The Christmas ships, a longtime holiday caroling tradition along Lake Washington’s shores, return to the Kirkland waterfront on Saturday, and will make various stops around town over the next several days.
Decorated and lit up with lights, the Christmas ships are a flotilla of dozens of private boats and Argosy Cruises craft, led by the tour company’s 115-foot Spirit of Seattle. The tradition started in 1949, and today the flotilla makes its way to various waterfront communities on the lake and Puget Sound during the holidays, featuring various choirs performing 20 minutes of carols at each stop.
“We try to encourage as many private boats as we can, and urge then to light up their boats,” says Maureen Black, Agrosy Cruises spokeswoman. “We’ll even get kayakers who follow.”
More than 300 boats typically will follow for the grand finale on Dec. 23 at Gas Works Park on Lake Union.
On Monday at 7 p.m., the flotilla will stop at O.O. Denny Park, and the Finn Hill Parks District is advising spectators of some changes this year.
First, parking will be tight because the Northshore Utility District is using the gravel parking lot at Denny for a sewer project and the lot will not be open. The district is encouraging neighbors to walk to the event or carpool.
Secondly, the traditional bonfire that is lit for the spectacle will be moved north of Denny Creek this year, to the central area of the park.
The ships typically depart from downtown's , and this year will stop and perform at the following Kirkland locations:
- Saturday, Dec. 17: Marina Park, 3:55 p.m.
- Sunday, Dec. 18: , 7 p.m. (departing Marina Park at 5 p.m.).
- Monday, Dec. 19: , 7 p.m. (departing Marina Park at 6:30 p.m.).
- Tuesday, Dec. 20: , 6:45 p.m. (departing Marina Park at 6:30 p.m.).
- Friday, Dec. 23: , 5 p.m. (departing Marina Park at 3 p.m.).
For the full schedule, see the Argosy Cruises web pages here.