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Boat Parade to Illuminate Newport

Christmas themed yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes of all shapes, colors and sized will light up Newport Harbor beginning Wednesday night.

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade (Photo credit Walt Weis)
Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade (Photo credit Walt Weis)
It's one of Newport Beach's most beloved traditions, has been named one of the country's must-see holiday events and on Wednesday the Christmas Boat Parade will return in all its glory.

The 105th annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, themed “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” starts Wednesday evening and will brighten up the city every night through Sunday, Dec. 22 from 6:30 - 9 p.m. As of Friday afternoon, 80 boats had signed up for the boat parade and about 40 homes had thrown their hats into the Ring of Lights home decorating competition. Boat parade chairman David Beek said although its in its 105th year, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade never gets old.

"Asking yourself 'why should I go back year after year' is like asking why you should watch the Rose Parade every year, you get the same thing floats and flowers," Beek said. "The reason is the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is incredible every year. It's fun to see how people decorate the boats, and the boats covered in all those lights in the dark waters of the harbor, with lighted houses in the background and fireworks, it's complete eye candy."

Boats in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade can range in size from 15 to more than 100 feet, according to parade officials, and will be covered with lights, decorations, moving displays, dancers and a lot more. Spectators will also be treated to fireworks on opening and closing nights of the boat parade.

While the parade is a favorite around Orange County and across Southern California, it has also captured national attention. In December 2011 Yahoo! Travel ranked the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade second on its top 10 list of the nation's best destinations for holiday lights.

"It really is a sight to see and is deserving on that national recognition," resident Nora Burke said about the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. "My family and I never miss it."

Every year a long list of awards are handed out to the most decked out boats and homes that take part in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, but this year two new prize categories have been added, Sweepstakes Winner Non-Commercial and Most Entries from a Yacht Club.

"The big sweepstakes award always went to the big yachts that spent a lot of money getting the boat professionally decorated," Beek explained. "So the non-commercial sweepstakes was added to give families who also spend money and a lot of time on decorating a chance to win."

Boat Parade Schedule

  • Dec. 18-22 - 6:30 p.m. – Boats begin to parade around the 14-mile stretch of the Newport Harbor
  • 9 p.m. – Parade concludes 
  • 12/18 at approximately 6:20 p.m., there will be a kick-off fireworks show
  • 12/22 at approximately 9 p.m., a fireworks show will be visible throughout the Harbor
The parade can be viewed for free from public waterfront areas on the Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Island, as well as from several waterfront establishments along the route. Check the boat parade website for viewing information.

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