Looking for ways to celebrate the holidays and enjoy local culture? Parade alongside hundreds of 17th century Spanish soldiers, climb the stairs of the 144-year-old St. Augustine Lighthouse to the sound of a string quartet, or ring in the New Year beneath fireworks on the St. Augustine Beach Pier while chowing down on local food truck fare. Florida’s Historic Coast is brimming with arts, culture and heritage events this holiday season.
Nights of Lights
Thru Feb. 3
During Nights of Lights, St. Augustine glows with holiday magic – from the ground to the rooftops, and this year it will glow longer than ever — thru February 3, 2019. Millions of bulbs light up the city in an event named one of the ten best holiday lighting displays in the world by National Geographic. Holiday lights in St. Augustine trace back to the Spanish tradition of displaying a white candle in the window for Christmas. Wander through historic downtown to enjoy the magical glow and more than 450 years of history with eclectic cuisine, art and more. View the official guide at www.floridashistoriccoast.com/nights-lights.
Nights of Lights Boat Tours
Thru Feb. 3
See the city lights sparkling on the water, from the water. All boat tours launch at the Vilano Fishing Pier and are guided by a city-licensed historian. Old City Tours, 904-248-4424, www.oldcitytours.us.
Colonial Night Watch
Dec. 1, 9 a.m. – 8. p.m.
Join hundreds of costumed re-enactors recreating St. Augustine’s colonial history as they perform military drills and cannon and musket firing at the Castillo De San Marcos during this free, all-day event. After the evening torchlight parade through historic downtown, join in singing classic Christmas carols to ring in the holiday season. http://hfm.club/nightwatch/.
Luminary Night at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum
Dec. 5, 6 – 9 p.m.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum goes all out for Luminary Night, offering children’s activities and holiday crafts, yuletide refreshments and live music, including a string quartet inside the Lighthouse tower and the holiday music by local choirs.
Guests also get a close-up look at the Lighthouse’s spectacular holiday decorations and lighting displays. Nautical ornaments are donated by people from all over the country to grace the centerpiece Christmas tree set up in the Keepers’ House, with at least ten other decorated trees dotting the property.
As a finale to the evening, guests can climb the Lighthouse tower (celebrating its 144th anniversary this year!) to see St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights from the top – it’s a spectacular view! In the spirit of giving, the event is free and open to the public with a suggested donation of a non-perishable food item which will be donated to a local food pantry. www.staugustinelighthouse.org.
Regatta of Lights
Dec. 8, 6 p.m.
The annual Regatta of Lights takes St. Augustine’s world-famous Nights of Lights onto the water, with an amazing variety of vessels showing off their brilliant lighting displays as they parade along Matanzas Bay. The event reflects the maritime roots and rich nautical heritage of St. Augustine. www.staugustineyachtclub.com/regatta-of-lights/.
Saint Augustine Ballet presents The Nutcracker
Dec. 22 – 23
Saint Augustine Ballet presents its 10th Anniversary production of the holiday favorite, The Nutcracker. Shows are at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. www.saintaugustineballet.com.
Beach Blast Off
Join thousands of people at the St Johns County Pier Park for the Southeast’s biggest New Year’s Eve tradition. Enjoy beachfront food, fireworks, live music, a Kids Zone, beer, wine and soft drinks at this great evening of family-friendly fun. www.oldcity.com/events/beach-blast-off-2018.
St. Augustine Film Festival
Jan 17 – 20
See outstanding film talent at this St. Augustine festival of independent film projects. Now in its eighth year, the festival features four days of films from multiple countries shown at several theaters within walking distance of one another in St. Augustine’s historic district. This year’s films will be shown in Lewis Auditorium, the Gamache-Koger Theater at Flagler College, and at all three viewing rooms of the Corazon Cinema and Cafe. Complete details at www.staugfilmfest.com.