St. Augustine, the Nation’s oldest city, sparkles from the sidewalks to the rooftops during the 23rd Annual Nights of Lights celebration through January 31, 2017. This long standing holiday tradition has an extra special glow this year after the city’s residents and business community worked together to come back from the effects of Hurricane Matthew. You might say that this holiday season Nights of Lights shines from the resilience of St. Augustine and its people.
During Nights of Lights, the city’s historic district is lit by more than 3 million white lights. Historic buildings, museums, local businesses, the Bridge of Lions, the city’s bay front walkway, hotels, bed & breakfast inns and private residences all take part in the popular holiday tradition, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Tracing its origins to the Spanish tradition of displaying a white candle in the window during the Christmas holidays, the spectacular lighting display reflects the city’s 450 plus year history and illuminates the beautiful ancient city.
Nights of Lights has attracted world-wide attention. National Geographic listed the Nights of Lights as one of the ten best holiday lighting displays in the world in 2011 and 2012.
The best way to experience Nights of Lights is to plan an overnight stay so you can soak up the sparkly, festive atmosphere and enjoy all the dining, tours, and entertainment this award-winning holiday celebration has to offer.
Travel smart this holiday and enjoy Nights of Lights lodging deals and specially priced tours. From romantic Bed & Breakfast Inns, to familiar hotels, to beachside resorts, special offers and lodging deals are available during Nights of Lights and mid-week stays are another opportunity to save.
Visitors can enjoy the sights in one of many different ways – on foot, by bicycle or pedicab, on the Old Town Famous Nights of Lights Tour, aboard Ripley’s Red Train or by horse and carriage. This year, the city is offering a free Park ‘n Ride Shuttle every Saturday through December 24. For information on the free shuttle visit www.ParkStAug.com
Old Town Trolley’s Famous Nights of Lights Trolley runs nightly through January 2. The trolley takes guests throughout the city to view Nights of Lights then provides free cider and cookies for a low-fare of $12.99 for adults and $5.99 for children. The trolleys run from the St. Augustine Visitor Information Center, located off Castillo Drive. www.trolleytours.com
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum celebrates with nightly tours through January 4, and every Friday and Saturday night, provide old-fashioned Christmas Magic with a giant marshmallow roasting pit, face painting, balloon twisters, stage shows, storytime with Mrs. Claus, a visit with Santa and more. Board the Red Train Nights of Lights Tour at Ripley’s Museum, 19 San Marco Avenue. www.ripleys.com/RedTrains
Take an evening historic walking tour through the sparkling city with a licensed guide on Fridays and Saturday nights. Learn unique colonial folklore and holiday traditions as you enjoy historic sites brilliantly lit with white lights. Tickets are $18 per person. www.TourStAug.com
Grab your friends and enjoy a Nights of Lights Wine & Carriage Tour. Enjoy a glass of wine on this group tour aboard a horse-drawn carriage as you meander the brick-lined streets. The Tasting Tours nightly excursions are $49 per person and come with a souvenir wine glass. www.tastingtours.com
Join St. Augustine Eco Tours for a harbor tour of the Nights of Lights. Board the stable and comfortable six or 12-passenger boats for the peaceful trip to experience the illuminated city. Tickets are $35 per passenger and depart nightly by appointment from the St. Augustine Municipal Marina. 111 Avenida Menendez, www.staugustineeecotours.com
Take in the view of Nights of Lights from the sea aboard the Schooner Freedom on the ship’s Moonlight Sail. On Fridays and Saturdays set sail on this hour plus tour with complimentary soda, water, beer, wine and hot chocolate for $40 per person www.schoonerfreedom.com
Many local attractions offer special Nights of Lights tours and there are dozens of special events and activities during the winter season on Florida’s Historic Coast. A list of the many tours and events can be viewed in the online calendar.
Some special event highlights during Nights of Lights include:
December 2-3 Colonial Nightwatch Weekend
The Colonial Nightwatch is pleased to join the National Park Service in presenting the nighttime tour series called Enemy at the Gates on Friday. This special presentation takes visitors through various vignettes representing historical events during the siege of 1740 in St. Augustine. On Saturday, join hundreds of costumed re-enactors from St. Augustine’s Colonial history as they perform military drills and cannon and musket firing on the grounds of the Castillo de San Marcos. www.hfm.club/nightwatch
December 7 Luminary Night at the St. Augustine Lighthouse
The highlight of the holiday season at the Lighthouse is Luminary Night. Visitors and community members are invited to enter the Lighthouse grounds for a free evening of children’s holiday crafts, warm refreshments, live musical performances, including a string quartet inside the Lighthouse tower, and an up-close look at the museum’s Christmas decor. This is a special evening from 7-9 p.m. the whole family will enjoy. www.staugustinelighthouse.com
December 9 St. Augustine Orchestra Holiday Concert
The Lightner Museum will host the St. Augustine Orchestra’s Holiday concert. The Historic Pool area of the museum provides a spectacular backdrop and acoustical setting for this popular holiday concert. The performance begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults; students and children under 12 are $5. www.staugustineorchestra.org
December 10 Regatta of Lights
This is an annual holiday parade, hosted by the St. Augustine Yacht Club, of motorized vessels – sailboats, trawlers, shrimp boats and many other vessels all-a-glitter with brilliant lighted displays ranging from patriotic to whimsical. Beginning at 6 p.m., the boats will light up St. Augustine’s Matanzas Bay between the Bridge of Lions and Castillo de San Marcos. www.staugustineyachtclub.com
December 31 Beach Blast Off
This annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display and entertainment at the St. Augustine Beach Pier will ring in 2017. The event features a kids zone, food vendors and live entertainment. The event is from 4-10 p.m. with the fireworks display at 8:30 p.m. www.sabevents.com
January 20-22 Saint Augustine Film Festival
This three-day film festival takes place at various locations throughout St. Augustine, including the Corazon Cinema and Cafe, Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College and Limelight Theatre. The festival starts at 11 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and noon on Sunday. There is a party each evening of the festival. Tickets to see the films are $10 for general admission; $8 for seniors and students. www.staugfilmfest.com
For more events taking place on Florida’s Historic Coast this holiday season, visit www.NightsofLights.com.
Located midway between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Florida’s Historic Coast includes historic St. Augustine, the outstanding golf and seaside elegance of Ponte Vedra Beach and 42 miles of pristine, Atlantic beaches. For more information on events, activities, holiday getaway and vacation opportunities in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, go to the Visitors and Convention Bureau website at www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com, become a fan on Facebook or call 1.800.653.2489.