The colourful illuminations included giant jellyfish, Christmas trees, pirates, palm trees and even a Las Vegas-style casino theme, as participants paraded around the harbour. *Photo by Amanda Dale
The colourful illuminations included giant jellyfish, Christmas trees, pirates, palm trees and even a Las Vegas-style casino theme, as participants paraded around the harbour. *Photo by Amanda Dale

*Photos by Amanda Dale and Nicola Muirhead


Up to 50 vessels of all shapes and sizes lit up Hamilton Harbour last night in a spectacular Christmas Boat Parade.

The colourful illuminations included giant jellyfish, Christmas trees, pirates, palm trees and even a Las Vegas-style casino theme, as participants paraded around the harbour.

Even Santa's elves, Gombeys and a flyboarder joined in the festive celebrations, delighting the thousands of spectators thronged along Front Street, Harbour Road and at the Hamilton Princess hotel.

The event was capped off by a fantastic fireworks display.

This year was the 12th anniversary of the parade, which was founded in 1998 by Norma Thomson.

Ms Thomson said: “This was another fantastic event. The creativity of the boat owners always boggles my mind; they do such a great job. Every year they do something different and it’s always beautiful.

“This is just such a great night, for all of Bermuda. It’s an event which brings everyone together, from all walks of life. And it’s a real family event.

“Tonight we had beautiful weather; we couldn’t have asked for a better night.”

Aboard the Uber Vida, Cindy and Jason Samuels of Warwick were enjoying the spectacle with children Chloe, five, and Silas, three.

Mrs Samuels, a company secretary at Hiscox, said: “It has been really nice, very festive, and it’s so beautiful to see so many people watching along Front Street. It has really put us in the Christmas spirit.”

Daughter Chloe said: “I like the music and the floats are very pretty.”

Denis Owen, Uber Vida owner/captain, dressed up as Santa Claus for the event.

Mr Owen said: “All the boats look really good – this is a fantastic event.

“This is the second year we’ve entered the parade, and we’d like to thank family and friends for helping us to get the boat ready.”

He added: “But please remember that although everyone is having a great time, there are people less fortunate out there, so let’s do what we can for them this Christmas, whether it’s a donation of food or just 10 minutes of your time to someone who needs some attention.”

The boat parade also had some international participants. South American exchange students Javiera Rodriguez and Emilly Pletsch dressed as elves to join Justin Williams’ boat Justified.

Miss Rodriguez, 17, from Chile said: “It’s really nice that Bermuda has this. I’ve never seen anything like this before, and everyone is really friendly.”

Miss Pletsch, 17, from Brazil, added: “Everyone is so happy. It seems like an important, special event for Bermuda.”

Justified won the prize for the Most Fun (boat) To Be Aboard.

The winner of the Best Bermuda Themed boat was Full Hot Scot, a 21 ft powerboat which had the theme ‘Jolly Jellies’, with three large jellyfish.

Boat owner Stuart Brown said: “It’s the first time we’ve entered and we just wanted to do something fun and Bermuda-oriented.

“The parade was brilliant fun, and the crowds by Darrell’s Wharf were particularly enthusiastic, cheering and clapping.

“It’s been fantastic.”

Wife Corey said: “This is one of the best events in Bermuda – I loved it.”

The winner of the Best Boat Overall was the casino-themed Warlock, by Charles Crisson.

Announcing the prizes, event treasurer Steve Thomson, said: “Bermuda is a special place and we have the most incredible harbour here. It’s the most incredible place to have a boat parade and you guys (tonight) have made it very special.”

He told the Sun: “We had up to 50 entries this year, which is a good number.

“We’ve had years where it has been up to 70 and years where there has been about 35, so this is somewhere in the middle.

“We try our best to make the event casual and fun; it’s just an event for all of us.

“We try to get all of Bermuda out, and it is one of the island’s largest spectator events, with up to 20,000 people coming out to watch in some years.”

He explained the boats travel around Hamilton Harbour, past the city docks and over to Lower Ferry terminal. From there they glide along Harbour Road before turning back across the harbour, past Hinson’s and Saltus islands, and over to the Hamilton Princess hotel where the judges are located.

This year’s prizes were awarded by Michael Dunkley, Minister of Public Safety. Mr Dunkley said: “I’m sure everyone had a great time. It doesn’t get any better than this and I want to thank all the sponsors, organizers and everyone who came out and got a boat together.

“It was fantastic – certainly the best parade I’ve seen in years.”

This year’s event was sponsored by Bacardi Ltd, ACE and Colonial, Butterfield & Vallis, OCIL, Dunkley’s, Frito Lay, DHL, the City of Hamilton, Government’s Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, Lindo’s, BF&M, The Royal Gazette, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, American Airlines and VSB-TV.