Every year the cherry pickers start hanging millions of little lights from the trees for Nights of Lights in the fall. Every year it’s still exciting to see them go up and count down the days till they flip the switch. There are so many ways to see the lights and events to attend, that you shouldn’t limit yourself to just one way. Here’s your local guide to the Nights of Lights.
The annual event starts this year on November 18th. This night is called Light Up! Night. The fun starts at 4:00 pm with a free concert and a countdown to turn on the lights. After the lights are on the live music continues and most enjoy the downtown holiday mood. Bring your chairs, enjoy the lights and music with your friends and family. The Nights of Lights runs from November 18 to January 31. Tip: Stop by the Christmas tree to take a family photo.
If the lights around the square aren’t enough then turn towards the water for more lights. The Regatta of Lights is held on December 9 at 6:00 pm. Grab a seat on the wall and watch the colorful lighted boats parade by. This event is very popular so get there early to grab a sit.
Ways to Experience Nights of Lights
Catch the lights by train. There are two local trains you can catch to view the lights. Check their sites for various times and prices. Tip: Look into the VIP tickets to skip the long lines.
Ripley’s Big Red Christmas Train is located at Ripley’s Believe it or Not on San Marco Avenue. Tours are offered every night of the week starting November 19th. Tours on Friday and Saturday during the month of December also offer free holiday movies, snow, live entertainment, gifts from Santa and VIP no waiting tours.
The Old Town Trolley tours depart from the Visitor Center from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm every night starting November 19.
Boat tours are the newest addition to the Nights of Lights this year. Your family can view the lights like never before on the water.
Scenic Cruise Nights of Lights Tours depart from the Municipal Marina every Saturday from November 18th through January 31st. Special tours for Light Up Night! and the Regatta of Lights are also available.
Eco Tours Nights of Lights Boat Tours leave from the Municipal Marina every night at 6:00 pm and 7:30 pm from November 19th to January 31st.
Florida Water tours depart from Camachee Cove from November 19th to January 31st. All tours are about 75 minutes long and BYOB. There is also a kiddie option that starts at 6:00 pm.
Family Roadster rides with the Tasting Tours offers 45-minute rides around town with Holiday music.
See every single light in Historic downtown by the most historic way — Horse and Carriage. You have to try it at least once with the kids. An added bonus is that everyone learns a history lesson from your driver.
Your family can see every twinkle in the city of St. Augustine while flying around in a helicopter. Check out Old City Helicopter for more info.
Tips for Parking
Parking can be a little tricky around this time of year but here are a few helpful tips.
The main parking garage for Nights of Lights is located at 10 S Castillo Drive. There’s a parking fee of $15 per vehicle. If you have a Park Now card the fee is $3 per vehicle. Once the parking garage is full it closes.
During peak nights of Nights of Lights, there’s a FREE shuttle you can catch from two locations. Shuttles arrive about every 20 minutes and drop off at the Visitor Center. There are two locations sightseers can catch the shuttle. For the sightseers on the north side of town use the St. Johns County Health Department, 200 San Sebastian View. If you are on the south side of town use the San Marco Lot, 301 San Marco Ave. Peaks night are November 18,24 and 25. During December every Saturday night is considered a peak night.
On Light It Up! Night ONLY from 4 pm – 11 pm, the shuttle will also run from the following locations: Anastasia Baptist Church at 1650 A1A South, St. Augustine Amphitheatre at 1340-C A1A South, and R.B. Hunt Elementary School at 125 Magnolia Drive.
In St. Augustine we have private and public lots. The private lots will have an attendant and a sign saying how much for parking. The Public lots are enforced Monday-Saturday 8 am-5 pm except the Castillo de San Marcos are seven days a week 8 am-5 pm. Parking around the square starts at 10 am-5 pm Monday through Saturday. Always check the signs and the pay stations for specific times to pay around town.
St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office will be hosting a parking lot fundraiser. Park at 40 Orange Street for $15 and 100% of funds raised go to SJCO CARE Fund. Lot opens at 3 pm on November 18th.