In Florida Santa Often Arrives By Boat

With a coast line of 1,350 miles (2,170 km) and over 940,000 boats of every conceivable size registered in the Sunshine State (#1 in USA), it is not to shocking to learn there seems to be as many Christmas boat parades as highway parades.

When I first came to Florida, I found this love affair between Santa and the water, a little strange for in my native Massachusetts Decembver water is not ideal for family boating.  Now, I still don’t boat but love to visit the best boat parades.

There are so many boat parades that there is a wonderful website FLORIDA BY that gives you a statewide look at Santa’s waterside arrivals.  Even this list might not include all the boat parades and I am certain some yachtsman take their decorated craft to a few dockside parties.

FLORIDATRAVELER boat parade intro

The Start of a Boat Parade Is A Traffic Jam

If you combined all these colorful boats, it would resemble a reenactment of the landings at Normandy.  In Florida Santa ranks a title of Admiral of the Seas.

Here are some of these can’t miss boat parades if you are in these area on these dates:

On December 9th Florida’s largest and most amazing boat parade fills the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale at the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade.  From massive yachts to paddleboats to family craft the two hour parade is topped off by Santa’s Showboat.


Big City Boat Parades Like Fort Lauderdale Are Amazing

On Florida’s other coast that night the wide Manatee River will fill with lighted boats in the Manatee Holiday Boat Parade, starting at the Bradenton Yacht Club.  The downtown riverwalk and the Green Bridge Pier would be ideal viewing spots.

Up Tampa Bay is the 31st Annual Illuminated Boat Parade in downtown St. Petersburg where there is lots of food, drink, and entertainment.


Yes, It Is A Cocoa Beach Boat Parade

Two hundred miles to the northwest along Panama City’s Andrews Bay is the 30th Annual Boat Parade of Lights sailing from the St. Andrew Bay Yacht Club to the St. Andrews Marina.


A Family Boat In Destin: Now An Annual Tradition

On December 10th the oldest-running Holiday Boat Show – the 55th Annual Pompano Beach Holiday Parade – floats down the where three towns get a view.

Miami’s big boat show is the 20th Annual Miami Outboard Holiday Parade on December 16th where big crowds pack Bayfront Park to see the boats, fireworks, food vendors, and entertainment.

FLORIDATRAVELER St_-Pete-Beach-Boat-Parade

Chasing Santa

That same night up the coast is the 32nd Annual Palm Coast Yacht Club Parade starting at the Cimmaron Basin and sailing along the Intracoastal Waterway.

Not all boat parades are celebrated before Christmas.  On December 30th Jacksonville has a Jacksonville Light Parade on the St. Johns River by the downtown waterfront, complete with a massive fireworks show.

SEE you at the parade!

About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as an Emeritus college professor, he moderates the FHIC at
This entry was posted in attractions, environment, florida history, Florida parks, Florida sports, florida vacations, mcbobleonard, panama city, Tampa, travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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