If you’re coming to St. Augustine for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, there are plenty of things to do!
I moved to St. Augustine in 1994…here are the holiday events that I think stand out:
St. Augustine’s famous Nights of Lights starts with the lighting ceremony at 6:30, Saturday, November 19th. During Nights of Lights the entire Historic District and bayfront are lit up through February…coming over the Bridge of Lions from Davis Shores it’s an absolutely gorgeous spectacle. The lighting ceremony will be held at the Plaza de la Constitucion in the center of St. Augustine’s Historic District this year. Entertainment starts at 4:30 with a local dance troupe and local orchestra. Get there early as the Plaza fills up fast!
An awesome place to take the kids is Winter Wonderland at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. There’s an Elf Village for the kids to explore where it “snows” every night at 7 and 9 pm (seriously, I grew up in the Frozen North and for all the world it looks like snow). There’s an ice slide, an outdoor ice rink with ice skating (and rental skates), sleigh rides, a bounce house, kiddie train, and a s’mores pit. There’s also lots and lots of holiday lights and decorations. The event runs from November 26th to January 1st this year. Most days it opens at 2 pm, but most activities don’t start until 5 pm. Admission is free, the Elf Village is free, but you have to buy a ticket for things like the ice skating, sleigh rides, etc.
Though I don’t think it’s as fun as the B&B Hop (see below), the Garden Club of St. Augustine’s Holiday Tour of Homes is a great event as well. This year’s tour features six private homes in the Historic District dressed out in holiday attire; some of these homes date back to the 1700s so it really is Christmas through the ages. The event will take place from 12 pm to 5 pm on Sunday, December 4, and tickets are $25. Buy your tickets early–seriously–this event sells out fast.
The first time I saw the British Night Watch in St. Augustine it was an accident–we just happened to be downtown on St. George Street and stumbled on it as it started. Basically someone hands you a candle and you are invited to parade from the Plaza to the City Gates and back along with a group of colonial-era British soldiers (reenactors) with a full fife and drum corps beating out the march. Afterwards you sing Christmas carols in the plaza…it’s really a lot of spontaneous fun. This year’s march will start at 8 pm on Saturday, December 3rd, in the Plaza.
My personal favorite thing to do in St. Augustine during the holidays is Luminary Night at the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Lumanaries surround the lighhouse and the paths around the keepers house while a steady parade of local musicians and choirs play and sing holiday favorites. Admission is free for the event and you can even climb the light. Something about the ambiance of the light at night with cookies and Christmas carols makes this one really special. A lot of tourists miss this event because it’s usually held mid-week…this year’s event will be held from 6 pm to 9 pm on Wednesday, December 7.
In my opinion the star attraction “thing to do” in St. Augustine over the holidays for adults is the Bed & Breakfast Holiday Tour (also called the “B&B Hop”). Basically, you get to tour nearly all of the St. Augustine Bed & Breakfastes over two days. The B&Bs are decorated for the holidays, and at each one a local restaurant is serving heavy/light hors d’oeuvres or a small dessert. It’s not only a great walking tour of the Historic District, but you’ll get to see streets you’d normally never venture down and burn off all that food you’re eating at the same time! This year’s event is December 10 and 11, and goes from 1 pm to 5 pm each day. Tickets are $25 each. Click on the link above for tickets and more information.
If you’re down on the bayfront at 6 pm on Saturday, December 10th, check out the Regatta of Lights. This is a goofy, fun and free event where pleasure boats, shrimp trawlers, tourist boats, and anything else that floats dress up in lights and parade around the harbor. It’s a great time for those ashore, but see if you can find someone to sail with because it’s supposed to even more fun on the water.
If you’re looking for a date night activity why not check out the St. Augustine Ballet’s rendition of the Nutcracker? Held on December 16, 17 and 18 at the Flagler College Auditorium downtown, it would be a great place to go with that special someone. Tickets range between $15 and $30, click on the link above for showtimes and more information.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that our very own Peter Gold. Peter is a licesed guide and operates St. Augustine Gold Tours downtown. This year from November 19th to mid January St. Augustine Gold Tours will be doing evening tours from 5 pm – 7 pm in the Historic District during the Nights of Lights on its eco-friendly electric bus. Hit the links above to find out more!
Contact St. Augustine Team today for a group that’s in the know about not only the best local events, but the best local properties! Or just call the Team’s Sean at (904) 386-8327.