Looking to attend an outdoor event or participate in a festive activity during the holidays? Lighted boats parades are the perfect choice for boaters who cruise or sail year-round. Boaters can watch the shimmering light displays while at anchor, while moored at a marina, or be one of the decorated boats that make their way past communities and harbors. Now’s the time for boaters to make reservations at marinas for all the festivities, and/or register to participate in one of the many regional-boat parades this December. Many of the lighted boats parades are back for 2021 to welcome in the joys of Christmas and other holiday festivals held during the month of December. Boat parades are well-suited for social distancing, while connecting with others who enjoy being out on the water. Here are a few of the traditional boat parades found around the region:
Anacortes Lighted Boats Parade, Saturday, December 4, 6:00 p.m.
Decorate your boat and join citizens of the Anacortes community for the annual lighted boats parade along Guemes Channel. Boats gather outside the entrance to Cap Sante Marina around 5:30 p.m.; boaters should Monitor VHF Ch 09 for the safety briefing and kickoff of the parade, which starts at 6 p.m. sharp. The public can view the lighted boats parade along the waterfront on the north end of town and from Cap Sante Park and Seafarers Park near Cap Sante Marina on the east side of town. Residents of Guemes Island can view the parade near the ferry landing.
Bellingham – Winter Nights, Magical Lights Parade – Saturday, December 4, 6:00 p.m.
Open to any vessel that registers with Bellingham Yacht Club online or at the clubhouse prior to Friday, December 3rd. Register online at https://byc.org/lighted-boat-parade; a number is assigned to each boat for judging purposes and awards. Boats depart the yacht club at 5:30 p.m. and rendezvous near the Bellingham Cruise terminal at 6 p.m. for the parade start. Tinka is the lead boat; communications are via VHF Ch 72. The public can view the lighted/decorated parade of boats from Boulevard Park and the Fairhaven Cruise Terminal.
Bremerton – Lighted Boat Parade – Friday & Saturday, December 10 and 11, 6:10 p.m.
Decorate your boat and join the lighted parade on Friday and/or Saturday. Those interested in participating should contact Toni Bernett at 360-620-2709, Rear Commodore of the Bremerton Yacht Club. A route map for each day can be found on the Bremerton Yacht Club website: https://bremertonyachtclub.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=725463&module_id=318167. On Friday, boats parade from Phinney Bay through Port Washington Narrows into Sinclair Inlet and return to Bremerton. On Saturday, boats parade from Phinney Bay into Oyster Bay and Dye’s Inlet. Residents along the shoreline of Phinney Bay will see the lighted ships on both Friday and Saturday. A schedule of points along the parade route(s) can be found on the Club’s website.
Everett – Holiday Lighted Boat Parade – Saturday, December 4, 5:00 p.m.
A lighted boat parade put on by Mukilteo Yacht Club departs Port of Everett’s North Guest Dock 6 at 5 pm and head to South Guest Dock 1 near Anthony’s Homeport, then head to Central Guest Dock 5 and return to the North Guest Dock. Various viewing locations are available along the waterfront trails and at select restaurants. The parade is part of the Port of Everett’s Holiday on the Bay, held on December 4 from noon until 6 pm at the expansive Pacific Rim Plaza, a day of free family activities and events. Boaters who would like to join the lighted boat parade need to register by calling Tom Rieke at 336-543-5788 with the Mukilteo Yacht Club.
Gig Harbor – Lighted Boats Parade – Saturday, December 11, 5:00 p.m.
The Gig Harbor Yacht Club invites all boat owners to join the parade of lights, with two laps around the Harbor. Last year 52 boats took part in the parade, including fishing vessels, pleasure boats, and even kayaks. It’s slow as you go and enjoy the show. Boaters wishing to join in the parade should email the yacht club at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, boat name and length, and the name of your home port or club name. Waterfront restaurants and parks are the ideal spots to watch the parade.
La Conner – Lighted Boat Parade – Saturday, December 11, 6:00 p.m.
See the decorated boats up close and personal from La Conner’s lovely boardwalk along the Swinomish Channel, or dine at one of the many excellent waterfront cafes. The parade travels from the La Conner Marina along the La Conner Boardwalk and under the Rainbow Bridge to Shelter Bay. For more information, contact the Swinomish Yacht Club at 360-466-4902.
Oak Bay, B.C. – Sea of Lights – Friday, December 3, 6:30 p.m.
Members of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club parade their lighted boats from Cadboro Bay, the yacht club’s home port. Anyone who wants to join the boat parade should contact the yacht club at email@example.com or phone 250-592-2441 to register. Guest boats will be provided moorage on the docks in Cadboro Bay for the night of the event, compliments of the yacht club. Best viewing for the public is from Cattle Point (7pm); Willows Beach (7:15pm), and Gyro Park in Cadboro Bay (7:45pm). A bonfire is planned at Willows Beach. The event benefits the Salvation Army and The Kiwanis Club of Oak Bay.
Pender Harbour, B.C. – Christmas Boat Parade, Saturday, December 18, 6:00 p.m.
Residents of Pender Harbour will be parading their decorated boats throughout the many coves of Pender Harbour. All are welcome to join in the boat parade. Boats assemble in front of the Madeira Park Docks around 5:30 p.m. Boaters interested in joining the parade should contact Charlie Park at 604-883-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Portland Christmas Ships Parade – December 3-21 on select nights, Start Times Vary
Portland Christmas Ships is all-volunteer nonprofit corporation. Members parade their lighted boats along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers on select nights as scheduled. For the Columbia River schedule, go to http://www.christmasships.org/schedule/columbia-river, and for the Willamette River schedule see http://www.christmasships.org/schedule/willamette-river. The Christmas Ships can be viewed from Portland, Milwaukie, Lake Oswego, Scappoose, Vancouver, Camas, Washougal, and St. Helens as scheduled. The public can view the ships from local parks and waterfront restaurants along both rivers. Boat captains of the organization attend meetings in the fall in preparation for this 15-day event, now celebrating their 67th year in 2021. There is no fee to join the organization, see http://www.christmasships.org/join-us/new-skipper-info to learn more.
Poulsbo – Lighted Ships Parade – Saturday, December 11, 5:00 p.m.
Members of the Poulsbo Yacht Club decorate their boats for the Annual Lighted Ships Parade, a holiday tradition of the Poulsbo community, marking 52 years in 2021. The parade starts just outside the PYC Marina at 5:00 p.m. and proceeds to downtown Poulsbo along the west side of Liberty Bay, passing Keyport and crossing to Manzanita Bay and through Agate Pass. Return trip is along the west side of Agate Pass and east side of Liberty Bay. The public can take in the sights and sounds at the Liberty Bay Waterfront Park, or enjoy a window-side seat at local waterfront restaurants.
Seattle Christmas Boat Parade – Saturday, December 18, 7:00 p.m.
This traditional parade of boats is presented by local marine businesses. Boat for a cause by supporting Seattle Children’s Hospital; drop off toys for the Hospital Toy Drive at Ballard West Marine. Register to participate in the boat parade at https://seattlechristmasboatparade.com/sign-up-form/. Participating boats are to check in on VHF Ch68 with Salty Dog and line up at 6:30 p.m.; the lead boat is the bright yellow and blue tug, Western Towboat. Line up west to east. The parade starts in front of Fremont Tug Boats, just east of the Aurora Bridge, directly across from Morrison’s Fuel Dock. The parade ends at Morrison’s Fuel Dock after a full loop of Lake Union. Gasworks Park is a popular place for the public to view the Seattle Christmas Boat Parade and city lights.
Tacoma – Lighted Boat Parade – Saturday, December 18, 5:30 p.m.
The Tacoma Yacht Club invites boaters to join their annual Lighted Boat Parade. Boaters can register to participate in the parade by contacting the parade chair, Gene Kautzman, at email@example.com. Boats gather at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Point Defiance Docks next to Anthony’s. The Sea Scout Boat, Charles N. Curtis, leads the parade along the Ruston/Tacoma waterfront and into the Thea Foss Waterway, where the parade terminates. The public can enjoy the brightly decorated boats from Tacoma’s many waterfront parks and plazas.
Commercial Christmas Ship Venues
Don’t have a boat but would like to be afloat during the holidays? Consider purchasing a ticket to ride one of the commercial lighted Christmas ships, with food and caroling:
Seattle 2021 Argosy Christmas Ship – December 3 thru December 23, Start Times and Locations Vary
Purchase a ticket to cruise on the Argosy Christmas Ship: Elliott Bay, Lake Union, and Lake Washington departures. For a schedule and to purchase tickets, go to https://www.argosycruises.com/argosy-cruises/christmas-ship-festival/. Music groups or carolers are scheduled for each cruise. Snacks, chowder, and beverages available for purchase. All guests 12 years and older must show proof of full vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test. Masks required when inside the vessel. The Argosy Christmas Ship is a Northwest tradition of over 70 years.
Portland Spirit 2021 – Christmas Ships Parade Dinner Cruises – Boarding 6:30 p.m.
Purchase a ticket to ride aboard the Portland Spirit for a front row seat to see the decorated parade of lighted boats, and enjoy a beef, chicken, seafood, or vegetarian dinner with live piano entertainment. Dinner selections are chosen while onboard. Tickets for the 2.5-hour cruise are available for specific dates, go to https://www.portlandspirit.com/; the departure point is located at 110 SE Caruthers Street in Portland, with free private parking lot. Face masks required inside and outside the vessel for those 5 years old and older.