The Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights is a favorite holiday celebration in both Old Town Alexandria and Washington, D.C. Festively decorated pleasure boats light up the sky along the Potomac River, including dozens of powerboats, sailboats, and the District's fireboat, the John Glenn spouting water 70 feet into the air. The brightly lit boats are creatively decorated as they compete in categories such as "Best in Show," "Best Thinking Outside the Christmas Box," and "Hardiest Souls."
A seasonal favorite, the Waterskiing Santa will have a boat in the parade to celebrate his upcoming show in Alexandria on Christmas Eve. This unique tradition features Santa Clause himself waterskiing down the Potomac River, accompanied by jetskiing elves, reindeer, and other holiday characters. The boat parade is the culmination of a full weekend of holiday festivities throughout Old Town Alexandria.
The Wharf development is open on the Southwest Waterfront and will be also hosting holiday events. Before the parade arrives at the Wharf, activities like s'mores, hot chocolate, and music kick off at 6 p.m., then boats arrive at 7 p.m. and a fireworks finale happens at 8 p.m. After the fireworks, stay and enjoy live music performances to ring in the holidays.
Holiday Boat Parade Schedule:
Saturday, December 7, 2020 - Held Rain (Snow) or Shine
- 5:30 p.m.: Parade starts at the Alexandria Waterfront
- 6 p.m.–9 p.m.: Activities throughout the D.C. Wharf
- 7:00 p.m.: Boats arrive at Washington Channel, Washington, D.C.
- 8:00 p.m.: Fireworks finale
- 8:15 p.m.–9 p.m.: Live music on District Pier Stage
While most of the activities take place on the wharf at Washington, D.C., you can also enjoy the parade on the Virginia side of the river. The best place in northern Virginia to view the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights is the from the docks of the Alexandria marina.
Locations and Transportation
The Alexandria Waterfront is located behind the Torpedo Factory Art Center, which runs north along Union Street, between King and Cameron streets. The closest metro stop is King Street station, which is about 10 blocks to the east of the waterfront. You can walk from there or take the free King Street Trolley. On-street parking and public parking lots are available within walking distance to the waterfront.
The Wharf Waterfront is located in Southwest Washington, D.C. along the Washington Channel, just south of the National Mall. The closest metro stations are Waterfront and L’Enfant Plaza. On-street parking and public parking lots are available within walking distance to the waterfront. Enjoy beverages from the Waterfront Beer and Wine Garden, or grab a bite at one of the many restaurants located along the Wharf, such as Shake Shack, Hank's Oyster Bar, or Milk Bar.