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Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade Of Lights. The Granddaddy Of Holiday Events In Southern California

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Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade Of Lights. The Granddaddy Of Holiday Events In Southern California
Story provided by Newport Landing Holiday Cruises

The Newport Beach Boat Parade is the premier Christmas event not only for Orange County and Los Angeles but Southern California. With over 100 years of history, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is viewed by over a million people each year. Newport Harbor comes alive with decorations for the boat parade. Homes, yachts, docks whole landscapes are transformed into a magical holiday experience. Newport Beach begins its holiday decorations after Thanksgiving and by the first of December the harbor is richly illuminated with thousands of lights and hundreds of themed estates.

The Orgins Of The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Newport Beach Boat Parade began in 1907 with John Scarpa an Italian gondolier and Joseph Beek a developer and owner of the Balboa Ferry Line. The tradition began with John Scarpa taking a group of visitors from Pasadena across the bay in a gondola decorated with Japanese lanterns. A year later, on July 4, 1908, the first lighted boat parade took place. Scarpa along with his fellow small boat operators put together a loosely organized event consisting of nine vessels. The parade illuminated by Japanese lanterns was led by Scarpa's gondola and followed by eight canoes. In 1913 what was then called the Illuminated Water Parade was held again. The boats were judged and prizes for the best decorated and most spectacularly lit vessels were given. A larger parade followed in 1914 and in 1915 an even larger parade was held. As many as forty launches, canoes and rowboats participated in the celebration. The spectacular event featured a derelict boat hull that was set afire, followed by a dramatic "rescue" of passengers, also a "Battle of Fireworks" between two launches and the explosion of two underwater mines took place. It is hard to imagine underwater mines going off and a burning ship in today's Newport Harbor!

What you can expect to see during the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

As the name suggests the Newport Beach Boat Parade is centered on boats or probably a better term would be ships, well and boats and all sorts of other water craft. With over 200 plus entrants in the parade it has it all. Entrants in the boat parade have been known to spend $50,000 or more on their decorations in competing for top honors in the parade. The Newport Beach Boat Parade also is about the homes and estates in full décor (in fact there is a separate contest just for this category called "The Ring Of Lights"), and the people participating in the parade (guests, musicians, spectators, boat owners, families, friends).

Kids and The Newport Beach Boat Parade

For kids viewing the Newport Beach Boat Parade, this promises to be an event they will never forget. There are so many things going on with the boat parade that we adults might take for granted. First being on a ship in Newport Bay with elaborate decorations, music, viewing all the ships in full décor and homes, with all this going on at the same time. For a child, the Newport Beach Boat Parade maybe their first nautical experience, with the smell of the ocean air and the lights reflecting off the bay. To see all size ships in the parade and to be so close to these decorated ships will have them in awe. In this age of computer generated animation, the scope of the lighted displays is sometimes lost, but not with kids.

Options for Viewing The Newport Beach Boat Parade

However you view the parade it will be an experience that you will not soon forget. Here are the options for viewing the parade. You can view the parade from shore either from one of the public access areas along the harbor, from one of the many restaurants that line the harbor, or by ship either in the parade or stationary in the bay.

For shore based options for viewing the Newport Beach Boat Parade here are some popular locations to view the parade. Balboa boardwalk on the Balboa Peninsula, along East Balboa Blvd (only the non residential harbor access points), Peninsula Point Beach, Pirates Cove on the southern most part of Newport Bay (Corona Del Mar), along Bayside Drive (only the non residential harbor access points), all around Balboa Island, Little Island, Collins Island, Lido Park, Lido Isle, and most of the number streets on Balboa Peninsula (again only at public access points) .

Another option for shore based viewing of the Newport Beach Boat Parade is the numerous restaurants that line the bay. Restaurants such as the Newport Landing Restaurant, Harborside Restaurant, Joe's Crab Shack, Rusty Pelican, Charthouse, and Villa Nova are just some of the restaurants that provide a view of the parade. Shore based viewing has some advantages such as it is usually free except for those opting for the restaurants.

Viewing the parade by ship is the last option. It does require a bit more planning as reservations should be made at least a week out and a month or more is not uncommon especially for weekend dates. But besides the additional planning, seeing the parade by ship gives you a full appreciation of the parade and not only the ships in full décor, but all of the homes and estates as well. There would be no other way to view all of these homes except by boat. Instead of the parade lasting 15 minutes when viewing by shore, the parade lasts the full 2 hours of the cruise. There is an important distinction between ships that cruise "in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade" and those that view it as it passes by.

For more information on the 2018Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade or to reserve for one of the boat parade cruises contact Newport Landing at 949-675-0551 or visit their holiday cruise website at

Davey's Locker also provides cruise in the parade and their number is 949-673-1435 and website is

For boat parade website, click here



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