Where to See Holiday Lights in South Florida This Season
Consider this our gift to you.
People who are new to South Florida are usually a little weirded out when the holiday season rolls around and they see palm trees wrapped in Christmas lights. That’s just our take on the season here in Miami, where we trade eggnog for coquito (it’s better) and “Jingle Bells” for “Mi Burrito Sabanero” (which is just as likely to get stuck in your head). And though some of our traditions may be a little different than the rest of the country’s, we still get into the over-the-top light displays as well as anyone, throwing them on boats, waterfront mansions, and the world’s largest holiday theme park. So, from Santa’s to the Stranahan House, here are the best places in South Florida to catch holiday lights.
November 5 – January 2
Is it really Christmas in Miami until you’ve wandered under the canopy of Christmas lights that leads into Santa’s? The world’s biggest holiday theme park IS Christmas in Miami, and even though it’s moved from its longtime home at Tropical Park to Doral, it’s still an absolute spectacle to behold. You can immerse yourself in over a million lights ranging from towering Christmas trees to LED tunnels emptying into the Christmas wonderland of your dreams. There’s also the legitimately terrifying rides run by equally terrifying operators, and, of course, plenty of funnel cakes.
November 12 – January 9
Fairchild brings back the immersive, trippy Night Garden, where you’ll traipse through a dark tropical forest among giant dandelions and holographic illusions. Along the way you’ll walk through a Florida “snowfall,” follow rainbow paths, and search for hidden fairies using augmented reality. And of course, there’s the wise-cracking talking tree at the end of the garden, a Banyan who interacts with guests in a wise-but-snarky banter.
November 12 – December 31
Every hour on the hour, the Village at Gulfstream Park will turn into a giant, synchronized light show as part of its Symphony in Lights holiday celebration. Over 250,000 LDG lights will cover the complex, and once an hour they’ll erupt in a ten-minute, choreographed routine set to a selection of holiday classics.
November 18 – January 1
The Homestead Motor Speedway is transformed into a low-speed cruise through Christmasland, combining twinkling lights and LED magic for a next-level holiday immersion. A full mile of lights awaits, as you roll past Christmas Barbie, the Bigfoot monster truck, Christmas-themed dinosaurs, and other illuminated oddities. It’s the most social media friendly light display in South Florida, and well worth the trip this far south. Consider making an afternoon of it and stop by Knaus Berry Farm for its epic cinnamon rolls before it closes at 5:30 pm (but remember to bring cash).
November 23 – January 2
Tradewinds Park continues its wintertime tradition, decking itself out in three miles of Christmas lights for the drive-through Holiday Fantasy of Lights. This will be the 28th year for the festival, which returns with its largest show to date, dazzling drivers with lit up reindeer, Santa Claus, wreathes, gingerbread houses, and trees.
November 25 – December 30
For kids, no holiday light viewing experience is quite as special as ZooLights, combining the wonder of live exotic animals with the magic of the holiday season. This year’s edition features over a million lights displayed around the zoo, a 26-foot- tall LED holiday tree, and live appearances from Santa himself until he has to return to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. Kids can also take a ride on Snowman’s river boat, feast on cookies and hot chocolate, and sign up for special Christmas arts and crafts.
December 1 – January 1
Downtown Ft. Lauderdale
Any city worth its road salt has a neighborhood full of leveled-up Christmas lights that visitors can walk or drive through. Only the Venice of the Americas has one you can tour by boat, as the Ft. Lauderdale water taxi offers tours of Millionaire’s Row and its multitude of festive mansions. The tour departs near the Stranahan House and Riverside Hotel, and runs up the Intracoastal Waterway past astounding homes that are even more impressive when decked out for the holidays.
Downtown Ft. Lauderdale
Ah, the Winterfest boat parade, the one time a year when South Florida boat owners swap “influencers” and rose bottles for wholesome family fun, adorning their vessels in Christmas lights and floating down the Intracoastal. The “Best Show on H2O” rallies near the Stranahan House on the New River then rolls up the Intracoastal to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano, with a special ticketed viewing area set up in Promenade Park.
December 11 – January 1
“Night” is a little misleading, since this illuminated takeover of the former Parrot Jungle runs for three solid weeks. So, ignore the name for a moment and make plans to explore this stunning tropical landscape, that’s added extra light displays to what it had in previous years. You’ll also find a holiday-themed maze to walk though, and on some nights you can catch a live Christmas concert in the famous Banyan Bowl too.