Lighted Boat Parade

December 3rd 2022 @ 5:30pm

What is the Lighted Boat Parade?

The Parade in an annual event at the Santa Cruz Harbor where decorated boats circle the harbor shortly after sunset (5:30pm). This year's theme is Deck the Hulls 🎊. 

When is the Event? 

The parade takes place on December 3rd 2022 and starts at 5:30pm. Plan ahead and leave yourself extra time to find parking and good viewing location.  

Where To Watch?

The parade takes place in the South Harbor between Murray Street bridge and the gas dock. Boats do not exit the harbor and generally do not travel as far as the light house. While offering spectacular nighttime views of the Monterey Bay and the Santa Cruz shoreline, the lighthouse is not suitable for watching the parade. 

Limited viewing is available from the Murray Street bridge, from the East Harbor launch ramp,  and from a variety of harbor paths. 

How to Get Here

Limited pay parking is available on both the East and West sides of the harbor. Please plan to arrive early to park at the harbor.

Walking paths follow Arana Gulch South to both the East and West side of the harbor.

Accessibility Parking

Limited accessible parking is available on both the East and West sides of the harbor. Please plan on arriving early if you anticipate requiring parking with accessibility. 

Public Restrooms

Public restrooms are available in select areas throughout the harbor.

Please check the Santa Cruz Harbor website for additional harbor access information.

Tips for Attendees

Remember to bring a reusable mug for hot chocolate!

Register a Boat


Please be in the harbor channel before judging starts at 5:30pm.

Monitor VHF channel 68 for important parade information.

Children 12 and under must wear a life jacket.  All participants are encouraged to wear life jackets while on board.

Route:  Boats are to enter the main channel with caution and proceed in a counter-clockwise direction around a bouy near the bridge to just past the Crow's Nest.  Please circle at the outer-end of the channel. 

Boats must make a minimum of 3 passes by the judges (stationed by the Crow's Nest) to qualify for an award.

Placards will be distributed onsite at the club at check-in the day of the event.  Placards must be displayed on the starboard (RIGHT) side in clear view for the judges as boats pass the Crow's Nest.

Stay alert and beware of unusual currents in the channel. Keep a safe distance from other participant boats.

If you need to unload/load passengers once the parade has begun, please turn out of the channel and proceed to a dock.

At the conclusion of the parade, please return the placards to the club and stick around for awards.  Must be present to win!


Day of event volunteers are needed to assist with the following tasks: Check in registered boats and giving out placards, selling t-shirts, judging boats and more.  


Volunteers must be over the age of 16 or accompanied by an adult. Volunteers are needed as early as 3pm on December 3rd to assist with setup. Please let us know your availability.