National Geographic selected St. Augustine's yearly Nights of Lights celebration as one of the ten best best holiday lighting displays in the world. From Nov. 23 to Jan. 31, St. Augustine will be drenched in millions of tiny white lights that will shine throughout the nation's oldest city. Events to accompany the dazzling display will include the St. Augustine Marathon from Nov. 16-17 and the fourth annual candlelight tour of Villa Zorayda.
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Not to be out-lit, Punta Gorda will put millions of lights on display at its Festival of Lights at Fisherman's Village. Carolers will accompany live music in addition to complimentary refreshments and pictures with santa. The free event will light up every night from Nov. 17 to Dec. 31.
Melbourne has its own holiday festival, but you may want to stay in the car for this one. The Space Coast Light Fest is a drive-through event at Wickham Park from Nov. 18 to Dec. 31. The animated light show attracts over 15,000 vehicles annually. A number of holiday events, including Run Among the Lights 5K on Nov. 17 and Stroll Among the Lights on Dec. 14, will take place during the light festival. On weekdays admission is $10 and go up to $15 on the weekend.
In a full month of celebration, Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs will host its Festival of Lights every night except for Christmas night. The appropriately named festival will feature four million lights throughout the park, accompanied by holiday sights and sounds. Complimentary hot cocoa and popcorn are served nightly, which visitors may need if they stay through each hourly snow flurry at the park. If the bright display doesn’t sweep visitors off their feet, the event features a one mile horse-drawn wagon or a private carriage ride. At the festival -- which begins Dec. 1 and ends Jan. 1 -- admission is $3 per person and free for children under three years old.
For a holiday celebration much closer to the equator, Islamorada will be hosting its 9th annual Florida Keys Holiday Festival on Dec. 6. The event features a holiday parade and festival featuring a 35-foot, snow-blowing community tree and 20 tons of snow for its snow mountain. The free event is from 4-10p.m.
If you were hoping to see snow but don’t have your plane ticket out of Florida booked yet, Celebration will host its annual Now Snowing Nightly event from 6-9p.m. from Nov. 26 to Dec. 31. Carolers will also help to set the snowy scene and Santa will make an appearance. Visitors can also ice skate for in 30 minute increments for $10 with skate rentals included. Otherwise, admission to the event is free.
If the lights are much too bright and cheery around the holiday season, a "Grinchmas” may be more suitable. At Universal Orlando, the Islands of Adventure park will transform its Seuss Landing attraction into a whimsical, snow-filled Whoville and recapture the tale of how the Grinch stole Christmas. The Grinchmas Whoilday Spectacular and photos with the Grinch are included in the Islands of Adventure admission price. Adults can reserve a character breakfast with the green grump for $24.99. Children, ages nine and under, are $10.99. The Grinch will be sneering at holiday cheer and wreaking havoc on Whoville from Dec. 7 to Jan. 4.
On Dec. 7-8, the island that boasts about its lack of traffic lights will be lit by candlelight instead. More than three miles of luminary candles will line the main roads of Sanibel Island and Captiva. Its businesses will also be lit and decorated and free refreshments will be available when Santa visits the Sanibel Community House. The event is free both nights and takes place in the early evening from 5:30-9p.m.
More 2013 holiday festivals:
Nov. 30-Dec. 2, Duck Key: Christmas in the Keys. at Hawks Cay Resort with food, beverages, vendors, music Santa pictures and lighted boat parade.. Friday 5-10 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. $5 admission.
Dec 6-8, New Smyrna Beach: Norwood’s Holiday Food and Wine Festival. Tickets are $60 in advance and $70 on the day of the event. Jazz entertainment, food and desserts and wine tasting.
Dec. 7, Tampa: Santa Fest 2013. 11a.m-4p.m. at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Free photos with santa, ice skating ($5), Christmas market, holiday take-home arts and crafts. Parade at 11a.m.
Dec. 7, Tallahassee. 26th Annual Winter Festival from 3-10p.m. with five stages for entertainment, food vendors, arts and crafts, a variety of exhibits, bounce houses and childrens’ activities.
Dec. 14, Fort Lauderdale: Winterfest Boat Parade at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park with a 12-mile parade route. Food trucks, craft vendors entertainment. Gates open at 3:30, boat parade begins at 6:30p.m.
Dec. 15-16, Daytona Beach: Yuletide Festival at Lilian Place. Holiday tours, caroling, music, punch and cookies and a Christmas Boat Parade. Admission to watch the boat parade is $5.
Dec. 15, Harmony: 6th annual Winter Carnival from 10a.m.-2p.m. featuring 15 tons of snow, snow slides, crafts, ice cream eating competition, gingerbread house competition, ice frozen T-shirt competition, candy cane hunt, and food. Breakfast with Santa at 9a.m. Free admission.
Dec. 15, Maitland: 9th annual Snow Fest at the RDV Sportsplex from 2-6p.m. Ice skating, bounce houses, live DJs, face painting, 20 tons of snow and snow slides. Admission is $15 for children and $9 for adults.
Dec. 16, Tampa: Winter Arts Festival. Indoors and outdoors event from 9a.m. to 3p.m. at the Congregation Beth Am. Handmade arts, crafts, jewelry, and food. More than 80 local crafts present eco-friendly items. Admission and parking is free.