A Spectacular Night of Lights: Dana Point Boat Parade

dana point boat parade

The Dana Point Boat Parade is a special event that perfectly symbolizes the Christmas spirit. The holiday season has always been a lovely time of the year. This annual event, held in the charming coastal city of Dana Point, California, draws thousands of locals and tourists to admire the stunning sight of the decorated boats sailing around the harbor.

You will watch the parade of hundreds of beautifully decorated boats. Every boat is distinctive and has a different theme and decor. While some boats have traditional Christmas symbols like Santa Claus and reindeer, others display more abstract artwork or cultural allusions.

When is the Dana Point Boat Parade? What time is it?

Last year, in 2022, the parade took place from December 9 through December 11. It started at 7 pm on December 9 and ended at 10 pm. On other days, starting time was 6 pm.

The 48th annual Dana Point Boat Parade 2023 dates have not been announced yet. Like every year, also this year the event will be held at the beginning of December. When the exact dates are announced, we will be sharing them with you. Stay tuned!

If you consider another boat parade in California, Newport Beach Boat Parade will take place on 13-17 December 2023.

The Dana Point Boat Parade’s Past

For more than 40 years, the Dana Point Boat Parade has been a cherished annual event. When several neighborhood boaters made the decision to deck their vessels with holiday lights and cruise through the port to give happiness, it all began in 1974.

The gathering was a huge success right away, and every year since then, attendance has increased. Thousands of fans line the shoreline to witness the procession today as the festive boats sail by.

What to Expect During the Boat Parade at Dana Point

There are a few things you should be aware of if you intend to attend the Dana Point Boat Parade to maximize your enjoyment. To start with, be sure to get there early to get a decent place along the coast.

Dress warmly and bring a blanket to cover up on because the parade usually takes place in frigid early December. Regarding what you may anticipate witnessing during the parade, be prepared to be astounded by the huge range of boats that have been festively and creatively adorned. You’ll notice holiday lights, inflatable figures, and other decorations on anything from sailboats and yachts to kayaks and paddle-boards.

Why You Should Attend the Dana Point Boat Parade

The Dana Point Boat Parade is a must-attend event for anybody in the region for a variety of reasons. To begin with, it’s a distinctive and joyful way to celebrate the holiday season. Families, couples, groups of friends, everybody can enjoy watching the dazzling boats as they sail into the port. Also, the parade gives a fantastic opportunity to help out the neighborhood. The event supports the local economy by drawing tourists to the region.

Some Tips for a Memorable Experience

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your experience if you plan to watch the Dana Point Boat Parade:

  • Get There Early to Get a Good Place: Make sure to get there early to have a good place along the waterfront because the procession draws thousands of people. Dress appropriately because it may get chilly out there, and think about bringing a chair or a blanket to sit on.
  • Bring Refreshments and Snacks: It may be a lengthy and pleasurable experience to watch the parade, so consider bringing some food and drinks to savor while you watch. 
    Maybe some glühwein (hot wine) from the Christmas market or delicious hot chocolate will help you warm. Don’t forget to bring your cheese!
  • Dress with Layers: As we already mentioned, Dana Point’s weather during the procession may be chilly. Wear layers and warm clothing to be warm and comfortable throughout the event. Bring warm clothes, including a coat, hat, and gloves. It’s December, people! 
  • Support Regional Small Businesses: Be sure to check out some of the neighborhood shops, markets and eateries while you’re in Dana Point for the parade. You can enjoy your holiday by supporting the local economy and showing your love and respect for the community. It’s Christmas, time to remember that we can be all together and enjoy the positive fulfilling aspect of life.


The Dana Point Boat Parade has always been a magical event, this year will be no different. Maybe it’s because of the boats’ sparkling dazzling lights or the holiday music in the backdrop. Perhaps it’s because the event fosters a sense of belonging and fellowship. Whatever the reason is, the parade is a unique event that everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime. If you plan to be in California this Christmas, don’t miss this opportunity.

Many more boat parades will be held at Christmas in California.
One of the most famous of these is the Newport Beach Boat Parade. Depending on your calendar, you can also consider other options in the region.

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