When it comes to the winter holiday season, Florida boasts the tradition of hosting the nation’s most spectacular boat parades across its coastal towns. Each year boaters decorate their vessels with dazzling light displays and creative themes inspired by holiday movies, yuletide carols and all things merry and bright. Most parades offer cash prizes for the best-designed boats.
Mark your calendars and catch the following events taking place across Florida’s east and west coasts this season.
Jacksonville, November 25, 6:00 p.m.
Enjoy a 30-year holiday tradition as watercraft cruise along the north and south banks of the St. Johns River. Gather downtown along the North and Southbank Riverwalks for spectacular views.
Spring Bayou, December 1, 6:00 p.m.
Hosting its 34th annual event, the Tarpon Spring Recreation Division’s holiday parade journeys through the Anclote River, Whitcomb and Spring Bayous. Register at Tarpon Landing Marina.
Sarasota, December 2, 7:00 p.m.
Watch vessels light up Sarasota Bay at this 27th annual celebration. This year’s theme features “Holidays Around the World.”
Boynton Harbor Marina, December 8, 6:30 p.m.
The parade begins at the Ocean Avenue Bridge in Lantana near Old Key Lime House and travels south to the C-15 Canal in Delray Beach, south of Linton Boulevard. Boynton Harbor Marina serves at the official watch location.
Palm Coast Yacht Club, December 9, 6:00 p.m.
Celebrating a 40th annual holiday tradition, this yacht club hosts one of the largest boat parades in Florida. Routes begin at Cochise Waterway and pass through the Cimarron and Club House Waterways before reaching Grand Haven.
Downtown Carrabelle, December 9, 12:00 p.m.
Enjoy a street festival, lighted boat parade and holiday laser show finale along the Carrabelle harbor at this annual celebration. Tons of children's activities, giveaways and live music will take place along Marine Street's waterfront.
Clearwater Yacht Club, December 9, 6:30 p.m.
Join this 49th annual holiday parade and catch stunning views from Coachman Park and Clearwater’s waterfront restaurants and hotels.
Bradenton Yacht Club, December 9, 6:00 p.m.
Hosted by a local nonprofit, this parade is Manatee River County’s largest annual event. Vessels stage at Snead Island followed by gorgeous cruising routes down the Manatee River. The parade ends at the yacht club with an exclusive after party.
Key West Seaport, December 9, 8:00 p.m.
Catch family-friendly activities and music from the Bahama Village Music Program at 6:00 p.m., followed by the boat parade setting sail into the city’s southernmost historic Key West Bight Harbor.
Fort Lauderdale, December 16, 6:30 p.m.
Let giant showboats, lights, live music and entertainment dazzle you at this 52nd annual larger-than-life event. Staging begins on the New River along the docks west of Stranahan House to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and travels 12 miles along the ICW to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach.
Boca Raton, December 16, 6:30 p.m.
Catch the lighted boat parade voyage along the ICW, starting at the C-15 Canal and traveling south to Hillsboro Blvd. Bridge. Viewing areas include Red Reef, Wildflower and Silver Palm Parks.
Tampa, December 23, 6:15 p.m.
The route begins at the southern tip of Davis Island and travels through the Convention Center basin, up the Heights, and then heads to Sparkman Wharf.