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A Local’s Guide to St. Augustine’s Annual Nights of Lights

Every year the cherry pickers start hanging millions of little lights from the trees for Nights of Lights in the fall. 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 from November 23, 2019, to February 2, 2020.

Light-Up! Night!

The annual event starts this year on November 23rd with Light-Up! Night! Families can listen, sing and dance to favorite holiday musicals in front of St. Augustine’s City Hall starting at 4:00 pm. Head over to the Plaza de la Constitución Gazebo around 5:30 pm to listen to the All-Star Orchestra. Then, at 6:30 pm, watch as the magic begins and the switch to the Nights of Lights is flipped to turn on over 3 million lights around the city. Stick around until 7:30 pm for more music and fun. Local Tip: Stop by the Christmas tree to take a family photo. 

Regatta of Lights

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 14 starting at 6:00 pm. Grab a seat on the wall and watch the colorful lighted boats parade around along the Matanzas Bay. This event is very popular so get there early to grab a spot! 

Image courtesy of St. Augustine Social

THE BEST WAYS TO EXPERIENCE NIGHTS OF LIGHTS

The Old Town Trolley 

The Old Town Trolley tours depart from the Visitor Center Information Center beginning at 6:00 pm every 10-15 minutes until 9:00 pm. Fast Track Passes for priority check-in are available for the first time this year and cost $18.99 for adults, $11.99 for kids 3-12, and free for kids under 3. General admission costs $13.99 for adults, $6.99 for kids and free for kids under 3. Be sure to check out their entertainment schedule highlighting both school groups and local musical talent. The performance venue is located at 10 W. Castillo Drive in downtown St. Augustine.

Image courtesy of Old Town Trolley

Ripley’s Big Red Christmas Train

Ripley’s Big Red Christmas Train is located at Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum on San Marco Avenue. Tours are offered every night of the week starting November 24th. Want priority check-in? Grab a VIP Nights of Lights pass available Friday – Sunday. VIP tickets are $15.99 for adults and $8.99 for kids. General admission tickets are $12.99 for adults and $6.99 for kids.  

On the Water

Your family can now experience the magic of the lights from the water with multiple boat tours. Scenic Cruise Nights of Lights Tours depart from the St. Augustine Municipal Marina on select dates from November 23, 2019, to  January 25, 2020. Ticket prices vary depending on the tour and whether or not they are purchased in advance. Eco Tours Nights of Lights Boat Tours leave nightly from the St. Augustine Municipal Marina starting November 23, 2019, to January 31, 2020. The cost per person is $35. Florida Water tours depart nightly from Camachee Island Marina Dock A-19 from November 23, 2019, to January 31, 2020. All tours are about 75 minutes long and BYOB. The 9:30 departure is an adult-only tour. Tickets are $39 per adult, $29 per kid ages 3-12 and $8 for kids 0-2.

Image courtesy of Visit St. Augustine

Horse and Carriage

Ride an old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage around the Old City starting November 23, 2019, to February 2, 2020. The Tasting Tours offers nightly excursions starting at $49 per person that include complimentary wine and a souvenir wine glass. Southern Carriages and Country Carriages also offer smaller group/couple carriage rides. 

Roadster Rides

The Tasting Tours also offers a family-friendly Roadster ride with the Grinch! Nightly excursions start November 23, 2019, and go through February 2, 2020. Tickets cost $30 for adults and $15 for kids 12 and under. 

By Helicopter

Your family can see every twinkle in the city of Old St. Augustine while enjoying a helicopter ride. Old City Helicopters offers helicopter rides for up to 3 guests starting November 23, 2019, through January 31, 2020. Each tour costs $180 for up to three guests and departs from the St. Augustine Airport.

TIPS FOR PARKING

Parking can be pretty hard this time of year so we recommend heading out midweek to avoid the crowds. If you must head out during the weekend here are a few helpful tips. 

Parking Garage

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. 

Shuttle

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. The shuttles operate November 23, November 29-30, and every Saturday in December from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm.  There are two locations sightseers can catch the shuttle. For 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 17, 23 and 24. During December every Saturday night is considered a peak night.

On Light-Up! Night ONLY, the Anastasia Island Shuttle will offer service from Anastasia Baptist Church and the St. Augustine Beach Police Department to the east end of the Bridge of Lions during the hours of 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

Parking Lots

You can find both private and public parking lots in St. Augustine. The private lots will have an attendant and a sign saying how much for parking. The public lot hours are enforced Monday through Saturday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm except at Castillo de San Marcos where parking is also enforced on Sundays. We highly suggest downloading the ParkStAug App and take at look at your parking options before heading out.

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