Tips for Decorating Your Boat for a Holiday Boat Parade

Believe it or not, it’s time for seasonal holiday boat parades again! Holiday boat parades are a favorite pastime of boaters and spectators alike. If you’re planning on taking part in the parade this year, here are a few tips that we compiled to help you enjoy a safe and successful parade of lights on your boat:


Be aware of the placement of lights and decorations on your boat. You need to ensure that the skipper has adequate visibility to maneuver in close quarters. Also make sure your navigation lights are clearly visible through the rest of your decorations. Don’t block the view or set up bright lights in the cockpit that could blind the helmsperson.

Secure your lights carefully to the boat. You don’t want them dragging in the water or, worse yet, getting caught in your propeller. One suggestion is to secure string lights using lots of tie wraps. Test your lights out before the parade. Examine all the cords and make certain there are no bad spots or overheating in the wiring.


If your boat or yacht is equipped with a generator, you can use this as a great power source to run your lights and decorations. If your boat doesn’t have a generator, you can consider renting one and lashing it to the deck of your boat. If you do so, be absolutely certain that your carbon monoxide detector is working.

If you don’t want to use a generator, you can try powering your lights by means of an inverter that converts the DC power of your boat batteries to AC current. Be aware of the amount of amperage that you’ll need to power your lights for the entire parade. The last thing you want to do is to drain your batteries especially while the engine(s) run(s).  LED lights use much less power, in addition to being generally safer.

Depending upon the number of lights and lighted decorations that you’ll be powering, you may want to consider spreading the load between several outlets on separate circuits.


Most boat parade winners organize their display around a specific theme. While a boat loaded with gobs of multi-colored lights might grab attention for a few seconds, the most pleasing displays are those that make some sort of sense to the spectators. If you’re going with a snowy winter wonderland theme, for example, you might choose white lights, snow flakes, and a snowman or two. Adding a reindeer, a candy cane, and three waving elves will probably confuse things! Pick a theme and keep your decorations simple and to the point.

Most of all, bundle up and have fun! If you’re planning on participating in a boat parade in your area, we’d love to hear about it! Write a comment to this post or add your event to Good luck and think warm thoughts!


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