Oklahoma City Holiday River Parade on the Oklahoma River

Lights On Water
artland / Getty Images

It's a sign of the season, the illuminated buildings, streets and decorations all throughout the Oklahoma City metro area.  From individual houses to the major drive through displays, the lights perfectly capture the merriment of the holidays.  But when it comes down strictly to visual wonder, there may not be a better light sight than when reflected off the water of the Oklahoma River.  

That's what you'll find at the annual Oklahoma City Holiday River Parade, a local favorite event in which as many as 20 boats, decorated in holiday lights, float the river as a spectacular fireworks display adorns the sky.  Started in 2004 to officially open the river, it now also features a water ski show, the arrival of Santa and more, and admission is absolutely free. It's a perfect time for the entire family.

Here is information on the event, details on the best viewing area, boat entry and more.

2017 Date & Times:

In some previous years, the Holiday River Parade was held in late November; however, after taking a year off in 2016, the 13th version shifts closer to Christmas. It takes place on Sunday, Dec. 17. The viewing areas open at 4 p.m. Activities begin around 5:30 p.m., with a fireworks display shortly thereafter.  Festivities end around 8 p.m.

Viewing Locations & Parking Information:

The viewing area is at the Boathouse District at 700 South Lincoln, either on the north or south side of the river.  Bring a blanket or chairs and grab a spot on the grass near the Devon Boathouse or the Finish Line Tower.  Here's a map of the area. 

Free public parking is available just to the north of the Boathouse District and south of the river, just west of Shidler Elementary School.  Trams are available to shuttle attendees from the south parking area to the river.

Boat Entry:

Entry forms for boat registration are available from most metro area boat dealers or online. Boat height must be 12 feet or less from water level.  For more information, call (405) 231-0912.

Sponsorship & Support:

If you're interested in becoming an event sponsor, levels start at $1000 and include VIP hospitality at the Devon Boathouse.  For more information, see the full sponsorship details.

You can also support the annual Holiday River Parade by purchasing a Christmas tree ornament featuring the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.  Priced at $19.95, it is available at the museum or at Penn Square Mall.


In addition to awards for private individuals, entries are recognized in several categories including non-profit organizations and corporate entities.  Previous winners have included the Oklahoma City Arts Council, the city's Public Works department, David's Sports Center, the Oklahoman, Salvation Army, Rotary Club and many more.

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