While the Jacksonville area does not have any snow to put us in the holiday spirit, it abounds in festive local events. From Amelia Island to St. Augustine, here are just a few holiday events for you and your family to check out.
Local events for the holiday season kick off the week of Thanksgiving with a Christmas tree lighting and celebration at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. In conjunction with the lighting, the S.S. Amelia Gingerbread Pirate Ship — a rather large gingerbread replica of a ship — will be placed in the main lobby of the hotel. The grounds are decorated with white lights, creating a holiday oasis among the palm trees and sand dunes.
There are also holiday tours of area bed-and-breakfasts in the historic city of Fernandina Beach. These magnificent two- and three-story structures are adorned with both contemporary and traditional decorations. A walk through downtown Fernandina and the adjacent side streets provides anyone an opportunity to see these homes on display.
On the first Friday of December, the Woman’s Club of Fernandina Beach hosts Christmas Glow. Luminaries light up Atlantic Avenue from the Women’s Club all the way to downtown. Local children’s dance groups and choirs serenade the audience, and Santa is available for pictures with the kids.
The official kick-off of the holiday season in Jacksonville is on November 30, with the Light Parade in downtown Jacksonville. But this isn’t just any light parade — the Jacksonville parade takes place along the St. Johns River. Boats of every shape and size cruise up and down the St. Johns in the downtown area, decorated with lights and banners. Visitors can choose to view the water parade from either the north bank at the Jacksonville Landing, or from the south bank or downtown bridges.
The Riverside Avondale area just south of downtown also has a luminary event scheduled for December 15. These luminaries highlight the historic structures and tree-lined streets in the Riverside Avondale area.
St. Augustine becomes the city of lights for Christmas with the Night of Lights. National Geographic has said that the Night of Lights is one of the 10 best holiday light displays in the country, with millions of white lights that make the city twinkle. The Night of Lights in St. Augustine is on display from November 23 to January 3. In addition to those displays, there are also candlelight tours of historic buildings in the nation’s oldest city.
There is no shortage of family-friendly holiday events on the First Coast. The only question is: Which one will you attend?
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