Grab some eggnog and sweet treats because it’s officially the most wonderful time of the year. Tis’ the season to enjoy festive holiday activities and we wanted to provide our readers a list of a few that we think are too good to miss! The events below are just some of the many that take place in our wonderful city. The First Coast has several other amazing events and seasonal specials to enjoy throughout the area. There are several ways to discover these events such as the Visit Jacksonville website here, on Facebook and Google search. We hope you have a merry and bright holiday season First Coasters!
Dickens on Centre Dec 9th-12th
This is the 7th time this Christmas festival will be held in historic downtown Fernandina Beach. During the festival, the town is transformed into an English village taken out of the pages of the classic Christmas story by Charels Dickens, A Christmas Carol. Visitors can take in entertainment from characters costumed in Charels Dickens era garb, enjoy visits from Santa Claus and shop seasonal gifts from a variety of artisans and vendors. You can also take the opportunity to dine at some of Fernandina Beach’s delicious restaurants. The three day festival is free and open to the public, find out more about the event by visiting this link.
Holiday Pops Concert at the Jacksonville Symphony Dec. 9th-12th
A local holiday tradition, the Holiday Pops concert showcases holiday favorites performed by the Jacksonville Symphony. Concert goers can also enjoy Florida’s only indoor snowfall. The concert also features special guest singers and dancers from the Douglas Anderson School for the Arts, and more. Purchase your tickets here.
Beaches North Pole Express Dec. 10th -11th
The Beaches Museum hosts the North Pole Express for one weekend only and visitors can not only meet Santa, they can meet the Conductor and celebrate the season with letters to Santa, crafts, snacks, pictures with Santa and other festivities. The event takes place Friday from 3 PM to 6 PM and Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM.
Riverside Avondale Luminaria Dec 12th
The Riverside Avondale Luminaria has been a legacy in the neighborhood for years and is a wonderful way to enjoy some of the most beautiful historic homes in Jacksonville. Visitors can enjoy delicious food and beverages in the historic Five Points area during this magical one night only holiday event. Those who live in the neighborhood can purchase kits online through the Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP) website here.
St. Augustine Night of Lights Nov. 20 -Jan. 31st
This seasonal lights festival is one of the area’s top rated holiday events according to the National Geographic. This event showcases historic downtown St. Augustine transformed into a Christmas wonderland, illuminated by thousands of lights. Visitors can dine in some of the area’s best restaurants and shop local stores, all of which participate in the event by adorning storefronts with lights. There are also several tours available to enjoy this event by boat, horse and carriage, golf cart or even by air. Check out the official site here for more details!
ZOOLights at the Jacksonville Zoo Multiple dates in Dec starting Dec. 10th
This is the 10th annual holiday event held by the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Guests can experience the magic of the season through the venue’s display of holiday lights. Visitors can also enjoy holiday musical performances, carousel rides, caroling, visits from Santa and delicious sips and bites. Find out more about the event on the event page here.
Deck the Chairs Nov. 24th – Jan. 1st
Deck the Chairs is an annual Christmas art and light exhibit located at the Seawalk Pavilion in Jax Beach. The event is free and open to the public and lights nightly from 5 PM-1 AM. The event hosts 40 decorated chairs, nightly light shows, weekend stage programming as well as several major art installations. Check out more about the event on their website here.
The First Coast Nutcracker Dec. 17th-19th
The Jacksonville Symphony performs the seasonal favorite, it has been a tradition on the First Coast for 40 years. The show features internationally acclaimed principal dancers, along with the city’s finest young dancers performing Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet the Nutcracker. There will be several performances held on the weekend of December 17th-19th at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. You can get your tickets and find out more information about the show here.
A Christmas Carole presented by The Alhambra Theatre and Dining Nov. 17th – Dec. 24th
The Alhambra Theatre has chosen to perform Charles Dickens’ Christmas classic, A Christmas Carol, for their holiday performance this year. This performance is the musical version of the holiday classic tale of the Christmas journey of Ebenezer Scrooge. Purchase your tickets and find out more information here.
Christmas in the Cathedral District: Let There Be Light Nov. 27 th- Dec. 31st
Jacksonville’s historic Cathedral District lights up for the Christmas season. Lights from the event, which is hosted from 7 PM to 11 PM, are visible from I-95 and the Acosta, Main Street, Hart and Mathews Bridges. Multiple churches participate in the event by lighting up and visitors can enjoy the scene via a driving tour that includes 150 brightly lit trees. Adding to the spectacular showcase are ringing bells, a live nativity scene and holiday music. You can read more about the event, download the driving map and access the audio tour on the event website here.
The Gingerbread House Extravaganza Dec. 4th-22th
This year marks the 19th annual event for hosts the Jacksonville Historical Society. The event includes the traditional gingerbread house exhibit at Old St. Andrew’s Church as well as a holiday gift shop, bake shop, silent auction and an online contest to vote for your favorite display. Event tickets include a short tour of the Merrill House Museum. Also, please note that reservations are required and can be made online through the event website here. Also please note that the event will be closed on Mondays and on December 19th which is a Jaguars game day. A fine thing to note is that the 11 AM to 1 PM time slots are reserved for seniors and those with health concerns on Tuesday-Friday. Those who can’t make the event in person can enjoy it virtually at jaxhistory.org.