Seminole Hard Rock Hotel Winterfest Boat Parade
Date: Dec. 14, 2013
Price: Click here for ticket information.
Christmas is that special time of year when the lights illuminate the night sky. In South Florida, we have the annual tradition of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel Winterfest Boat Parade where privately owned boats and yachts take over the intracoastal waterway and display all of their Christmas glory. This year, the event is on December 14 and gives new definition to the float parade. Follow this comprehensive guide to find the best spots and events to attend to get the most out of this annual event.
Grand Marshall Tori Spelling
This year, “90210” alumni and reality show star Tori Spelling is the grand marshall of the Winterfest Boat Parade. The parade starts at 6:30 p.m. and you’ll want to get your seat early. She will be on one of the first few boats and immediately followed by a procession of boats with dazzling light displays. Last year’s grand marshall was “Inside Edition” news anchor Deborah Norville. While these two ladies are drastically different, it’s clear that a fun time will be had by all.
Whether you plan on purchasing tickets or not, you want to get good seats and you need to know the route to do so. It begins on the New River in Fort Lauderdale and travels north along the intracoastal waterway to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. Spectators can purchase grandstand tickets or watch from the comfort from a waterfront hotel or apartment complex. Either way, be sure to be situated early as traffic and space fills up quickly.
Since this parade is in the water, many bridges will be raised, creating a potential traffic nightmare. Beginning at 4:30 p.m., drivers should avoid the FECI railroad bridge and then avoid the 7th Avenue, 3rd Avenue and Andrews Avenue bridges two hours later. At approximately 7 p.m., Las Olas Boulevard, Sunrise Boulevard and Oakland Park bridges open and the Commercial Boulevard bridge will raise around 8 p.m. All of the bridges will reopen between 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Boaters are restricted from entering the intracoastal at 5:20 p.m. and boat traffic is restricted from The New River at 2:30 p.m. All times are approximate and attendees should plan ahead to save themselves hours in traffic.
Related: A Guide To the Nascar Championships
Grand Stand Tickets
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
3109 E. Sunrise Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Most people brave the crowds to find the perfect Winterfest sight-seeing spot, but some prefer to alleviate the hassle and purchase a grandstand ticket. The tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for children and $22 for senior citizens and military. These tickets include free parking and transportation to your seats at Birch State Park. Attendees can arrive at 3:30 p.m. to experience concessions, Slap Shot Hockey Games, a rock-climbing wall and Sun-Sentinel Kids Town. The event is sponsored by Tiger Direct and even features the Gator Boys Road show that is sure to entertain all before sundown hits and the boats float.
2414 E. Sunrise Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
People who purchased Grandstand Tickets won’t have the hassle of parking or transportation. They can park at the Galleria Mall and pay $5 for a roundtrip bus shuttle to take them to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. The shuttle will be waiting before 3:30 p.m. and will take passengers to the park until 6 p.m. Immediately after the boat show ends, it will begin transporting passengers back to the Galleria Mall. Non-ticket holders can park at one of the many parking garages in Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach, but be sure to find your place before the bridge closures.
Related: Guide To Santa’s Enchanted Forest
Niema Hulin was born in Newark, NJ but raised in Lexington, South Carolina for the bulk of her formative years. In 2002, she moved to Miami after graduating from the University of Florida. Since then, Niema has worked in film, television and commercials as a Production Assistant and Production Coordinator. Some of her films have included Bad Boys II and I Am Number IV. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.