I just had to pinch myself it’s the Holidays in the Oldest City. With some many unique and fun events in St. Augustine there’s never a dull weekend. Here’s the ultimate guide to holiday events in St. Augustine including, Special Holiday Events, Holiday Light Displays, Parades, Holiday Shows, Holiday Shopping and Fun Runs.
Special Holiday Events
Dressing of the Palms (November 11 and December 31) – The annual Dressing of the Palms features palm trees decorated in Holiday finery along Vilano Beach Main Street. Come see the decorations and celebrate the Holiday Season! The trees showcase creative talents of residents, artists, businesses, clubs, schools, and organizations. This year there will be no contest, just fun decorating the palm trees in the Town Center. Join us for caroling among the Palms on December 3.
Villa Zorayda Candlelight Tours (Various times in November and December) – Join us this Holiday Season for the Villa Zorayda’s 7th Annual “Candlelight Tour” of the museum which is offered on select evenings during St. Augustine’s “Nights of Lights” Celebration. The Villa is beautifully decorated for the holidays with a spectacular Christmas Tree decorated in the colors of the Zorayda – red and gold – located center stage in the Court of Lions. Over 100 candles are aglow throughout the museum as our docents lead by candlelight for your tour of this historic former home.
Colonial Night Watch (December 3 | 7:00pm-10:00pm) – Florida Living History and the National Park Service present the Colonial Night Watch heritage event on Saturday, December 3, 2016. The Colonial Night Watch celebrates St. Augustine’s colonial history with a nighttime torch-lit parade on Saturday, December 3, 2016, as well as living history demonstrations at the Castillo de San Marcos throughout the day on Saturday. Reenactors from both countries (traditionally enemies) and their militias as well as Native Americans will join together in peace on this commencement of the Holiday Season. A torchlight parade will start at the Castillo at 7PM, and march to the City Gates where the Public will be invited to follow along to the Government house where Nancy Shaver, Mayor of St. Augustine will welcome those assembled. After the troops have fired a Volley of Joy from their muskets, the units will be dismissed and those left in attendance are invited to sing along in some old tyme Christmas Carols.
Christmas Tour of Homes (December 4 | 12:00pm-5:00pm ) – The Christmas Tour of Homes is an annual tradition, hosted by The Garden Club of St. Augustine. This is a walking tour. The homes are located within the historic downtown area for those who enjoy a leisurely walk through the old streets. For those who have difficulty walking and need assistance, they provide complimentary transportation on the Old Town Trolley. In addition to the tour, visitors can enjoy Afternoon Tea and a visit to the Garden Club’s “Unique Boutique,” which offers delicious treats and many hand-made items created by the Club’s members. The Afternoon Tea and Boutique will be at Government House on the Plaza and will be open from 12 noon until 4 p.m.
St. Augustine Bed and Breakfast Holiday Tour (December 10-11 | 1:00pm-5:00pm) – This year’s Annual St Augustine Bed and Breakfast Holiday Tour is back by popular demand and already booking out! Act now and grab those tickets along with your exclusive St Augustine Bed and Breakfast Tour T-shirts! Always the second weekend in December and on both Saturday and Sunday, this is your chance to view all of St. Augustine’s exquisite bed and breakfast inns. As if this wasn’t exciting already, prepare your taste buds for a sample menu item from many of St. Augustine’s most popular restaurants at each and every stop!
Holiday Light Displays
Light Up! Night Ceremony (November 19 | 4:00pm-8:00pm) – The Nights of Lights Lighting Ceremony, also known as Light Up! Night takes place on Saturday, November 19, 2016. Locals and vacationers from all over join together to watch the City of St. Augustine flip the switch on three million white lights decorating the Plaza and buildings all over historic downtown. Leading up to the occasion is a free concert and a countdown, and the ceremony is followed by more live music. This has been a popular annual tradition in St. Augustine for over 20 years, and is all the more festive now that the Nights of Lights has garnered worldwide attention as a top destination to see holiday lights.
St. Augustine Nights of Lights 2016 (November 19 – January 31) – The Nights of Lights is a 2-month long celebration of the Holiday Season. Millions of white lights create a magical holiday atmosphere in the Nation’s oldest city during the 18th Annual Nights of Lights Celebration in St. Augustine, Florida. Tracing its origins to the Spanish tradition of displaying a lighted white candle during the Christmas holidays, the spectacular lighting reflects the city’s 445-year history while creating a beautiful setting for special memories and a great way to experience the holiday trolley and wine tours. Something for everyone!
Surf Illumination (November 18 | 4:00pm – 8:00pm) – Surf Illumination is our community holiday celebration that includes holiday music from the Murray Middle School Jazz Band, The St Augustine Youth Orchestra and The Island Duo. Snacks and refreshments will be available for purchase and you can do some holiday shopping with over a dozen vendors selling unique arts, crafts, jewelry and more. Mayor throwing the switch to light the holiday tree at dusk. As the lights go on all over St. Augustine during the holidays, St. Augustine Beach offers its own ceremonial lighting beachside, at the St. Johns Pier Park on A1A Beach Blvd.
TPC Sawgrass Tree Lighting Ceremony (November 25 | 6:30pm) – Celebrate the holidays at TPC Sawgrass! Enjoy Christmas carols and hot cocoa in this fun complimentary family event.*Dinner buffet only & reservations required.
Luminary Night at the Lighthouse (December 7 | 7:00pm-9:00pm) – The highlight of the holiday season at the Lighthouse is Luminary Night, which takes place on the first Wednesday of December. Visitors and community members are invited to enter the Lighthouse grounds for a free evening of children’s holiday crafts, warm refreshments, live musical performances (including a string quartet inside the Lighthouse tower) and an up-close look at the Museum’s Christmas decor. This is a special evening the whole family will enjoy at St. Augustine’s iconic Lighthouse and Museum.
Old Town Trolley’s Famous Nights of Lights Tours (November 20 | January 2) – Explore St. Augustine’s famous Nights of Lights in the cozy comfort of our Trolleys. Guests of all ages delight at the festive wonderland of the historic area glittering with millions of tiny white lights. This tour is an annual tradition for thousands and is sure to be one of your favorite holiday outings. Caroling, hot cider, and homemade cookies add to the magic of your evening. Guests will receive complimentary magical viewing glasses, handcrafted by Santa’s elves exclusively for our guests. These amazing glasses will enhance the twinkle and glimmer of the lights, making this ride even more special. We’ll be riding nightly. Come share holiday cheer with friends or snuggle up with loved ones and make this your holiday tradition. We’ll warm up the cider!
Ripley’s Big Red Christmas Train Ride (November 20 | January 5) – Experience the 23rd Annual Nights of Lights in historic St. Augustine FL with Ripley’s Red Trains from November 20th – January 5th. Rated one of the world’s best Nights of Lights displays, tour the award-winning holiday lights aboard one of Ripley’s Red Trains and see the nation’s oldest city like never before as it comes to life with millions of tiny lights. You will not want to miss celebrating the festivities with Ripley’s and be a part of this year’s unbelievable Nights of Lights. Enjoy more than 3 million holiday lights from the comfort of your train while enjoying holiday carols and free magic viewing glasses! Tours begin at the Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Odditorium.
The Tasting Tours Nights of Lights Tours (November 19 – January 31 | Various Times) – The Tasting Tours offers three holiday tours during St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights celebration, beginning on Saturday, November 19, 2016, and continuing nightly through January 31, 2017. Our Wine and Carriage Ride tours are a wonderful way to experience this world-renowned festival of lights in the nation’s oldest city. Guests can experience the festival lights on the horse-drawn carriage and enjoy some excellent wine and great company on these 45-minute tours. Additionally, The Tasting Tours offer a nightly Rockin’ Red Roadster Ride. This is a family-friendly 45-minute tour that does not include wine but features great holiday music and lots of Christmas cheer.
Lights of Christmas at Turning Point Church (Begins the weekend of December 2nd) – Come visit the Lights of Christmas display at Turning Point at Calvary of St. Augustine. Drive through the light display, catch a hay ride, visit the tent for cookies and Christmas stories. Millions of lights all set to music. Take the family and friends out on the town Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights.
St. Augustine Christmas Parade (December 3 | 10:00am-12:00pm) – St. Augustine’s 62nd Annual Christmas Parade ushers in the holiday season with floats, festive decorations and plenty of fun. Lots of local organizations participate in this event, making it one of the largest parades in Northeast Florida. Holiday season decorations adorn all the entries, from floats to marching bands to antique cars and horses and carriages. Even Santa joins in the spectacle, as visitors and locals alike come down to the historic district to watch the procession. The parade begins at the Mission of Nombre de Dios at 27 Ocean Ave., proceeds south through downtown and then finishes behind the Visitors Center at 10 West Castillo Drive. Spectators can view the parade from the historic streets of downtown St. Augustine. After the parade, everyone is welcome to stop by the Plaza de la Constitución to have pictures taken with Santa
Regatta of Lights (December 10 | 6:00pm) – The annual Regatta of Lights takes St. Augustine’s world-famous Nights of Lights onto the water, with an amazing variety of vessels showing off their brilliant lighting displays as they parade along Matanzas Bay. Hosted by the St. Augustine Yacht Club, it’s a dazzling sight for spectators along the bay front between the Bridge of Lions and the Castillo de San Marcos. o view this nautical parade, visitors can sit along the bayfront by the seawall or enjoy the view from the many restaurants that face the bay.
Holiday Shopping Events
Jax Moms Blog Costco Mom Hour (November 4 | 9:00am-10:00am) JMB Costco Mom Hour – the holiday shopping event of the season is fast-approaching and will be even more exciting and enticing than last year. Have you ever wished Costco opened a bit earlier? Join City Mom Blog Network and Costco and shop at 9 a.m. on Friday, November 4, BEFORE Costco opens its doors to all of its members!Best of all, Mom Hour is for YOU and all your friends (and kids) to shop together. The more the merrier! Enjoy swag, snacks, samples, and giveaways with other Jacksonville moms.
Dashing Through the Store (November 5 | 10:0am-8:00pm) – This year we are raising money for the St. Augustine Christmas Angels. The majority of all ticket sales will be put towards sponsoring local families in need for the holidays. This could be anything from helping out with rent, to a family meal, presents for children and or any other needs.
Holly Jolly Shopping Spree (November 19 | 9:00am-3:00pm) – Join us for the 7th annual shopping spree in Uptown San Marco for shopping with friends, discounts, give-a-ways, swag bag, brunch and more. The cost includes the trolley ride, lunch, swag bag (sponsored by Spanish Dutch Convoy) and special offers from our community’s retailers.
4th Annual Free Holiday Vendor and Crafts Event (November 19 | 10:00am-4:00pm) – Jacksonville Business Connections is excited to host our 7th Craft & Vendor Event featuring ~150 vendors and crafters at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort Nov 19th from 10am-4pm. Kid Friendly Event!
California Guitar Trio Holiday Show (December 1 | 8:00pm ) – The California Guitar Trio kicks off a year of festivities, in celebration of 25 years of their genre–busting partnership, with this magical seasonal offering. Masters of classical compositions and classic rock, surf guitar, and sonic experimentation, the California Guitar Trio trims your tree with holiday standards from around the world- timeless, as “Silent Night,” and timely, as John and Yoko’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” Unwrap a poignant, passionate rendition of “Greensleeves,” and a hypnotic “Carol of the Bells” which is a favorite on Pandora Radio’s Holiday Music station.
St. Augustine Winter Spectacular (December 3 | Various Times) – Filled with a variety of dance styles, characters, and holiday scenes to kick off the season, the show offers an exciting and unique experience for St. Johns County residents and visitors. You can expect high-kick dancers, ballerinas, acrobats, actors, and more amidst dazzling costuming and props. The Dance Company’s elite Performance Ensemble comprises the majority of cast members as well as other dancers and performers who auditioned for roles.
Elf Jr. – The Musical (December 9-11 | Various Times) – Based on the cherished New Line Cinema hit, Elf JR. features songs by Tony Award-nominees Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, with a book by Tony Award-winners, Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin. Buddy, a young orphan, mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised, unaware that he is actually a human, until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh reality that his father is on the naughty list and that his half-brother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.
St. Augustine Orchestra Holiday Concert (December 9 | 8:00pm – 10:00pm ) – The St. Augustine Orchestra presents its annual Holiday Concert on Friday, December 9, 2016, at 8 p.m. This popular concert, a staple of St. Augustine’s Christmas season, will be held in the antique courtyard area of the Lightner Museum. The orchestra and chorus will perform a number of seasonal favorites and attendees are invited to sing along.
St. Augustine Community Chorus Holiday Concert (December 10 -11 | Various Times) – The St. Augustine Community Chorus will perform a Christmas program entitled “A Ceremony of Carols” in their annual holiday performances at the Cathedral Basilica on Saturday and Sunday, December 10 and 11, 2016.
EMMA Holiday Pops Concert (December 15 | 7:30pm) – The EMMA Concert Series will present the 37th Annual Holiday Pops program on Thursday, December 15, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. This annual performance of seasonal music, both classical and popular, has become a holiday tradition in St. Augustine. Following last season’s celebrated Holiday Pops performance, the Southwest Florida Symphony returns to St. Augustine with Music Director and Conductor Kir Kabaretti.
The St. Augustine Ballet presents The Nutcracker (December 17-18 | Various Times) – The St. Augustine Ballet performs The Nutcracker every holiday season at Flagler College’s Lewis Auditorium. Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker is a traditional thing to do during the holidays, and one of the most loved Christmas stories, based on E.T. A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.
Holiday Fun Runs
Annual Reindeer Run (December 3 | 9:55am-10:15am) Calling all runners to the Annual Reindeer Run! Fun for the entire family! This true one-mile run is along the St. Augustine Christmas Parade route just before the parade begins and is sure to provide cheering crowds as runners make their way to the finish line. The race starts on Castillo Drive near Ripley’s and finishes on Cordova Street near MOJo’s BBQ.
Santa Suits on the Loose 5k (December 10 | 8:00am-10:00am) – Santa Suits on the Loose 5K is a walk/jog/run held annually in December. The race benefits St. Augustine Youth Services a local home for troubled boys. This family friendly 5K walk/jog/run will start at the St. Augustine Beach Pier, and all adult registrants will receive a Santa suit to wear during the walk! Children will receive a Santa inspired shirt.
Did we miss an event? Let us know in the comment section!