Holiday Lighted Boat Parades
in Destination Tampa Bay
One of the highlights of the Christmas season is the annual holiday lighted boat parades in the various communities along the Gulf coast of the Destination Tampa Bay area. Ship captains and crews go all out to create a real holiday spirit with lights and other decorations designed to captivate the people who come out to watch and, occasionally, to win prizes in the local competitions. More than 70 Illuminated Boat Parades are scheduled in Florida this year, from Pensacola to Key West. Some of the best are right here in DestinationTampaBay.
Saturday, Dec. 1
The Dunedin Holiday Boat Parade and Tree Lighting on Saturday, Dec. 1. Decorated boats will parade through Dunedin. starting at Marker 1 Marina south along the intracoastal to Union St, returns north to Dunedin Marina. Boats are scheduled to arrive at Dunedin Marina at approximately 7:00 p.m. You’ll find limited viewing at Weaver Park and along Bayshore Blvd and Edgewater Dr. Since there is limited seating, bring lawn chairs.
Enjoy holiday music and S’mores while waiting for Santa to arrive by boat and lead the countdown in the lighting of the City’s Christmas tree. The Dunedin Boat Parade is presented by Dunedin Parks & Recreation, Dunedin Boat Club and Marker 1 Marina. Sponsored by Jimmy John’s and The Bernd Group. 150 Marina Plaza. The road will be closed from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Alt. 19 (Edgewater Drive) to Marina Plaza.
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The St. Pete Beach/Vina Del Mar Parade on Saturday, Dec. 1, starts in Pass-A-Grille at the Merry Pier at dusk, approximately 6 p.m. There are cash prizes for the best Sail, Motor, Most Creative and Luckiest Boat. Festivities start at the Merry Pier and Sea Horse Restaurant at 5 p.m.
Santa will be there for pictures with the kids. The Firemen will be cooking hamburgers and hot dogs, and luminaries will be along the sea wall. Carolers will sing Christmas music to add to the occasion. For more information, go to www.merrypier.com.
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Bradenton’s 5th annual holiday boat parade, is titled “Christmas on the Braden River.” Decorated boats will begin to line up at Jiggs Landing, 6106 63rd St E, near the floating dock and start the journey upriver at 6:30 p.m. The parade will end at Linger Lodge, 7205 85th St Ct E, in Bradenton, FL 34202, at approximately 7:30 PM. Prizes will be awarded at 8 p.m. Bring your kids to this FREE Florida family-friendly holiday show on H20! A stage that floats upstream along the Braden River past decorated docks and illuminated homes.
Spectators can come early and enjoy a visit with Santa and other fun events at Jiggs Landing Preserve.
A group of locals and local businesses will keep the tradition alive and make their way to Linger Lodge. This will consist of both motorboats and kayaks/canoes. This year we expect the number of participants to be greater. Our goal is to continue this “Old Florida” event and just have a good time. Residents along the river will be voting, and prizes will be awarded at Linger Lodge.
Friday, Dec. 7
The annual Tarpon Springs Holiday Boat Parade is set for Friday, Dec. 7. Vessels will proceed down the Anclote River and into the bayous where Santa will give out treats. Your best bet for viewing these holiday decorated vessels is from Craig Park/Spring Bayou. The event is free, and boats are expected to arrive at Spring Bayou around 8 p.m. The best decorated vessels will receive trophies for their efforts.
There’s “Snow Place Like Tarpon Springs.” The event features carriage rides, a snow play area, an opportunity to visit with Santa and/or write and mail your letter to Santa. From 5 to 10 p.m. in downtown Tarpon Springs, enjoy children’s Christmas activities, a DJ and Christmas music and performances by local performers.
Saturday, Dec. 8
Watch as the waterways in Madeira Beach light up with boats displaying their best Christmas lights! The 52nd annual Madeira Beach Illuminated Boat Parade on Saturday, Dec. 8, will kick off at John’s Pass with a shop local holiday extravaganza, tree lighting, and boat parade kickoff party.
Head to ROC park for the best view of the parade and to enjoy holiday music, food, and spirits. There will be a Captain’s Meeting the night before.
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The 43rd annual Island Estates Yacht Club Boat Parade is an annual Clearwater holiday event that’s not to be missed! The parade honors the memory of Island Estates Yacht Club members who have passed away during the year. The festively decorated boats will assemble in Mandalay Channel, located between Island Estates and Clearwater Beach at 6 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., the lead boat will proceed northward through Mandalay Channel and will weave in and out of many of the Island Estate canals before heading over to Coachman Park around 8 p.m.
From there, the decorated boats will go under the Memorial Causeway Bridge, turning into the Clearwater Marina Channel before navigating to the Clearwater Yacht Club at Clearwater Point. Cash and gift certificate prizes donated by many area businesses will be awarded to the best decorated boats. The event is free and family friendly.
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The Boca Ciega Yacht Club’s 32nd annual Holiday Lighted Boat Parade is set for Saturday, Dec. 8. Each year, BCYC members and members of the general public come together to spread holiday joy by decking the hulls and heading out on Boca Ciega Bay to parade the BCYC way! All the participants assist Operation Santa by donating two (or more) decorated toys to be given to the children of Gulfport. For spectators, spend the day at Gulfport’s 10th Annual Holiday Hoopla, watch the parade and dine in Gulfport that evening!
The decorated vessels will start at the Gulfport Municipal Marina and pass by the BCYC clubhouse on their way out into the bay. Next, they head to Gulfport’s Williams Pier and the beach, passing by the Gulfport Casino and make their way through the communities of Town Shores, Kipps Colony and the Pasadena Yacht & Country Club, Pasadena Golf Club Estates and Dolphin Boulevard South where holiday parties wait for the parade to pass by. Lastly, they visit Isla del Sol, then head back to the BCYC clubhouse for the Post Parade party and awarding of prizes.
Friday, Dec. 14
Treasure Island’s Lighted Boat Parade on Friday, Dec. 14, will be like Las Vegas on the water! This year’s dazzling nautical spectacle is the 33rd annual event sponsored by The Club at Treasure Island, 400 Treasure Island Causeway. It features boats of all kinds making it the biggest lighted boat parade in Tampa Bay.
To receive a family pass to watch the parade and participate in events at The Club, bring one unwrapped new toy or provide a cash donation to the Christmas Toy Shop of Pinellas or The Edward’s Family Foundation to the Recreation Department at City Hall, 120 108th Ave.; Fifth Third Bank or the Treasure Island & Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce by Thursday, Dec. 13. The event will feature live entertainment and a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus. A cash bar and food will be served poolside. For information, call 727-367-4511, ext. 236. The rain date will be Sunday, Dec. 15.
Saturday, Dec. 15
The Indian Rocks Beach Holiday Lighted Boat Parade will launch Saturday evening, Dec 15, at 7 p.m. Watch as Indian Rocks Beach lights up as decorated boats parade through the waterways! Prizes will be awarded in three categories, based on the size of the entry. Sailboats will be at the back of the line.
The festively decorated boats will travel north under Walsingham/SR 588 bridge, which will remain open until all boats are clear. It will weave through “the fingers” and finish at Harbor Drive North. The award ceremony will take place the following Monday at 7 p.m. at Jimmy Guana’s in Indian Rocks Beach.
Sunday, Dec. 16
The Redington Beach and Indian Shores Holiday Lighted Boat Parade is set for Sunday, Dec. 16. Festively decorated boats will meander through the intracoastal waterways from the Tom Stuart Causeway to Caddy’s Pub restaurant in Indian Shores. The parade kicks off at 6 p.m. Free and family-friendly! Top prizes will be awarded after the parade that evening at Caddy’s Pub.
Saturday, Dec. 22
Tampa’s Holiday Lighted Boat Parade at Harbour Island Harbourside in downtown Tampa is set for Saturday, Dec. 22. The judged event will start at 6:30 p.m. from the Convention Center and alongside Harbour Island. Nearly 100 boats will weave through “the fingers” past Curtis Hixon Park and the Armature Works before passing Davis Island and Channel Drive in the Channelside District.
The parade will end at about 8 p.m. near the American Victory Ship at Sparkman Wharf and the Marriott Marina. There is plenty of viewing space along the parade route. Prizes will be awarded for the top three boats in three categories, based on the size of the entry. The event is coordinated by Friends of the RiverWalk in Tampa. For more details email info@the tampariverwalk.com.
For a complete list of all the Boat Parades scheduled throughout Florida this month, visit www.floridabywater.com.
For other things to consider for the holidays check out one of these special events: