Because it already offers so much history, culture, and excitement, most Florida residents don’t need a special reason to visit St. Augustine. But that doesn’t stop the oldest city in the country from giving them exactly that with its Nights of Lights celebration every year during the holidays.
There might not be any snow, but the people of St. Augustine are still about to create a winter wonderland that ranks as one of the best light displays in the entire world according to National Geographic.
The Nights of Lights festivities typically start on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and run through sometime around the end of January. This year, the lights will continue to shine all the way through Super Bowl Sunday on February 3.
See the Lights by Land
If you are looking for the complete Nights of Lights experience in St. Augustine, one of the best ways to take in everything is to sign up for one of the trolley or carriage tours operating around the city.
Local tour companies like Ripley’s Red Train, Old Town Trolley, St. Augustine Gold Tours, and The Tasting Tours all offer slightly different holiday experiences that come complete with different options like snacks, beverages, and special glasses to enhance the experience.
The Old Town Trolley ride is a perfect option for family fun, and The Tasting Tours offer a more grown-up experience that comes complete with a souvenir wine glass.
See the Lights by Boat
Trolley and carriage tours are a perfect starting point for enjoying the Nights of Lights, but for an even more exciting experience, you might want to look into some of the options to see the lights from out on the water.
You can hop aboard the White Pelican from Red Boat Water Tours or the Osprey from Florida Water Tours for a larger boat experience. Or you can check out one of the six or twelve passenger boats from St. Augustine Eco Tours.
On top of those fun options, you can also enjoy an hour-long “Moonlight Sail” aboard the Schooner Freedom every Friday and Saturday night during the holiday season.
Nights of Lights Special Events
In addition to the beautiful light displays, St. Augustine also hosts special events just about every single night during the Nights of Lights holiday season.
One of the biggest events of the season is the Christmas Parade that will be happening on Saturday, December 1. The parade starts at 9 am and includes two full hours of floats, marching bands, cars, horses, and…of course…SANTA!
The following Saturday will be even more exciting with a “Santa Suits on the Loose” 5K that will be followed by a standard Christmas Parade in the morning and the Holiday Regatta of Lights in the evening.
December 22 and 23 is another excellent time to visit because the St. Augustine Ballet will be presenting performances of The Nutcracker, which could not fit better with the rest of the Nights of Lights festivities.
Nights of Lights Parking & Lodging
Whether you are just planning a quick trip to see the lights or a whole weekend in St. Augustine, there are plenty of special parking and lodging options to be aware of during the holiday season.
Because Saturdays in December are such a popular time to visit the Nights of Lights, the city has set up a free Park & Ride shuttle that makes its way past a number of large parking lots just outside of town.
You can get more information about these free parking options right from the city’s website, and we highly suggest using them to avoid a potential traffic nightmare.
If you are looking to stay in St. Augustine for any amount of time during the Nights of Lights festivities, you will want to take advantage of some of the great lodging specials that you will find at various resorts and hotels around town.
There are ten different hotel deals currently available on the Nights of Lights website, so all you have to do is choose the one that makes the most sense for your visit.
Freedom at San Salito
Considering making St. Augustine your permanent home base?
Freedom at San Salito is a 55+ neighborhood, located in St. Augustine, Florida that offers a low stress, low maintenance lifestyle. Located off State Road 16, residents will have easy access to a variety of public amenities. The community features include a gated entrance, private amenity center clubhouse and outdoor pool. Freedom at San Salito also has a part time Lifestyle Director who cultivates the ideal selection of clubs and events for homeowners.
The newly opened Freedom at San Salito’s amenities include an amenity center with a pool and covered patio, outdoor fireplace, two bocce ball courts, and a dog park. Residents of Freedom at San Salito also have access to the master community’s amenities which includes a clubhouse, multi-purpose room, pickleball courts, tennis courts, exercise room, and outdoor pool with patio. San Salito is close to the beach, golf courses, fantastic shopping, dining, music and entertainment!
Homes range in size from 1,585 to 2,033 square feet of living space, and include features like granite countertops, walk-in closets, and covered lanais. Prices start in the mid-$250k’s.
Between the tours, the special events, and the hotel deals, the Nights of Lights makes the holiday season one of the best times of year to visit St. Augustine. Start planning your trip today and enjoy the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of this historic city in a whole new light!