Festive Holiday Celebrations in the Sunshine State

Want to get into the holiday spirit, but don’t like the colder temps that come along with the season? Head to sunny Florida for late fall and early winter. The Sunshine State is home to several great celebrations and events—from food festivals, art shows, light displays, and more—leading up to the holidays.

Pensacola, Florida – courtesy of Visit Pensacola

Taking place this November, the Annual Frank Brown Songwriters’ Festival will once again bring nationally acclaimed songwriters and musicians from around the world to venues along Florida’s Gulf Coast from November 9th to 19th, with several can’t-miss engagements at the iconic Flora-Bama on Perdido Key. Next year will mark 40 years as the festival continues to provide musicians an opportunity to share their stories behind lyrics that otherwise may go unheard with music-loving fans.

Additionally, this November also marks the 10-year anniversary of a Pensacola staple, the Pensacola Foo Foo Festival. A 12-day celebration of culturally creative happenings, events, and moments under one banner, this year’s events will take place from Thursday, November 2nd to Monday, November 13th. Set to be one of the most memorable iterations yet, this year’s Foo Foo Fest will see leading acts such as Manchester Orchestra, Broadway star Megan Hilty, immersive fine art experiences and tours, performances by the Pensacola Opera, Pensacola Children’s Chorus and others.

Celebrating its 11th year in Jacksonville Beach, Deck the Chairs will start November 22nd. During this unique event, visitors will see American Red Cross Lifeguard chairs decked in coastal holiday decorations and lights. New for the event this year is an additional display at James Weldon Johnson Park in Downtown Jacksonville that debuts on December 6th. Each year, thousands come out to see the decorations and support local arts education.

From November 24th to December 29th, the Jacksonville Arboretum & Botanical Gardens will host the Dazzling Nights exhibition. Immersive lighting displays dazzle the property and can be enjoyed on evenings throughout the holiday season. With their nightly snowfall during the event and snowball fights inside a gigantic snow globe, guests can have a wintery experience not common to Floridians.

Christmas lights illuminate St. Augustine, Florida – courtesy of Florida’s Historic Coast

For the past thirty years, St. Augustine has marked the Saturday before Thanksgiving with Light Up! Night (November 18th this year). During the annual Nights of Lights, millions of twinkling white lights come to life and illuminate the historic architecture of the nation’s oldest city. The festival has roots in the Spanish tradition of placing lit white candles in the windows of homes to mark the Christmas season. Light Up Night! is a free event that begins at 4 p.m. with a spirited holiday performance by Showtime USA at City Hall. Then at 6 p.m., the All-Star Orchestra takes the stage with great swing and big band sounds at the historic Plaza de la Constitución Gazebo. At 6:45p.m. the switch is flipped, lighting up the city.

St. Augustine has many local businesses that provide a variety of ways to sit back, relax, and enjoy the lights. Join Ancient City Tours for guided walking tours full of fascinating stories, or check out Old Town Trolley’s Famous Nights of Lights Tour and Ripley’s Red Train Nights of Lights Tours. For a vintage vibe, climb aboard a horse-drawn carriage and take in the lights leisurely. Rides with The Tasting Tours are offered daily, including boutique wines and VIP boarding. Take in the entire illuminated landscape from the sea by booking an intimate and highly customizable sailing experience on one of St. Augustine Sailing‘s luxury sailboats departing from Camachee Cove Marina. For larger groups, the Schooner Freedom brings traditional sailing techniques to life during their Sunset and Nights of Lights sails. For a powered boat journey, hop on board with Florida Water Tours, St. Augustine Scenic Cruise, St. Augustine Boat Tours, St. Augustine Eco Tours, Pia & Me Charters, and Red Boat Tours. For a piratical spin, check out the Black Raven Pirate Ship.

Located between The Casements and the Halifax River in Ormond Beach, Rockefeller Gardens will celebrate the coastal lifestyle and all things water at the 13th Annual Riverfest Seafood Festival on November 18th and 19th. Guests can enjoy freshly caught fried fish, sip on a craft beer and enjoy live music and much more. The kids can even get in on the fun with the annual kid fish clinic.

That same weekend, Woodland Boulevard in DeLand will transform into an artist’s garden of colors with the 30th Annual Fall Festival of the Arts. The event will feature works from 170 national artists, who will display and sell artwork in a wide variety of mediums including paintings, sculpture, glass, jewelry, leather, photography, printmaking, wood, ceramics and fiber.

Holiday lights in Jacksonville, Florida – courtesy of Visit Jacksonville

Holiday shoppers traveling to town will want to check out the St. Johns Town Center Holiday Spectacular on November 11th. The outdoor mall’s annual event includes giveaways from the Town Center’s stores, ornament decorating, oversized games, a 360 photo studio and live entertainment. The Spectacular ends with Santa Claus lighting a 32-foot holiday tree and kicking off a fireworks display.

Residents of Jacksonville love putting together light displays throughout their businesses and neighborhoods during the holidays. Thanksgiving weekend brings the Jacksonville Light Boat Parade, a 30-year tradition, where boats float down the North and South Banks of the St. Johns River with fantastic holiday light arrangements. The parade finishes with a fireworks show featuring one-of-a-kind waterfall fireworks on the Main Street and Acosta Bridges.

The largest combined car show and swap meet in the United States is celebrating its golden anniversary in 2023 with the 50th Annual Daytona Turkey Run on November 23rd through 26th at Daytona International Speedway. Car enthusiasts will gather to view show-quality cars from around the county, discover beautifully restored classics and foreign cars. From accessories to hard-to-find parts to classic cars, there’s something for everyone at the Turkey Run.

Articles You May Like

The Eastern & Oriental luxury train restarted this week — here’s what a trip costs
Pilots got their payday. Now flights attendants are pushing airlines for higher wages
IYC On Top Superyacht Trends in 2024
Boeing orders, deliveries dry up in January as plane-maker grapples with latest Max crisis
Fresh Take: Chef Ayesha Curry Is Building A Food Empire

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *