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The Best Holiday Boat Parades in Florida

Holiday Boat Parades in Florida

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Florida is home to over 45 annual holiday boat parades each year! With waterways throughout the state there are plenty of options to choose from. Here are some of our favorite best holiday boat parades in Florida, organized by region.  

Florida’s Panhandle

Carabelle Holiday Boat Parade of Lights – This family favorite riverfront celebration is followed by a fireworks display.

Destin Harbor Lights Boat Parade – For over 30 years this parade has been thrilling audiences. The flotilla can be viewed from various docks, businesses, and residences.

Pensacola Beach Lighted Boat Parade – Boats of all sizes set sail from Sabine Marina and light up the night. Viewer from Pensacola Beach Boardwalk will also be dazzled with a finale of fireworks.

Northeast Florida

Jacksonville Light Boat Parade – The heart of Jacksonville comes alive with this annual boat parade and fireworks show on the St. John’s River.

St. Augustine Holiday Regatta of Lights – This annual tradition brings the historic city’s “Nights of Lights” on to the waters of Matanzas Bay.

Central Florida

Lake Dora Lighted Boat Parade – At the heart of this charming historic town of Mount Dora is Rusty Anchor’s annual Christmas Boat Parade.

Clermont / Winter Garden

Johns Lake Holiday Boat Parade – This boat parade takes place along the north shore of the lake near Clermont and Winter Garden. Gather at the public boat ramp for the best view.

East Central (Space Coast) Florida

Cocoa Beach Christmas Boat Parade – Catch the fun of this popular parade from the shore at a number of venues or parks.

Daytona Beach Christmas Boat Parade – A longtime favorite tradition along the beautiful Halifax River.

New Smyrna Beach Boat Parade – This waterside community has been celebrating the holidays with this annual boat parade for over 30 years. Spectators can enjoy additional entertainment and refreshments at community parks along the route.

Tampa Bay Region

Dunedin Holiday Boat Parade – Enjoy this parade that brings Santa down the Intracoastal to the Dunedin Marina! The festivities cap-off with the lighting of the City’s Christmas Tree.

Madeira Beach Festival of Lights Illuminated Boat Parade – This parade sails around the Intracoastal and ends at John’s Pass. The celebration continues with a tree lighting and live music.

Gulfport Holiday Boat Parade – This free, family-friendly event has been delighting crowds for over 30 years. There is easy access to the waterfront from the town pier and beach near the historic Gulfport Casino.

Tarpon Springs Illuminated Boat Parade – Admire the fleet of decorated boats as they cruise down the Anclote River bringing Santa Claus to Spring Bayou.

Treasure Island Holiday Boat Parade – Treasure Island hosts one of the largest boat parades in the Tampa Bay Region. For over 35 years this parade and toy drive has been delighting the community.

Tampa Riverwalk Lighted Boat Parade – This annual parade is free for spectators. The 3.5 mile route is viewable from both sides of the River throughout downtown Tampa.

Southwest Florida

Christmas Boat Parade On Naples Bay – Decorated boats bring sparkle to Naples Bay during this annual event.

Bonita Springs Boat Parade – Enjoy the parade of boats winding through the Imperial River as they make their way to the bay. 

Venice Christmas Boat Parade – This annual tradition can be enjoyed from the shores of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Fort Myers Beach Christmas Boat Parade – This event has been delighting audiences for over 30 years. It’s been voted the 5th Best Holiday Parade by USA Today! View from shore or join the fun onboard a charter tour. 

South Florida

Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, Fort Lauderdale – One of the largest and most dazzling in the nation. This parade navigates Ft. Lauderdale’s New River, throughout the Intracoastal Waterway to Pompano Beach.

Greater Pompano Beach Boat Parade – This boat parade is one of the oldest in the nation. Visitors have been enjoying it for over 55 years!

Boynton Beach/Delray Beach Holiday Boat Parade – a festive parade that cruises the Intracoastal from Delray north to Boynton Beach.

Palm Beach and Jupiter Holiday Boat Parade – This annual event includes a fireworks barge. There’s also a “Toy Fleet” with boats stopping at designated docks to pick-up donations for Toys for Tots.

The Palm Coast Holiday Boat Parade – sponsored by the Palm Coast Yacht Club, is an annual event renowned as the largest lighted boat parade in Florida

Florida Keys

Boot Key Harbor Christmas Parade  – For over 20 years generations of Keys residents and visitors have gathered to enjoy this parade in Boot Key Harbor. This three mile-long harbor offers multiple places to view the festivities.

Key West Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade – Spectators gather along the southern most city’s wharf to see how locals have “decked the hulls.” Visitors can also enjoy family fun on land including live music.  

Key Largo Boat Parade – Enjoy this flotilla of holiday fun along Blackwater Sound on Key Largo’s bay side at MM 104.

Parade Pro Tips:

No matter where you go to celebrate the season, our pro tips will make yours holiday boat parade watching more enjoyable.

  • In areas with drawbridges they will close to car and pedestrian traffic for the duration of the parade. Plan your route and crossings accordingly.
  • Outdoor eateries can be great venues to view boat parades from. Make reservations at restaurants as soon as possible.
  • Parks and other public spaces may offer viewing areas. Arrive early to score your prime spot. Find out in advance if you can bring your own chairs and other comfort items.

Make the most of your holiday celebrations. Check out our suggestions for the Best Holiday Light Displays in Florida.


**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida and beyond, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

Events are subject to change. Please check the events webpage for updates and schedules.

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