It’s a magical time of year all along Tampa’s Riverwalk. One the most popular events is scheduled for Saturday, December 21 when the annual Downtown Tampa Holiday Lighted Boat Parade glides down the Hillsborough River beginning at 6:30 p.m.Tampa’s Lighted Holiday Boat Parade has grown to become the largest on Florida’s west coast. Approximately 100 large and small vessels, all decorated and aglow for the holidays, are expected on the 7.5 mile route. Boats will cruise around Harbour Island and the east end of Davis Island, ending at Sparkman’s Wharf, where guest judges from Big Brothers Big Sisters Tampa Bay will evaluate each boat.Public viewing of the fourth annual parade will be available along the route from Harbour Island and continue along the Riverwalk from the Convention Center to Armature Works.“Tampa’s Downtown Holiday Lighted Boat Parade has become a wonderful tradition along our magnificent Riverwalk,” said Troy Manthey, past chair of Friends of the Riverwalk, the non-profit organization which oversees the activation of the Riverwalk and organizes the Lighted Boat Parade. “It’s a great way to get into the spirit of the season and enjoy all that Tampa’s Riverwalk has to offer.”

Boat Parade participants will vie for prizes that include First, Second, and Third place in both Motor Boat and Sail Boat categories. All registered boaters will also be invited to a Captain’s Meeting and Party, scheduled for Monday, December 16 and hosted by Yacht StarShip and Florida Ave. Brewing. Interested boaters may now register for the event by logging onto The participation fee is $50 per  boat. The Holiday Lighted Boat Parade is free for spectators, who are encouraged to gather along the Riverwalk to cheer on the boaters and enjoy the imaginative lighted boats.

Throughout the holiday season, there’s plenty to do along the 2.6 mile Riverwalk. Visit the annual Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park for ice skating, local craft and food vendors, and ride the Winter Village Express Streetcar from downtown’s Whiting Station to Ybor City and back. The Riverwalk itself will be lit up with festive decorations with light posts wrapped in traditional green garland, white lights and red bows along the entire boulevard. As part of the annual Holiday Harbour celebration, there will also be several floating platforms with lighted displays at various parks along the Riverwalk, including the 35-foot lighted, floating Christmas tree in the Convention Center Basin.

Some of the best public viewing of the Lighted Boat Parade will be available at the following times and locations*:

  • Tampa Convention Center:        6:45 p.m.
  • Curtis Hixon Park:                       6:50 p.m.
  • Armature Works:                       7:00 p.m.
  • Davis Island & Channel Drive:     7:20 p.m.
  • Sparkman Wharf &
    American Victory Ship               7:45 p.m.


*All times are approximate

The Holiday Lighted Boat Parade is presented by Tampa General Hospital and sponsored by Pirate Water Taxi, Yacht StarShip Cruises and Events, and Sparkman Wharf.