John Blom Photography

Parade lights up Newport Harbour

NEARLY a million viewers watch over 200 stunningly decorated yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes sail along Newport Harbor in the 103rd Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. 

The parade will set the harbor ablaze for five consecutive nights, beginning Wednesday, December 14 and ending Sunday, December 18, 2011, and is hosted by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce. 

Locals and visitors are invited to attend this free, family-friendly event to celebrate the year as the parade features the theme "Feelin' Christmas-Sea in Newport Beach!" 

Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce president, CEO and parade organiser, Richard Luehrs said the boat parade is Newport Beach, California's Christmas card to the world.

"Since its inception in 1908 when the first 'tournament of lights' was established by Italian Gondolier John Scarpa, the parade continues to be a premier event during the holiday season in Southern California and is truly a magical holiday tradition for all ages."

The Christmas boat parade has been hailed as "One of the Top Ten Holiday Happenings in the Nation" by the New York Times, and voted "#7 of the World's Best Holiday Lights" by Frommer's.

Competitors include beautiful multi-million dollar yachts and sail boats, to simple kayaks, canoes and other small boats. All of them will be richly decorated, some with animated holiday scenes, and others accompanied by music and costumed carolers. This event attracts competitors of all stripes, with some owners spending over $50,000 to decorate their vessels for this one event.

The dazzlingly illuminated vessels float in line along a 14-mile route around the Newport Harbor and offer viewers in restaurants, yacht clubs, on public beaches, and in private homes an incredible sight that has delighted millions of people for over a century. 

>> Read more travel stories.

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