19 Dec Christmas in the Sun
In my mind, Christmas is bundling up in a sweater and listening to the crackle of a fireplace with snow on the ground outside, and now that we live in Florida, I kind of miss the Minnesotan version of Christmas. Thankfully, the beautiful weather and all the festive holiday events make me almost forget about a white Christmas long enough to enjoy a holiday in the sun. If you find yourself wanting to escape the winter blues, these holiday festivities are sure to lift your spirits.
I love the boat parade tradition that takes place all across Florida, from the east coast to the west. Boats get decked out in lights and holiday decorations and line up to parade along waterways such as lakes, bays, the intracoastal and the ocean. Key West, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Tampa and Naples, are some of the many towns that host their own boat parade! This year we attended the Boca Raton boat parade. There was everything from little boats, to yachts, and even a boat that shot off fireworks.
Tree Lighting Ceremonies:
The seaside town of Delray Beach really knows how to host an event. Every year at the annual tree lighting ceremony, Santa flies in on a helicopter before flipping the switch to light the 100 ft. Christmas tree. The “Ave”, which is the Main Street that runs through downtown Delray shuts down to make room for street vendors, performers, ice sculptures, an ice skating rink and even a bonfire pit for s’more making.
Sand and Sea-Sun’s Greetings in West Palm Beach:
The first annual Sand and Sea-Sun’s Greetings festival is being held in West Palm Beach this year, complete with a 35 ft, 400 ton Christmas tree sculpted from sand and embellished with real lights and decorations. Along with the Christmas tree made from sand, there are additional sculptures scattered throughout the city that were created from 15-25 tons of sand each. The sculptures are mainly located around Clematis street and the Waterfront Commons area. There is also a nightly “snowfall” and other festivities at nearby City Place.
Florida Botanical Gardens:
The Florida Botanical Gardens are located near St. Petersburg, and during the holidays the garden holds the event, Holiday Lights in the Garden. With over 500,000 lights illuminating the beautiful plants and trees throughout the garden, the celebration shines nightly with Santa Claus and entertainment such as music, stilt walkers, juggling, and dancing.
Light Displays in Parks:
Another way to get in the holiday spirit is to tour a light display in one of the many park throughout the state. We recently walked through two parks in the St. Petersburg area with light displays: Largo Central Park and North Straub Park. Both were pretty and gave us a nice excuse to get outside for a festive walk.
Theme Park Festivities:
Love them or hate them, you have to admit that the theme parks go over the top for the holidays. Between the main parks, Disney, Universal, Sea World, Busch Gardens, and all of their corresponding hotels, there is no shortage of festive holiday displays and each park has its own style and theme. I enjoy the parks around the holidays as I love wandering around festive decorations and attending Christmas shows. Every hotel is decked out to the nines as well–one of the Disney hotels, the Grand Floridian, showcases a real life-sized gingerbread house–it really is a sight to see and smells delicious, too!
The last park we visited during a holiday season was Sea World. Sea World had a special Shamu show, an ice skating production called Winter Wonderland on Ice, and a play, O Wondrous Night, where they tell the Christmas story with a stage full of real animals. Another unique aspect at Sea World’s Christmas Celebration is the Polar Express experience–after going on a simulated journey on the Polar Express, you get dropped off at the North Pole where you get to meet Santa. The Polar Express is one of my favorite Christmas movies, so it was fun to go for a ride!
Even though I miss a white Christmas, with all these fun activities as well as countless others, there is always a fun activity around the corner to bring the Christmas spirit to life. And with that, I wish every one of you a happy and safe holiday season!