Schooner Wharf Bar and Galley Hosts 23rd Annual Lighted Boat Parade

Key West, Florida hosts first annual Key West Holiday Fest including the traditional 23rd annual Lighted Boat Parade.

As the Christmas holiday quickly approaches, the folks on the island of Key West, Florida are in full holiday swing. 2013 boasts the inaugural year for the Key West Holiday Fest, inclusive of many festive holiday events. From a classic holiday parade complete with the old man himself, Santa Claus, to scheduled tours of the festively decorated historical Inns on the island to everyone's favorite event, photos with Santa, the island knows how to get into the spirit of the season.

A traditional event during the holidays has become the "flagship" and "grand finale" of the newly founded Key West Holiday Fest. For the 23rd year running and hosted by Schooner Wharf Bar and Galley, the Lighted Boat Parade and competition was scheduled for December 14th. With over $20,000 in prizes for the top twelve decorated vessels and a $4,000 raffle for participants, this holiday event is one of the most popular on the island.

Beginning at 6:00 PM at the Schooner Wharf Bar and Galley on the Harbor of Lights, the festivities will kick off with the Gerald Adams Elementary School Steel Your Heart Band tapping out some of your holiday favorites. The Doerfels, a family of truly talented young people will follow the steel drum band with more of the traditional music of the season. Then, as darkness falls and the stars begin to twinkle over the harbor...the real stars of the show come out.

From kayaks to fishing boats and classic schooners, the vessels are decorated to the hilt for this annual Key West Christmas display. Many hours of design, engineering and construction goes into each entry bringing to "light" the darkened harbor as the vessels make their way to the judges booth at Schooner Wharf Bar. Typical of a parade, candy and small gifts are often thrown to the crowd as the brightly lit and often animated ships slowly float by.

While the festive parade turns the harbor into the light show of the year, several booths line the harbor walk, offering handmade ornaments, other holiday fare and warm festive beverages. The Boys and Girls Club of Key West hosts a prize booth where parade attendees can spin a giant wheel for island holiday prizes.

There is no doubt of the beauty of a well decorated holiday home, giant light covered evergreens and the sparkle of the colored lights against the newly fallen snow...keep that in mind but let's make it a boat, a palm tree and the tropical waters of Key West, Florida this holiday season.

For more information on Key West Holiday Fest, visit or for information on the Lighted Boat Parade, visit

JD Arbuckle is a freelance journalist in Minneapolis who wishes she was celebrating the holidays in Key West.