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Symphony in Lights
Photograph: Courtesy Gulfstream ParkSymphony in Lights

Where to find the best Miami Christmas events and holiday happenings

Yuletide cocktails, a Polar Express-themed train ride and more of the best Miami Christmas events and festive things to do

Falyn Wood
Edited by
Falyn Wood
Written by
Time Out Miami contributors
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For a snowbird, winter in Miami typically includes lots of basking on the beach and eating out at as many of the best Miami restaurants as possible. But, whether you live here or not, our warm weather does not preclude us from partaking in all the yuletide cheer each holiday season. Make no mistake: what we lack in snow-covered rooftops, cozy fireplaces and hot toddy cocktails we more than compensate for with sparkling palm tree-lined streets and a bevy of festive events that kick off pretty much as soon as the last plate of turkey is cleared from the table. Whether you’re in the mood for an off-kilter take on a classic holiday show, a boozy pop-up full of Instagram-worthy photo opps or a massive, family-friendly holiday market under the stars, Miami has it this year. Below, find our guide to the best Christmas events in Miami for 2022.

RECOMMENDED: Where to find the best holiday lights displays in Miami

Time Out Market Miami
  • Things to do

On Saturday, December 10 and Sunday, December 11, head to the Market starting at noon to partake in festive Family Brunch and Holiday Movies. Kids can order from the new holiday brunch menu while enjoying seasonal classics like Home Alone and The Polar Express throughout the afternoon. Additionally, a kid-friendly holiday mocktail punch bowl will be offered at the bar in lieu of the Market's traditionally very boozy Disco Punch Bowls!

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Just in time for a little early holiday shopping, this afternoon artisan bazaar brings together nearly a dozen local vendors at Time Out Market Miami for a pop-up filled with all sorts of trendy apparel, accessories and more. Bonus perk: Holiday gift wrapping will be available at the market on December 17. 

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Hosted and produced by Brittany Brave (MTV, ONLY in DADE, New Times Best Comedian 2021), Laughs on Lincoln is back for a special "Naughty or Nice" edition. Dress up in your favorite ugly sweater and grab a seat at Time Out Market Miami on Friday, December 16 as the crew pits three of its raunchiest, no-holds-barred comics against three smart, witty and squeaky-clean jesters to see who has the chops to win this Christmas-themed comedy competition. Laughs on Lincoln is a monthly show at the Market, presenting the best in South Florida comedy. Each $15 ticket comes with a complimentary cocktail. 

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In the mood for an evening of festive live music? Catch the barbershop vocal quartet Close Shave as they perform for guests at Time Out Market Miami on Sunday, December 18 or vibe to Latin tunes by Cortadito on Tuesday, December 20 as you dine and imbibe ahead of the holidays.

Best Christmas events in Miami

  • Things to do
  • Quirky events

Countdown to Christmas with a cocktail in hand at Miracle in Miami. The international holiday-themed pop-up bar makes its way back to Wynwood this yuletide season for a month of festive drinks and naughty fun. Taking over the backroom at Gramps, Miracle promises more (fake) snow, more holiday hits on repeat (these guys must be beating some kind of record for the most consecutive plays of Mariah Carey’s "All I Want for Christmas") and fun new libations like the Christmas Cricket (blanco tequila, vanilla liqueur, minty amaro, coco pandan, cream, mole bitters, and dark chocolate) and the Holiday Spiked Chai (brandy, Jamaican overproof rum, coffee liqueur, amaretto, chai, almond milk, egg white, tiki bitters, and nutmeg.

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The Wharf Miami's first-ever Jolly Jog will be a 5k fun run with a toy drive benefiting the Kristi House—bring a new, unwrapped toy to receive a complimentary specialty cocktail at the afterparty. The race kicks off at The Wharf Miami and follows along a scenic waterfront route that concludes with a festive evening shindig. The race is free to register and includes a Wharf Santa hat, a runners bib and a Christmas lights necklace. Finisher medals will also be given out to the first 500 people to cross the finish line.

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  • Things to do
  • Mid-Beach

Urbanspace, producers of NYC’s largest holiday markets, is expanding nationally and landing right here in Miami with the Urbanspace Lincoln Road Holiday Market. Its first endeavor outside of the city will run from November 15 through February 15 (opening daily from 10am to 9pm), bringing more than 100 local and out-of-state vendors to the busy pedestrian strip in South Beach.

Miami’s will mirror a similar layout to New York’s with dozens of outdoor pop-up shops along Lincoln Road at the intersection of Washington Avenue. The outdoor marketplace will be a brightly lit, outdoor shopping extravaganza, featuring items across a long list of categories—from home goods and artisanal food products to toys, apparel and accessories. In addition to retail, the holiday market plans to put on musical performances, art installations and Instagrammable photo displays throughout the season.

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  • Quirky events

The Wharf is treating Miami and Fort Lauderdale to a sprawling holiday village on the river through December 25. Expect a waterfront winter wonderland filled with oversized holiday decorations and over 100,000 twinkling lights icing out both venues, plus activations like toy drives and visits from Santa. The crown jewel of the affair is a special themed pop-up bar featuring a full menu of $7 festive craft cocktails.

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  • Things to do
  • Performances

This is your beloved Nutcracker reimagined for the tropics with candy-colored costumed and sets decked with pineapples and lime. Marvel at the scenery and spellbinding dancers as they move in sync to music from a live orchestra. It's a lively, modern adaption but the purists, meanwhile, can put down the pitchforks: It’s still Balanchine and it’s still Tchaikovsky. Tickets for the Nutcracker are available for Miami, Broward and West Palm Beach. 

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Get totally elfed up at this year’s Wynwood Santa Crawl. Check-in is at The Dirty Rabbit, where you’ll receive your first free drink before setting off on a jolly, boozy route through the packed arts district. Other participating venues include Pilo’s Tequila Garden, Crusoe Wynwood, thedeck at Wynwood Marketplace and Bottled Blonde. Each ticket gets you a free cocktail at the five participating bars, plus drink specials and a Santa hat to don during your crawl.

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The Brightline's interactive Polar Express Train ride returns for its fourth year, departing from MiamiCentral station. The festive theatrical showcase comes to life with a cast of talented actors who impart the magic of the classic holiday story set to the sounds of the original motion picture soundtrack. Along the way, get your golden ticket punched, sip hot chocolate and snack on shortbread cookies served by dancing chefs. The one-hour trip also offers opportunities to meet and take photos with Santa.

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  • Markets and fairs

The world’s largest holiday theme park (at least according to the website) returns for its 39th season of shimmering lights, carnival rides and only-in-Miami experiences. The county-fair-meets-winter-wonderland is chock-full of roller coasters, amusement rides, carnival games, photo ops with Santa and his helpers, and an assortment of fair food—think fresh doughnuts, funnel cakes and more.

For 2022, Santa's Enchanted Forest moves from Hialeah Park, where it decamped for a year after spending 37 at Tropical Park, to a new, much larger location in Doral. 7500 NW 87th Ave

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Lincoln Road kicks off the festive season with its annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Holiday Parade. Expect holiday-themed crafts for kids, a parade featuring special guests, a dramatic countdown to light the tree and a few other surprises. While you're there, peruse the new Urbanspace Lincoln Road Holiday Market, where you can shop for holiday gifts and artisinal food products while enjoying musical performances, art installations and Instagrammable photo displays throughout the season.

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Grammy Award-winning a capella quintet Pentatonix have performed everywhere from The White House and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to The Hollywood Bowl with a catalog boasting back-to-back No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200, including the platinum-certified A Pentatonix Christmas. On the heels of the group's sixth dedicated holiday album, Holidays Around the World, released this October, Pentatonix stops at the Hard Rock for an epic night of festive tunes performed live.

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Little River’s intimate mezcal speakeasy La Yolanda connected to La Santa Taqueria transforms into a holiday wonderland this season, complete with lights, ornaments, festive decorations and themed cocktails. For the month of December, Yolanda's Enchanted Forest will also host DJs and play Christmas music to help get revelers into the holiday spirit. Highlights from the specialty cocktails ($16 each) include La Reina Navideña, made with Contraluz mezcal, Ancho Reyes Verde, lime juice, orange liqueur and agave and Rudolph's Nose, made with Abasolo whiskey, gingerbread syrup and Maraschino cherry.

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The fifth-annual Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl in Brickell kicks off at Blackbird Ordinary, where partiers will check in before setting out on an ambitiously boozy evening celebrating the iconic article of clothing everyone hates to love: the ugly Christmas sweater. Seriously, December 17 is National Ugly Sweater Day, so do try to dig out your favorite embarrassing knit and join in on the festive fun. Other participating venues include American Social, Batch Gastropub, Better Days and RedBar Brickell—and they're all within walking distance, so don't worry about assigning a DD. Tickets include one free drink at each location, plus drink specials and holiday swag.

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

Spend an evening strolling the grounds, specially decorated for the holidays just as they would have been more than 100 years ago when James Deering called the museum home. Wander through the Main House after dark (an opportunity that comes but twice a year), snap photos by the Christmas tree decked in charming, old-timey ornaments and make your way outside to celebrate the season with a walk through the illuminated gardens. Live holiday music, an all-ages lantern-making workshop and a gingerbread house competition are also on the agenda for 2022.

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  • Things to do
  • Performances

Miami’s unconventional chamber orchestra collaborates with superstar Wyclef Jean for a one-of-a-kind holiday performance at Knight Concert Hall. The Nu Deco Ensemble, known for putting a fresh spin on the classical music performance, also invites acclaimed pianist Terrence Wilson for a performance of George Gershwin’s evergreen classic “Rhapsody in Blue” and William Grant Still's "Out of the Silence." Plus, enjoy a reimagination of Michael Jackson’s landmark album Thriller in celebration of its 40th anniversary, as well as Sam Hyken's Chanukah 5776.

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  • Performances

Jennifer Weber sets the 19th-century original in a modern-day NYC, with a dozen dancers translating the family-friendly story into the hip-hop idiom. Rap legend Kurtis Blow (“The Breaks”) emcees this must-see remix. Dec 11 at 7pm. The Center, 2855 Coral Springs Dr, Coral Springs. 

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For an eighth year running, North American drag production company Murray & Peter presents its rollicking holiday tour, “A Drag Queen Christmas.” Hosted by Nina West of Drag Race fame with back-to-back performances in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, expect a cast of your favorite queens lip syncing, twirling and twerking to holiday hits live on stage. Note there may be some adult content at these all-ages shows.

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  • Event spaces

Cheers to the holidays! Raise your martini glass and nuzzle under the mistletoe at Deering Estate's festive yearly gathering. Expect a celebration similar to what the original residents might've enjoyed during the Gilded Age, including music, hors d’oeuvres and desserts. Proceeds from the event benefit the Deering Estate Foundation so don't be afraid to lean into Christmas. Dec 9 7:30–11pm.

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  • Nightlife
  • Clubs

Because eight nights of celebrations aren’t enough, the Society of Young Jewish Professionals is throwing the ultimate singles event—think of it as an IRL JDate on steroids. Dance, drink and connect with old friends and new prospects at this annual rager, which celebrates 36 years! In 2022, the party returns to its old stomping grounds, LIV, at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. 

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Charles Deering’s waterfront home is even more beautiful during the holidays when it transforms into an illuminated wonderland. This season, the Deering Estate celebrates its 100th anniversary by taking us back to the glitz and glamour of the early twentieth century, taking cues from the cultural explosion of jazz and film that blossomed in the age. The Richmond Cottage dining room will be set in the fashion of a celebratory dinner to ring the holiday season as it could have during Deering’s residence, while the Stone House Library will capture the magic and splendor of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals

Assemble along the 12-mile route to watch the "World's Most Watched Boat Parade," in which dazzling displays and illuminated vessels of all sizes travel down the Intracoastal Highway with the likes of Rudolph, Santa Claus and other Christmas favorites. Gates open at 4pm and the procession starts at 6:30pm, with live bands and radio personalities providing entertainment throughout the night. You'll also find opportunities to pose with Santa and grab a hot chocolate or a cocktail on the festival grounds. Las Olas Intracoastal Promenade Park, 80 Las Olas Cir., Fort Lauderdale. Dec 10 4pm–midnight; $25, children $20. 

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The sprawling Gulfstream Park Village property gets illuminated by more than 250,000 sparkly LED lights this season, all set to the sounds of holiday favorites and jolly pop hits. Shop, dine, catch a horse race and soak in all the festive cheer through December. A 10-minute light show will begin at the top of every hour from 6 to 11pm. The kick-off event (Nov. 12, 7–10pm) hosted by meteorologist Vivian Gonzalez features performances by the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida and the Valerie Tyson eight-piece band. Snap photos with Santa as he joins the festivities along with his group of elves and Nutcracker stilt walkers.

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  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions

A much-anticipated precursor to the holiday season in Miami, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s immersive NightGarden installation will return for a fourth season this November, promising even more psychedelic scenery, cutting-edge technology and interactive experiences running through the New Year.

Spanning 83 acres of enchanted tropical trails, the full NightGarden experience takes anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes as visitors explore a neon playground of secret sunken ponds, hidden fairy worlds, giant swaying dandelion fields and the rainbow-colored Orchid Bridge. Chock-full of photo-worthy moments and interactive pit stops, NightGarden invites guests to frolic in a magical snowfall experience, and yes, Archie will be there to once again reprise his role as your favorite wise-talking tree.

The whimsical holiday spectacle will be open four days a week starting Friday, November 11 and runs through Sunday, January 8. Tickets can be purchased here and start at $30 for adults and $25 for children ages 10 and younger.

  • Things to do

This year, Brickell City Centre will create a whimsical Santa’s Ski Lift and Post Office display that will serve as the backdrop for festive events all season long. Stop by with the kiddos for complimentary photos with Santa from 1 to 5pm starting on Black Friday and continuing every Saturday and Sunday through December 19. Leading up to his big night, photos with Santa will also be available December 22–24 for any last-minute Christmas pics. Santa's helpers will also be onsite to assist with gift-wrapping every Wednesday and Saturday in December from 1 to 6pm through December 21. Finally, the mall's complimentary Gather programming for children returns with fun holiday activities including ornament decorating, musical storytelling classes and festive book readings.

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