Newport’s signature holiday event is ready to launch.
The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, now in its 110th year, runs Wednesday through Sunday, promising bright lights, saturated colors and festive sound from dozens of elaborately decorated boats of all sizes as they circumnavigate Newport Harbor.
An opening night kickoff at Marina Park, 1600 W. Balboa Blvd., starts at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The family-friendly festival includes face painters, caricature artists, a Chargers football toss competition, food vendors and a live musical performance by The Young Americans.
A fireworks show from Newport Pier will signal the start of the parade. The procession pushes off at about 6:30 nightly at the southern end of Lido Isle. The route heads west toward Lido Peninsula before hanging east to complete a loop back to its starting point.
Spectators should plan on staying for about 2½ to three hours to see all of the boats.
This year’s parade features Angels first baseman Albert Pujols as the opening-night grand marshal, greeting spectators from the deck of the Ohana Kai II while accompanied by his wife, Deidre, a well known advocate for sex trafficking victims and other causes, and their five children.
The parade spotlights a different grand marshal each night. Here’s the rest of the lineup:
Thursday: This year’s Newport Beach police officer of the year, firefighter of the year, lifeguard supervisor of the year and seasonal lifeguard of the year in a “Salute to Hometown Heroes.”
Friday: The Young Americans, a nonprofit group of musical ambassadors.
Dec. 22: Children and families of Olive Crest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing child abuse and treating and educating at-risk children.
Dec. 23: Corona del Mar High School’s drumline.
Free public viewing locations will ring the harbor, with several charters and waterfront businesses offering private viewings. Thousands of spectators are expected each night. Expect heavy traffic and be on alert for pedestrians.