Many people may choose to reside in Florida for the mild winter weather, but that doesn’t mean we don’t LOVE to celebrate the holidays! Jacksonville and St. Augustine boast some of the best light displays and Christmas events in the state. We may be known for our sandy beaches and the plethora of summer activities we offer, but when it comes to holiday celebrations, we leave nothing to be desired.
One of our favorite local light displays is Jax Illuminations. The creators, James and Chrystal implemented this beautiful mile-long display, simply because they missed the tradition from their childhoods. They know that it can be difficult to find where great displays are, so they brought all the fun to one area. This mile-long light tunnel is located at Morocco Shrine Center (3800 St Johns Bluff Rd S) from November 18 – Jan 1st and has half a million LED lights, synchronized perfectly to Christmas music. The cost is $20 for a car load up to 7 passengers, and $2.50 per person after that. With snacks, competitions, and the gorgeous display, this is the perfect place to load the family up and start a new tradition!
The beach communities love to partake in the holiday festivities as well! Jacksonville Beach is home to Deck The Chairs. This is an annual lighted sculptural exhibit using the lifeguard chairs of The American Red Cross Life Saving Corps. Local businesses sponsor forty chairs to be decorated by regional artists. The exhibit is on display in downtown Jacksonville Beach for the whole month of December, and with all of the creativity these artists cultivate, it truly is a sight to see.
One of the biggest events to date is St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights. In 2014, Rachael Ray magazine deemed St. Augustine one of the Nation’s “Twinkliest Towns.” In 2012 and 2013, National Geographic declared St. Augustine one of the Top 10 Places in the World to view holiday lights. The American Bus Association named Nights of Lights a Top 100 Event in North America. With over three million bright lights, we can’t say we disagree. Being one of the oldest cities in the U.S., St. Augustine has a multitude of historical landmarks. During the holiday season, they are adorned with lights; magnifying their intriguing design and architecture. Lights are strewn along the bay walk, creating an iridescent glow on the waters of Matanzas Bay. Nights of Lights runs from November 19th all the way until January 31st, and they can be enjoyed by foot, bike, pedicab, horse and carriage, trolley, or the Ripley’s Red Train. St. Augustine is already such a beautiful, historically rich city as it stands, but pair it with Christmas spirit, and it truly is a magical experience.
The holidays are a time to reflect on what you are thankful for, spend time with loved ones, and carry on/create family traditions. Sure, we may have that one special gift that we remember opening as a child, but for many of us the holiday season brings memories of closeness and love. What better way to celebrate this season than by spending quality time with family, and discovering all the Christmas magic that Jacksonville and St. Augustine offer? Happy Holidays!