Northeast Boat Parades

northeast boat parades

There are quite a few northeast boat parades this winter.

Most encourage participants to deck out their vessels with lights, decorations, and adornments that add to the jovial spirit, and may also include a visit from jolly old St. Nick. Check out these northeast boat parades.

New York

In New York, Long Island’s South Shore boating families will enjoy the 25th Annual Christmas Holiday Parade of Boats on Sunday, November 18th. More than two dozen decorated boats ease down the Patchogue River competing for a variety of titles, including Best Overall Decorations, Best in Theme, Best Lights, and People’s Choice. This year’s theme is “A Hollywood Christmas!” There’s a $35 fee to compete, but viewing is free on the water and from Sandspit Town Park or Fire Island National Seashore. Festivities shove off from Off Key Tikki Bar and West Bank Marina at 6 PM. Santa brings up the stern end of the parade and visits both land-based viewing areas.

Long Island’s North Shore crews will surely want to check out the Huntington Lighthouse Parade of Lights on November 23rd. It’s a glow-in-the-dark maritime extravaganza drawing scores of boaters and thousands of landlubbers to the shores of Huntington Harbor to increase awareness about the ongoing preservation efforts at the lighthouse. The parade features several categories of prizes for those willing to ante up the $50 boat registration fee. Homes and businesses along the harbor also join in the decorating and merriment, and many host house or deck parties as part of the fundraiser. Start time is 6 PM in front of the Harbor Boating Club.

Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island’s 21st Annual Illuminated Holiday Harbor Lights Boat Parade sets sail from the Newport Yacht Club at 6:15 PM on Friday, November 23rd. Local shops, restaurants, and a holiday stroll will be open both before and after the parade with many offering special discounts. This year’s event features Caribbean Christmas and holiday tunes played on a steel pan by the group Panoramic View while over 20 boats vie for the Best Decorated award. Boaters can view the parade from anywhere within the harbor, and landlubbers can get a good look from numerous shore access points, including Bowen’s Wharf.

northeast boat parades
A Connecticut tugboat takes on the boat parade game.


If you boat in the Nutmeg State, you’ll be privy to the Santa Arrives By Tugboat and Holiday Lighted Boat Parade on November 24th. Thousands gather at Mystic River Park to watch Santa arrive at 2PM on the John Paul, a 60-foot tugboat. There’s a Christmas tree lighting at 6PM, followed by decorated vessels sliding down the Mystic River at 6:20PM before returning to Mystic River Park. Boats are judged on creativity and team spirit, and prizes are offered in several categories, including Most Charismatic Crew, Innovative Vessel and Miss Mystic Vessel of Grandeur. Contest entry is free with proof of boat insurance.

northeast boat parades
A Maine lobster boat dons ye gay apparel.


Even Maine, where the weather after dark is already noticeably cooler than in southern New England, has a boat parade scheduled. The 33rd Booth Bay Harbor Lights Festival on December 1st sees Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by sea along with a cast of characters including elves, moose, lobsters, and more. You’ll find horse-drawn carriage rides, a craft show, tree lighting, and caroling before the evening concludes with a lighted boat parade at 5PM that’s guaranteed to warm your crew on a chilly December evening. Entry in the parade competition is free, and all boats that sign up receive a $35 gas card toward expenses.

By Tom Schlichter, Southern Boating November 2018

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