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Celebrating the Holidays on the Water: Southern California’s Holiday Boat Parades

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA一 Tis’ the season once again, and Southern California is showing out with holiday boat parades up and down the coast. Boaters around Southern California will be decorating their boats to participate in annual boat parades, and the Log has rounded up a list of parades from Santa Barbara to San Diego.


Holiday boat parades are subject to COVID-19 protocols in their respective states and counties; make sure to check local websites to verify protocols.



50th San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Date: Dec. 12 and 19

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Details: Parking will be limited for the event, and attendees are encouraged to use San Diego’s public transportation. The San Diego Trolley lines and several bus lines serve stations with parking lots that provide convenient service to the North Embarcadero area include Fashion Valley, Old Town, and America Plaza. To get within a short walk of Harbor Drive, take the Green Line to the Santa Fe Depot, or the Orange or Blue Line to the American Plaza stop. For parking downtown, there are metered spaces along Harbor Drive, paid parking at Allright Parking and Seaport Village, metered parking in front of Fish Market Restaurant north of Seaport Village, free parking on Harbor Island, and Shelter Island.

Viewing: Shelter Island at 5:30 p.m.; Harbor Island at 6 p.m.; The Embarcadero at 6:30 p.m.; Seaport Village at 7 p.m.; The Pier at Cesar Chavez Park at 7:15 p.m.; Ferry Landing on Coronado at 7:30 p.m.

Route: Begins at 5 p.m. from the south end of Shelter Island; proceeds from the south end to the north end of Shelter Island; proceeds from the north end of Shelter Island across America’s Cup Harbor entrance to the west end of Harbor Island; Proceeds from the west end of Harbor Island to the east end of Harbor Island; Proceeds from the east end of Harbor Island to just west of Maritime Museum’s ferry, Berkeley; Proceeds past Berkeley and Star of India; Parallels the Embarcadero to the “G” St. Mole; Proceeds past Seaport Village and the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina; Proceeds past Marina Park and new in 2016, down to the new Pier at Cesar Chavez Park, and turns south to cross the Bay to the Marriott Coronado Hotel; Proceeds west to the Coronado Ferry Landing; Finishes at buoy 22a.



Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Date: Dec. 11

Time: 6-9 p.m.

Details: The Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights, a distinctly California celebration, features boats decorated for the holidays that will sail around the Bay. This free, distinctly California celebration features boats decorated for the annual holiday season that will sail around Mission Bay. A highly anticipated event in the San Diego community, dozens of vessels take to the water for the parade.

Viewing: The boat parade begins at 6:00 PM from Quivira Basin. The best viewing is from Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Island, or the west side of Fiesta Island.


Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

Date: Dec. 11

Time: 7-9 p.m.

Details: Organized by the Oceanside Yacht Club, the Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights will take place once again. Bring a blanket, some hot chocolate, and pick a comfortable spot to watch this year’s Parade of Lights celebration in the quaint Oceanside Harbor. Fishing boats, sailboats, yachts, kayaks, and dinghies 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!

Viewing: Best viewing is along the side of Oceanside Harbor near the fishing dock and police station or the concrete walkway surrounding the harbor.






46th Annual Dana Point Harbor Fiesta Boat Parade of Lights 

Dec. 10-12

Time: Dec. 10 & 11 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 12 6 p.m.

Viewing: Throughout Dana Point Harbor




113th Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Date: Dec. 15-19

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

Details: Opening night will kick off with a fireworks display at 6:15 p.m., and if you miss those, closing night will go out with a bang and light up the night sky at 9 p.m. Watch everything from yachts to dinghies float by decked out in their holiday best as they compete for top awards in over a half dozen categories. Newport Beach residents will also have their best light displays up for the “Ring of Lights” competition for those properties that line the waterfront. Whether on land or on the water, this light display makes a memorable holiday season.

Viewing: There are viewing options all along the shore, including the Fun Zone in Balboa Village, and viewers can also rent a charter to view the parade on the water; companies like Davey’s locker are selling holiday light cruises; some restaurants will be open during the event and provide great viewing along the water.

Route: The parade will move its way through Newport Harbor, starting and ending at the tip of Lido Isle.



59th Annual Huntington Harbour Boat Parade

Date: Dec. 11 &12

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Details: The 2021 theme for the boat parade will be American Dream, Rock the Harbor. The all-volunteer Huntington Harbour Boat Parade is hosted by the non-profit Huntington Harbour Philharmonic Committee. Viewers can vote for their favorite boats online at An awards ceremony will be held on Dec. 12 and can be viewed online on the parade’s Facebook page.

Viewing: Viewing is available along the beaches in Huntington, and a Livestream will be available at



23rd Annual Villa Park Dry Land Boat Parade

Date: Dec. 12

Time: 5 p.m.

Details: The theme for the parade this year is Joy to the world, and participants can win awards in the following five categories: Most Joyful, Best Youth Group (18 and under), Best Use of Lights, Most Original, and Best Overall.

Viewing: Parade-goers can watch all around the route, including Villa Park High School and Villa Park Elementary.

Route: Start on Taft; left on Center; right on Serrano; right on Lemon; left on Taft; right on Ludwig; left on Santiago; right on Patrician; left on Ballet; right on Marion; right on Carmel; left on Durfee; right on Lemon; left on Santiago; left on Center; right on Francisco; left on Vida; right on Fernando; right on Laconia; left on Aberdeen; right on Providence; right on Lincoln

left on Center; left on Santiago; right on Santiago; right on Taft; end at VP High.




Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade

Date: Dec. 11

Time: 5:55 – 8 p.m.

Details: Watch a trail of lighted boats cruise through the main channel. 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 firework show at 5:55 p.m. announces the start of the parade, which lasts until about 8 p.m. Free admission

Viewing: Viewers can watch the parade and listen to live announcements at two locations: Burton Chace Park and Fisherman’s Village.

Route: All boats will circle the main channel of the 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 the “F” basin. Fireworks will be set off just beyond the south turn of the parade from the jetty on the Playa del Rey side of the channel.


King Harbor Holiday Boat Parade

Date: Dec. 11

Details: Theme – Into the Lights – Honoring First Responders and the Medical Profession for the sacrifices they have made during these times of Covid.

Viewing: Moonstone Park and parts south on Mole B – Note that usually, the parade does not go out to the pier.


L.A. Harbor Holiday Afloat Parade

Date: Dec. 4

Time: 6-8 p.m.

Viewing: It starts at East Basin near Banning’s Landing Community Center in Wilmington and takes approximately 90 minutes to cover the entire parade route up the Port’s Main Channel. There are several viewing points along the Main Channel, including the Banning’s Landing Community Center, 100 E. Water Street, Wilmington; the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, 600 Sampson Way, San Pedro; Ports O’ Call Village, 1100 Nagoya Way, San Pedro; the Cruise Ship Promenade at Harbor Boulevard and Swinford Street in San Pedro; 22nd Street Landing, 141 W. 22nd Street, San Pedro; and Cabrillo Marina, 200 Whaler’s Walk, San Pedro.

Route: 6-6:30 p.m. START at E. Basin proceeding up Cerritos Channel, past Wilmington Marinas; 6:15-7 p.m. Banning’s Landing (Judges Station, TV Broadcast) proceeding down Main Channel towards Vincent Thomas Bridge; 6:45-7:30 p.m. Cruise Ship Plaza, Battleship Iowa (Judges Station), LA Maritime Museum, Port Police Dock proceeding towards Ports O’ Call

7-8 p.m. Ports O’ Call Viewing Areas; 7:45-8:15 p.m. Warehouse 1, SS Lane Victory

8-8:30 p.m. Cabrillo Marinas (Judges Station, filming), 22nd Landing END.



52nd Annual Channel Islands Harbor Parade of Lights

Date: Dec. 11

Time: 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Details: The Channel Islands Harbor will kick off the holidays with its 55th annual holiday Parade of Lights. The theme is “Jingle Jungle.” Entrants are asked to decorate their vessels based on the theme. The parade starts at 7 p.m.

Viewing: The parade can be viewed from parks and walkways that line the route and from most Harbor restaurants. In addition, boat charters are available for those who want to watch the parade from the water.

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



2021 Holiday Boat Parade at Ventura Harbor Village 

Date: Dec. 17 & 18

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Details: The 2021 Ventura Harbor Parade of Lights and Fireworks will kick off on Dec. 17 and 18 at 6:30 p.m. The theme this year is “Back to Seality.” Illuminated powerboats and sailboats will cruise around the harbor and viewers can catch the parade all along the waterfront. The event will be capped off with a fireworks display at 8 p.m. Viewers can vote for their favorite parade entry on the Ventura Harbor Facebook page.




35th Annual Santa Barbara Parade of Lights

Date: Dec. 12

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Viewing: Best viewing locations for the boat parade and fireworks include Stearns Wharf, the breakwater, West Beach, and East Beach.

Route: Boats will make their way from Ledbetter Beach down the coast to the Cabrillo Arts Pavilion, then back along the coast to Stearns Wharf.



Updated on 11/30/21

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4 thoughts on “Celebrating the Holidays on the Water: Southern California’s Holiday Boat Parades

  • Richard Hepner

    Your article gives the impression that it presents a complete list of holiday boat parades. It does not – very misleading. It is a simple task to identify all of the boat parades. Why didn’t you? What about Dana Point? Or Naples? Or Shoreline? Others?

    • Jordan Darling

      Hi Richard, thanks for your thoughts. We put together a list of boat parades that we could confirm were operating this year.

    • Jordan Darling

      Hi David, unfortunately, I couldn’t confirm if Dana Point was having one or not so they were not put on the list this year.



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