The annual Boat Parade of Lights rings in December when dozens of colorfully lit powerboats and sailboats parade down the Potomac River.
On Saturday, Dec. 1, at the new earlier start time of 5:15 p.m, the parade begins, led by Alexandria’s fireboat Vigilant and Washington, DC’s fireboat John H. Glenn Jr., named for the former astronaut and U.S. senator.
The boats are dressed to impress a panel of judges who will award prizes in a dozen categories including Best in Show, Thinking Outside the Christmas Box and Hardiest Souls.
The 42nd Annual Campagna Center Scottish Christmas Walk parade starts the day with parading Scottie dogs, bagpipers and 100 Scottish clans at 11 a.m.
Pre-parade festivities begin at 3 p.m. at the city marina behind the Torpedo Factory and include free photos with Santa Claus for kids and canines plus free hot cocoa and cider.
This year’s boat parade is sponsored by the Old Dominion Boat Club in partnership with the Washington Waterfront Association. Dockside activities are presented by RedPeg Marketing.
You can also catch the parade as it makes its way to the Southwest Waterfront in Washington, DC. Once the parade leaves the Alexandria Waterfront, it will sail the historic Washington Channel, ending at the 7th Street Landing (7th and Water Streets, SW).
DC festivities commence at 5:30 p.m., just as the boats begin their journey from Virginia to the District. In Southwest you will find the waterfront Christmas tree lighting ceremony, photos with Santa and live holiday music.
The schedule for the Southwest Waterfront festivities are as follows:
5 p.m. – Parade Leaves the Alexandria Waterfront and Sails to the Historic Washington Channel
5:30 p.m. – The Waterfront Christmas Tree is Lit and Santa Claus Pictures Are Available
The Earl Wilson Quartet Plays Live Music
5:45 p.m. – 7th Street Landing Bonfire is Lit, Enjoy Marshmallow Roasting and Cookie Decorating
6 p.m. – Surprise Snow Fall at 7th Street Landing, In-Slip Boats Are Lit, Parade of Lighted Boats Arrive
6:30 p.m. – Vote for Your Favorite Lit Boat in the Parade
8 p.m. – Prizes Awarded for Parade and In-Slip Boats