Looking for the Best Places to See Christmas Lights in Florida?
Although most people associate Christmas with cold and snow, Florida’s perpetually warm weather does not stop locals from putting on some spectacular Christmas displays.
If you’re on the fence about whether to spend the holidays in Florida, just know you won’t have to trade festive cheer in exchange for sunny skies. In fact, seeing palm trees and sailboats decorated with twinkling lights is one of the best things about celebrating the winter holidays in the Sunshine State, especially because you can enjoy the sight without shivering!
Most major towns and cities in Florida offer holiday light displays, whether it’s a formal event hosted by the local government or groups of homeowners coordinating to bring a festive atmosphere to their neighborhoods. As far as we’re concerned, you can’t go wrong when Christmas lights are involved.
But if you’re looking for the places in Florida with the most options for holiday light displays, or with something unique you won’t see anywhere else, the list below has you covered.
14 Best Places to See Christmas Lights in Florida
St. Augustine commonly tops lists of best Christmas lights in Florida and in the U.S. as a whole. It is the oldest continuously-inhabited colonial city in the United States, and its annual Night of Lights festival makes St. Augustine’s old Spanish-style architecture shine from mid-November until the end of January. The vast majority of St. Augustine’s lights are a warm white, giving the city a classic warm glow. Don’t miss the giant Christmas tree in the Plaza de la Constitución and the cozy glow of the lights in pedestrian-only St. George Street. Flagler College and the Lightner Museum also turn into Christmas castles in the glow of the holiday lights.
The Night of Lights festival offers a free park-and-ride shuttle for convenient access to downtown. Festival-goers can join guided tours to learn about the area’s long history, and the Old Town Trolley is a great way to see the lights. Tickets include sugar cookies and hot cider for guests to enjoy on the ride. Or, see the lights from the water and admire the glittering reflections in the waves on a variety of scenic cruises and charters.
For one night only during Night of Lights, visitors can see the St. Augustine Lighthouse lit up by thousands of luminaries and climb to the top for a bird’s-eye view of the sparkling lights below. The event is free to attend, but guests are asked to bring a non-perishable food item as a donation. For sure one of the best places to see Christmas lights in Florida.
Naples goes all out for Christmas, with tree lighting events and holiday light displays all over town. Johnsonville Night of Lights at the Naples Botanical Garden is a particular favorite. This ticketed event runs from late November to New Year’s Day, with a couple of breaks for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
The garden transforms into a wonderland with its majestic trees wrapped in twinkling string lights or lit from below with dramatic colors. Keep in mind, these are not your standard red and green Christmas lights, but rather a rainbow of light washing over the garden’s tropical trees and plants, creating an almost mystical atmosphere.
For a drive-through holiday light experience, head over to Collier Fairgrounds for the Magic of Lights display. Guests will drive through a 200-foot illuminated tunnel and see the Twelve Days of Christmas picked out in lights, but there are also some surprises among the lighted displays.
Where else can you see a 32-foot-tall Barbie wearing a Santa hat constructed entirely out of LED lights waving to you as you drive by? Kids will also love the Prehistoric Christmas display, showcasing huge illuminated dinosaurs celebrating the holidays.
You can also see plenty of holiday decorations in Naples free of charge. Residents of the Victoria Park neighborhood coordinate their display, transforming nearly 300 homes into a Christmas extravaganza. Highlights include Windsor Way, Meadowland Drive, and Whitehall.
Fort Myers may be Florida’s sunniest city, but during the holidays, it keeps on shining after the sun sets! There are lots of great places to see Christmas lights in Fort Myers, with Holiday Nights at Edison and Ford Winter Estates at the top of the list.
Both of these famous inventors lived part-time at winter homes in Fort Myers. During the holidays, the historic houses and grounds sparkle with lights and decorations. Select nights feature visits from Santa, musical performances, cookie decorating, and hands-on science activities for kids.
You can stroll the illuminated grounds on your own or pay extra for a guide to tell you about the lives of the Ford and Edison families. For another goregously decorated period home, check out the Holiday House event at the Burroughs Home & Gardens in downtown Fort Myers.
Want to peruse sumptuously decorated Christmas trees and support a good cause at the same time? Head over to the Festival of Trees at the Sidney and Berne Art Center, where your $2 ticket will go towards Goodwill of Southwest Florida. If one of the bedecked trees strikes your fancy, you can enter a raffle for a chance to win it and have it delivered to your door!
During the holiday season, Amelia Island transforms into a Victorian-style winter wonderland. Shimmering displays in shop windows and twinkling Christmas lights on every building highlight the historic architecture of downtown Fernadina. The Dickens on Centre festival enhances Amelia Island’s historic atmosphere and kicks off with the Illuminated Procession. It’s free to join, and participants are encouraged to hold or wear something that shines or glows, turning the streets of Fernadina into a river of lights.
Those who want to not only see Christmas decorations but actually become a part of them can sign up to spend an hour inside a decorated snow globe at Dickens on Centre’s Enchanted Village. Each globe features a unique theme and seats up to six guests. Your ticket includes a gourmet charcuterie picnic box and you can choose between standard table-and-chair seating or picnic-style seating on floor cushions surrounded by ornaments, garlands, and maybe a stocking or two.
The Holiday Home Tour offers additional opportunities to view Christmas lights in historical settings, as participating homeowners pull out all the stops to decorate for the holidays. Each historic home has a guide to point out key points of its architectural style and to lead guests through rooms adorned with opulent creations by florists and designers.
Daytona Beach and DeLand
Most people know Daytona Beach for NASCAR racing, and fans of the sport may be interested to know that you can drive through the speedway itself during the Magic of Lights Display, seeing millions of Christmas lights in the bargain.
Unlike some other drive-through displays, Magic of Lights can accommodate limos and party buses so the whole crew can enjoy the show together. On Tuesdays, you can drive through the show twice on a single ticket.
Nearby DeLand offers its own light displays just 35 minutes from Daytona Beach. The Stetson Mansion hosts an annual Christmas Spectacular, where guests can see the 1886 estate of John B. Stetson, maker of the famous Stetson hat, decked out for the holidays.
The display features 24 nativity scenes from around the world and each of the 10 decorated rooms highlights a holiday theme. The Stetson Mansion is still a private residence, and Christmas is the only time the house is open to the public, making this a special opportunity.
As part of their Winter Wonder DeLand festival, downtown DeLand puts on a light display covering several streets and parks, including Woodland Boulevard, Indiana Avenue, Chess Park, and Pioneer Park. A home decorating contest encourages residents to add to the holiday atmosphere. The festival also includes a parade, visits from Santa, and a Christmas market at Earl Brown Park.
Fort Lauderdale is known as the yachting capital of the world, so it’s no surprise that the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade has a huge turnout, among both participants and spectators. Anyone can enter their boat to join the parade, so you’ll see vessels from canoes to mega-yachts decorated with Christmas lights and playing festive music.
Event organizers tout the parade as “The Greatest Show on H2O” and say the best place to view the festivities is from the ticketed viewing area at Las Olas Intracoastal Promenade Park.
If you want to get out on the water yourself, the Water Taxi Holiday Lights Cruise will give you an up-close look at the mansions on “Millionaire’s Row” decked out for the holidays.
If you prefer your Christmas lights on land, check out the Holiday Fantasy Lights at Tradewinds Park in Coconut Creek, about 30 minutes from Fort Lauderdale. The event runs from November 23rd through January 1st and claims to be Florida’s largest drive-through holiday light display. The route is 3.5 miles long and features over 65 huge LED displays.
Jacksonville should be on everyone’s list of places to check out holiday lights in Florida due to the sheer number of Christmas light displays in and around the city.
Jax Illuminations is a huge drive-through display where kids will have fun keeping a look out for LED creations depicting their favorite characters from movies, TV shows, and video games. The light show is accompanied by festive tunes on the local radio station and takes about 25-30 minutes to drive through.
Jacksonville is also home to several festively-decorated neighborhoods such as Blackhawk Bluff and Arbor Glade, where the residents coordinate to put up amazing Christmas displays that you can drive through for free.
For walk-through options, check out the Jacksonville Arboretum & Botanical Gardens’ Dazzling Nights event, which features an 8,000-square-foot light maze, and ZooLights at the Jacksonville Zoo. The local Deck the Chairs event is another fun event, featuring 50+ lifeguard chairs transformed into everything from holiday displays to interactive science exhibits.
A great place for a christmas vacation!
Tampa and St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field is home to Enchant, a Christmas light maze presented by the Hallmark Channel running from right after Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Visitors to this story-themed experience will receive a passport to stamp at various locations throughout the maze.
Traverse the skating trail under the lights, meet Santa in person, and snap photos at the many Instagram-worthy scenes throughout the installation. The event also includes a Christmas village featuring crafts and festive cocktails and treats.
Or, check out one of the area’s lighted boat parades or the light displays at Busch Gardens and the Florida Botanical Gardens. The latter is free (suggested donation of $10), with hands-on activities for kids.
Meanwhile, Busch Gardens has a whole array of entertainment options including the Christmas on Ice skating production, fireworks, and a chance to meet Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer at Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland.
If all of these light displays inspire you to amp up your own holiday decor, stop at Robert’s Christmas Wonderland, a huge emporium for all things Christmas including trees, ornaments, wreaths, lights, stockings, candles, and more.
Pensacola Winterfest offers interactive tours that bring holiday fun to the whole family. Each themed tour involves a tram ride, the perfect way to take in the Christmas decorations around town. The Polar Express, Grinch, and Scrooge tours each put a different spin on the holiday season. The Polar Express tour is a particular favorite, since it includes a cup of hot chocolate for each guest and pajamas are encouraged for the experience, with prizes for the most festive set.
Winterfest is part of downtown Pensacola’s First City Lights Festival, which runs from late November through mid-January. The historic streets glow under thousands of holiday lights, and local shops and restaurants offer special deals, festive drinks, and chances to win prizes all season long.
Pensacola is also a great place for a festive boat parade. Their Holiday Lighted Boat Parade takes place in early December and concludes with a chance for kids to meet Santa. Entries include boats of all sizes, and a decorating contest encourages participants to go all out!
NightGarden at Miami’s Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is definitely not your typical Christmas light experience. This immersive and interactive event incorporates holograms and augmented reality to turn the garden into a fantasy realm.
Kids will love searching for fairies hiding in the garden by scanning statues with your phone, and adults will get a kick out of chatting with the snarky talking banyan tree near the bar. Not your grandma’s Christmas light show, but absolutely worth a visit!
Santa’s Enchanted Forest offers a more traditional approach to Christmas lights, along with thrill rides, carnival games, magic shows, and fried food galore. Located in Doral, the attraction runs from early November to early January. Santa’s Enchanted Forest claims to be the biggest Christmas theme park in the world, and with 40 acres of attractions, we’ll take their word for it!
The Deering Estate Historic Holidays Evening Stroll offers a more tranquil and romantic chance to see Christmas lights in Miami. Visit the restored 1920s home of Charles Deering, a local businessman, preservationist, and patron of the arts.
At Christmastime, top-tier designers from Miami create bespoke decorations to adorn the historic estate. The site is open for tours during the day and for the evening stroll and bonfire events on select nights.
If you love Disney and Christmas, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom in Orlando is probably already on your list of places in Florida to visit during the holidays.
At Christmastime, The Most Magical Place on Earth is filled with your favorite characters in their festive attire and Christmas lights galore. Sip hot chocolate and munch on Christmas cookies as you marvel at the parade and fireworks. Unsurprisingly, the event is super popular, so book your tickets early!
Disney Springs puts its own spin on holiday decorations with the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll. Each of the 20 trees features coordinated decorations, including Disney themes like Lion King and Mickey and Minnie. Several of the shops in Disney Springs offer a complimentary map showing the location of each tree, which you can mark off with a sticker. When you turn in your completed map at one of the same shops, you’ll get a souvenir pin.
Mount Dora and Eustis
Those willing to venture away from the coast and into central Florida for the holidays should not miss Christmas in Mount Dora. This small town is known for its festivals – at least one every weekend by some counts – and Christmas is no exception.
The decorations go up right after Thanksgiving, and soon the historic downtown buildings and homes, as well as Donnelly Park, are draped in lights.
The first Friday in December, the local Chamber of Commerce hosts the Mount Dora Christmas Walk, a family-friendly street party filled with music and dancing.
Shops stay open late and thrifters should take note: Mount Dora is known for its antique stores full of vintage treasures. Mount Dora also holds a Christmas Boat Parade, and the marina is known for having a particularly festive light display.
Not to be outdone, nearby Eustis is also full of Christmas cheer. Their free Light Up Eustis event showcases the lights in downtown Eustis and features live music, food vendors, and a 75-foot snow slide for kids. If you’re looking for a hometown Christmas celebration, Mount Dora and Eustis will make you feel welcome you with their homey holiday spirit.
Sanford is another great place to see Christmas lights and decorations in Central Florida. The season kicks off with their Light Up Sanford event, featuring a free tree lighting ceremony.
Then, don’t miss the annual Parade of Lights through downtown Sanford. Unlike other holiday parades, this one takes place at night, so all the floats are decorated with twinkling lights. Downtown also hosts a window display contest, and shoppers can vote for their favorite via QR code.
Beyond downtown, stroll the self-guided Holiday Tour of Homes, following the trail of luminaries to each of the participating private residences. You’ll get inspiration from these historic interiors for your own holiday decorating, and enjoy holiday treats and drinks along the way.
Sarasota has plenty of holiday cheer.
Sarasota’s University Town Center lights up with festive spirit during the holidays. Located in the heart of Sarasota, University Town Center is home to some of the city’s best restaurants, which offer festive food and drink at Christmastime.
The area’s Holidays on the Green event runs from mid-November through early January and includes light shows and activities all season long. Watch a fireworks show on Saturday night, take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the illuminated streets, or attend a yoga class under the warm glow of the Christmas lights.
Lights in Bloom at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is another great way to celebrate the holidays in Sarasota. This lush tropical garden shines with more than 2 million lights and offers photo opportunities and activities at every turn. Larger-than-life flowers, butterflies, and birds are picked out in lights and bring magic to the garden. Food is available for purchase at their grill, and vendors stationed throughout the garden offer coffee, donuts, and popcorn.