Holiday Season in America's Oldest City

Christmas in St. Augustine

Ah, the holidays! Whether you are in snowy paradise or on sandy beaches, the spirit of the holidays is still the same. Some people might believe that the snow and cold weather makes it the holiday season. But St. Augustine has proven for many years that the holiday spirit is still the same here, whether there is snow or not! With a wonderful display of light and magic that bring the city to life, there’s plenty of festivities to enjoy! But how did these traditions begin?

Let us take a look into the past, to see how tradition has changed or improved throughout the ages. The Minorcan’s came to the new world from the Mediterranean and embarked on a journey to North East Florida. This was one of the largest groups of European immigrants to settle in the New World. More than 25,000 descendants of these Minorcans still live here in the area. They celebrated their holiday by lighting and putting a white candle on the windows of their houses to guide Mary and Joseph to their homes and let them know they are welcomed. As the time and modern technology advanced, the city of St. Augustine continued the traditional white light display.

Night of Lights 2018- 19

  • Nov 2018- Feb 3, 2019 at Plaza de la Constitución

The night of lights festival turns the City of St Augustine into a dazzling holiday display.

The 25th Annual Night of Lights, lights up the city with about three million lights, adorned in every corner of the historic district for two months!  

This award-winning holiday light display runs from November, 2018, to February 3, 2019, in historic St. Augustine. During the seasonal display, businesses downtown stay open later, letting you dine in view of the lights and browse the shops of the decorated buildings.

The trains and trolleys offer special seasonal tours that take you through the best areas, and there are also a variety of specialty tours. Everything from walking tours, to horse-and-carriage tours, and even tours to see the lights from the water and the air!

Old Town Trolleys Famous Nights of Lights Tour

  • Nightly Tours – Visitor Information Center

Old Town Trolleys Famous Nights of Lights Tour is an excellent way to see St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights. Now the lights are electric and not traditional candles, but they remain white, and they are dazzling to see as they decorate the wonderful old buildings, historic homes and bayfront vistas in the nation’s oldest city. National Geographic magazine included St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights in its recent list of the ten best places in the world to see holiday lighting displays.

The 25th Annual Nights of Lights begins on the evening of Saturday, November 17, 2018, when the Mayor turns on the lights in the annual Lighting Ceremony. On the following evening (Sunday, November 18), the Old Town Trolleys Famous Nights of Lights Tour will begin touring visitors around the historic district to see the best of the Nights of Lights displays.

The trolley tours depart from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. continuously every night of the holiday season from November 18, 2018, through February 3, 2019. No reservations are required. The tour departs from the Visitor Information Center at 10 West Castillo Drive. (See below for other parking locations that offer free shuttles to the Visitor Information Center.)

General admission tickets are $13.99 for adults and $5.99 for children 3 – 12, while kids under 3 are free. No reservations are required or accepted for general admission seating.

This year, Old Town Trolleys is offering a Fast Track Pass for their Nights of Lights Tour. With this ticket includes:

  • A separate line with a shorter wait time.
  • Ability to pre-select a reserved check-in time.
  • Priority check-in that is valid up to one hour following your reserved time.

The cost is $16.99 for adults and $8.99 for children 3 – 12, with kids under 3 riding free. The Fast Track Pass does require reservations, which may be rescheduled up to 24 hours in advance of tour time by calling (904) 826-3663. To purchase tickets online and to make reservations for the Fast Track Pass, visit here.

The Tasting Tours – Night of Lights

  • November 2018- February 3, 2019 at The Tasting Tours

See St. Augustine’s Night of Lights from horse-drawn carriage or an old fashioned roadster with The Tasting Tour.

The Tasting Tours offers three holiday tours during St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights celebration, beginning on Saturday, November 17, 2018, and continuing nightly through February 3, 2019.

Their Wine and Carriage Ride Tours are a wonderful way to experience this world-renowned festival of lights in the nation’s oldest city. Guests can experience the festival lights on the horse-drawn carriage and enjoy some excellent wine and great company on these 45-minute tours. There are two versions of the Wine and Carriage Ride Tours available each night: a group tour for up to 12 people and a private tour for 2 – 4 people. Both tours include a bottle of wine (red or white) and souvenir glasses.

Additionally, The Tasting Tours offers a nightly Rockin’ Red Roadster Ride. This is a family-friendly 45-minute tour that does not include wine, but features great holiday music and lots of Christmas cheer.

Admission: $49 per person (21 years and up) for the Group Wine and Carriage Ride. The Private Wine and Carriage Ride is $159 per couple (can accommodate up to 4 guests for an additional $35 per guest). $25 per adult and $15 per child under 12 for the Rockin’ Red Roadster Ride (with option to book private roadster tour of up to 7 people for $135). Tours depart from 47 Cordova Street.

Please call (904) 325-3911 or visit here to check availability and book a tour.

The Nutcracker Ballet 2018

  • Sat. & Sun., Dec. 22 & 23, 2018 | 1:30 & 7 p.m. each day at the Lewis Auditorium

The St. Augustine Ballet presents their annual production of the holiday favorite, “The Nutcracker,” with four performances over two days.

The St. Augustine Ballet performs The Nutcracker every holiday season at Flagler College Lewis Auditorium. This year, there will be four performances over two days: at 1:30 and 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, December 22 and 23, 2018.

Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker is a traditional performance to see during the holidays, and one of the most loved Christmas stories based on E.T. A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The St. Augustine Ballet production is directed by Artistic Director Luis Abella. The St. Augustine Ballet offers performance opportunities to ballet dancers from the St. Johns area and surrounding locations. The company brings in professional dancers to perform in the two large shows they produce each year, including The Nutcracker. The St. Augustine Ballet is a nonprofit performing arts organization founded in 2010.

Admission: Prices range from $20 to $30 for adults, children, and seniors, depending on seating. Visit here to view options and purchase tickets.

Call (904) 824-1746 for additional details.

Old Wooden School House- A Traditional Menorcan Christmas

November 17, 2018 – February 3, 2019 at Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse

Visit the oldest schoolhouse in St Augustine and experience a traditional Menorcan Christmas.

The Oldest Wooden SchoolHouse, located in the old Menorcan quarter of historic St. Augustine, presents a traditional Menorcan Christmas display this year.

The museum and garden will be lit up with the white lights of the Nights of Lights, a tradition that stems from the white candles used during the holidays in Colonial times. Inside the School House, Menorcan decorations and a fully decked-out Christmas tree will set the stage for visitors to experience what it was like to celebrate Christmas in the late 1700s in St. Augustine.

Admission: $5.00 for adults; $4.00 for children ages 6 – 12; kids under 6 are free.

For more information, call (904) 824-0192

No matter where you come from, you will enjoy Florida’s holiday celebrations, without the inconvenience of snow storms but with the same holiday spirit that makes the holidays festive and enjoyable.

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