Holiday Things To Do In Jacksonville And The Beaches

The holidays are coming up so I thought this would be a great time to share some of the local events for those of you who are new or old timers just looking for something new to do. I’ve got 10 great events that are always fun and really popular. 

  1. The first one is the Jacksonville Boat Light Parade where boat owners decorate the hulls of their boats with lights and then float along the St johns river.  It’s really beautiful and you don’t have to own a boat to enjoy it.  Residents and visitors can gather around the north and south banks downtown to watch and then at the end, a gorgeous waterfall fireworks show goes off over the main St and Acosta bridges.  It’s a great way to enjoy our waterfront!
  2. The second fun event is the Tree Lighting Ceremony and Holiday Market at Sesquicentennial Park in historic Springfield. This is a great way to kick off your holiday season. Be sure to bring a blanket or chair because there’s also live music to enjoy. 
  3. If you’re looking for some unique gifts and want to support local makers then check out the Jacksonville Holiday Market for Makers at the Glass Factory (also a cool space to check out if you haven’t.) You can find all kinds of stuff that is great for gift giving like home décor, fashion, art, design, food –  all made by local small businesses.
  4. A fun event in Riverside/Avondale is the Luminaria.  You can visit neighborhood parks and churches by walking the lighted sidewalks that are illuminated with candles. It’s really chill and a great way to see some of the beautiful historic homes.
  5. If you enjoy the Symphony, then the First Coast Nutcracker is a must also. I grew up watching the Nutcracker with Baryshnikov every year with my family on VHS so I’ve always loved seeing it in person. I know ballet may seem boring to some but these people are really great athletes and seeing what they can do is really inspiring. I just love it.
  6. Something really popular here is the Tax Slayer Gator Bowl. I’m not a huge football fan but this is a really popular bowl game if you are a football person.  Be sure to check out the link if this is something that you want to check out.
  7. If you like lights then here are some great ones to check out:
    • The first is Dazzlin Nights at the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. We did this last year and it was really pretty.  It’s mainly walking, though they did have assistance for anyone who has trouble walking. It’s not super long, I think it took us like an hour but it’s definitely worth visiting and they do have some light food and beer and wine.
    • If you prefer driving, there’s a great event called the JAX Illuminations Drive Thru Holiday light Show. The lights are synchronized to music and you get to enjoy in your own vehicle, so it’s great to bring your own snacks.
    • At the beaches, there’s another driving light show in the subdivision of Black Hawk Bluff. The residents spend their own time and money decorating their homes and they also hang star lights from the trees. It does get more congested as the holiday season goes on so going early in the season is probably the best option
  8. Another great event that is a 6 week long holiday celebration at Jax Beach called Jax Beach Deck the Chairs. This year there will be 60+ lifeguard chairs that are decorated by local businesses and organizations. The chair decor is really creative and they also lit up with lights. There’s also lots of live music and performances and stuff. The event promotes art in public spaces which is pretty cool.
  9. Then, there’s also Totally Lit which celebrates Hanukkah. This festival has live music, a food truck, dreidel games, kosher beer and wine, and a menorah lighting. A really celebration to kick of Hanukkah.
  10. A way to bring in the new year is the New Year’s Eve celebration in downtown Jacksonville along the St Johns River. The fireworks begin at midnight and you can watch them on the north or south banks of the river.

There’s lots to do in Jacksonville and the beaches around the holidays, these are just a few of the most popular. Hopefully you enjoy some of them and have a great holiday season!

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