Every year, it seems as though the holidays sneak up on us. Before you know it, you’re wrapping presents and making your resolutions! There’s never enough time to focus on the most important part of the winter holidays, which is spending time with the ones you love. Before you get caught up in the frenzy of this festive time of year, take some time to attend one of the many fantastic St. Augustine Christmas events. From the famous Nights of Lights to the annual holiday parade, there are so many ways to embrace the spirit of the season. These festivals and parties are the perfect way to remind ourselves of the true meaning of the holidays. Preview some of the amazing upcoming events below.
You Won’t Want to Miss These St. Augustine Christmas Events
St. Augustine Nights of Lights
It’s impossible to talk about Christmas in St. Augustine without mentioning the famous Nights of Lights. When we say famous, we’re not exaggerating. This town-wide display has made St. Augustine one of the top 10 places to see holiday lights according to National Geographic. Why is this event so special? Every year, our beautiful city is decorated with millions of tiny white lights. From the palm trees and shrubbery in the squares to our city’s most iconic buildings, everything glistens and glows thanks to the many glittery bulbs. Each year’s showing is better than the last, and the St. Augustine Christmas lights of 2018 are bound to be the best yet!
The History of the Nights of Lights
Like most things in St. Augustine, the Nights of Lights has its roots in Spanish culture. In this case, the old Spanish tradition of displaying a white candle in windows during the holiday season. The candles are meant to represent an open heart and home. This feeling of welcoming and graciousness is prevalent in all things in St. Augustine.
Lights-Up! Night Ceremony
The Nights of Lights begins with the annual Light-Up! Night Ceremony. Watch as the city flips the switch and the town transforms for the first night of the season! Typically, there are also live performances that precede and follow the ceremony. In 2018, the Lights-Up! Night Ceremony will take place on November 17 at 4:00 p.m. The first live performance is held outside the Lightner Museum, and the lighting ceremony is at the Plaza de la Constitución, which is a two-minute walk from the museum.
How to Tour the City During the Nights of Lights
One If by Land
Many residents and visitors enjoy conducting their own walking tour of St. Augustine at night in order to see the lights. There are, however, several other options available to anyone hoping to cover a little more ground. One of the most popular options is from Old Town Trolley Tours. This year, the Nights of Lights Trolley Tour runs every night from November 18, 2018, to January 31, 2019, departing every 10 to 15 minutes from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. The tour lasts 30 minutes and leaves from the Visitor Information Center, which is just a five-minute walk from Agustin Inn.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Offers another great night tour of St. Augustine. Running from November 18, 2018, to January 5, 2019, Ripley’s Big Red Christmas Train takes riders on a journey through the city on every night except Christmas. It departs from the Odditorium, which is just a six-minute walk from Agustin Inn.
Two If by Sea
Take to the water with Schooner Freedom. While this company is best known for their romantic cruises (one of which you can book as an add-on attraction with your Agustin Inn reservation), they also offer two special tours during the holiday season. The first is the Nights of Lights Sunset Sail. Watch the sunset and the moonrise during your cruise on the Matanzas Inlet. This excursion departs at 4:15 p.m. and lasts two hours. The second option is the Nights of Lights Moonlight Sail, which features live music. Enjoy hot chocolate or a glass of wine as you get the best view of the city. It runs on Fridays and Saturdays during the Nights of Lights, departing at 6:45 p.m. and running for a little over an hour. Reservations are recommended for both.
Another excellent option is Florida Water Tour’s Nights of Lights excursion. This cruise, which takes place on a gorgeous yacht, departs every night beginning on November 17. 2018, at 6:00, 7:45, and 9:30 p.m. Guests of all ages are welcome on the 6:00 p.m. cruise, but the other two are for only adults 18 and older. There is a cash bar serving beer and wine for those 21 and older.
Take a Private St. Augustine Carriage Tour
Enjoy a quiet carriage ride with your loved one! Can you imagine anything more romantic than riding in a horse-drawn carriage past twinkling lights? There are some excellent options available from companies (for instance, The Tasting Tour). A St. Augustine Nights of Lights carriage ride is sure to enhance your getaway. For guests looking for an intimate experience, we offer a private tour in our add-on attractions. Simply include that in your reservation, and we’ll make the arrangements! A tour is also featured in our Ultimate Romance Package and the Agustin Classic Romance Package.
Enjoy the St. Augustine Christmas Parade
For almost 65 years, the St. Augustine Christmas Parade has helped residents and visitors get into the Christmas spirit. The participation of local organizations, vendors, residents, and our many wonderful visitors has made this annual event into a holiday extravaganza. With elaborately decorated floats, antique cars, performances by local schools, and an appearance by the famous Mr. Claus, you won’t want to miss this celebration! The parade begins at the Mission of Nombre de Dios and heads south through historic downtown St. Augustine. At the end of the journey, everyone is welcome to join Santa in the Plaza de la Constitución to get a photo with the big man! In 2018, the St. Augustine Christmas Parade will take place on December 1 at 9:00 a.m.
Don’t Miss the St. Augustine Regatta of Lights
Held in conjunction with the Nights of Lights, the Regatta of Lights (also known as the St. Augustine Christmas Boat Parade) showcases elegant vessels and St. Augustine spirit! This event, hosted by the St. Augustine Yacht Club, will take place between the Bridge of Lions and Castillo de San Marcos. Spectators can watch the regatta from the bayfront, though you may consider getting a table at some of the waterfront restaurants to enjoy dinner and a show! We suggest Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille. The 2018 St. Augustine Regatta of Lights will award prizes based on the best theme, most colorful, best in class, and best overall. The fun takes place on December 8, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.
Come and See Us During the Bed & Breakfast Holiday Tour
While you’re in town for the 2018 St. Augustine Christmas Boat Parade, check out the 25th Annual Bed and Breakfast Holiday Tour! Our very own Agustin Inn is participating in this great event. Participants will get the chance to explore the historic inns of St. Augustine. In total, there are three days of the tour. The first day, Saturday, December 8, will explore the inns in south downtown St. Augustine. On Sunday, guests can visit the north side, including Agustin Inn. Each bed and breakfast has partnered with a local restaurant to provide snacks and drinks during the tour. We’ve partnered with Michael’s Tasting Room, which is next door to us. As if touring these inns while snacking on delicious samples wasn’t enough, many of the local museums and galleries will be open in conjunction with the event. This event offers the perfect chance to tour the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, the Lightner Museum, or the Villa Zorayda Museum. Tickets for this event sell out quickly, so be sure to purchase them as soon as you can!
Stay at Agustin Inn
Before you set any plans in motion to attend one of these St. Augustine Christmas events, be sure to first book your room at Agustin Inn. Our historic bed and breakfast is situated squarely in the middle of downtown historic St. Augustine. Rather than worrying about finding transportation or parking, you’ll be within walking distance to these outstanding festivals. Add to that our beautiful guest rooms, exceptional amenities, and delicious daily breakfast, and you have all the ingredients for the trip of a lifetime.
If you’re taking a romantic trip with your loved one, consider booking Windsor. This wonderful suite is one of our most luxurious, with a king-size bed, oval-shaped Jacuzzi tub and shower, and a private balcony. This is one of the rooms that is still located in the original building and has been remodeled to include a gorgeous oak floor. The warm tones and soft bedding create the perfect atmosphere for a romantic night in.
Check our availability and book your room today. We look forward to having you!