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Tens of thousands of visitors head to Florida’s ‘Oldest’ City to see millions of lights strung up around the Historic District every winter!
Aside from the famous Night of Lights festival, there are many festive things to do in St. Augustine at Christmas that this guide will reveal, along with other handy tips.
While the holiday season is an incredibly magic time to visit, St. Augustine is worth seeing all year round as it is a unique city steeped in history, including colonial, and Black civil rights – find out more here.
Okay! Let’s get into the very best things to do at Christmas in St. Augustine, which are organized below by location (Historic District and Anastasia Island) and theme.
Festive Things to Do in St. Augustine During Christmas
Start the Season with Light-Up! Night
The St. Augustine Night of Lights event kicks off as early as November with the annual Light-Up! Night event held at the central Plaza de la Constitución.
Expect live music, jolly activities, and festive cheer throughout the old streets of the district.
St. Augustine Christmas Lights is an award-winning event, so be sure to expect crowds, especially around the opening Light-Up Night and Thanksgiving weekend.
The city puts on park-and-ride services for visitors during Light-Up, with the advisory to avoid driving into town.
This is one of our favorite things to do in Florida in the winter!
Christmas Tree Selfies
Surrounded by lights at the plaza, you’ll see the huge Christmas tree adorned with a bright star.
The tree is the center point for many family festive photos taken by St. Augustine visitors!
Plaza de la Constitución is also where visitors can join the local Jewish community and friends in lighting the menorah for Hanukkah.
The event includes food like fried latkes and music.
St. Augustine Night of Lights Trolley
There are many St. Augustine light tours on offer, which we will discuss in this guide, but the most popular is the trolley.
The city’s all-year-round tourist trolleys receive a little magic touch and are transformed into Christmas trains with their own lights and jolly conductor!
The ride cruises through many of the Night of Lights highlights, such as Flagler College, the Lightner Museum, and the Plaza de la Constitución.
Get your phone ready to take some epic pics of the city lit up!
Christmas Ghost Tour
Learn about the ghosts of Christmas past during this 1-hour haunted trolley tour.
The ride is ideal for families as the guide shares jovial stories about the darker side of the city while highlighting haunted locations.
The open-air trolley tour also features stops at the jail and wax museum.
An Intimate Lights Tour
If you prefer a crowd-free tour of the city at night, consider the St. Augustine Lights Golf Cart Tour.
During this tour, a local chauffeur drives your small group of up to five people through the city to see the dazzling displays, providing ample opportunity to get out of the golf cart to take pictures and see the lights up close.
A comfortable, private, and efficient way of experiencing the event.
Nights of Lights Boat Parade
If you don’t fancy getting on the water, you can observe it from the city during the annual St. Augustine Yacht Club Regatta of Lights.
Base yourself around the Bayfront between the very central locations of the Bridge of Lions and the Castillo de San Marcos for the best views of the parade.
This is a free Christmas event in St. Augustine and the biggest parade in the Northeast of Florida!
Christmas with the Captain
See the skyline sparkle while the Night of Lights reflects in the Matanzas River during this St. Augustine lights boat tour.
Sail by landmarks such as the Bridge of Lions, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, and the St. Augustine Historical Society.
The small vessel has a restroom on board for your comfort.
Remember to layer up, it’s Florida, but there might still be a sea breeze out there!
Read about all of the Night of Light tour options here.
Fancy Floats at the Christmas Parade
Another annual holiday tradition in St. Augustine is the city parade, where floats and decorated cars traverse through the old town to celebrate the start of the season.
The big man himself, Santa, will be stopping for pics in the Historic Downtown before setting off to prep his elves; he’s a busy man.
Santa Meet and Greet
He’s making a list and checking it twice!
Stay off your kid’s naughty list by taking them along to meet Santa at one of the many spots he’s visiting this December.
Check out the official sites for the following for the most up-to-date event information – Lightner Museum, Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, and St Augustine Beach Police Department.
Plus, catch Old Saint Nick at the end of the annual Christmas parade.
Sneak Peek into Holiday Homes
While the Night of Lights is one of the main draws of the city at Christmas, one of the coolest things to do in St. Augustine in December is to step inside a handful of historic homes!
Go beyond admiring the decked-out porches and through the front doors with handmade wreaths to discover how the other half decorate their homes, some of which have been lived in by very notable residents.
It is advised to wear suitable footwear as the St. Augustine Christmas tour of homes involves some walking between addresses.
Festive Hotels and B&Bs
Don’t just tour a historic home; stay in one!
Many of St. Augustine’s hotels, inns, and B&Bs are located in buildings that were once home to, or the businesses of, historically important people in the state.
For example, Casa Monica (95 Cordova St) was once the Cordova Hotel built by amateur architect Franklin W. Smith in 1888, who later sold it to Henry Flagler.
Find out more about the city’s architecture in our guide.
Sip tea and savor cakes while catching up on the local gossip, just as Lady Bedford intended, with a festive afternoon tea in St. Augustine.
While The Chatsworth (10 Marine St) is known for being an English pub with over 70 types of beers, wines, and cocktails, it is also where visitors can book an afternoon or high tea served in the Tea Room.
Traditional Turkey Dinner
Tuck into a traditional plate of turkey, gravy, stuffing, pigs in blankets, and veggies before the big day at one of the St. Auggie restaurants serving up something special.
Restaurants that serve turkey dinners all year round include the Village Inn (900 N Ponce De Leon Blvd), Columbia Restaurant (98 St George St), and Gaufres and Goods (212 Charlotte St).
See below for tips on where to eat on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in St. Augustine.
Night of Pints
Old Coast, A1A, Dog Rose, Ancient Brewing, there’s no shortage of tap houses, breweries, and specialist beer bars in St. Augustine.
There’s even a bar that lets you self-pour (Auggie’s Draft Room) while watching winter sports on the TV.
To compliment, in a cheeky fashion, the tremendously popular Night of Lights, some bars take part in a Night of Pints event that runs alongside it.
This is one of the best things to do in St. Augustine in winter for couples who love craft beer as there is so much choice
If a glass of red is more your thing, head to San Sebastian Winery (157 King St) for rooftop views, live music, and tours.
The casual winery is located in one of Henry Flagler’s old East Coast Railway buildings!
That’s the Spirit
If craft beer and wine don’t wet your winter whistle, book a table at the community-founded St. Augustine Distillery (112 Riberia St).
Here, you can do tours to see where award-winning Floridian bourbon, gin, rum, and vodka are brewed.
Sticking with the winter theme, the distillery is located in a 1907 power and ice plant.
Sweet tooth seasonal visitors will want to let themselves be tempted by a hot chocolate from Claude’s Chocolate (6 Granada St) or ChocoLattes (47 Cordova St).
If a warm mug of cocoa seems strange on a Southern winter day, go for the frozen hot chocolate at Whetstones (13 Anastasia Blvd), where you can also pick up truffles and fudge as holiday gifts.
There are plenty of stores to choose from along the famous St. George Street.
Avid shoppers can seek out souvenirs, books, and clothes, while the non-shoppers sip on beers and listen to live music at one of the many jumping bars.
If you’re looking for more of a mall experience, head to St. Augustine Premium Outlets (2700 FL-16) where you’ll find named brands like Adidas, Gap, and Old Navy.
While you won’t find anywhere the level of NYC Christmas displays in St. Auggie, it is worth keeping your eyes peeled for some festive fun in the store and business windows along St. George Street and historic Aviles Street.
Remember to look up at the roofs too, as you might just see Santa flying above.
See a Local Carol Singers Show
Cherish old classics and learn new tunes with the St Augustine’s Singers.
During the festive period, this choir tours the city churches and other locations, putting on heartwarming shows and delivering a holiday nostalgia feel.
Keep up to date with their whereabouts on Facebook.
Listen to Live Music
St. Augustine puts on a show all year round when it comes to live music, with many of its bars hiring local talent to perform on purpose-built stages indoors and in their pub gardens.
There is always a free music event to jam to!
Stumble into Trade Winds Lounge (124 Charlotte St), Ancient City Brewing (18 Cathedral Pl), Perre’s Pub (69 St George St), Prohibition Kitchen (119 St George St), or the Colonial Oak (21 St George St) to see what Christmas anthems are being belted out this season.
See a Show
Check out the schedule for the Limelight Theatre (11 Old Mission Ave), which puts on eight main-stage productions each year.
Previous Christmas shows have included A Christmas Story.
See this year’s latest Christmas release at one of the city’s movie theaters.
EPIC Theatres (112 Theatre Dr) shows blockbuster movies, while the World Golf Hall of Fame IMAX® Theater (1 World Golf Pl) offers a 3D experience.
Feast your eyes on the St. Augustine Ballet as dancers float like a dream on stage this December.
Expect costumes, cookies, and snow!
Tickets for this traditional performance can be purchased at the official website.
Christmas Market (Out of Town)
Start the holiday shopping early this November at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort (500 S Legacy Trail), located around 15 miles from the Historic Downtown.
Browse over 150 vendor stalls promoting their crafts, such as art, homeware, and jewelry.
Plus, huge giveaways throughout the day!
Take a tour of the Lightner Museum, St. Augustine’s Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, and Castillo de San Marcos National Monument – some of the popular things to do on Christmas Eve in St. Augustine for visitors.
Dine on a Christmas Eve menu at The Raintree Restaurant (102 San Marco Ave) or Aviles Restaurant & Lounge (32 Avenida Menendez) then bar hop along St. George Street.
Alternatively, attend mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine.
While most of the biggest attractions, such as the Lightner Museum, are closed, there are still some fun things to do in St. Augustine for Christmas.
You can get out in nature at Anastasia State Park, Fort Mose Historic State Park, or St. Augustine Beach for a seasonal stroll, keeping your eyes peeled for local birds.
For dinner, there is a more limited list compared to Christmas Eve, so it is best to book early once you decide where to eat.
Check out Nonna’s Trattoria (2 Aviles St), Columbia Restaurant (98 St George St), and Castillo (6 W Castillo D) for Christmas Day menus and sittings.
New Year’s Eve
If anyone on the northeast coast of Florida knows how to ring in the new year, it has to be the party people of St. Augustine!
Hit the dance floor at Prohibition Kitchen, jive to live music in the garden of the Colonial Oak, or sip cocktails at Ice Plant Bar while you await the countdown to midnight.
For a more low-key musical outing, see where the St Augustine’s Singers are performing around town.
Traveling with kids in tow?
They’ll love the Light Up the NIGHT fireworks at St. Augustine Beach’s St. Johns County Ocean Pier.
Anastasia Island, Near St. Augustine’s Christmas Events
St. Augustine Light Station for Panoramic Views
A unique way to see the Night of Lights in St. Augustine is by climbing the 219 steps of the St. Augustine Light Station (100 Red Cox Dr).
Built between 1871 and 1874, the light station provides 360 views over Anastasia Island, Matanzas Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.
The light station is located on Anastasia Island, which is best reached by car.
There is free parking by the attraction.
Support Local at the Farmers Market
The city’s Farmers’ Market is held every Saturday all year round at the cool Amphitheater!
Here, you can purchase produce from local makers, such as seasonal farm-to-table food, while live entertainment plays.
Shop by the seashore at St. Augustine’s Beach Holiday Market, where vendors sell their wares at the pier.
This family-friendly Christmas event also has light decor, photo booths, and food.
Trim off some space for the turkey during the Santa Suits On The Loose 5K.
The route at St. Augustine’s Beach is set for runners, joggers, and strollers, with proceeds going to charity.
While it’s not expected all participants wear Santa suits, most do show up in festive colors like green and red.
Take advantage of the cooler temperatures in winter and discover one of the local beaches or treks.
Park up at St. Augustine Beach, Crescent Beach, or Anastasia State Park (300 Anastasia Park Rd) for coastal views, tidal marshes, or sand dunes.
Whether you are visiting the Old City to spend time at the beach, learn about the history, or see the St. Augustine lights, there’s plenty to pack in over the festive period.
Have we missed your favorite St. Augustine Christmas event?
Tell us in the comments. We love to hear from you and live for Christmas!