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Winter Boating Activities: December 2018 Harborside Events

Winter Boating Activities: December 2018 Harborside Events


Cheers to December! The holiday season is in full-swing, with boatloads of harborside events to help spice up your December.

December may be booking up with end-of-the-year errands, but our boaters always seem to find time to get down to the waterfront. Find a harbor town winter celebration near you with this month's events round-up!

Jump to your region: East Coast | Florida & The Keys | Gulf Coast | Inland Waterways | The Great Lakes | West Coast | The Islands

Know of events happening in your area for the months of December or January? Get in touch: tweet at us, message us on Facebook, or email

East Coast:
Portland –

December 2: The 3rd annual Tidings Craft + Art Fair at Portland's Ocean Gateway. There will be 40 local makers and artists offering unique gifts to purchase. There will also be kids activities, local food offerings + live music.

December 9: Portland Trails Holiday Dash Winter 5K.

December 14 - 16: Vintage Bazaar New England - Holiday Edition. Celebrate the spirit of the season with 75 talented vendors offering thoughtfully decorated and curated booths with exceptional vintage treasures, holiday treats, and unique homemade gifts.

December 31: The 11th annual Polar Bear Dip + Dash. Walk or run a 5K, plunge into the Atlantic Ocean or both!

Bangor –

December 7: Bangor Water's Holiday Tour at Thomas Hill Standpipe.

December 22: Miss Trudi's Gingerbread House Workshop at the Maine Discovery Museum. Decorate a dream Gingerbread House!

Waterville – December 8: Joy to the Ville. Community holiday celebration which includes a family-friendly holiday film, art activities, story time, and holiday giveaways.

New Hampshire:
Manchester –

December 1: The 2018 Manchester Christmas Parade. Join in for a rocking parade full of light, fun, and music.

December 6, 8, 13 + 15: The Downtown Holiday Market. This is the 8th annual artisan market held in downtown Manchester. Shoppers will be able to find different types of handcrafted jewelry, glass ornaments, handmade wooden products and much more.

Massachusetts: Boston –

December 1, 2, 7, 8, + 9: The 4th annual SoWa Winter Festival. This is the biggest winter shopping village and holiday festival in Boston! There will be handmade gifts, enjoy winter cocktails, and discover the best SoWa Art + Design District.

December 1: SantaCon Boston 2018. SantaCon is free to attend. It is a pub crawl + a mass gathering where people dress in Santa Claus costumes.

December 1 - January 1: Blink! The Light + Sound Show. The world-famous light and sound show returns to the Faneuil Hall Marketplace this season.

Nantucket – December 1 & 2: Nantucket Christmas Stroll. The 45th Annual Nantucket Christmas Stroll Weekend is taking place this year. The weekend was originally meant to keep shoppers on the island to encourage them to buy local.

Rhode Island NEW Newport –

December 1 - January 1: Christmas at the Newport Mansions. The glitter of gold and the sparkles of silver will dazzle you as you tour any of the mansions.

December 1: Bowen's Wharf Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. Head on over to Bowen's Wharf to see the tree being lit for the Holiday season! There will also be caroling, sweet treats + a visit with Santa.

December 1: Official Opening of Christmas in Newport. Taking place at Washington Square at 5 PM, enjoy the tree lighting, a message from the mayor and other events to mark the opening of the Holiday season.

December 1 & 2: Newport Holiday Stroll. Enjoy different events taking place throughout Newport along with dozens of holiday specials.

December 2: Hotel Viking's Annual Tree Lighting. There will be a visit from Santa, along with delicious cookies and other treats as Hotel Viking light their holiday tree.

December 15 + 27: A Rough Point Holiday. Come experience Doris Duke's Newport home during the darkest and merriest days of the year. Rooms of the museum will be spruced up for the Christmas holiday, while other rooms will be cloaked in their winter coverings.

December 27: Seafood Festival at La Forge Restaurant. Come enjoy all the seafood you can dream of!

Wickford – December 1 - 2: Wickford's 33rd annual Festival of Lights. Step back in time and enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas. There will be thousands of white lights that transform the village into a winter wonderland. 

Mystic –

December 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22 + 23: Lantern Light Tours. A seasonal performance which includes a 90-minute half of a mile walking tour.

December 7: Festival of Lights at the Mystic Aquarium. Walk through Olde Mistick Village's winter wonderland from dusk until about 9:30 PM when thousands of luminaries light the walkways of the Village leading the way to Mystic Aquarium.

December 15: Santa Paddle on the Mystic River. Be sure to wear your favorite Santa or Holiday outfit!

December 26: Winterfest at the Mystic Aquarium. Watch talented artists chop, chisel and chip away at massive chunks of ice to create frozen sculptures, take photos with Santa, etc.

New York
New York City –

December 1 - January 7: Christmas in New York City. Enjoy the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree + go ice skating!

December 1 - January 4: Luminaries. A mesmerizing holiday light installation. Visitors are immersed in the suspended canopy of glowing lanterns that change in color and intensity within the Winter Garden.

December 1 - 30: NYC Winter Lantern Festival. Enjoy seven acres of Snug Harbor Cultural Center + Botanical Garden as it will be lit up by 40 LED installations that stretch up to 30 feet tall.

December 1 - 30: Grand Holiday Bazaar. This is the holiday market to shop for unique gifts that you can't find anywhere else. Come and shop from 150+ hand-picked independent, local artisans and dealers.

December 27: WinterFest Winter Wonderland at the Brooklyn Museum. Wander through enchanted tree maze. Delight your taste buds with a chocolate tasting in a Candy Dome.

NEW Freeport – December 1: Freeport Holiday Boat Parade.

Maryland Annapolis –

December 1 - January 1: Lights on the Bay 2018. This is an annual holiday light show featuring a two-mile scenic drive along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay through Sandy Point State Park with more than 70 animated and stationary displays.

December 8: Eastport Lights Parade. Come and enjoy the Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade from 6 - 8 PM

Norfolk –

December 1: The 5th Annual Holiday Yule Log Bonfire + Christmas Market. A full evening of caroling, sipping hot cocoa, a yule log bonfire, and holiday shopping.

December 1 - 15: Million Bulb Walk. Walk through a spectacular holiday light display with family and friends to kick off the holiday season.

Cape Charles –

December 1: Grand Illumination.

December 1: Lighted Boat Parade.

Alexandria – Waterskiing Santa.

Florida & The Keys
Naples –

December 1 - 20: Christmas on Third. Enjoy a tree lighting ceremony and a snow celebration.

December 5: Tree Lighting Ceremony. Featuring the illumination of the largest live tree in Southwest Florida!

December 7: Night Lights in the Naples Botanical Garden. Discover the natural beauty of plants from the tropics and subtropics as thousands of lights illuminate the Garden.

December 7: Naples Christmas Walk and Tree Lighting Ceremony. The tree lighting will be at 6 PM with Santa's arrival right after.

December 8: Naples Bay Christmas Boat Parade. Pick your spot along Naples Bay to enjoy the colorful and sparkly annual Naples Bay Christmas Boat Parade.

December 11: Naples Christmas Parade. Bring your chairs + Christmas Spirit to this annual Downtown Naples Christmas event. There will be floats, fire engines, school groups, bands, dance troupes, etc.

December 15: Naples Christmas Glow Run 5K. Run on paths lined with thousands of lights and dozens of lighted characters.

December 16: Seashells and Santa. A fun, ticketed event for kids to bring a new unwrapped toy, game, or book for kids in Southwest Florida.

December 1, 8, 15, 22, 23 + 24: Holiday On The Bay. Head over to The Village Shops for complimentary photos with Santa, stories with Mrs. Claus, snow shows, Dickens Carolers, and over 100,000 twinkling Christmas lights.

Key Largo –

December 1: Light Up Key Largo. The annual tree lighting and Key Largo's official kick-off to Christmas.

December 6: Prestige Sea + Shore. This is one of the most exclusive factory events - find your next yacht at this event taking place at Ocean Reef Club.

December 8 - 9: The 2018 Rick White Memorial Steeplechase Catamaran Race. A two-day distance catamaran racing event along the Intracoastal Waterway.

Miami –

December 1: Lantern Light Festival. Ancient Chinese culture comes to life through dazzling lights, colors, shapes, and themes at the Miami County Fairgrounds.

December 1: Matheson Hammock Beach Cleanup. Join 4ocean in a community beach cleanup event.

December 1 - 2: The Bacardi J 70 Winter Series I. Hosted by Shake-A-Leg Sailing Club.

Palm Beach – December 7: The 62nd Annual Wirth M. Munroe Yacht Race hosted by Sailfish Club of Florida.

Tampa – December 8 & 9: The Davis Island J 70 Winter Series I hosted by the Davis Island Yacht Club.

Gulf Coast Alabama

December 8: Mistletoe Market - an outside vendor event. Taking place 9 - 4 PM, there will be tons of food options, places to shop, things to learn and many festivities.

December 8: The 34th annual Christmas Through the Ages at Fort Gaines. A living history day for the whole family. See soldiers from the 1700 - 1900s, and make seashells ornaments and other decorations.

Gulf Shores – December 8: The 33rd annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade. The parade takes off about 5 PM.

Biloxi –

December 1 - 2: The 14th annual Christmas in the City. A fun-filled Christmas weekend of activities in downtown Biloxi, featuring many talented vendors.

December 9: Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon.

New Orleans –

December 1 - 26: Miracle on Fulton Street. Enter through the giant illuminated ornament into a beautiful new canopy of lights and trees. Experience a winter wonderland with daily "snow," lights, and attractions.

December 1 - 30: Audubon Zoo Lights. Enjoy an enchanting nighttime winter dreamland in the heart of Uptown New Orleans.

December 14: The 2018 Dashing Through The Dome. A unique 2-mile run where participants run into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and finishes on the field.

December 20: The NOLA ChristmasFest 2018. Enjoy ice skating and slides on real ice, holiday characters, amusement rides, inflatables, and more Christmas themed family-fun!

Austin –

December 1 - 30: Winter Wonderland at the Circuit. The world-renowned Chinese Lantern Festival celebration includes interactive entertainment and wonderful holiday displays.

December 1: Lighted Boat Parade. Either decorate your boat or join in on the fun of watching those that did!

December 8: Lake Austin Boat Trail of Lights Parade. Join the fun + head to the Lake Austin parade of illuminated boats.

Dallas –

December 1 - 31: Holiday Lights Trolley Ride. The Old Time Authentic Trolley will take you + friends through the biggest and most beautiful holiday lights in Dallas.

December 1 - January 1: Dallas Zoo Lights. After the animals head in for the evening, the Dallas Zoo will transform into a winter land with over one million twinkling lights illuminating the Zoo.

December 1: Dallas Holiday Parade 2018.

December 7: 2018 BMW Dallas Marathon Weekend.

West Coast
Newport Beach –

December 19 - 23: Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. Celebrate Christmas the Newport Beach way in the Newport Harbor.

December 31: Holiday Lights + Boat Parade Cruise. Sail around Newport Harbor with a drink in hand and marvel at multi-million-dollar estates and vessels all decked out with impressive light displays for the holidays.

Huntington Beach –

December 1: The 22nd annual Crystal Cove Tree Lighting. Enjoy the annual tree lighting and the Holiday Bazaar complete with Santa arriving via a lifeguard vehicle to greet the crowd.

December 7 - 8: Nights of 1,000 Lights. This is the 5th annual celebration which looks to be the best one yet with all new light displays featuring more lights than ever.

December 9: Holiday Wiener Winter Festival + Dachshund Rescue Reunion. Bring your dogs and the whole family for a fun day with bratwurst, German food, drinks, and a Wiener Dog race.

Long Beach –

December 1: The 36th annual Belmont Shore Christmas Parade.

December 2 - 30: Waterfront Tour of Lights. Enjoy a tour of all the Christmas lights of the holiday season along with a hot chocolate and sugar cookies!

December 13: Annual Christmas Lights Run. Join in for a three mile run through Naples to enjoy beautiful waterfront Christmas lights.

San Francisco –

December 1 - January 1: The 29th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting at Union Square. The celebration begins at 6 PM and performances will be followed by the tree lighting after 6:40 PM.

December 2 - January 6: Holiday Lights at SF Conservatory. Light up the holiday season with Night Bloom, a five-week light and sound exhibition at the Conservatory of Flowers.

Los Angeles –

December 1 - January 2: The 17th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting at The Grove. Enjoy an evening filled with holiday cheer. Enjoy a special performance, a firework spectacular, and Santa's grand arrival.

December 1 - January 6: Los Angeles Zoo Lights. See glowing animals welcome you on an unforgettable nighttime journey that includes giants illuminated snowflakes, a disco ball forest, a whimsical herd of animated elephants, and a twinkling tunnel filled with dynamic swirls of colors.

December 1 - 31: Ice Skating at L.A. Live - Kings Holiday Ice Rink. Skate your way into the holiday season with your friends and family!

December 1: Los Angeles Harbor Holiday Afloat Parade. Spend time with friends and family while watching the annual holiday boat parade.

San Diego – December 1: Hot Rum Series III hosted by the San Diego Yacht Club.

NEW Dana Point – December 7, 8, 14 + 15: Dana Point Harbor Holiday Boat Parade. Boaters from all around Orange County decorate their boats and vie for the awards of Judges Choice, Best Theme, Best Use of Lights, Best Animation, Most Colorful, Most Original, Best Sailboat, Best Powerboat, and the Perpetual Trophy for the Yacht Club with the Most Entries. Come watch as these boats light up the evening.


Port Angeles – December 7: Deck Out the Docks. All boats that reside in the Port Angeles Boat Haven Marina are eligible to participate. Help decorate boats down at the marina and compete for cool prizes!

Seattle –

December 1 - January 5: WildLights. There will be more than 700,000 bright and colorful lights that will sparkle around the zoo like animals! Enjoy close-up animal encounters, faux snowball fights, delicious warm treats and plenty of hot chocolate.

December 1 - 30: Enchant - The World's Largest Christmas Light Maze. Surrounded by millions of dazzling lights, the memories you make will last well beyond the holiday season. Get lost in the world's largest light maze + take some photos around the largest Christmas tree in the surrounding area.

December 1 - 16: The SnoBus to Leavenworth's Tree Lighting Festival. Embark on a journey by bus to a charming Bavarian town for its annuals Christmas Lighting festival, complete with carolers, Christmas performances and more.

December 5 - 6: South Lake Union Winter Market. Vendors will be rotating out each day so you will be able to come and shop both days and find unique gifts.

December 7 - 8: Winter Solstice Night Market. Check out Seattle's only indoor Winter Solstice Night Market. There will be over 100 local pop-ups showcasing handmade goods, foods, and music.

December 8: Winter Solstice Festival. The Festival features over 30 local and regional breweries, live music, and over 150 booths inside.

December 22: Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Festival.

Inland Waterways:
Cleveland –

December 1 - 2: The 25th Annual Holiday CircleFest. Shop for unique and one-of-a-kind gifts at the Holiday Markets, or lace up your skates and enjoy the ice rink.

December 2: Winter Lights Lantern Festival. Celebrate the holiday season and be inspired by the centuries-old, cross-cultural tradition of ceremonial lighting displays.

December 8: Santas in Tremont 2018. Join thousands of Santa's on the streets of Tremont for this annual party and race!

Nashville –

December 1 - 30: Holiday Lights. There are one million lights that will be illuminating the gardens at Cheekwood for the prettiest winter stroll of the season.

December 1: The 2018 Nashville Christmas Parade. A family-friendly annual Christmas tradition in Downtown Nashville.

December 8 - 9: Music City Winter Festival. Taking place at Centennial Park, join in for holiday cheer for the entire family. Make plans to grab breakfast with Santa or drinks with friends at the Onesie Brunch, shop in the holiday market for unique gifts, and enjoy live music.

The Great Lakes:
Chicago –

December 6: BrewLights at Lincoln Park Zoo. The evening will include opportunities for photos with Santa, free rides on the Endangered Species Carousel, live music and much more.

December 8: West Town Winter Festival. Shop the Blocks of West Town as local stores show off their spirit this holiday shopping season.
December 31: Zoo Year's Eve at Lincoln Park Zoo. Celebrate the countdown to 2019 with your friends and family at this fun nighttime event at the Zoo.

Detroit –

December 2, 9, 16 & 23: Nature's Reusable Holiday Market Pop-Up. Plan a trip to Eastern Market as it is transformed into a winter wonderland for the holiday season.

December 31: New Years Dinner Cruise on the Detroit Princess. Bring in the New Year in style on the 14th annual Rock the Boat New Years Eve Boat Party. 

The Islands
The Bahamas –

December 1: Coppice Festival. A street festival that brings together the people of Nicholl's Town as they celebrate one of the oldest areas in the settlement.

December 1: Mangrove Cay Seafood Festival. This event celebrates all things Seafood, from fish, conch, lobster, shrimp and much more, all prepared the down-home Bahamian way.

December 1: Annual Tree Lighting + Music in the Garden. In addition to lighting the Christmas Tree in Eleuthera, there will be dancing, live music, and poetry readings.

December 1: Abaco Christmas Festival. This festival is used to kick off the holiday season in The Abacos and helps bring together family and friends from near and far.

December 1: Grand Bahama X-Treme 13.2 Intracoastal Challenge. A half-marathon that attracts road runners, marathoners, cross-country runners, and long distance runners from around the world.

December 1: Night of Caroling. Jingle Bells, Away in a Manger, and Silent Night are just a few of the songs that you can hear through the air during this event.

December 1 - 2: The Hero World Challenge. This event will feature tournament host Tiger Woods and an invitation-only field comprised of the top-ranked golfers in the world.

December 4: Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony: Rum Cay.

December 6: Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony: The Exumas. Locals and visitors gather in Regatta Park to sing carols and see performances by local talent and of course see the Christmas Tree lit.

December 7: Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony: Acklins.

December 7: Festival Noel. This is the Rand Nature Centre's signature holiday festival, offering an evening of wine and arts, featuring local artists of various mediums, and a varied selection of locally available wines.

December 8: Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony: The Berry Islands. A cultural event that will include an address by Community Leaders, Christmas Caroling, skits, poems, Santa gift delivers, Junanoo, a live band, a Disc Jockey, food, and drinks.

December 14: Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony: Inagua.

December 14: German Christmas Jollification. This event brings artisans and vendors together under one roof to showcase their natural and organic products, as well as sampling new wines and dishes.

December 21: The Bahamas Bowl 2018. This is the fifth-annual bowl game in Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium which will feature teams from Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference. It will be broadcast nationally in the United States on ESPN.

December 22: Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony: Crooked Island.

December 25 - 26: The People's Rush + Christmas Junkanoo Parade. Groups come together and invite the public to rush with them to celebrate Junkanoo, the National Festival of The Bahamas.

December 29 - January 1: Bul' Reg Regatta. The Regatta kicks off the New Year with three exciting days of sailing, featuring two series of races. The Bul Reg Cup Race and Roy Albury Cup Race takes place on December 29th and Junior racing on December 31st.

December 31: New Year's Day Junkanoo Celebrations: Cat Island.

December 31: New Year's Day Celebrations: Crooked Island. The residents of Crooked Island and Long Cay organize a Pot Luck family fun day, with games, a grill out and other social activities.

The British Virgin Islands –

December 1: Christmas on DeCastro Street. Enjoy local foods, traditional music, and local vendors.

December 1: Annual Sunrise BVI Half Marathon.

December 1: Gustav Wilmerding Memorial Challenge Regatta.

December 8 - 9: Grandma's Christmas - Virgin Gorda.

December 15: O'Neal + Mundy Commodore's Cup.

December 24 - 25: Foxy's Christmas. The decorated Christmas Coconut Palm Tree can be traced back to Foxy's ancestors who, during their winter festival, decorated the palm trees along the beach with rows of candles for visitors to see the way to the wonderful celebrations. Come to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year at Foxy's.

December 31: Fireball New Year's Eve Bash. A New Year's Eve Party at Trellis Bay.

December 31: Foxy's Old Year's Night Celebrations.

Puerto Rico –

December 2: 5K Christmas Run. A 5K run to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Puerto Rico.

December 6: Saborea Winter Party. Sample Dishes from 25 different chefs, while enjoying drinks, and the music of a percussion band and DJ.

December 8: San Juan Christmas Boat Parade. Choose your best viewing spot along the waterfront in Old San Juan to watch this annual parade of decorated and illuminated boats.

December 12: Las Mananitas at Ponce Cathedral. Every year on December 12 at 4 AM, thousands head to Ponce's cathedral to sing "Las Mananitas," the traditional Mexican Christmas song.

December 15: Festival de Inflatables. This is a family event featuring "inflatables" to entertain all ages.

December 27: Hatillo Masks Festival. This festival has been celebrated since the Spaniards founded Hatillo in 1823. This is an annual event to remember the Holy Innocents. There are parades, music, food, and people in costume from head to tow.

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  • Amy Cabanas