While the rest of the country may be dreaming of a snow-filled white Christmas and trying to stay warm by a cozy fire, here in sunny tropical South Florida our holidays are sizzling in ways that are truly unique to the Sunshine State. Whether you happen to live here year round or will be vacationing during the month of December, our list of the 14 must do fun Holiday Events are not to be missed and guaranteed to get even the most ornery Grinch into the festive spirit.
1| Holiday Fantasy of Lights at Tradewinds Park
Tradewinds Park, 3600 West Sample Road, Coconut Creek, FL (Broward County)
Now through – January 1st – 6:00 -10:00 pm
Admission: $15/car; $40/bus or 15+ vehicle
Tradewinds Park is a fantasy of color, lights and design this holiday season. The 22nd 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. A portion of the proceeds from this year’s event will be donated to Gilda’s Club, Cancer Support. For more information click here.
2| 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 75,000 colorful 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 into their factory for some of South Florida’s finest mouthwatering chocolates. Click here for more information and directions.
3| Santa’s Enchanted Forest
Tropical Park, Miami (Miami/Dade County)
Now through January 8, 2017; 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.
4| Lantern Light Festival
Miami-Dade County Fair Expo Center (Miami/Dade County)
Now through – January 8, 2017; 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Admission: $25 Adults; $21 Children; $21 Seniors; $5 Parking
The Lantern Light Festival is a 6-week celebration of Chinese culture featuring massive lanterns (some over 30 ft. tall) of all shapes and themes, adorned with millions of dazzling lights. In addition to the spectacular lighted lanterns, visitors will also be treated to live performances, face painting, fireworks, train rides, mini golf and of course incredible Chinese cuisine. For more information, click here.
5| Sandiland – Holiday in Paradise
West Palm Beach Waterfront (Palm Beach County)
December 1st – January 1, 2017
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, build a tropical snowman in SnowieVille, and take in a round of 9-hole mini golf. For more information, click here.
6| 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 and train rides. The light show starts every hour on the hour. For a complete schedule of activities, click here.
8| The 61st Candy Cane Parade
Hollywood Beach Boardwalk at Scott Street (Broward County)
Saturday, December 3rd, 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.
9| Rip Tide Music Festival
Fort Lauderdale Beach 1100 Seabreeze Blvd. Fort Lauderdale (Broward County)
December 3rd & 4th
Admission: $45 Sat 12/3; $65 Sun 12/4; $99 2-day pass
Not exactly a holiday themed event, but who wouldn’t get into the spirit of the Florida holidays by attending 2-day music festival on the soft sands of world famous Ft. Lauderdale beach. Riptide Music Festival, powered by Ford, is the biggest 2-day Alternative & Classic Hits music festival to ever land on the beaches of Fort Lauderdale! Featuring bands such as Earth, Wind & Fire, The Struts, B-52’s, Good Charlotte and more, there is great music for all. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit, www.riptidefest.com.
10| The Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade
Fort Lauderdale Intracostal to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach (Broward County)
December 10th, 6:30 pm
Admission: FREE along the parade route; for Grandstand tickets, 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 “Comics & Cartoons Rockin’ the Night Away” 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
11| Cirque Du Soleil
Miami next to the Hard Rock Stadium (Miami/Dade County)
December 10, 2016 – January 29, 2017
Admission: Tickets start at $39
This year’s show, “Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities” will take spectators into the world of an ambitious inventor who defied the laws of time, space and dimension in order to reinvent everything around him. This is the perfect show to see while in town for the South Florida holidays. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.
12| Piles of Smiles Snow Day
Sugar Sand Park, Boca Raton (Palm Beach County)
Saturday, December 17th; 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Admission: $12 advance price; $15 beginning 12/4
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.
13| Panthers in the Park Ice Skating
Huizenga Plaza – Downtown Fort Lauderdale (Broward County)
Now through January 8, 2017
Admission: $13 for a 90-minute session
Outdoor ice skating in South Florida? That’s the magic only Hoffman’s Chocolates, the Florida Panthers and the City of Fort Lauderdale can create. Come skate on real ice and enjoy a walk through a brilliant light display. Ice skates are included with admission price. For more information, click here.
14| The 35th Annual King Mango Strut
Downtown Coconut Grove (Miami/Dade County)
December 31st, 2:00 pm
This is one of the country’s most unique and bizarre parades What started as a rejected group from the King Orange Bowl Parade has grown into the wackiest event in south Florida. With groups such as Marching Freds, The Booger King, The League of Dead Voters, Cuban Eye for the Gringo Guy, Weapons of Mass Distraction, and the Running of the Bullshitters strutting the parade route, onlookers will be treated to an event like no other. After the “Strut”, stay for The King Mango Massacre where bands will be rocking well into the New Year. For more information or to register to strut your stuff in the parade, click here.