Even with so much going on this weekend, the Holiday Regatta of Lights deserves to top the “Must Do! Must See!” list. It’s a whimsical mix of celebrating centuries of maritime heritage in the Nation’s Oldest Port and a visually stunning parade of decorated seafaring vessels. Boats normally dedicated to shrimping or sailing, trawling or even towing, are transformed into floating illuminations as they cruise the Intracoastal into the Matanzas Bay.
Hosted by the St. Augustine Yacht Club, the 35th annual tradition begins at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12. Chartered in 1873, the local club is the oldest yacht club in Florida. Organizers expect about 30 boats this year.
The Regatta is equally enjoyable for participating skippers and crew as it is for merry crowds lining the bay front. Part of its charm is the eclectic variety. Some entrants go all out with professional-looking themed displays while others stick with several strings of lights jazzed up by Christmas carolers on board. Matanzas Bay does its part by adding a glittery glow and a mirrored image of the light displays.
The coveted places to watch the parade include anywhere along the bay front and sea wall, the Castillo de San Marcos and on the Bridge of Lions. The Regatta begins east of the Fort and continues south toward the bridge. Each boat circles around twice, to give everyone (including the judges!) plenty of opportunity to enjoy the dazzling display.
Boaters compete for honors in Most Colorful, Best Theme and Best in Class categories. One brilliantly-lit boat will take home the Best Overall grand prize.
For more information call 904-824-9725 or visit www.staugustineyachtclub.com