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A Festival of Lights on the Water: The Charleston Holiday Boat Parade

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Ever watched or joined in a Christmas parade held entirely on the water? Santa’s ditching the sleigh and trading it in for a watercraft during the annual Charleston Holiday Boat Parade, a unique Lowcountry holiday tradition featuring a display of lighted and festive boats celebrating the season.

Vessels of all sizes and styles will be festooned with twinkling lights, ornaments and other Christmas fanfare as they proceed along the parade route from the Cooper River, through the Charleston Harbor and into the Ashley River.

You can either deck your—well—deck with holiday cheer and register your own boat in the parade, or if you’re more of a landlubber but still want to enjoy the show you can always view the procession along Charleston’s waterfront. 

The festivities are highlighted by a brilliant fireworks display over the harbor. 

Waterfront Park and The Battery are two prime spots to catch the parade downtown.  

Regardless of which way you prefer to take in the parade, it’s a free, family-friendly event. The holiday boat parade is presented by the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs and America’s Boating Club Charleston, and is typically held in mid-December.

Festivities start along the shores of Mount Pleasant at 5 p.m. and viewing from the peninsula begins around 7:30 p.m., weather, tides and currents permitting. 

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