Every year, one million people watch the lit-up vessels in the Winterfest Parade—it is a Fort Lauderdale tradition, after all.
Want to beat the crowds clamoring along the 12-mile route? Check out our picks of restaurants and hotels hosting viewing parties for this year’s event.
Ford Grandstand Viewing Area
Get the party started early with the family at 3:30 p.m. at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Wander through the Budweiser Culinary Courtyard, enjoy music from Big City Dogs, slack shot hockey games, climb the rock wall and more. The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. and should pass the viewing area at 7:30 p.m. Tickets ($25) can be purchased on the Winterfest website or at the Hard Rock Hotel front desk.
3109 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954.564.4521; winterfestparade.com/events/grandstand-viewing-area
Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach is hosting a free party on the west dock of the marina from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., fit with music by 102.7 The Beach’s DJ Holiday, a cash bar and sliders and chips. Kids can get in on the fun too with hot chocolate and a popcorn bar. Those that wear a holiday shirt, mittens or a sweater will get a special treat.
801 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954.764.233; facebook.com/events/382919522148510/?active_tab=about
Bokampers Fort Lauderdale
If you’re looking for a relaxed viewing party, the sports bar is kicking off the festivities at 6:30 p.m., with three tiers of viewing spots ($99, $150 and $200 per person). Choose from Bokamper’s three speciality cocktails for $10, or indulge in a four-course meal of seafood, chicken, short ribs and dessert. Top-tier dock seating includes a bottle of Champagne.
3115 NE 32nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954.900.5584; bokampers.com/fort-lauderdale/whats-happening/winterfest
The Old River House
This historic building is set along the river in downtown Fort Lauderdale, providing a unique view of the parade. Bring the family for a holiday buffet and open bar from 4 to 9 p.m. Tickets for adults are $99 and children’s tickets cost $45.
301 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954.314.8699; theoldriverhouse.com
Catch a view of the show on the the Intracoastal while dining on a prix-fixe, four-course meal starting at $125 to $250 per person. Menu items includes a southern watermelon canape, octopus and shrimp ceviche, Makers Mark-braised pork belly and roasted cornish hen. Seating starts at 6 p.m. and guests must cross the bridge by 7:45 p.m.
3033 NE 32nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954.566.2855; shooterswaterfront.com/event/winterfest-boat-parade
Joining in on the Broadway theme, the Riverside Hotel is hosting three separate viewing parties. “The Lion King” stadium-style seating is $35 and guests can partake in food and drink from community food trucks. “Jersey Boys” is the next tier at $80, with a 21-and-up party taking place on the hotel’s pool deck and docks. Finally, the premium “Phantom of the Opera” at $130 provides a VIP experience with open premium bar, food and extravagant decor and lighting.
620 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954.467.0671; rshpayments.com/product/winterfest-broadway-on-parade
Flip Flops Dockside Eatery
Get a view from the north end of the parade from the waterfront tables of Flip Flops. The restaurant is serving up a buffet of comfort foods, including barbecue ribs, golden-fried shrimp, mini Philly cheese steak sliders, buffalo wings and a dessert station. DJ Robert Lavalle will be spinning tunes at the event. Tickets are $70 for children and $125 for adults.
3051 NE 32nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954.567.672; flipflopsdocksideeatery.com