2018 Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade: A Guide to Festive Fun

The 110th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and Ring of Lights is almost HERE! The holiday spectacle of the season kicks off Dec. 19 at 6:30 p.m. with a special fireworks display by Newport Pier at 6:15 p.m. Then, for five straight days from 6:30 p.m. to 9 (ish) p.m., watch yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes lit all aglow, sailing the waters of the Newport Bay and bringing a whole lot of cheer. (And local revenue. Did you know the 2018 Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is expected to bring in $2 million?)


Wednesday, Dec. 19 – Opening Night

Mark your calendars! At exactly 4:30 p.m. at Marina Park (1600 W. Balboa Blvd.), the 110th Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade will host a veritable Christmas carnival, complete with family-friendly activities like face painting, caricature drawing and even a Los Angeles Chargers football toss competition. Food vendors will be onsite and guests will enjoy a live musical performance by The Young Americas, a non-profit organization and Southern California performing group bringing music education, dance and concerts to schools and audiences worldwide.

Next, fireworks will sparkle 6:15 p.m. over Newport Pier to signify the start of the festivities! The Christmas Boat Parade begins promptly at 6:30 p.m. The Grand Marshall for Night 1 is Albert Pujols, three-time MLB National League MVP and two-time World Series champion. 

Thursday, Dec. 20 – A Salute to Hometown Heroes

Don’t miss Thursday night’s tribute to the local heroes of Newport Beach! The Grand Marshals of Thursday night’s Christmas Boat Parade will include the Newport Beach first-responders, firefighters and lifeguards who keep our community save and thriving! 

Friday, Dec. 21 – The Young Americans

A night dedicated to music and those dedicated to sharing the gift of song with all!! Since 1962, The Young Americans have been promoting understanding and goodwill among young students throughout the world, fostered through music, dance, performance, academic education, and cultural interaction.

Saturday, Dec. 22 – A Celebration of Christmas Movies and Music with Olive Crest

Olive Crest transforms the lives of at-risk children through the healing power of family. Read more about the organization here. Representatives from Olive Crest will be on hand to ring in the third night of the Christmas Boat Parade. 

Sunday, Dec. 23 – Closing Night

As usual, the parade begins at 6:30 p.m. but at exactly 9:05 p.m., after the final boat has sailed, fireworks will shine over Balboa Pier. In between, the Grand Marshals for the night will be the CdM Drum Line of Corona del Mar High School. 


Map via christmasboatparade.com 


Parking throughout the five-day event will be available in all City of Newport Beach parking lots, (including the 177 spots at Marina Park) but we recommend getting to Balboa Peninsula early to nab street parking while you can. The parade is expected to draw thousands of people each night, so allow extra time to find a spot and maybe download a good podcast or two to calm you down. (Seriously, give yourself up to an hour to park your car.)


If Christmas Boat Parades make you hungry, these are our picks for Newport Beach restaurants that offer tasty bites and awesome views of the show:

A&O Kitchen + Bar at Balboa Bay Resort (1221 West Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92663) serves high-end, gastropub-style food, rustic vibes and has plenty of outdoor seating. 

Billy’s at the Beach (2751 West Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92663) is the spot for Mai Thais and Christmas cheer! 

Circle Hook Fish Co. at Lido Marina Village (3432 Via Oporto Suite 104, Newport Beach, CA 92663) has an inside, open-air counter facing the bay and an outdoor communal table with additional bay-front views, all ideal to enjoy the freshest fish and boat parade. 

Granola French toast made with brioche bread and topped with a berry compote from Lido Bottle Works.

Lido Bottle Works at Lido Marina Village (3408 Via Oporto #103, Newport Beach, CA 92663) is featuring Boat Parade specials! On Thursday, Dec. 20, it’s Family Night at Lido Bottle Works with $1 cider and hot cocoa for kids and dog biscuits for furry friends. On Friday, Dec. 21, the restaurant will feature canned beer specials from 8-9 p.m. and a late-night bites menu from 9-11 p.m. for those seeking post-parade eats. On Saturday, Dec. 22, Lido Bottle Works will offer a Boat Parade brunch 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and a late-night bites menu from 9-11 p.m. And finally, on Sunday, Dec. 23, Lido Bottle Works will host a Boat Parade brunch 10 a.m.-3p.m. and a closing party and industry night specials, starting 9 p.m. that night.

Malibu Farm at Lido Marina Village (3420 Via Oporto #101, Newport Beach, CA 92663) has a charming outdoor bar (complete with twinkly lights and comfy seating) as well as bay-facing tables to chow down on farm-to-table food while the Boat Parade sails through.

Pizza Nova (2601 W, CA-1, Newport Beach, CA 92663) offers the best of both worlds: waterfront seating and gourmet pizza!

The Winery (3131 West Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, CA 92663), located right on the shores of Newport Bay, is exactly as it sounds: a place for wine chosen from an extensive global wine list, sipped with friends by your side, warm food on your table and Christmas boats on the water, lit up for all to see.