World’s Coolest Boating Events

What makes an event thrilling, world-famous and fun for the whole family? Boats! Some of the most popular festivals and entertaining events across the globe revolve entirely around boats. We’ve taken a look at such events and determined the best-of-the-best. Check out our top five world-famous boating events.

1. Winterfest Holiday Boat Parade

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Winterfest is an annual holiday festival in Fort Lauderdale which boasts the world’s largest boat parade. This seasonally festive and spirited boat parade takes place one or two Saturdays before Christmas and features small family-owned boats, commercial yachts and other vessels festooned with Christmas lights, garland and even massive, glowing palm trees, bells and snowmen. And let’s not forget Santa Claus, elves and carolers. Fireworks signal the start of the parade, as spectators watch the procession from coastal restaurants and waterside parks. Judges also watch as the parade makes its way through the Intracoastal Waterway to select boats to win prizes in a variety of categories. Categories in years past have been: best adaptation of theme, best usage of lights, most beautiful boat (according to size) and best commercial boat, and previous winners have received trophies and free dinners at local restaurants.

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2. Duanwu Dragon Boat Festival


The traditional Dragon Boat Festival is one of the most important festivals in the country of China and many other regions of East Asia. Added to China’s schedule of national holidays in 2008, this boat festival is part of the nation’s annual Duanwu observance–held on the fifth day of the lunar month. On this “Double Fifth Day,” long, canoe-style boats with ornamental Chinese dragon heads and tails are raced through rivers to commemorate the legend of Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan was a Chinese court official in the pre-imperial Warring State period who flung himself into the river on the fifth day of the fifth month after being banished from his kingdom. The Chinese people heard of Qu’s drowning and rushed to the Miluo River, beating drums, splashing water and scattering rice into the river to keep fish from his body. On Double Fifth Day, the Chinese remember the occasion by participating in dragon boat races and indulging in Zongzi, a traditional rice dumpling made of gluttonous rice stuffed with jujube, red pork, salted duck eggs or other fillings that is wrapped in bamboo leaves.

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3. Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fort Lauderdale’s International Boat Show is the world’s largest boat show, attracting boat enthusiasts and travelers from all over the globe. The “Yachting Capital of the World ” hosts this boat show each year to showcase a variety of boats–including, yachts, sportfishers, high performance boats, cabin cruisers, skiffs, catamarans, center consoles, runabouts, trawlers, exotic cars and more. Shuttles, water taxis and riverboats make the show’s five locations and 3 million square feet of boater’s bliss easy to navigate, as well as ensure that guests make it to any additional events. Such events include dive shows, sportfishing schools and children’s fishing clinics.

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4. Lake of the Ozarks Pontoon Boat Party

Lake of the Ozarks, MO

Every summer, the folks at Captain Ron’s Bar and Grill in Sunrise Beach, Missouri put on one of the biggest, baddest floating parties on this planet. The annual dusk-til-dawn bash is the world’s largest pontoon boat party, attracting fun-lovers from all over America and the world. Because the Lake of the Ozarks is such a popular pontooning destination, it’s not surprising that the individuals from the Guinness Book of World Records had to see the spectacle for themselves, ultimately verifying it as the largest pontoon party. Even those without a pontoon can partake in the festivities. Visitors can rent pontoons from local marinas and boat dealers, but only if they reserve early–rentals go fast! If you can’t get a rental, that’s no problem, either. It is more than common to receive a friendly invitation from a local boater or good-time tourist to board their maritime merrymaking. Once on board, sit back, relax and enjoy Captain Ron’s on shore concerts, floating entertainment and grub.

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5. Antique and Classic Boat Rendezvous

Mystic Seaport, Connecticut

Each July, Mystic Seaport offers a brilliant and nautical waterfront celebration showcasing both classic sailboats and powerboats as part of the town museum’s Antique and Classic Boat Rendezvous. Guests at the water’s edge are treated to a three-mile parade of high-quality antique vessels crafted any time before 1965. Such vessels include cruisers, launches, sailboats and runabouts that are competitively recognized in their restoration, workmanship and authenticity, as well as a steamboat with a lot of significance. The Sabino—a 57-foot wooden steamboat built and used in Maine for passenger service, retired after years of overhaul and then revamped again for passenger service at Mystic Seaport in 1975–is one of the only National Historic Landmarks that people can ride on. This family-friendly event includes a good dose of history and entertainment for children and adults alike, providing all with a quintessential 19-century seafaring experience.

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