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Holiday Parades on the Water

Every Christmas season, countless residents and business owners bring light to the darkness, decorating their homes and workplaces with millions of blinking bulbs and other festive lights. But holiday illumination is not limited to landlubbers alone. And considering how much of the Southwest Florida lifestyle is defined by water, aquatic displays of seasonal cheer should almost be a given. To that end, here are a handful of lighted boat parades, canal cruises and other Christmas celebrations bringing light to the area’s dark waters… and you don’t even have to get your feet wet.

King Fisher Lighted Canal Cruises
December 3 – 31
Fishermen’s Village
1200 West Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda
(941) 639-0969
King Fisher Fleet in Punta Gorda will once again host their tradition of lighted canal cruises in December. Cruises will depart three times nightly from Fishermen’s Village at 6:00 PM, 7:30 PM and 9:00 PM. The tours will showcase decorated homes of Punta Gorda residents on the canals. Tickets are $14 for adults and $7 for children 11 and under. Ages 2 and under are free. Reservations are required.

Venice Christmas Boat Parade
December 3, 6:00 PM
Albee Road Bridge, Nokomis
www.venicechristmasparade.com
The annual Venice Christmas Boat Parade will take place once again on the first Saturday of December. Decorated boats will parade through the waters to benefit the Venice Youth Boating Association, the Sarasota Scullers Rowing Club, Aquarian Quest and Boy Scout Troop 1001. The parade will begin at the Albee Road Bridge in Nokomis, head south between the north and south jetties and down to Circus Bridge. For a map of the full parade route and additional information, please visit www.venicechristmasboatparade.com.

Gasparilla Boat Club
Lighted Boat Parade
December 10, Dusk
15001 Gasparilla Road, Placida
(941) 697-2280
www.gasparillamarina.com
The 5th Annual Gasparilla Boat Parade will take place on Saturday, December 10. The Gasparilla Boat Club will again be joined in the parade by the Cape Haze Boat Club. Last year the event had over 20 boats participating. The parade route will head north on the Intracoastal Waterway through Cape Haze. The best place for viewing the parade is the fishing pier next to the Boca Grande causeway. For more information, please contact the Gasparilla Boat Club.

Sarasota Christmas Boat Parade
December 10, 6:00 PM
Island Park, Sarasota
www.sarasotachristmasboatparade.com
The 25th Annual Sarasota Christmas Boat Parade of Lights will be held on December 10. The parade route has been expanded by an additional turn marker and the best areas for viewing are Marina Jack Restaurant, Centennial Park and Bayfront Park. Boats will be judged and cash prizes, awards and trophies will be awarded at a ceremony following the parade. Proceeds from the event will benefit Suncoast Charities for Children, Inc. To view the full parade map or for more information, visit the link above.

Punta Gorda Lighted Boat Parade
December 11, 6:00 PM
Charlotte Harbor
(941) 639-3720
www.puntagordachamber.com
The 22nd Annual Lighted Boat Parade is sponsored by Smugglers Enterprises Inc. and Fishermen’s Village. This year’s event promises to be even bigger and better than ever before. Boats will follow the parade route from Edgewater Lake to Isles Yacht Club, through Fishermen’s Village and end at Laishley Park Marina. To see the parade route and viewing and parking areas, visit the website above.

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