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Christmas Lights Canal Cruises Are A Thing and We’re 100% On Board!

Forget about Christmas lights bus tours – that’s so last year! What is really floating my boat this festive season are these oar-inspiring Christmas lights canal cruises, and let me tell you, I am 100% on board with this brilliant idea! (On board… get it?)

Picture this: gliding along a serene canal, surrounded by festive twinkling lights reflecting on the water – it’s a game-changer for your holiday celebrations. Trust me, isn’t it a-boat time you added this experience to your ‘Christmas lights looking’ bucket list?

Get ready for a “deck-the-halls” kind of canal cruise – it’s the highlight of the ho-ho-holiday season! Make sure you seas the day and book your merry ferry now and you too can sleigh making the best festive memories for your family. OK… I’ll stop now…. 😉

Here is what you need to know with a selection of the best Christmas lights canal cruises in Brisbane, Bribie, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast for your festive family celebrations!

Christmas light canal cruises in Brisbane

There are a selection of cruises to see the lights around Brisbane. Check out these two!

Bribie’s Christmas Lights Cruise aboard the Ferryman

Bribie Christmas canal cruise
Bribie Christmas canal cruise

Join in the holiday spirit and witness the enchanting Christmas lights of Bribie from the unique vantage point of the Ferryman in their 1 hour cruise.

Once on board, guests are transported into a world of festive wonder as the Ferryman gently navigates the canal waterways of Pacific Harbour, Bribie Island. Don’t forget to grab a drink from the fully licensed bar to add to the celebratory atmosphere.

Families Tip: To ensure an unobstructed view, grab a spot on the rooftop deck early – it’s a prime location for capturing the magic!

Dates: 11, 13, 18, 19, 20, 21 December, 2023

Times: 7pm

Find out more and book here.

Manly Harbour Christmas Lights Cruise

Manly Harbour Christmas Lights Cruise
Manly Harbour Christmas Lights Cruise

Whilst not exactly a canal cruise, the Manly Harbour Lights Cruise, run by Cross Country Tours, is another awesome experience to see the lights from a different perspective! On board you will see yachts, boat clubs, and local businesses that have illuminated the entire Manly Marina with their gorgeous Christmas lights.

Following an early dinner, embark on the Cat O Nine Tails for a harbour night cruise to admire the sparkling lights from the water. Your fare covers dinner, the mesmerizing Christmas lights display, and the delightful cruise.

Families Tip: Bring along a cozy blanket – the breeze across the water can add a refreshing chill to the evening, even in summer!

Date: 16 December, 2023

Find out more and book here.

Christmas light canal cruises on the Gold Coast

Christmas lights on the Gold Coast canals are an annual tradition, celebrated by homeowners and boaties alike. Here is where you can book a trip to get amongst it.

Gold Coast Canal Cruises

You can enjoy a canal cruise aboard the Summer Salt with Gold Coast Canal Cruises this year. They offer a 1.5 hour cruise around the canals of Runaway Bay with a complimentary drink too! Spot all the different items in the displays as the captain calls them out and wave to the other boaties and homeowners as you cruise by. A great night out for the whole family!

Best for: Families, couples, friends – can get a bit loud with all the festive singing!

Dates: 7 – 28 December, 2023

Time: 6.30pm

Find out more and book a Gold Coast cruise here.

Christmas light canal cruises on the Sunshine Coast Coast

Most of the Sunshine Coast canal cruises leave from the Mooloolaba Wharf so check carefully as some do not. They also have super similar names, but are different companies. You just need to choose your favourite. I have detailed your options with my tips to help you choose one that matches your needs here:

Mooloolaba Canal Cruise

Christmas light canal cruises
My family after the cruise

You might like to choose the historic M.V. Mudjimba for a 1 hours cruise along the Mooloolah River and Canals. You can take in the sights of the gorgeous waterfront homes bejewelled in delightful Christmas Lights.

Enjoy the journey from the comfort of well-appointed seating, providing unobstructed views all around. These guys are fully licensed so you can enjoy some festive cheer of the bubbly kind too! This is the one we booked this year! They look to have more options with two time-slots available. Check out my video of our trip here.

Best for: Families with older kids with two time slots.

Dates: Multiple dates from 1 – 30 December, 2023

Times: 7pm or 8:15pm

Families Tip: Parking is harder to get during busy seasons, so allow extra time!

Find out more about these canal cruises here.

Mooloolaba Cruises

Cruise Mooloolaba Christmas lights

You can join Mooloolaba Cruises for a family night viewing the spectacular Christmas lights from the comfort of their fully licensed boat with indoor seating or have access to their outdoor viewing decks.

Best for: Families with young children as they have one of the earliest cruise time slots.

Dates: 5 – 30 December, 2023

Times: from 6.30pm

Find out more about this canal cruise here.

Cruise Mooloolaba

Christmas light canal cruises Mooloolaba
Some of the beautiful lights we saw!

A very similar cruise offering to the two above, with a 1 hours Christmas lights canal cruise along the Mooloolah River. They have a fully enclosed vessel so will operate in most weather conditions.

Best for: those not want to reschedule because of weather.

Dates: 7 – 30 December, 2023

Times: from 7pm or 7.30pm depending on which day you choose

Find out more and book your Cruise Mooloolaba trip here.

Sunreef Mooloolaba

Sunreef Christmas cruises
Sunreef Christmas cruises

This Christmas lights cruise with Sunreef Mooloolaba will show you some of the best Christmas light displays on the coast from onboard the iconic & luxurious vessel Whale One. It also departs from The Wharf and is the earliest option on our list, but does take 1.5 hours so you will end at the same time as the others.

Sunreef boast that Whale One is the largest and most comfortable cruising vessel on the sunshine coast with a fully licensed bar inside the lounge area so you can enjoy a glass of wine, beer, spirits or soft drink as you soak up holiday spirit.

Best for: Families with little kids as this is the earliest canal cruise option on the Sunshine Coast.

Dates: 10 – 28 December, 2023

Times: 6pm – 7.30pm

Get on board with Sunreef here.

Families Tip: Arrive a bit earlier to explore the local area – we show you 10 free things to do at Moolooba with kids here.

Sunshine Coast Afloat

This Mooloolaba Cruise departs from the Tank Boathouse and is an enjoyable experience for all. It allows you to savor a drink from the onboard bar of their boat Crusader 1, and perhaps indulge in a snack while witnessing the sunset and the main event – the Christmas lights!

With the ability to move around the boat freely, everyone can find the best vantage points to appreciate the festive lights. This Christmas Lights cruise ensures a memorable and delightful evening for families, offering a unique way to celebrate the holiday season.

Best for: Those who don’t mind paying a bit more for am 1.5 hour cruise on a fancier boat.

Dates: 4 – 30 December, 2023

Times: 6.30pm – 8pm

You can find their Christmas cruise details here.

Closing thoughts: set sail for festive family fun!

Embark on a magical journey this holiday season with Christmas Lights Canal Cruises that promise to illuminate your family’s festive spirit. Whether you choose the enchanting Bribie Island Christmas Lights Cruise, the glittering Gold Coast Canal Cruises, or the picturesque Mooloolaba options, these canal cruises offer a unique and joyous way to celebrate the season. Create lasting memories and let the holiday magic set sail!

If you would like to update your entry or add to our article, please email Janine – Editor@FamiliesMagazine.com.au

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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