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Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Spectacularly decorated boats light up Newport Bay each year for The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. For more than 100 years, hundreds of boat owners have draped their boats in twinkling lights to celebrate the Christmas season. The multi-night event also includes fireworks and other holiday-themed festivities throughout the area.

116th Newport Beach Boat Parade Details

Parade Date: December 18-24, 2024
Parade Time: 6:30 PM – 10:00 PM
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Opening night (Dec. 18) features fireworks at 6:15 pm from Newport Pier; Holiday Pop-Up Market at Marina Park from 4 pm to 8 pm

Closing night (Dec. 24) features fireworks at 9:00 pm from Balboa Pier.

Note: The Christmas parade is for only one week. However, you can see the lights on the bay front estates and hundreds of decorated ships of all sizes throughout the holiday season.

Ring Of Lights Competition

Many bay front homes decorate their homes and yards for all to enjoy for the Ring Of Lights competition. Boats and homes can all participate in the Ring of Lights waterfront decorating competition. Entrants receive special commemorative items for their participation and are eligible for awards.

Where to Watch: Viewing Locations

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade Route

You can watch the Newport Beach boat parade from many public access areas along the harbor; other prime viewing spots include the Balboa Fun Zone at Balboa Village, the Balboa Island boardwalk and Lido Marina Village. You can grab a seat or just walk along the harbor or the boardwalk on Balboa Island and get a pretty good view from most locations.

The Balboa Island Ferry is a fun and very inexpensive way to take a boat cruise and see the decorated boats up close.

There is reserved seating at the American Legion and the Newport Sea Base, Harborside. Elks club members can find viewing areas at the Newport Beach Elks Club right next to Marina Park.

If you are interested in a more relaxing experience, consider booking a cruise on one of the many boats that sail through the harbor. Cruises provide an opportunity to view both the boats and the surrounding decorated homes. This is our favorite way to enjoy the boat parade. If you’d like to see the decorated boats and homes but can’t attend during the time that the parade is running, there are harbor cruises running all season long. For several years now, we have booked holiday lights cruises to motor around the harbor and enjoy viewing the boats and homes with their decorative holiday displays. We still get to see all the lights, but without the crowds.

Newport Harbor has 11 public short piers along the harbor for smaller viewing spots. (see Newport Harbor Public Pier Map)

If you want to watch the parade from the comfort of a hotel room you can reserve a waterfront room at the Balboa Bay Resort. The Lido House Hotel rooftop bar will also offer amazing views.

Newport Beach Boat Parade
Newport Beach Boat Parade Cruise

Marina Park

The 10.5 acre Marina Park on Balboa Peninsula offers a front-row viewing experience. On opening night, December 18 from 4-8 pm, there will be a Holiday Pop-Up Market featuring dozens of local makers serving up hand-crafted goods and gifts, holiday fare, entertainment, photo ops and family-friendly activities.

Marina Park Address: 1600 W Balboa Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92663 on the Balboa Peninsula.

Marina Park Amenities

  • Nautical-themed playground
  • Holiday Pop-Up Market
  • On-site café-Lighthouse Bayside Café and picnic area 
  • 177 parking spaces plus street parking

Marina Park open to the public and admission is free.

Dock & Dine Options

These are the many Dine & Watch waterfront options.

  • 3Thirty3 Restaurant
  • A&O Kitchen & Bar
  • Back Bay Bistro
  • Balboa Bay Club & Resort
  • Balboa Village
  • Billy’s at the Beach
  • Blue Water Grill
  • Circle Hook
  • Harborside Restaurant
  • Lido Bottle Works
  • Lighthouse Cafe
  • Louie’s by the Bay
  • Malibu Farm
  • Mama’s Comfort Food & Cocktails
  • Newport Landing Restaurant and Oyster Bar
  • Nobu
  • Pizza Nova
  • SOL Cocina
  • Rusty Pelican
  • Tavern House Kitchen + Bar
  • The Cannery
  • The Dock
  • The Winery
  • Villa Nova
  • Woody’s Wharf
  • Zinque

Parade Route

Parade participants start from the east end of Lido Island, with the first public viewing destination at the 10.5-acre Marina Park. 

  • Tip of Lido Isle (Control Point A) – 6:30pm
  • Lido Isle Yacht Club – 6:34pm
  • Lido Isle Bend (Control Point B) – 6:38pm
  • Lido Isle Bridge (Control Point C) – 6:42pm
  • Lido Peninsula/Rhine Channel – 6:43pm
  • Marina Park – 6:49pm
  • Lighthouse Café – 6:52pm 
  • American Legion Yacht Club – 6:56pm
  • 15th Street Beach – 7:00pm
  • 10th Street Beach – 7:04pm
  • Newport Harbor Yacht Club – 7:07pm
  • Bay Island Bridge – 7:09pm
  • Bay Island Channel (Control Point D) – 7:10pm
  • Newport Landing Restaurant – 7:14pm
  • Newport Landing Sportfishing – 7:14pm
  • Harborside Restaurant – 7:15pm
  • Davey’s Locker Sportfishing and Whale Watching – 7:16pm
  • Peninsula Point Beach (Control Point E) – 7:29pm
  • Pirate’s Cove (Control Point F) – 7:32pm
  • Coast Guard/Harbor Master Dock (Control Point G) – 7:36pm
  • Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club – 7:40pm
  • Balboa Island Bridge (Control Point H) – 7:43pm
  • Little Island Point – 7:49pm
  • Balboa Island Ferry Landing – 7:58pm
  • Collins Island (Control Point I) – 8:00pm
  • Balboa Island Bayfront – 8:05pm
  • Balboa Island Bridge – 8:10pm
  • Harbor Island – 8:17pm
  • PCH Bridge (Control Point J) – 8:24pm
  • Balboa Bay Club – 8:34pm
  • Balboa Bay Resort (Control Point K) – 8:34pm
  • Newport Boy Scout Sea Base – 8:37pm
  • Joe’s Crab Shack – 8:40pm
  • The Winery Restaurant (Control Point L) – 8:45pm
  • Lido Marina Village – 8:50pm
  • Lido Park/Lido Bridge – 8:55pm
  • Via Lido North Genoa Beach – 8:58pm
  • Tip of Lido Isle (Finish) 9 – 9:30pm

Newport Harbor Cruising Guide & Points of Interest

Newport Harbor is more than three miles long with 21 miles in water frontage. There are many artificial islands: Balboa Island, Little Balboa Island, Collins Island, Harbor Island, Lido Isle, Linda Isle and Newport Island.

  • Balboa Pavillion (400 Main St, Newport Beach, CA 92661)
  • Balboa Ferry
  • Balboa Fun Zone includes a Ferris wheel and arcade.
  • Big Corona Beach faces seaward as you enter the harbor.
  • Pirate’s Cove Beach has been used for movies and TV shows and is in the harbor entrance channel.
  • China Cove Beach also in the harbor entrance channel.
  • American Legion (215 15th St, Newport Beach, CA 92663)
  • Elks Lodge (3456 Via Oporto, Newport Beach, CA 92663)
  • The Wedge known for its shore-breaking waves, the Wedge is located at the southeast end of the Balboa Peninsula and next to the west jetty at the harbor entrance.
  • Lido Marina Village is a shopping area.
  • Teddy Bear House (538 S Bay Front, Newport Beach, CA 92662)
  • The “Wild Goose”, formerly John Wayne’s yacht is now owned by Hornblower cruises (2527 West Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92663)
  • Gillette House is the last house at the end of the Peninsula on Balboa Bay and right before the west jetty begins. Originally built in 1927 for King Gillette the razor baron. Dick Dale was also a one-time owner.
  • Pirate House Newport Beach (35th St/Marcus Ave. Newport Beach, CA 92663)
  • The bell buoy marking the harbor’s only entrance is located at 33 35.06’N,117 52.69’W. Seals are often found lounging on this buoy.
  • US Coast Guard (1911 Bayside Dr, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625)
  • The Devil Inside video by the Australian band INXS was filmed around the Balboa Fun Zone.
  • Newport Harbor: The Real Orange County was an MTV reality series based on the lives of high school students living in Newport Beach.
  • The Baileys of Balboa was a 1964 sitcom that was filmed in Newport Harbor near the neighborhood of Balboa (and the nearby Balboa Island).
  • Sands of Iwo Jima (1945), starring Newport Beach resident John Wayne, was filmed on Linda Isle, formerly Shark Island.
  • Gilligan’s Island intro featured Newport Harbor and cave scenes were filmed at Pirate’s Cove.
  • Former Celebrity Homes in Newport Harbor
    • Nicholas Cage (2692 Bayshore Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92663)
    • James Cagney (Collins Island * has since been divided into eight separate residential properties)
    • Buddy Ebsen (530 S Bay Front, Balboa Island, CA 92662)
    • Helena Modjeska/Sam Tustin (3 Bay Island, Newport Beach, CA 92661)
    • Roy Rogers (12 Bay Island, Newport Beach, CA 92661)
    • Shirley Temple (200 Block of Coral Ave, Balboa Island, Newport Beach)
    • John Wayne “Duke’s Point” (2686 Bayshore Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660)
    • Wrigley family beach home “Twin Palms” (928 E Balboa Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92661)
    • Tiger Woods (2616 Ocean Blvd, Corona Del Mar, CA 92657)

Nautical Clubs of Newport Beach

  • American Legion Yacht Club
  • Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club
  • Balboa Yacht Club
  • Lido Isle Yacht Club
  • Newport Beach Yacht Club
  • Newport Harbor Yacht Club
  • Newport Ocean Sailing Association
  • Newport Sea Base Yacht Club
  • Orange Coast College Sailing Center
  • Pacific Yachting Club
  • South Shore Yacht Club
  • U.C. Irvine Sailing Association


There is street parking almost anywhere you’re going to watch the parade including on Balboa Island. There are also many public parking lots. See the Newport Beach public parking map. Keep in mind street meter parking is free after 6 p.m. Newport Landing and Lido Marina Village also have parking structures.

Many waterfront dining establishments have parking available for the dine and watch crowd.

Balboa Christmas Boat Parade
Christmas Boat Parade Yacht

Frequently Asked Questions

What time is the Newport Beach Boat Parade?
The parade starts at 6:30 p.m. and ends at 9:00 p.m., December 18-24, 2024.

How long is the Newport Beach Boat Parade?
The parade lasts approximately 2.5 to 3 hours from start to finish.

What day is the Newport Beach Boat Parade?
The boat parade will take place on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 18 – 24, 2024.

What is best day to go to Newport Beach Boat Parade?
Opening and closing nights have fireworks and activities, weekdays will be the least crowded and weekends will have the most boats and crowds. The parade format and route each night stays the same so the best day to go comes down to personal preference.

Where does the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade start?
The boat parade starts off Bay Island in Newport Harbor.

Where can I watch the Newport Christmas Boat Parade from?
You can watch the parade from the Newport Peninsula or Balboa Island boardwalks, Marina Park, public or private docks, a waterfront restaurant or from a boat.

What is the official name of the parade?
The official name of the parade is the “Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade.” Many also call it the Newport Beach Boat Parade, the Newport Boat Parade and even the Balboa Island Boat Parade or Balboa Boat Parade. Originally it was called the Illuminated Water Parade.

How old is the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade?
The Newport Beach Boat Parade began in 1907 by Joseph Beek the owner of the Balboa Ferry Line and John Scarpa an Italian gondolier.

For more holiday fun see our list of Winter Events

Winter Events In Orange CountyChristmas Lights In Orange County
Where To See The NutcrackerSawdust Festival Winter Fantasy
Holiday Boat ParadesBest Family Christmas Games

Heidi Deal
Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights. When she's not writing you can find her solo hiking and going on new adventures with her kids and pup.