Tempe holiday boat parade: Everything to know about 2022 Fantasy of Lights at Town Lake

Michael Salerno
Arizona Republic
A parade boat sails in the Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade at Tempe Beach Park on Dec. 10, 2022.

Before you spot Santa's sleigh in the sky at Christmas, look out on the lake for his helpers on boats decked out in colorful lights.

The Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade, a holiday tradition over the last two decades, is returning to Tempe Town Lake and Tempe Beach Park this year. It's scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 10.

The annual event organized by the Downtown Tempe Authority will feature an assortment of boats on the lake decorated for Christmas, as well as a holiday market, food trucks, live entertainment and fireworks.

And just like many Christmas parades, it will end with an appearance from Santa Claus.

Drive-thru lights:World of Illumination holiday lights return to metro Phoenix. Here's what's new for 2022

What time is the Tempe boat parade?

The Fantasy of Lights event starts at 4 p.m. Dec. 10. The parade kicks off at 6 p.m. It will run for two hours and conclude with a fireworks display.

How many boats will be in the Fantasy of Lights parade?

A parade boat sails in the Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade at Tempe Beach Park on Dec. 10, 2022.

Parade organizers had 44 registered boats as of late November, said Kim DeMeritt, director of events for the Downtown Tempe Authority.

She expects the parade will top out at about 50 boats.

Santa Claus will appear in the last boat, then come into the park where people can take pictures with him for free until 9 p.m., DeMeritt said.

Phoenix ZooLights 2022:When it starts, how much it costs and everything that's new

What types of decorations will the boats feature?

People take photos at the Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade at Tempe Beach Park on Dec. 10, 2022.

Every boat features different decorations. Some are based on pop culture themes from Disney films to "Star Wars." Other boats focus on synchronized displays where lights move to music.

"A number of (boaters) spend a long time planning what they're going to do, like adding PVC pipes or inflatables or snow machines," DeMeritt said. "Others will have their boat tow a raft to enhance their decorations."

Hotel holidays:Christmas at the Princess and 3 more Arizona hotels' holiday celebrations bring the cheer

Where is the best spot to see the Tempe boat parade?

The best viewing areas are anywhere along Tempe Town Lake, the boat stage and the marina, DeMeritt said.

She said the boats will travel west along the south side of the lake, go underneath the Mill Avenue bridge to the light rail bridge, then turn north to travel along the northbound shore of the lake back to the marina.

Shine on!Here's a map to the biggest and best holiday lights displays around Phoenix for Christmas 2022

What other activities does the Tempe Fantasy of Lights have?

A parade boat sails in the Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade at Tempe Beach Park on Dec. 10, 2022.

Before the parade, Kevin Bode will perform from 4:15 to 5 p.m., joined by the junior choir and instrumentalists from Emmanuel Lutheran Church and School in Tempe.

Sophie and Alex Dorsen will perform from 8:15 to 9 p.m., right after the parade and fireworks end.

There will be a holiday market at Tempe Beach Park with 20 vendors, DeMeritt said. Gift wrapping will be available for anyone who makes purchases.

Food trucks and food vendors will be there as well, including 28 Still Cooking on Wheels, Amigos AZ, Costantino's Italian Kitchen, El Pastorcito Taqueria PHX, Elote Man AZ, Hot Bamboo, Krazy Nuts, Lobstar, Pita Jungle, Rose's Soft Serve, The Paleta Bar, The Salted Knot and Yellowman Fry Bread.

Glendale Glitters 2022:The beloved holiday light show is back. Here's what to expect

Where is parking for the Tempe boat parade?

The closest parking garage to the parade is at 201 S. Ash Ave., at the corner of Rio Salado Parkway, DeMeritt said.

A full list of parking garages is available at downtowntempe.com.

People should not park along Loop 202 or the bridges to get a view of the parade, DeMeritt said.

Lights at the Farm 2022:Skating, pony rides, 3 million lights set to music. Here's a guide

How much does it cost to attend the Fantasy of Lights?

The Fantasy of Lights and boat parade are free to attend.

Details: Tempe Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade, 4-9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10. Tempe Beach Park, 80 W. Rio Salado Parkway. 480-355-6060, downtowntempe.com.

Reach the reporter at Michael.Salerno@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @salerno_phx.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.