The most wonderful time of year: holiday boat parades

The Log’s guide to 2019 holiday boat parades in Southern California.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA—It’s time to deck the hulls with boughs of holly. Holiday boat parades have become a holiday tradition here in Southern California and boat owners and harbors across the coast are gearing up for the annual event.

The holiday tradition of decking out vessels with decorations and lights now spans more than a century. Newport Beach is credited with having one of the oldest Christmas boat parades, now said to be in its 111th year.

The parades provide an opportunity for family, friends and neighbors to celebrate the holiday season water-side and all the parades are free for spectators on shore.

There are plenty of opportunities to catch a parade this year as harbors from Santa Barbara to San Diego are hosting events. We rounded up the information to know for the 2019 parades.



San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
San Diego Bay Parade of Lights 2018.

48th annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Date: Dec. 8 and 15

Time: 5 p.m.

Details: More than 80 vessels are expected to participate in this time-honored holiday tradition. This year’s theme is “Comic-Con on the Bay.” Everyone who participates in both nights of the parade and passes both sets of judges and the southern mark by Chavez pier will be eligible to win prizes. It costs $100 to enter a boat after Nov. 26. The winners of the best decorated boats will be announced at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights’ Awards Dinner held at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse on Jan. 9, 2020 at 6 p.m.

Viewing: The parade takes about an hour to pass any given point and waterfront viewpoints include the north and south ends of the Embarcadero, the pathway along Coronado, the park behind Seaport Village and the new pier at Cesar Chavez Park. For added insight into the participating boats, viewers can watch the parade from near the announcers’ areas at the Maritime Museum on the Embarcadero and at Coronado Landing. As each boat passes these viewing points, the announcers offer a brief history and description of the participating vessels.

Route: The parade starts at 5 p.m. at Shelter Island and travels west past Harbor Island, then south along the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, and Cesar Chavez Park before making the turn to Coronado.

Information: Vessel registration forms and more info, including the route map, can be found at


Mission Bay Boat Parade of Lights

Date: Dec. 14

Time: 6-9 p.m.

Details: Dozens of decorated boats will sail around Mission Bay in this free, community event.

Viewing: The best viewing is from Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Island or the west side of Fiesta Island.

Route: The boat parade starts at Quivira Basin and winds throughout Mission Bay.

Information: For more information contact Mission Bay Yacht Club at 858-488-0501 or


Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

Date: Dec. 14

Time: 7-9 p.m.

Details: This parade features boats of all shapes and sizes decorated in their finest holiday attire, including lights, ornaments and lots of holiday trimmings. Once finished, the best decorated powerboat, sailboat and small-craft boats will be awarded prizes and bragging rights.

Viewing: One of the best viewing spots is along the side of the Oceanside Harbor near the fishing dock and police station. The concrete walkway that surrounds much of the harbor is also good for viewing the parade.

Route: The parade will loop around the inside of the Oceanside Harbor twice.

Information: Visit or contact Oceanside Yacht Club at 760-722-5721 for more information.



Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade
Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade 2018.

111th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Date: Dec. 18-22

Time: 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Details: The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is expected to draw around one million viewers. Grand Marshals this year include Christina Anstead, star of HGTV’s “Christina on the Coast” and “Flip or Flop”, Newport Beach’s Business Person of the Year, Jim Walker, and Citizen of the Year, Nancy Gardner, among others. The fee to enter a boat in the parade is $35.

Route: Parade participants will start and end at the tip of Lido Island. The parade route, including a printable map, is available online at

Viewing: The parade will be viewable from almost any place on the shore, free of cost. Marina Park is the largest public viewing area along the parade route. Public boat cruises are also offered each night to view and travel with the parade. Many waterfront restaurants also offer exceptional views; those interested are encouraged to make reservations early.

Information: To find more details about the parade visit or call 949-729-4400.


45th annual Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights

Date: Dec. 6,7,13 and 14

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Details: It will be a “Tiki Holiday” takeover for the Dana Point Harbor boat parade this year. Award categories include best overall, theme, most original, lights/music, mayor’s cup, supervisor’s cup and more. All award winners will receive cash prizes, with a total distribution of over $10,000 courtesy of Dana Point Harbor Partners. The boat parade will be preceded by various tiki-themed family activities and live entertainment starting at 4:30 p.m. each night.

Viewing: The parade can be viewed for free anywhere along the water’s edge. Free Trolleys will be running from 4:30-10:30 p.m. and will be dropping off and picking up along Dana Point Harbor Drive. Those wanting to watch the parade from the water can book a space aboard a Dana Wharf or Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari vessel. The Marina at Dana Point will also have guest slips available for visiting boaters.

Route: A map of the parade route can be found at

Information: Call the Harbor Info line at 949-923-2255, email or visit /boat-parade for more details.


57th annual Huntington Harbour Boat Parade

Date: Dec. 14 and 15

Time: 5:15-8 p.m.

Details: The theme of this year’s boat parade isRock and Roll Fantasy.” The line up starts at 4:30 p.m. and the parade starts at 5:15 p.m. sharp. Boat entries can be submitted through Dec. 12. Those who enter will have a shot at 16 trophies which will be awarded to winners in categories from “Most Religious” to “Best Commercial Entry.” The Huntington Harbour Boat Parade is an entirely volunteer effort.

Viewing: Public viewing areas are limited to beaches only. Event organizers say those areas fill up quickly and parking is limited. Organizers say one of the best ways to view the parade is to enter a boat.

Route: A route map can be found online:

Information: Visit, call 714-840-7542 or email for more details.


22nd annual Villa Park Dry Land Boat Parade

Date: Dec. 15

Time: 5 p.m.

Details: The dry land boat parade is an asphalt harbor tour where more than 50 vessels travel through Villa Park. The theme of this year’s parade is “Rolling into the Holidays.” The parade closes out at the Villa Park Town Center with a tree lighting and awards ceremony with trophies for categories such as best overall, most artistic and most whimsical.

Viewing: Parade goers can bring folding chairs and watch the parade go by from Villa Park High School, Lemon Street, Villa Park Elementary and Villa Park Town Center.

Route: Boats in the parade will roll into the holidays following a route to the Villa Park Town Center, where there will be food booths and retail vendors. A map of the route is available at

Information: Registration forms are available at Villa Park City Hall or can be downloaded from



Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade
Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade 2018.

57th annual Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade

Date: Dec. 14

Time: 6-8 p.m.

Details: The parade kicks off with a fireworks display before boats begin circling the marina. The theme of this year’s parade is “Kids Make Holidays Bright.” Entry fees are $25 for families or individuals, $50 for yacht clubs and organizations and $2 per foot for commercial and corporate vessels. Festivities will be held in the marina all day prior to the parade, including the 5th annual Snow Wonder event at Burton Chace Park from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Viewing: The public can view the parade and listen to live announcements for free at Burton Chace Park. Fisherman’s Village is another viewing location.

Route: All boats will circle the main channel of Marina del Rey Harbor at least two times. The south turn will be parallel to Pacific Avenue in Marina del Rey and the jetty bridge in Playa del Rey. The north turn will be at the end of “F” basin.

Information: Visit, call 310-670-7130 or email for more information.


28th annual King Harbor Holiday Boat Parade

Date: Dec. 14

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Details: Boats will be decked out to the theme of “Surfing the Yule Tide.” In keeping with the theme, this year’s Grand Marshall will be Gary Crum, who works with the International Surf Festival. Boat registration costs $30.

Viewing: The parade can be seen anywhere along the main channel.

Route: Along the main channel.

Information: Visit or contact King Harbor Yacht Club at 310-376-2459 for more information.


57th annual L.A. Harbor Holiday Afloat Parade

Date: Dec. 7

Time: 6-8 p.m.

Details: Vessels of all shapes and sizes, from tugboats to tall ships, will be taking part in the parade to kick of the start of the holiday season in the harbor. Preparade festivities take place at Banning’s Landing Community Center at 4 p.m.

Viewing: Viewing locations along the parade route include the Wilmington waterfront, the San Pedro waterfront, Ports O’ Call, Warehouse #1, Cabrillo Marina, Cabrillo Way and Holiday Harbor Marinas and more.

Route: The parade starts in the East Basin near Banning’s Landing Community Center in Wilmington and takes approximately 90 minutes to cover the entire parade route through the Los Angeles Main Channel.

Information: Visit or call 323-487-2101 for more information or to register a boat.


73rd annual Naples Island Holiday Boat Parade

Date: Dec. 14

Time: 6 p.m.

Details: The Naples Island Holiday Boat Parade will feature both a small and large boat parade with the theme of “Christmas Under the Sea.” Large boats start at 6 p.m. and small boats start at 6:30 p.m. The entry fee for boats is $45 and the deadline to enter is Dec. 11.

Viewing: The best place to see the parade is along the Naples Canals and outer walks. Other good places are along Bay Shore Drive North of 2nd Street or the Beach along Bay Shore Drive South of 2nd Street or on East Bayshore Walk on the Belmont Peninsula. The Large Boat Parade will stream by the restaurants in Seaport Village.

Route: Large boat entries will start along Lido Lane, off the sea wall in front of Naples Plaza and head east. The small boat parade will begin at the Appian Way Bridge. Large and small boats will travel in opposite directions. The small boat parade route can be found online at

Information: Visit for more information.




54th annual Channel Islands Harbor Parade of Lights

Date: Dec. 14

Time: 7 p.m.

Details: Holiday activities will start at 10 a.m. and lead up to the parade at 7 p.m. This year’s theme is “Musical Notes & Holiday Floats,” with entrants asked to decorate their vessels based on their favorite holiday tunes. Registration is free and open until Dec. 14 at 4 p.m.

Viewing: The parade can be viewed from parks and walkways that line the route as well as from most harbor restaurants. Boat charters are also available for those who want to watch the parade from the water. The Channel Islands Maritime Museum is hosting a viewing party, which includes dinner and a no-host bar.

Route: The parade starts in front of Peninsula Park and heads to the Main Channel, turns at Kiddie Beach, loops in front of the launch ramp then heads back to Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club and repeats the route for a second run.

Information: Visit or call 805-973-5950 for more details.

Ventura Harbor’s Parade of Lights

43rd annual Ventura Harbor’s Parade of Lights

Date: Dec. 13 and 14

Time: 6:30-8 p.m.

Details: The theme for this year’s parade isSEAing is Believing” – paying homage to all things imaginary and magical. Entering a boat is free. Pre-parade festivities begin at 4 p.m. and include kids rides and a ferris wheel. Photos with Santa and Mrs. Clause start at 5 p.m. A fireworks show will close out the event after the parade at 8 p.m.

Viewing: Ventura Harbor Village. Visitors can also book a public cruise with Island Packers or Ventura Boat rentals or grab a spot at one the harbor’s waterfront restaurants.

Route: All boats will circle Ventura Harbor twice.





33rd annual Santa Barbara Parade of Lights

Date: Dec. 8

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Details: The Santa Barbara Parade of Lights will feature about 30 boats motoring, sailing, and paddling the coastline to the theme of “Deep Space Holidays.”It is free to enter a boat. Judging takes place at Stearns Wharf with winning boats awarded donated cash and prizes in five categories. The parade is preceded by Santa’s Village activities beginning at 3 p.m. The parade ends with a five-minute fireworks display.

Viewing: Best viewing locations include Stearns Wharf and the breakwater.

Route: The route runs across the Santa Barbara coastline.

Information: For more parade information contact the Harbormaster’s Office at 805-564-5531.


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