Enjoy a Christmas Canal Cruise with King Fisher Fleet There's a little jingle in the air meaning the holidays are around the corner and it's never too soon to begin making plans. We may not have snow here in Southwest Florida but we do have mild weather and plenty of water.  One of the annual holiday highlights is offered by King Fisher Fleet in Punta Gorda, the Christmas Light Canal Cruises. Offered nightly Dec. 4 - 31, 2013, the one-hour trips cruise through Punta Gorda canals admiring Christmas lights, displays and decorations on homes, boats, seawalls and docks. Three departures are offered each night.  Call for pricing, times and reservations: 941-639-0969. Looking for something a little more intimate? Grab up to six of your closest friends (or family) and hire the 47’ Smoke and Roses catamaran for a private canal cruise Dec. 4 - 30. Call for pricing, times and reservations: 605-366-7673 And since we're talking about on the water activities, there are three holiday boat parades to look forward to.

  • Gasparilla Marina Christmas Boat Parade. Saturday, Dec. 14, 6 p.m. The parade of boats leaves the marina at 6:00 p.m. heading north on the Intracoastal to Palm Island, then back to the marina for the awarding of prizes at the marina’s Waterside Grill restaurant. 15001 Gasparilla Road, Placida. Tel: 941-697-2280  www.gasparillamarina.com
  • 24th Annual Peace River Lighted Boat Parade. Sunday, Dec. 15, 6:00 p.m. The festive display of lights and gorgeous reflections on the water make this annual event a definite must see! Viewings from land or on the harbor by chartered cruise or personal watercraft. Punta Gorda, Tel: 941-639-3720  www.puntagordachamber.com
  • Punta Gorda Boat Parade. Saturday, Dec. 21, 6:00 p.m. Viewers get up very close to the boats at this parade that includes carolers, performers and great decorations. The 7.5-mile route is within the canal system of Punta Gorda Islesstarting at Albatross Lagoon and finishing with a Grand Parade Circle at Yellow Fish Lagoon. Tel: 941-639-0002 www.puntagordaboatparade.com

The holiday season kicks off Nov. 16 with the "Lighting of the Village" and continues through Dec. 31 with the Festival of Lights at Fishermen's Village. From 5:30 - 9 p.m. on Nov. 16, more than one million lights and themed decorations will be lit followed by a ribbon cutting and the Lee County Pipes & Drums parade. Other festivities include Luis the Balloon Man, Airbrush Art for Face & Body, Dickens Carolers from Charlotte Chorale, visits with Santa (bring your camera), complimentary refreshments by village merchants and live music with the Boogiemen Band 5 - 9:00 p.m. Admission: Bring a canned good for the Good Samaritans Food Pantry. That's just the beginning of holiday events in Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands. Visit our events page for additional holiday happenings.