Onboard the Argosy Christmas Ship, guests enjoy choral performances, visits from Santa, and carol sing-a-longs.
Courtesy of argosycruises.com

Celebrate the holidays with a boat parade.

By Annie S. Butterworth

Forget driving around the block to look at Christmas lights.This year enjoy a lighted boat parade. We've collected a few of ourfavorites here. Check with your local marina to find out aboutfestivities planned in your own backyard.

Christmas by the Sea Festival, Southport, North Carolina
This three-weekend-long celebration features the SouthportHoliday Boat Flotilla on the second Saturday of December. The eventcaps off a full day of festivities, including a tour of historichomes. Call 910/457-7927 or visit christmasbysea.com for acomplete schedule.

Christmas Boat Parade, Destin, Florida
On Sunday, December 9, Destin kicks off its Holiday on theHarbor celebration with the 21st annual boat parade. The show lastsabout an hour and features more than 20 boats decorated from bow tostern. Join the crowd at the wharf or watch all the glitz from awaterside cafe. Call 850/837-6611 for more information.

Boat Parade of Lights, Savannah, Georgia
Two riverboats offer cruises on the Savannah River during thetown's Boat Parade of Lights on November 24. For a front-row seat,reserve a ride on the Savannah River Queen or the Georgia Queen as they lead the annual procession, and enjoya two-hour cruise complete with hors d'oeuvres and liveentertainment. Tickets are $38.95 per person, and seats sell outfast. Call 800/786-6404 or visit savannahriverboat.comfor reservations.

Oceanside (California) Harbor Parade of Lights
The Oceanside Yacht Club celebrates the holidays with aparade in the harbor on December 8. Boat owners plan months inadvance, and their elaborate displays―some including musicand costumed participants―attract hundreds each year. Theboats never leave the harbor, so you're guaranteed to have a greatview. Call 760/722-5751.

Boat Parade of Lights, Panama City, Florida
Boaters gather on December 8 at St. Andrews Marina in PanamaCity for the start of their parade. Vessels float along St. AndrewsBay into the City Marina, where they're greeted by thousands ofspectators waiting downtown. Call 850/785-5206.

Argosy Christmas Ship Festival, Seattle area, Washington
Each night from December 1 to December 23, the Argosy Christmas Ship will sail to different waterfrontcommunities along Puget Sound. You can choose to ride the cruiseship (or one of the many ships that participate in the procession)for an evening of caroling along the coast, or you can host abeachside bonfire and wait for the largest lighted boat parade inthe world to cruise by. Ticket sales benefit the Seattle Times Fundfor the Needy. For cruise dates, visit argosycruises.com.

Parade of Lighted Boats, Baltimore, Maryland
Help the Fells Point Yacht Club celebrate the 20thanniversary of their parade on December 1. About 50 boats areexpected to make an appearance along the Inner Harbor this year.Awards are given for the most festive displays, and competition isstiff thanks to boaters' creativity. Call 410/591-2646 or visit fpyc.net.

Island of Lights Holiday Flotilla, Carolina Beach, NorthCarolina
The Island of Lights Festival attracts thousands of visitorsa year. The celebration lasts the month of December, beginning withthe lighting of the lake and culminating with the dropping of abeach ball on New Year's Eve. The highlight of the festivities,though, just might be the flotilla, held on December 1. Call910/458-9023 for festival details.

Festival of Lights Celebration, Rockland, Maine
This town may not have a parade, but its holiday festivaltakes place so close to the water, you don't even need a boat!Festivities begin on November 23 and last the entire weekend.You'll want to catch the lighting of the Christmas"tree"―made entirely of lobster traps―and the arrivalof Santa Claus―by Coast Guard boat, of course. Call207/596-0376.

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