South Florida, with its sunny tropical climate and white-sandy beaches, may not be the first place that you envision when you think of magical holiday cheer.
However, while the rest of the country may be dreaming of a snow-filled white Christmas and trying to stay warm by a cozy fire, we South Floridians know how to make our holidays sizzle in ways that are truly unique to the Sunshine State.
So if you’re ready to trade in your snow shovels for sand shovels and celebrate the Holidays South Florida style, here’s our list of the top 12 South Florida Holiday events not to miss.
1| Hollywood Beach 62nd Candy Cane Parade
Hollywood Beach Boardwalk at Scott Street (Broward County)
Saturday, December 2rd, Starts at 7:00 pm
Hollywood Beach’s Candy Cane Parade is the longest running holiday parade in the country. Featuring lighted floats, marching bands, decorated vehicles and of course their famous tossing of candy canes to the crowd. Bring a lawn chair or come early and grab available bleachers scattered along the parade route. For more information and directions click here.
2| Holiday Fantasy of Lights at Tradewinds Park
Tradewinds Park, 3600 West Sample Road, Coconut Creek, FL (Broward County)
Now through – January 1, 2018 – 6:00 -10:00 pm
Admission: $16/car; $40/bus or 15+ vehicle
3D Experience: $3/2 pairs of holiday Holospec 3D glasses
Tradewinds Park is a fantasy of color, lights, and design this holiday season. The 23rd Holiday Fantasy of Lights is a spectacular drive-thru holiday lighting event covering 3 miles of giant animated holiday displays, illuminated trees and larger than life creations by Brandano Displays. Over 150,000 visitors of all ages visit this spectacular extravaganza each year. For more information click here.
3| Hoffman’s Chocolate Annual Winter Wonderland
5190 Lakeworth Road, Greenacres (Palm Beach County)
Now through – December 30th
This annual event takes visitors on a festive journey through an enchanted holiday garden. Featuring an incredible light display of over 125,000 colorful LED lights, the tour includes animated displays, lighted gazebo, cascading fountain, an Arctic Zone, 6 ft. lighted Menorah, meet and greet with Santa and Mrs. Claus and nightly performances by talented local musicians. Don’t forget to stop by their factory for some of South Florida’s finest mouthwatering chocolates. Click here for more information and directions.
4| Panthers Holiday Ice Skating Rinks
Outdoor ice skating in South Florida? That’s the magic the Florida Panthers is bringing to the City of Fort Lauderdale and Hoffman’s Chocolates in Palm Beach County. Come skate on real ice and enjoy a walk through a brilliant light display. Ice skates are included with admission price. Sessions are 1 hour each. For more information, click here.
Cost: $15/individual skate; $13/group rate for 25+ people
Broward Location: Huizenga (Bubier Park), Las Olas and Andrews Avenue (Downtown Ft. Lauderdale). The 80′ x 40′ rink is housed in a clear tent. Now through January 7, 2018.
Palm Beach Location: Hoffman’s Chocolate Factory, Lake Worth Road (Greenacres). The rink is open-air. Now through December 30, 2017.
5| Santa’s Enchanted Forest
Tropical Park, Miami (Miami/Dade County)
Now through January 7, 2018; 5:00 pm – Midnight
Admission: Varies depending on daily or season pass
South Florida is home to the world’s largest holiday-themed park and carnival – Santa’s Enchanted Forest. This truly magical holiday wonderland takes visitors through displays featuring millions of dazzling lights and South Florida’s tallest Christmas tree. With over 100 rides, carnival games, petting zoo, pictures with Santa, amazing shows and more, Santa’s Enchanted Forest will have all ages filled with holiday spirit. For more information, admission and directions, click here.
6| Sandi Land – Holiday in Paradise
West Palm Beach Waterfront (Palm Beach County)
Now through December 31th
Holiday festivities take on a Florida twist at West Palm Beach’s Holiday in Paradise. Where else would you find the World’s only 600-ton sand Christmas tree? The star of the show, Sandi is a mesmerizing 35 feet tall sand tree dazzling crowds with nightly music and light shows. In addition to Sandi, visitors will see amazing sand sculptures, a back stage peak into Sandi’s dressing room, participate in “Reindeer Games” and take in a round of “Glow FORE it” 9-hole mini golf. For more information, click here.
7| Gulfstream’s Symphony of Lights
Gulfstream Park, Hallandale Beach (Broward County)
Daily until December 31st; 6:00 pm – 110:00 pm
Gulfstream’s Symphony of Lights features a 50-foot tree decorated with thousands of lights synchronized to holiday music. There is an array of free entertainment for the whole family including, selfies with Santa and Mrs. Claus, face painting, interactive DJ, and train rides. The light show starts every hour on the hour. For a complete schedule of activities, click here.
8| The 46th Annual Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade
Fort Lauderdale Intracostal to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach (Broward County)
Saturday, December 9th, 6:30 pm
Admission: FREE along the parade route; for Grandstand ticket pricing, visit their website.
Over 1 million spectators will line up to watch one of the country’s most spectacular boat parades. The 12-mile route starts on the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale near the Stranahan House and continues East to the Intracoastal Waterway and then travels North to Pompano Beach.
This year’s theme is “Broadway on Parade” and will feature a dazzling line-up of boats of all sizes decorated to the nines in holiday lights. The boat parade takes about 2-1/2 hours to watch in its entirety. For more information visit: Winterfestparade.com
9| Piles of Smiles Snow Day
Sugar Sand Park, Boca Raton (Palm Beach County)
Saturday, December 16th; 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Admission: $12 advance price; $15 beginning 12/4 (adults free with paid child admission)
A winter storm is predicted to hit Boca Raton, FL and it will be bringing TONS of snow in its wake. This fun family event will feature a snow play area, giant slide, winter games, crafts, winter characters, holiday activities, sock skating and the Florida Panthers Slap Shot Cage. To reserve your space and for more information, click here.
10| Holiday Nights at Zoo Miami
Zoo Miami (12400 SW 152nd St., Miami)
Now through December 30th, 7 pm – 10 pm
Admission: $9.95 ages 3 and older
This holiday after-hours family event takes place on Friday and Saturday nights. Enjoy more than a half million sparkling lights in animal shapes and incredible tree lights. Visitors will enjoy Snowman River boat rides, hot chocolate, photos with Santa, holiday music, and more.)
11| Winter Fairland
Miami-Dade County Fair & Expo (10901 SW 24th Street, Miami)
Now through January 7, 2018
Admission: Free to enter but some activities cost extra; Parking $10
This all-new indoor holiday event will feature ice skating, photos with Santa, face painting, glitter tattoos, bungee jump, virtual reality experience, petting zoo, arts and crafts, holiday market, and food vendors. For more information and additional pricing, click here.
12| The Chinese Lantern Light Festival
Central Broward County Regional Park
Now through – January 15, 2018; 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Admission: $25 Adults; $15 Children
Not your traditional holiday-themed event, but the gorgeous intricately lit lanterns will amaze you. The Lantern Light Festival is a celebration of Chinese culture featuring massive lanterns (some over 30 ft. tall) of all shapes and themes, adorned with millions of dazzling lights. This year’s theme is “The Wild”. In addition to the spectacularly lit lanterns, visitors will also be treated to live Kung Fu and Martial Arts performances, interactive play, keepsake crafts, and of course incredible Chinese cuisine. For more information, click here.
Let us know what your favorite South Florida holiday event is. We’ll be sure to visit and possibly include it in next year’s list.
Happy Holidays from our Stiletto family to yours.