Updated for 2021
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.
Related: See all the Family-Friendly Christmas and Holiday Shows in SoCal
The Best Holiday Boat Parades in Los Angeles and SoCal
1. 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 Saturday, December 11th from 5:55-8pm. 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. The 2021 parade themed “Joy on the Water” is celebrating its 59th year. A brief fireworks show at 5:55 p.m. announces the start of the parade, which lasts until about 8 p.m. Free admission.
2. Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade
309 Palm Street, Newport Beach 92661
Watch beautifully decorated yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes sail along the harbor in the 113th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. This year’s parade will be held Wednesday through Sunday, December 15-19, 2021 and is once again hosted by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce. As a bonus, you’ll also be able to see 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.
Related: See Christmas and Holiday Lights in SoCal
3. Long Beach Naples Islands Christmas Boat Parade
Long Beach, CA
The 75th annual Naples Christmas Boat Parade will take place this year on December 18th.
4. 2021 Ventura Harbor Parade of Lights & Fireworks
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 44th annual Ventura Harbor Parade of Lights & Fireworks, taking place on Friday, December 17 and Saturday, December 18, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. Vivid and bright, the procession of colorfully-decorated boats is a spectacle to behold. Everyone is invited to kick off this “Back to Seality” themed boat parade. The celebration spotlights illuminated power boats and sail boats as they cruise around the entire Harbor, kiddie rides, sweet treats, warm drinks, and waterfront dining throughout Ventura Harbor Village. To cap off the evening, a fireworks display lights up the night sky and sea on both Friday & Saturday at approximately 8 p.m. (weather permitting). This event is complimentary to visitors.
Related: See all the Nutcracker Performances in SoCal
5. 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 11th and 12th.
Related: Find all the Christmas and Holiday Events in Los Angeles
6. Dana Point Harbor 46th Annual Fiesta Boat Parade of Lights
Dana Point, CA
The Harbor’s much anticipated annual Boat Parade of Lights will take place December 10-12 with a “Fiesta Holiday” theme. The parade will begin at 7:30 p.m. on December 10 and 11 and at 6:30 p.m. on December 12. Boaters will decorate their vessels to the theme of the parade, for a chance to win up to $10,000 in cash prizes across several 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. Boaters can sign up at The Marina at Dana Point office.
7. Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights
Taking place on December 11th, this fantastic boat parade is a fun Holiday event to enjoy.
Related: Where to Get Photos with Santa Claus in SoCal
8. 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 50th annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights promises to dazzle and entertain during 2 evenings on December 12th and December 19th, 2021. The parade usually boasts at least 80 boats and always draws a big crowd.
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