San Francisco’s annual Lighted Boat Parade returns this Friday, December 15th, at 6 pm. This beloved holiday event hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club dates back to 1994 and is a welcome sight along the waterfront every year.
A procession of about 2 dozen illuminated boats will set sail from Pier 39 around 6 pm and cruise along the waterfront to Crissy Field. Once they reach Crissy Field, the lighted boats will turn around and sail back to Pier 39. The lighted boat parade is a beloved tradition and great for enjoying holiday lights in a uniquely coastal way. The procession goes leisurely, taking about 2-3 hours. You can bring a picnic and watch the glowing boats for the evening. Just don’t forget some layers and a blanket to keep you warm.
The best viewing is along Pier 39, the parking lot east of St. Francis Yacht Club, the Marina Green, Crissy Field, and Aquatic Park. If you have a boat, then be sure to grab a front-row seat right on the water. The St. Francis Yacht Club is members-only, so the public has no viewing opportunities inside the yacht house.
If you miss the procession on the SF Bay, consider catching the San Mateo Holiday Lighted Boat Parade on Saturday, December 16, at 5 pm. The best viewing is along the berm in front of the Coyote Point Yacht Club. You can also check out Winter Fest in Sausalito, which hosts a boat parade on December 9 starting at 6 pm.\
About the St. Francis Yacht Club
The St. Francis Yacht Club began in 1927 as an offshoot of the San Francisco Yacht Club, which dates back to 1869. In the 1920s, a debate emerged between its members about relocating the club to San Francisco from its original location in Sausalito. After all, this was pre-Golden Gate Bridge, and it was a long commute across the Bay.
The Marin County club members resisted the move, and the club eventually split into two groups: The San Francisco members started the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, and the Marin County members relocated the San Francisco Yacht Club to Belvedere. These days, the two clubs have a great relationship, and many members belong to both.
The St. Francis Yacht Club hosts the Rolex Big Boat Series every year, which is known as a premier regatta on the West Coast. The event happens every September, bringing hundreds of sailors to San Francisco.
By Jamie Ferrell and Dana Flynn