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Christmas Light Boat Parades in California

Updated on June 8, 2012

California Christmas Adventure

Are you looking for something new and exciting to do for Christmas this year? How about starting a new and different family tradition to help you celebrate the season? If you live in California there is something that has California Christmas written all over it, an ocean adventure that will light up your festivities. This adventure involves taking a trip to your local harbor to experience a Holiday Boat Parade. Just think of it, there are very few places you could go to the ocean in December and watch a parade of decorated boats pass by without freezing to death, other than California. Take advantage of this great experience all over the state.

Morro Bay Lighted Boat Parade

Holiday spectacular of lights in Morro Bay.
Holiday spectacular of lights in Morro Bay.

Morro Bay Lighted Boat Parade

December 4, 2010 at 6:30p.m.

The Parade begins at Tidelands Park and moves North past the Embarcadero and ends at Tidelands Park, with the announcing station at the North end of the Embarcadero.

You will find the best viewing spots anywhere along the waterfront in the harbor, as local boats of all sizes cruise by.

Santa makes his appearance in the parade.

There is an awards ceremony at 8:30p.m. for those who participated in the parade at the Yacht Club.

Food vendors are available at Tidelands Park, and musical entertainment is at Anchor Park.

Call for more information: (805) 772-4467

Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights

Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights

December 10-11, 17-18, 2010 at 7:30p.m.

Join the community of Dana Point by the water’s edge, along the harbor walkways, or at the waterfront restaurants to enjoy a parade of boats decorated in holiday splendor in conjunction with this year’s parade theme, Jungle Bell Rock.

If you want to get really up close and personal with all the ships in the Boat Parade the Dana Wharf offers nightly cruises from 7:30p.m. to 9:00p.m. Go aboard one of their fine vessels to actually get out onto the water and join in the competition on one their decorated ships.

Cost: $25 Adults/ $15 kids 3-12

Purchase your tickets ahead of time, they sell out fast.

Map of the Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade Route

Channel Islands Harbor Parade of Lights, Oxnard

 December 11, 2010

10:00 AM - 8:00 PM

Parade starts at 7:00 PM

Come enjoy this time honored tradition as the Channel Islands Harbor hosts the 45 Annual Parade of Lights with the theme “Holidays Around the World”. This is an all-day event culminating in the parade which starts at 7:00p.m. Watch as thousands of sparkling lights dance on the water until the magical moment when Santa flies across the sky marking the beginning of the parade.

Want to decorate a boat for the parade? Adopt a boat and decorate it.

To get started, contact Bill Conroy at the Ventura County Maritime Museum
(805) 984-6260

Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade

December 11,2010 from 6 to 8p.m.

From the very first holiday boat parade that happened in 1963, to today for the 48th Annual Holiday Boat Parade, Marina del Rey has hosted this great event. This year the theme of the parade is “A Rock ‘n Roll Christmas”. The judges viewing stand is located at Burton Chace Park, in Marina del Rey, and this is a great place to view the whole event. Live music is played during the parade as well as, live commentary announcing the information about the participants. The evening starts with the traditional fireworks at 5:55p.m. to kick off the parade.

The parade route circles the main Marina channel so stake your place along the channel for a great seat, or try out one of the restaurants in the Fisherman’s Village waterfront mall.

Naples Island Annual Holiday Boat Parade, Long Beach

December 11, 2010 at 6:00p.m.

This years parade theme "Holidays on the Island" marks the 64 Annual Boat Parade in Naples Island, Long Beach. Naples is a series of three islands in Long Beach connect by canals  so accessing the parade can be a little tricky.

How to access Naples: You can access Naples off 2nd Street on a number of streets, including Naples Plaza, Revenna, Tivoli and The Toledo. It is Best to Park and walk. The Island has very limited parking. If you choose to park on Naples, the Naples Elementary School; has limited parking for a contribution of $20.00. The school is located at 5537 The Toledo near Venetia. The lot opens at 3:30 PM and the Streets close at 5:00 PM. Consult your Thomas Guide for exact street information.

There is really no restaurants in Naples where you can see the parade very well so  be prepared to view it from the streets.  It gets rather chilly by the oceanfront so dress warmly.

There are three "groups of carolers" who will be walking around the island singing holiday songs by the bridges for your entertainment.  Most of the homes in Naples are decorated for the holidays which provides a nice atmosphere for the parade.

Santa Barbara Parade of Lights and Fireworks

December 12, 2010 at 3:00 p.m.

The 25th Annual Parade of Lights festivities begin with a Santa’s Village event at 3:00 p.m. on the City Pier. There will be a visit from Santa, and he’s bringing 10 tons of snow for children to play in, plus holiday music. Distinguished judges, along with thousand of spectators will cheer on 30-50 boats decorated to the theme of “Silver Bells and Winter Swells.” A short fireworks display will follow the boat parade, followed in turn by an awards ceremony and after-party catered by The Endless Summer bar-café. This year’s parade marks a quarter-century of Santa Barbara harbor boating tradition. 

Admission is free.

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

December 12th and 19th, 2010 at 5:30 p.m. until 9:00p.m.

The Port of San Diego presents this years Holiday Boat Parade of Lights called, "The Sounds of Christmas." 

The parade takes approximately one hour to one and a half hours to pass any given point along the parade route. The approximate arrival time of the parade at various locations are:

  • Shelter Island (start of parade) - 5:30pm
  • Harbor Island - 6pm
  • The Embarcadero - 6:30pm
  • Seaport Village - 7pm
  • Ferry Landing on Coronado - 7:30pm

Parking Information:

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is seen by approximately 80,000 people every year. As a result, parking will be limited in and around the Bay.

Attendees to the event are encouraged to utilize San Diego Public Transit, such as the San Diego Trolley. Stations with parking lots that provide convenient service to the North Embarcadero area include Fashion Valley, Old Town and America Plaza

Another Alternative is to park downtown and utilize San Diego Pedicab service for transportation to the Embarcadero. Fares run about $1 per minute.

Best Viewing Locations:

For boaters wishing to view the parade, a good viewing area is where the parade route turns for Coronado, near the 10th Street Terminal. For those viewing on land, the north and south ends of the Embarcadero as well as the pathway along Coronado are good spots as they tend to be less crowed.

If you plan on viewing the parade from Harbor Island, get there early and be aware that parking is at a premium. Another good spot is the park behind Seaport Village.

Another great way to view the parade is from the Berkeley steam ferry. The Berkley is the judging platform for the Parade of Lights awards so it is the perfect place to view the parade.  This location comes complete with dinner and holiday entertainment.  The cost is $50 for adults, $25 for children over 5, under 5 free.  Reservations are required and tickets sell out fast.  For more information click here.

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

December 15-19, 2010.

The grand daddy of boat parades is the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade which will be celebrating 102 years of this spectacular holiday tradition. This year the theme is "Lights, Camera...Christmas in Newport Beach", and is held for five consecutive nights. The parade starts off Bay Island at 6:30 p.m. and finishes at the same site at approximately 9:00 p.m. each evening.

Beautiful multi-million dollar yachts, kayaks, canoes and other small boats will light up the harbor as a dazzling array of holiday lights and music fill the air at the Christmas Boat Parade. Many of the boats will be richly decorated with animated Christmas scenes accompanied by music and costumed carolers. Some boat owners in the past have spent over $50,000 to decorate their vessels for the event. The Christmas floats will wind their way some 14 miles around the harbor to give viewers in restaurants, yacht clubs, on public beaches, and in private homes an incredible sight that has delighted millions of people for a century.

Other interesting things to see that night are the Ring of Lights, which are the beautifully decorated bayside homes and businesses surrounding the harbor and the Fireworks on the final night of the parade.

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade Route

2010 Parade Route
2010 Parade Route | Source

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Ventura Harbor Parade of Lights and Fireworks

December 17-18, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.

The Ventura Harbor will be celebrating in Seussical style this holiday season with the "Holidays in Whoville" 34th Annual Boat Parade of Lights, Carnival & Fireworks.

The best viewing spots for the parade of lights is in the Ventura Harbor Village and along the promenade.

Huntington Harbour Cruise of Lights

December 17th through 23rd, 2010.

Take a narrated boat tour through the waterways of Huntington Harbour to view hundreds of brightly decorated homes, docks, decks, and boats. See the beauty of thousands of lights and animated displays.

Purchase your tickets on line here.

Cost: Adults $15, Child $9

Best viewing spots are along the walkways and bridges in the harbor channels if you are not on the boat tour itself.

Best Tribute to the Season

Huntington Harbour 2009
Huntington Harbour 2009

Start a family holiday tradition at one of your local beach cities by visiting a Holiday Boat Parade near you!


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    • profile image

      Erin Bitterolf 6 years ago

      Oh, every year I miss this! As little kids we went on a boat with a brother of grandma mabel from long beach over to the newport one. some day i will do it again!!

    • boatwallpapers profile image

      boatwallpapers 7 years ago

      Have been California before, I think its the best place for boat lover in USA

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 7 years ago from California

      @Hello, hello- I have been to a few of these Holiday Christmas Boat Parades myself, and they are a spectacular sight. It is certainly an unforgettable experience. Thanks for visiting.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you this wonderful hub and pictures. It must be real unforgettable experience.