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Photograph: Darryl NoblesSeminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade

Where to see the most spectacular Christmas lights in Miami

Stroll, drive or boat your way around the most dazzling Christmas lights in Miami.

Virginia Gil
Falyn Wood
Written by
Virginia Gil
&
Falyn Wood
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We might not get flurries of snow or frozen ice rinks like in colder climates but you better believe our tropical paradise gets down with some Christmas lights. This city goes over the top with most things, so of course, Miami brims with Christmas tree lighting, illuminated displays, exorbitant decorations and all types of dazzling productions each year. This season, look out for blockbuster Christmas events, long-running local fetes and extravagant Christmas dinners at Miami's best restaurants. Now is also the perfect time to take your hot cocoa to go and hit the road, driving through neighborhoods like Brickell and Coral Gables, where ornamented office buildings and charming historic residences deliver the holiday vibes in a big way. It might surprise you, but Christmas light peeping in some of the more extravagant enclaves can be one of the best things to do in Miami over the holidays.

RECOMMENDED: Guide to Christmas in Miami

Best places to see Christmas lights in Miami

  • Things to do
  • Quirky events

Get in the holiday spirit by surrounding yourself with nearly a million bright, animal-shaped lights draped throughout Zoo Miami. Families can stroll through the park and enjoy carousel rides and nightly carollers, and glimpse the twinkling displays. Santa will be around for photos, plus milk and cookies will be served (for an additional fee). Be sure to check the Zoo’s website for information on themed nights, like December 2 and 3’s ugly sweater events and Santa and elf look-a-like nights on December 18. 

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  • Festivals

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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Known by many as South Florida’s best-kept holiday secret, the Enchanted Place has been shining bright every holiday season since 1988. It’s a community effort spearheaded by neighbors who every year decorate their street in North Miami with thousands twinkling lights. Everyone is welcome to drive by and pose for photos among illuminated Santas, Christmas trees, snowmen and Menorahs. 1800 NE 137th Ter, North Miami

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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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  • Coral Gables

With thousands of twinkling bulbs to adorn its 50-foot tree, Merrick Park’s holiday display is one of the highlights of the season. The magic gets underway on November 17, when the 19th annual tree-lighting ceremony is scheduled to take over the outdoor mall, featuring performances by Miami Royal Ballet and Coral Gables Senior High School Gablettes. WSVN Channel 7 News co-anchor Belkys Nerey and Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago team up to flip the switch. Nov 17 6–9pm.

  • Things to do
  • 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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  • 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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  • Bal Harbour
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Where the ladies who lunch go with their lap dogs, and where the PYTs go with their GWMs (guys with money), the oh-so-exclusive Bal Harbour Shops has long been pinned as Miami’s Rodeo Drive.  In the spirit of the Sapins de Noël celebration in Paris, where top fashion and jewelry brands create dazzling designer Christmas trees, the two-story mall presents a fashion-forward installation throughout its lush tropical garden setting. Highlights include the 16-foot Ribbon Tree in the Central Courtyard and Neiman Marcus' rainbow explosion, the Glitterville tree.

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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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Step into a winter wonderland at Miami’s own Pinecrest Gardens. The annual holiday tradition turns the grounds into a brilliant landscape illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights. Indulge in delicious food and cocktails and pose for pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. On select evenings, admission includes a holiday concert in the historic Banyan Bowl. Dec 11–Jan 1, 6–9pm.

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  • Shopping
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  • Doral

CityPlace Doral isn’t holding back for its big holiday celebration. A fountain show synchronized to holiday tunes leads up to the lighting of the gigantic Christmas tree and surrounding palm trees. (It is Florida, after all.) Doral dignitaries host the tree lighting ceremony on November 17, featuring a performance by Cuban-American singer Monique Abbadie. Can’t make it over the weekend? Expect the magical displays to go on throughout the holiday season. Nov 19–Dec 31 at various times.

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  • Exhibitions

While it's not your typical Christmas light display, NightGarden's whimsical garden is about the most illuminated spectacle you'll see all season. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s psychedelic neon playground brims with twinkling presentations, technicolor mazes, scavenger hunts led by virtual fairies, an enchanting snowfall experience, glowing dandelion fields and, yes, the infamous talking tree. Sounds fun, huh? We agree. Through Jan 8

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Neighborhood displays
Photograph: Courtesy 600 Brickell

13. Neighborhood displays

It’s nothing but manses for miles the moment you enter the Village of Pinecrest (celebrities who’ve called the neighborhood home include Timbaland, Romero Britto and Pitbull) so expect light displays as grand as the homes. The brightest lights tend to be on main arteries SW 104th Street and Ludlam Road (67th Avenue). In Coral Gables, the Merrick Park in front of City Hall (405 Biltmore Way) and surrounding areas are festooned with impressive illuminations and a giant mailbox where children can drop off letters for Santa. Downtown, not all skyscrapers lining Brickell Avenue will be in the holiday spirit, but areas near Fifth Street will. Stroll through the plaza at 600 Brickell—which is typically decked out with an oversized wreath and palm trees lit by green, red and white lights—and up the Brickell Avenue Bridge for the best views.

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