View thousands of beautiful lights...and celebrate over 100 years of this SoCal holiday tradition!
The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is coming up in December, 2012! Be sure to make plans to attend this fun annual event during this year's Christmas season!
What is the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade?
It's a nighttime holiday spectacle, ablaze with thousands of colorful Christmas lights! As you can see in the picture of the beautifully-lit boat to your left, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is NOT a holiday attraction you can see "just anywhere!"
The Newport Beach boat parade is a holiday tradition in Southern California. It dates back to a time when many residents of the Eastern USA barely knew that California was on the map! That's because--
the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is 104 years old in 2012! Though it's a special event each and every year, the 2012 Newport boat parade will be extra-grand this year, as it tries to out-do every other parade that it's held before!
When is the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade?
Here are the boat parade's 2011 dates and times---
The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade sails on 5 different nights in 2011! If you can't attend one night, you have a number of other choices.
Newport Beach boat parade schedule of dates:
1.) Wednesday, December 19, 2011
2.) Thursday, December 20
3.) Friday, December 21
4.) Saturday, December 22
5.) Sunday, December 23
Newport Beach boat parade hours:
The Christmas boat parade kicks off at 6:30 pm. However, it all depends on where you've staked out your spot as to what time this relatively slow-moving parade will reach you.
The Newport Boat Parade ends between 2 1/2 to 3 hours after it begins. Therefore, if you view the parade near its starting point, you'll see the last floats pass you around 9 pm...or possibly even 9:30 pm.
A new route began in 2008 to eliminate gaps in the parade, and this same new parade route has been used ever since then because the new route was so successful. So, naturally, they'll be using this "new" parade route again this year. If you've skipped a few years since you last viewed the parade, you may wish to familiarize yourself with the new route because the times that the boats pass your favorite viewing point may have changed. Here's a printable PDF map of the Newport Christmas Boat Parade Route.
Special ways to view the Newport Beach boat parade
1.) Take a Christmas Parade cruise of Newport Harbor!
Many people view the Newport Beach Christmas boat parade from the shores lining Newport Bay. The parade is free, so viewing from the shoreline is both an entertaining AND a cheap family holiday activity.
However, you can "feel a part of the action" by taking a Christmas Parade harbor cruise! Many people assume, like we did, that the popular Newport Harbor tours would suspend their operation while a large boat procession is in progress. But, that's not the case--and, in fact, taking a harbor tour is the best way to see the boat parade up close! In fact, the pictures on this page were taken by Thor Brisbin from a Christmas Parade tour boat. Viewers simply get much closer to the parade from a boat, making it easier to see details of the floats and to snap photos.
Where would you go to take a Christmas Parade tour of Newport Harbor?
Newport Landing offers cruises for the Newport Beach Christmas Parade three times nightly on every evening of the parade. Newport Landing also offers evening holiday cruises throughout the entire month of December. (Beautifully-decorated boats aren't the only holiday attraction in Newport Harbor! There are hundreds of decorated and brightly-lit homes, yachts, piers and estates you can view from the water during the month of December!)
The first cruise leaves at 5:30 pm and the second departs at 7:15 pm. The last Christmas parade cruise departs at 8:30 pm. (The parade has a long route, and the boats move along relatively slowly...and that's how it's possible to see the parade at three different times of the evening.)
Where will you find Newport Landing and the tour boats? Head to the Balboa Pavilion area on the Balboa Peninsula...which is the same location you'd normally head during daytime hours to take a tour of Newport Harbor. (To your left, you can see a picture of the Balboa Pavilion brightly lit with holiday lights!) The Newport Landing address is 309 Palm St, Newport Beach, California 92661. The Newport Landing phone number is 949/675-0551. Here's a Google map to the Newport Landing Sport Fishing & Harbor Tours company.
2.) Hear a narration of the parade while you watch!
If you're interested in hearing a live narration, as you watch from the shore, you may head to the Balboa Fun Zone! The parade is scheduled to cruise by the Balboa Fun Zone at about 6:30 pm every night during the parade. This is right after the parade's starting time, because the parade now begins near the Fun Zone.
Will there be a crowd? The Balboa Fun Zone is a popular viewing point for the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, so be sure to get there ahead of the boats' actual arrival time!
Rain or shine: A little water won't dampen the spirits of these intrepid boating enthusiasts who put on the show. While the weather is usually clear for this event, rain can sometimes occur. If so, the parade still goes on! However, in the extremely rare event that high winds and torrents cause a small watercraft advisory notice to be issued by the Coast Guard, the parade would be cancelled.
Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade: Parking and Viewing Tips
Parking for the Newport Beach Boat Parade can be a challenge. Much of the difficulty lies in the fact that the Balboa Peninsula is already a "parking-challenged" location, with local residents filling many of the spots even when there are no special events going on. Of course, you don't have to watch the parade from the peninsula; you can view it from the mainland side. However, parking can be just as difficult in that location, as well.
If you're headed to the Balboa Pavilion & Fun Zone you'll need to arrive early to get a spot in the parking lot across the street or at one of the parking meters on the street. Parking is easier to come by on certain nights of the parade than others. If "parking frustration" would ruin your night, try to view the parade on Wednesday, Thursday or Sunday night...because there are fewer people in attendance. Avoid Friday & Saturday evenings, because that's when traffic is the worst. Parking at the Balboa Pier, then walking the short distance (several blocks) to the Fun Zone is another option.
If you'll be taking a cruise to see the boat parade, the Newport Landing building has its own parking structure.
Dressing for the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade:
Visitors from out-of-state who think that "Southern California is always warm" are going to find out otherwise when viewing the holiday boat parade! Be sure to bring warm jackets...even caps and gloves...whether if you'll be viewing the Christmas boat parade from the shore, the Balboa Fun Zone, or a boat out on the water. (If you take a tour boat, you'll be able to duck inside the cabin to warm up...but having a warm coat will let you stay outside longer.)
Try viewing the parade from a restaurant if you really don't want any exposure to the nighttime air. There's a list of restaurants on the FAQ's page of parade's official website (see link below.)