your own, and each one will have an ideal spot or two to see things from, so be sure to read up on their websites. However they’re dressed up their boats, you’ll get to see a light show floating right by your beach blanket.

The Best Christmas Boat Parades in Los Angeles and SoCal

Parade of Lights Ventura Harbor boat parade Photo by Brendan Daly, used with permission
Parade of Lights Boat Parade in Ventura Harbor, Photo by Brendan Daly, used with permission

Ventura Harbor Parade of Lights 
Ventura Harbor, 1583 Spinnaker Dr, Ventura, CA 93001

It’s a “wow” moment when spectators get their first glimpse of the magnificent boats amid festive décor at the Annual Ventura Harbor Parade of Lights, taking place on December 15th and 16th. Vivid and bright, the procession of colorfully-decorated boats is a spectacle to behold. This year’s theme is Hula Holiday! 

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade
Newport Landing 
309 Palm Street, Newport Beach 92661   

The 2023 Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is the premier Christmas event for Southern California, taking place this year from December 13 -17. With more than 115 years of history, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade of Lights has hundreds of decorated yachts & watercraft of all kinds competing for top honors in several categories. Along with the Boat Parade of Lights there is also the “Ring Of Lights” which has Bayfront estates competing for top honors in all-out holiday décor & light displays which takes place all of December.

Boat decorated with christmas trees and lights for the newport beach christmas boat parade
The sweepstakes winner in 2014 at the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, photo used with permission

Related: See all the Family-Friendly Christmas and Holiday Shows in SoCal

Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade
Burton Chace Park and Fisherman’s Village, Marina del Rey

Watch a trail of lighted boats cruise through the main channel on December 9th. Arrive early to grab a spot on the lawn at Burton Chace Park or a good photo spot at Fisherman’s Village, two of the most popular viewing places. Narration on a PA system is available at both locations. Free admission.

a colorful yacht, decorated with lights for the Christmas Boat Parade, photo courtesy of Newport Landing
a colorful yacht, decorated for the Christmas Boat Parade, photo courtesy of Newport Landing

Related: See Christmas and Holiday Lights in SoCal

Shoreline Yacht Club of Long Beach Holiday Boat Parade
386 Shoreline Drive, South, Long Beach, CA 90802

Happening December 9th, this parade is viewable for the public from Shoreline Village and parts of Rainbow Harbor.

Annual King Harbor Holiday Boat Parade 
King Harbor Yacht Club, 280 Yacht Way, Redondo Beach 90277

Don’t miss the annual King Harbor Holiday Boat Parade on Saturday, December 9th, featuring 20-35 creatively adorned boats. The parade begins at 5:30 PM, concluding with a trophy presentation for the best decorations at 8 PM, promising a festive spectacle of animation, music, costumes, and dazzling lights.

Huntington Harbour Boat Parade
Huntington Beach, CA

The all-volunteer Huntington Harbour Boat Parade is the non-profit Huntington Harbour Philharmonic Committee’s way of saying “thank you” to the Harbour residents for decorating their homes. Happening this year on December 9th and 10th.

Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights 
34555 Golden Lantern St., Dana Point, CA 92629 

The highly anticipated Boat Parade of Lights returns this holiday season for its 48th celebration from December 8 – 10. The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. and is sure to be sweet with this year’s “Candyland” theme. Boaters will decorate their vessels for a chance to win $10,000 in cash prizes across different award categories courtesy of Dana Point Harbor Partners. Award categories include Best Use of Theme, People’s Choice, Supervisor’s Cup, Mayor’s Cup and more.

Related: Where to Get Photos with Santa Claus in SoCal

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
San Diego, CA

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is a time-honored holiday tradition in San Diego. The 53rd annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights promises to dazzle and entertain during 2 evenings on December 10th and December 17th, 2023. The parade usually boasts at least 80 boats and always draws a big crowd.

Mission Bay Parade of Lights
San Diego, CA

The Mission Bay Parade of Lights is back and bigger than ever! This festive family fun boat parade on beautiful Mission Bay will take place on Saturday, December 9th at 5:30pm. Kick off this holiday tradition with SeaWorld’s spectacular fireworks and enjoy the festive holiday boats parade on the bay from a designated spectator viewing area.

Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights
Oceanside, CA

Head out for this annual holiday event on December 9th. Bring a blanket, some hot chocolate and pick a comfortable spot to watch this years Parade of Lights celebration in the quaint Oceanside Harbor. Fishing boats, sailboats, yachts, kayaks and dingys will all be dressed-up in holiday swag and circling Oceanside Harbor enchanting onlookers along the harbor and at the neighboring restaurants. Many of the boats even feature people dressed up like Santa waving to the crowd! One of the best viewing spots is along the side of the Oceanside Harbor near the fishing dock and police station. From this vantage point, you can see the parade twice! The concrete walkway that surrounds much of the harbor is also good for viewing the parade.

Long Beach Naples Islands Christmas Boat Parade
Long Beach, CA

This year’s theme is “Christmas Around the World”, and the boat parade takes place on December 16th.

MomsLA is your source for Things to do with Kids in Los Angeles

Disclaimer: MomsLA has made every effort to confirm the information in this article; however, things can often change. Therefore, MomsLA makes no representations or warranties about the accuracy of the information published here. MomsLA strongly urges you to confirm any event details, like date, time, location, and admission, with the third party hosting the event. You assume the sole risk of relying on any of the information in our list. MomsLA is in no way responsible for any injuries or damages you sustain while attending any third-party event posted on our website. Please read our Terms of Use which you have agreed to based on your continued use of this website. Some events have paid to be listed on MomsLA.

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heather hauptmeier

Tuesday 7th of November 2023

The Long Beach boat parade is cool, but Shoreline Long Beach does one as well. :) It is put on my the Shoreline Yacht Club It is pretty amazing.

Sarah Auerswald

Thursday 9th of November 2023

Thank you for this tip! We're adding it to the list for this year. Enjoy!

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