A unique and festive tradition in the southeastern United States, annual holiday flotillas provide twice the sparkle of the season as twinkling lights reflect on rivers and coastal waterways along the eastern seaboard. For festive fun, plan a day-trip or getaway to one of these great coastal destinations in the Southeast.
For traditional holiday parades on land, visit: Holiday Parades in the Southeast.
Intracoastal Waterway between Little River and North Myrtle Beach
Always held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, this annual event begins at the Little River Inlet and travels south, ending at Dock Holidays Marina. Several spots along the Intracoastal Waterway provide a good view of the parade.
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Related: Myrtle Beach for the Holidays
Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington, North Carolina
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2013, this festive Wrightsville Beach tradition begins at 6 p.m. followed by fireworks. The parade route travels along the Intracoastal Waterway between Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach. During the day visitors may enjoy the Festival in the Park from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and other fun events that take place in the area throughout the weekend to kick off the holiday season.
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This beautiful parade features twinkling yachts and sailboats, parading both sides of the Savannah waterfront, accompanied by live music performances, tree lighting ceremony, and a fireworks extravaganza.
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On the day of the Scottish Christmas Walk parade, more than 50 brightly decorated boats light up Alexandria's harbor as they cruise along the Potomac River at dusk at the historic waterfront behind the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Festivities on land add to the holiday fun.
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More Holiday Events in Alexandria
New Bern, North Carolina
This annual flotilla features an evening of bright lights, beautiful boats, music and Santa, who will hitch a ride aboard one of the boats to greet the children in Union Point Park.
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Beaufort and Morehead City, North Carolina
This annual holiday flotilla consists of decorated yachts and workboats following a course from Morehead City to Beaufort. Launch time is 5:30 p.m. from the Morehead City waterfront with an estimated arrival time of 6:15 p.m. in Beaufort.
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Bundle up and head for the historic downtown Hampton waterfront for holiday festivities including the annual Lighted Boat Parade, which begins at approximately 7 p.m.
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Carolina Beach, North Carolina
A highlight of the five-week-long Island of Lights celebration in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, North Carolina, this annual flotilla features fishing boats and pleasure craft decorated with thousands of sparkling lights. The boat parade, which cruises along the Intracoastal Waterway from Snows Cut to the Carolina Beach Boat Basin and back, begins at 6 p.m.
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Charleston, South Carolina
Filling Charleston Harbor with a dazzling display, this annual Lowcountry tradition begins at dusk, approximately 5 p.m., near Mount Pleasant, proceeds along the Charleston side of the Cooper River and ends in the Ashley River at approximately 7:30 p.m.
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Related: Top Things to Do in Charleston