The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade dates back for over a century. Originally the event was called the Tournament of Lights. The first boat parade was held in 1908, with nine vessels’ lit by Japanese lanterns. The event grew each year until 1916, when it halted during World War One.
In 1919 the boat parade resumed with decorated floats towed around the harbor. The Tournament of Lights continued to grow until 1949, when it was stopped because it created too much congestion in the port.
The Christmas Tournament of Lights began in 1946 when Newport Beach City employees started towing a barge around the harbor with a lighted Christmas tree. From that point on, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade has grown to be one of the top holiday events in the country.
Today the Christmas parade features over 100 vessels decorated with thousands of Christmas lights. Bundle up the family and head to Newport Harbor, and enjoy the biggest and best Christmas boat parade in all of Southern California.
Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade Route
The starting point for the parade is at Bay Island; the boats then cruise out to the jetty and turn around at Pirate’s Cove. Heading back into the harbor, the parade route follows the south shore of the harbor circling Balboa Island Harbor Island and Lido Isle.
The Christmas Boat Parade announcer’s booth is located in the Balboa Fun Zone. There is a large parking lot next to the Balboa Pier and plenty of restaurants nearby. Another option to view the parade is to make a reservation at one of the bayside restaurants.
Popular places to dine and view this spectacular nautical parade include the Chart House, Villa Nova, Rusty Pelican, and the Balboa Bay Club. Reservations are a must at any of these fine Newport Beach Restaurants.