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Winterfest Boat Parade 2016: Viewing Parties, Parking, And Shuttles

We're only a few days away from South Florida's largest holiday boat parade (and one of the largest spectator events in the entire U.S.), and it's time to get ready for all the action.

Festive showboats and mega yachts with dazzling light displays are set to parade down the New River and Intracoastal Waterway when Winterfest 2016 returns Saturday, Dec. 10. The event will be hosted by Pitbull, aka Mr. Worldwide, as grand marshal and "Below Deck" star Capt. Lee Rosbach as the Fort Lauderdale boat parade's official captain

The 12-mile parade route starts along the New River west of the Stranahan House in downtown Fort Lauderdale and travels east to the Intracoastal before heading north to Pompano Beach. Kicking off at 6:30 p.m., it takes about two and a half hours to view in full from any one location.

The "Comics & Cartoons Rockin' the Night Away"-themed boats will feature hundreds of thousands of holiday lights and decor, music, entertainment, celebrities and more.

Here's what you need to know about this year's festivities: 


Shuttle service will be offered from The Galleria Mall (where parking is free and bus service is $5 round-trip per person) to Birch State Park, the official site of Winterfest's Grandstand Viewing Area. Bus service begins at 3 p.m. and return service continues until an hour after the parades end. There is no parking at Birch State Park.

For more parking lots and garages along the 12-mile boat parade route, see the City of Fort Lauderdale's website.


Viewing Parties

Winterfest Boat Parade Grandstands

Watch the Winterfest Boat Parade from reserved, assigned seats inside Birch State Park. All ticket holders will receive a blinking light necklace from South Florida Ford and can enjoy free activities for the kids, entertainment by local bands, and food and drink for sale in a festival environment.

Area opens at 3:30 p.m. and guests must enter by 6:30 p.m.; $25 (adult), $20 (child)


North Beach Village Resort

Attend a family-friendly "Minions"-themed viewing party right on the Intracoastal. North Beach Village Resort's party will feature live entertainment, photo opps with Santa, food and drink for purchase, vendor booths, local artists and more. Guests should bring their own chairs or blankets, as seats will not be provided. VIP admission, however, does include seating in a tented area, complimentary hors d'oeuvre stations, desserts and Jack Frost martinis.

General admission: $20 (adults, in advance), $30 (adults, at the door), $10 (children, in advance), $15 (children, at the door); VIP:  $90 after Dec. 1 


Riverside Hotel

While tickets to the Rock the Dock party and family-friendly Las Olas Stadium Seating are already sold out, spectators looking for a great view of the New River can enjoy The Riverside Hotel's Z Pool Party Meltdown ($75) or Patio Party on the New River ($125). The "Ice Age"-themed pool party, which provides a direct view of the river, includes premium open bar and access to food trucks. Meanwhile, the patio party will offer a Popeye and Olive Oyl theme as well as premium open bar, specialty foods, and special decor and lighting.

620 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; $75 or $125, depending on event 


Shooters Waterfront

Enjoy more than a spectacular Intracoastal view of the holiday boat parade. Feast on a four-course dinner, too. Shooters Waterfront will be offering a festive feast with specialty options including broiled Maine lobster tail and lobster risotto, filet mignon a la Oscar, crab Louie salad, Australian lamb lollipops, seared quail, chocolate bombe with raspberry jam and Nutella powder, and more. Call 954.566.2855 to make your reservation.

Seating options from $125 to $250 per person


Luxe Yacht Charters

Watch the holiday boat parade while aboard a mega yacht yourself. You'll get to enjoy a Southern-inspired menu of pulled pork BBQ, sweet potatoes, potato salad and more while on board, plus a cash bar and DJ. Guests can meet Tito Puente Jr. and "Below Deck" star Capt. Lee and be part of the filming of reality show "The Life of the Party."

Board by 5:30 p.m. at docks west of Stranahan House; $106.75