While much of the country looks forward to snow and sleigh bells, yuletide in the 305 promises sunshine, frolicking in South Beach and parties at every turn—from Key Biscayne to Coral Gables to downtown Brickell. Overwhelmed by the number of things to do in Miami? Relax, put on some Christmas tunes and peruse our list of the best Christmas events in Miami.
Best Christmas events in Miami
Santa’s Enchanted Forest
No holiday roundup would be complete without a mention of Miami’s lasting holiday tradition: a visit to Santa’s Enchanted Forest. The county-fair-meets-winter-wonderland is chock-full of amusement rides, carnival games, photo opps with Santa and his helpers and an assortment of fair food—think fresh doughnuts, funnel cakes and more. 7900 SW 40th St (305-559-9689, santasenchantedforest.com). Through Jan 8. Daily 5pm–midnight. $33, seniors and children $22.Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Bob B. Brown
Introduce the kids to Tiny Tim and the Cratchit clan via a musically charged adaptation of the festive holiday classic. Kids will love the intimate setting, while families that have members with special needs can enjoy a sensory-friendly performance on December 10. Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables (305-444-9293, actorsplayhouse.org). Nov 28–Dec 24: Sat at 2pm; $13–$20.
Arguably the most beloved Nutcracker version in the country, Balanchine’s debuted in New York back in 1954, and there’s a reason why it’s stood the test of time: the master’s choreography is dazzling, particularly for the female corps. The Miami City Ballet production is a perfect introduction to the ballet for local families. Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd; Dec 17–24.
Listen to Christmas carols and festive holiday songs from around the world performed by the renowned New World Symphony, under the direction of conductor Dean Whiteside. Saturday’s performance (exclusively for residents of Miami Beach) will also be a Wallcast concert, so all guests are welcome to watch for free in Miami Beach SoundScape. 500 17th St between Washington and Drexel Aves, Miami Beach (305-673-3330). Sat Dec 17 at 7:30pm; free.
The popular Watson Island attraction is bringing out all of its critters for its Wild Holidays celebration. This season, guests of the park will enjoy daily holiday parades featuring the park’s most beloved animals, arts and crafts activities, scavenger hunts and other festive events. 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail. Dec 24–Jan 8 10am–5pm. $39.95, children $32.95.
Finally, a version of The Nutcracker you won’t have to drag your hip-hop-loving significant other to see. This one’s got a little more Kurtis Blow and a little less Tchaikovsky, a DJ and electric violinist rather than a live orchestra and an ensemble of dancers who’s hip-hop choreography is on point. Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW 5th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL (954-462-0222) Nov 29–Dec 1 at 7:30pm. $25–$59.
Rethink your trip to the mall and shop for gifts at Miami Theater Center's arty holiday bazaar. For one afternoon, the Miami Shores community theater transforms into a magical Christmas village, featuring local vendors selling festive accessories, handmade jewelry and all sorts of gift-worthy wares. Cupcakes, mimosas and other treats add an extra dose of cheer. 9806 NE 2nd Ave, Miami Shores (305-751-9550). Sat Dec 10 noon–6pm.
Enjoy this seasonal favorite as performed by more than 100 dancers from the Miami Youth Ballet. Miami City Ballet stars Marielena Mencia and Yanis Pikieris choreograph and direct both the students and professional guest artists as they journey through the Land of Sweets. South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211th St (786-573-5300, smdcac.org). Dec 2, 3 at 8pm; $26–$36.
Dolphin Mall’s Ramblas Plaza is quite possibly the only place in Miami where the forecast calls for 100 percent chance of snow this holiday. Visit the winter wonderland and experience the fun of cascading flurries, with an encore snowfall every weekend (except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year's Day). 11401 NW 12th St. Through Jan 8. Mon–Thu 7pm; Fri–Sun 7pm, 9pm.
Because eight nights of celebrations aren’t enough, the Society of Young Jewish Professionals and JDate are throwing the ultimate singles event. Dance, drink and connect with old friends and new prospects at LIV nightclub. 4441 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. Sat Dec 24 9pm–4am; $50. Advance tickets available at eventbrite.com.