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Florida Guide > Places to Visit

Christmas at St Augustine

Next time you visit Orlando at Christmas why not take a trip across to St Augustine, the oldest city in Florida, which is steeped in history? However, at Christmas St Augustine is even more attractive as it sparkles with over two million bulbs. Each year, between Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November) and Christmas, this ancient city is lit up with millions of Christmas lights, plus a wonderful Christmas tree in the centre of the town square. This ‘Nights of Lights’ festival continues for more than two months, and there are many events which take place during this season.

Dating back to the Spanish tradition of displaying a lighted white candle during the Christmas holidays, this festival takes it a stage further, with spectacular lighting which reflects the city’s 444 year history. There are night time tours of some of the ancient buildings and inns, with the storytellers in period costume. If you fancy a train or trolley tour then these are also available, as are art walks featuring over 30 galleries, which serve free holiday refreshments on the First Friday in December and January. Add to this holiday concerts, ice skating, a regatta, Saturday night antique shopping events and a Christmas parade and you have a wealth of choices.

As an example of some of the activities available in 2009/10 there are Holly Jolly Christmas Tours, featuring hot apple cider, home-made cookies and carol singing. Santa’s Big Red Christmas Train departs for spectacular tours of St Augustine’s Nights of Lights, along the streets of the city, and featuring carol singing. On January 9th the Buglisi Dance Theatre perform at the Flagler College Auditorium, whilst the Limelight Theatre is presenting the musical ‘Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. ’ The same venue, Flagler College Auditorium, plays host to the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, which will perform such classics as Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7 in D-Minor, and a flute concerto by Mozart on January 17th, 2010. This concert is followed by the internationally celebrated violinist, Alexander Markov, who will present a programme which will include works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Paganini on January 24th.

But my favourite event would have to be the sunset/moonrise tour where you can watch the sunset and the moonrise, plus the spectacular Nights of Lights from the top of the St Augustine lighthouse on January 29th, 2010. The evening culminates with a glass of champagne, and an overview of the history of the St Augustine Light Station.

But it doesn’t stop there – you can sip wine while you listen to jazz at the rooftop bar at San Sebastian Winery, or vote for your favourite cheesecake at the annual Cheesecake Challenge. Or view the annual Holiday Regatta of Lights from the Bridge of Lions. You can even carry a candle in the Grande Illumination. There are historic re-enactments, craft shows and you can visit more than 20 historic inns during their annual holiday tour.

All in all it is a great place to visit at Christmas.

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Page added on: 4 January 2010
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