The weather is cooling down and the city is transforming into a twinkling spectacular! Over three million tiny, white lights are lit in the city starting on November 22nd and will stay lit until the end of January. This tradition goes back to the city’s original colonization, when white candles were lit during the Christmas holidays. There are so many events that go on during this time in the city that you really don’t want to miss out on any of them. St. Augustine has received many distinctions during the Holiday Season including:
- The American Automobile Association (AAA) selected St. Augustine as one of the twelve best locations in the United States and Canada to experience holiday cheer.
- National Geographic magazine named St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights one of the 10 best locations in the world to see holiday lights.
- Coastal Living Magazine selected St. Augustine as one of the Top 10 Holiday Celebrations.
There are also many ways to enjoy the lights and the city during “Nights of Lights.”
- Let’s start with a Holiday Shopping Tour. This tour includes 3 wine tastings and dessert along with discounts at some of the most unique shops in St. Augustine and it ends just in time for the lights to come on. http://www.StAugustineHistoricTours.com
- Nights of Lights Wine & Carriage Tour – 45 minutes carriage ride with a bottle of wine per couple & souvenir wine glasses. Or you can select the Private Lover’s Tour for Two. 904-325-3911
- Gold Tours – Holiday Nights of Lights Tour – Enjoy a historical narration about the sights as you enjoy the lights aboard the 7 passenger electric vehicle – 904-325-0547
- Nights of Lights Biplane Tour – Take flight on this magical sunset biplane flight and watch as St. Augustine comes alive with over 3 million lights. You’ll be toasty in the heated open cockpit that hold two passengers. http://www.staugustinebiplanerides.com
- Segway Tour of the Nights of Lights – Glide though the oldest city glowing in its holiday finery! You will love this intimate way to see the lights. http://staugustinesegways.com/
- The Holly Jolly Trolley tour of the lights trolleytours.com
or Nighttime Ripley’s Christmas Light Train www.ripleys.com/redtrains
Holiday Happenings in St. Augustine!
Nights of Lights – November 22 – January 31 – The lights will be turned on during a ceremony in the Plaza de la Constitucíon on November 22 at approximately 6:30pm by city officials and former St. Augustine mayors.
Holiday Shopping & Wine Experience – A fun way to support local businesses and get your holiday shopping done all while sampling some wonderful boutique wines at fabulous stops in St. Augustine. A portion of the proceeds benefits a local needy family for the holidays. Every Saturday from Nov 15 – Dec 20. Visit http://www.StAugustineHistoricTours.com for more information.
Holly Jolly Shopping Spree – The fifth annual Holly Jolly Shopping Spree will be held on Saturday, November 22 from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Gifts, holiday decorations, and other special treasures will be there for the picking. Includes a Bloody Mary kick off, lunch, and prizes. Visit http://www.colonialstaugustine.org for more information
5th Annual Candlelight Tours of Villa Zorayda – Offered on select evenings during the Nights of Lights. The museum is beautifully decorated for the holidays with a spectacular Christmas tree decorated in the colors of the Zorayda – red and gold – located center stage in the Court of Lions. Starts at 6:00pm with refreshments of cookies and punch. Tour starts at 6:30pm. Reservations are required as space is limited. Reservations are now open and can only be made by calling the museum direct @ 904-829-9887.
A Traditional Minorcan Christmas –Nov 22 – Jan 3 at the Oldest Wooden School House. Stop in and see the traditional Christmas tree and décor and take the tour that tells all about the Christmas tradition back in the 1700s.
JAX Illuminations Drive Through Holiday Lights Display – November 22 – January 3 – Although this is not in St Augustine, it’s not far from the Nights of Lights and a great addition to finding your holiday spirit in the area. Located at the Morocco Shrine Center just off of I-295E (near St. Johns Town Center) you’ll find over a mile of holiday decorations illuminated with more than 500,000 lights all choreographed to holiday music that you can tune into on your car radio. Cost is only $20 per car load. http://www.jaxilluminations.com
49th Annual St. Augustine Art & Craft Festival – Nov 29-30 – After shopping at the malls, come to Francis Field and check out the over 150 artists from around the US. Sponsored by the St Augustine Art Association from 10a-5pm daily. www.StAugustineArtFestival.com
Nights of Lights & Holiday Traditions Plaza Stroll – Learn the historical significance of these “White Lights” and explore how this colonial-era tradition became a famous modern day spectacle. wwwStAugustineCityWalks.com
The 40th British Night Watch and Grande Illumination – December 5-6 – On Friday visit the encampment and see how the soldiers lived here in St Augustine during the British Period. (1763-1784) On Saturday, join in this unique Public Participation Parade, where everyone is encouraged to join in and march behind the British Redcoats as they secure St. Augustine. This parade winds its way through the streets of the city and concludes at the Government House with Muskets firing Volleys of Joy. http://www.britishnightwatch.org
Nights of Lights Full Moon Sail – What better way to experience the Nights of Lights during a full moon than aboard the Schooner Freedom. This special 75 minute tour is only offered on December 5 & 6. Your ticket includes complimentary soda, wine, beer and hot chocolate. http://www.schoonerfreedom.com or 904-810-1010
St. Augustine Christmas Parade – December 6 – The 60th Annual Christmas Parade has grown to be one of the largest parades in north Florida. Starts at 10:00am at the Mission of Nobre de Dios and continues through the downtown streets of historic St. Augustine ending behind the visitors center.
46th Annual Garden Club Christmas Tour of Homes – December 7 – This annual tour showcases holiday decorations at a selection of St. Augustine’s most outstanding private homes. This year’s theme is “Christmas in the Ancient City.” SOLD OUT
Regatta of Lights – December 13 – A holiday spectacular and colorful parade of boats from 15 to 85 feet in length, sailboats, trawlers, shrimp boats and many other vessels with brilliant lighted displays ranging from patriotic to whimsical. The regatta is held on the St. Augustine bay front just north of the Bridge of Lions at 6:00pm. http://www.staugustineyachtclub.com
21st Annual Bed and Breakfast Holiday Tour – December 13 & 14
This year’s theme is the Music of Christmas. All 24 inns in St. Augustine will be decorated in holiday splendor. Each inn displays entertaining decorations and scenes based on Christmas carols, holiday pop tunes and other music of the season. Each inn is paired with a distinguished St. Augustine restaurant offering savory treats for the guests. This always sells out. Be sure to get your tickets at http://www.staugustinebandbtour.com
Navidad en le Viejo San Agustín / Christmas in Old St. Augustine – December 20 – This annual heritage Event features the Christmas music and customs of 16th-century St. Augustine. This holiday celebration takes place at Mission Nombre de Dios. The event begins at 6:00 p.m. and admission is free with plenty of free parking on site. http://www.FloridaLivingHistory.org
The Nutcracker – Dec 20 & 21 – The St. Augustine Ballet presents this holiday favorite at the Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College. Performance times are 2pm & 7:30pm each day. $30 www.StAugustineBallet.com