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11 Best Things to Do in December in Florida

The holiday season is upon us in the Sunshine State, which means there are plenty of colorful Christmas towns that offer fun-filled festivals, winter-themed activities, and seasonal events. From a tour of the beautiful historic inns in Key West to ice skating in Orlando and trolley theatre trips in Pensacola, these can’t-miss events showcase the holidays in Florida style and will cheer up even the biggest Grinch. After you’ve sent your postcard from the famous post office in the quaint town of Christmas, fill up your calendar with these top things to do in Florida in December.

Celebrate the Season at Holiday Fest - Key West Holiday Fest in Key West
Credit: Holiday Fest in Key West by keywestchristmas.org

Celebrate the Season at Holiday Fest - Key West

Key West knows how to throw a good party, and the Holiday Fest extravaganza is no exception. The Key West Bight Marina, known as the island’s Historic Seaport, plays host to an array of festive events. You’ll find a lobster trap tree perched on the Harbor Walk, a lighted boat parade, and the beloved Holiday Historic Inn Tour, where you can meander through a handful of decked-out island inns.

Dates: November 23rd & Lighting up every evening through New Year’s Eve, 2023
Official Website

Attend Night of Lights - St. Augustine Night of Lights, St. Augustine
Credit: Night of Lights, St. Augustine by Sean Pavone/shutterstock.com

Attend Night of Lights - St. Augustine

December means that the historic streets of St. Augustine will be illuminated with even more charm than usual with its millions of tiny white lights scattered throughout the city at its annual Night of Lights. Ranked one of the top holiday light displays in the country, you won’t want to miss the variety of festive activities centered around this event. You can attend a Light-Up Celebration, the annual Christmas Tour of Homes, and the Regatta of Lights.

Dates: November 18th, 2023 – January 31st, 2024
Official Website

Travel Back in Time at Dickens on Centre - Fernandina Beach Dickens on Centre, Fernadina Beach
Credit: Dickens on Centre, Fernadina Beach by Amelia Island

Travel Back in Time at Dickens on Centre - Fernandina Beach

Inspired by the beloved “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, downtown Fernandina is transformed into a classic English village. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time with the costumed characters and themed entertainment, while Santa will make an appearance to say hello to the kids. There’s a Lighted Christmas Parade, a nightly reading of “The Night Before Christmas”, and a Kids Zone where they can mail a letter to St. Nick.

Dates: December 7th-10th, 2023
Official Website

Watch the Winterfest Boat Parade - Fort Lauderdale Winterfest Boat Parade, Fort Lauderdale
Credit: Winterfest Boat Parade, Fort Lauderdale by Winterfest Boat Parade

Watch the Winterfest Boat Parade - Fort Lauderdale

Considered the granddaddy of holiday boat parades in Florida, you won’t want to miss the 3,000 boats decked out in lights in Fort Lauderdale. Watch as private boats, giant showboats and corporate megayachts cruise the 12-mile parade route, adorned with lights, music, beauty queens and celebrities. The best way to see the parade is viewing from Winterfest’s Parade Viewing Area, which is located in east Fort Lauderdale at Las Olas Intracoastal Promenade Park. Best of all, there’s a fun festival atmosphere with live entertainment before and after the Parade.

Date: December 16th, 2023
Official Website

Ride a Wave with the Surfing Santas - Cocoa Beach Surfing Santas, Cocoa Beach
Credit: Surfing Santas, Cocoa Beach by surfingsantas.org

Ride a Wave with the Surfing Santas - Cocoa Beach

A beloved local event that happens every Christmas Eve morning, hundreds of surfing Santas visit Cocoa Beach to celebrate and make money for local charities. You’ll find plenty of Christmas characters with a beachy twist, each trying their best to impress by catching that perfect wave. It’s a scene you’ll only find in the Sunshine State, where hundreds of Santas take to the ocean with their surfboards.

Dates: December 24th, 2023
Official Website

See Snow Flurries at the Now Snowing Event - Celebration Now Snowing in Celebration, Florida
Credit: Now Snowing in Celebration, Florida by © Paula Montenegro | Dreamstime.com

See Snow Flurries at the Now Snowing Event - Celebration

For a white Christmas in Florida, visit the Now Snowing event in Celebration. Watch as white snow flurries fall from the sky, while Charles Dickens carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides and an ice rink create a magical winter wonderland. Sit back and watch the array of live performances or take a scenic ride on the Express train until the main event when it snows.

Dates: November 24th – December 31st, 2023
Official Website

Take a Trolley Theatre trip at Winterfest - Pensacola Winterfest Pensacola
Credit: Winterfest Pensacola by Winterfest Pensacola

Take a Trolley Theatre trip at Winterfest - Pensacola

If you love a good performance, head for Winterfest in Pensacola to find its historic streets transformed into a lively Christmas Town. Join the flagship Performance Tour to experience a 60-minute trolley through Downtown Pensacola and meet famous Christmas characters. Put on your best pajamas and join the Polar Express Tour, take a journey to Whoville with Dr. Seuss characters, or join in the character-filled celebration with snow flurries.

Dates: Select days from November 17th – December 24th, 2023
Official website

Ride Down an Ice Slide at Gaylord Palms - Kissimmee ICE! Ice at Gaylord Palms
Credit: ICE! Ice at Gaylord Palms by christmasatgaylordpalms.marriott.com

Ride Down an Ice Slide at Gaylord Palms - Kissimmee

It’s probably the most festive hotel in the entire state, as Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee boasts its famous holiday event that delights both kids and kids at heart with its 9-degree winter-themed wonderland. With a theme centered around “Elf” in 2021, you can take a journey through the fascinating collection of interactive, multi-sensory experiences.

Dates: November 17th, 2023 – January 3rd, 2024
Official Website

Take the Kids to Santa's Enchanted Forest - Miami Santa's Enchanted Forest
Credit: Santa's Enchanted Forest by Santa's Enchanted Forest

Take the Kids to Santa's Enchanted Forest - Miami

Miami has exciting events held throughout the year, but Christmas is the perfect time to plan a family trip. While it’s known as a party destination, there is plenty to do with the kids, as Santa’s Enchanted Forest is the largest Christmas-themed amusement park in the world. Hop on one of the 100 rides, or enjoy the park’s interactive games and the petting zoo. For a more laid-back way to get in the spirit, you can marvel at the 50-foot Christmas tree covered in glittering lights in downtown Miami at Bayfront Park.

Dates: November 9th, 2023 – January 7th, 2024
Official Website

Light Up the Holidays - Palm Beach Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade
Credit: Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade by MIAPBC

Light Up the Holidays - Palm Beach

Mark your calendar for one of Palm Beach’s most treasured traditions, the annual Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade and toy drive. On December 2nd, a floating Zambelli fireworks display will lead the parade on the Intracoastal Waterway, starting at the Safe Harbor North Palm Beach Marina and navigating north to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. The free event features up to 80 boasts decked out with fun decorations and holiday lights. In the spirit of giving, the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County will be collecting toys by land and by sea for Toys for Tots and Little Smiles.

Dates: December 2nd, 2023
Official Website

Attend the Edison & Ford Winter Estates Holiday Nights - Fort Myers Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers
Credit: Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers by edisonfordwinterestates.org

Attend the Edison & Ford Winter Estates Holiday Nights - Fort Myers

Once the place where Thomas Edison and Henry Ford vacationed, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates Holiday Nights in Fort Myers is an old-fashioned celebration. Come to admire the historic buildings, tranquil gardens and canopy of banyan trees, and take an Inside the Homes Holiday Tour. An artist will visit and cartoon with the kids, there’s a Holiday Tea Celebration and visitors can create postcards to be mailed to active-duty military personnel.

Dates: November 24th – December 31st, 2023
Official Website

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