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Your guide to spotting dazzling Christmas lights, Miami

Get your fill of Christmas lights, Miami, with our picks of dazzling seasonal displays and tree-lighting events

Christmas lights
Photograph: Unsplash/Toni Cuenca
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The calendar is filling up with Christmas events in Miami and all the stores are a-jingle with Christmas songs. But the festive season isn’t complete without gawking at over-the-top Christmas lights and decorations. Unless you’re trolling suburbia, however, you’re more likely to see intermittent icicle lights and the occasional blow-up Santa in South Beach. To avoid driving aimlessly in pursuit of places to see Christmas lights in Miami, head for these spots guaranteed to sparkle bright this Christmas. While you’ll pay admission for some displays, light peeping in some of the more extravagant enclaves can be one of the best things to do in Miami over the holidays.

 

Best places to see Christmas lights in Miami

1
Christmas lights
Photograph: Shutterstock
Things to do, Performances

Christmas tree lighting party at Little Haiti Cultural Complex

Little Haiti turns its Christmas tree lighting ceremony into a full-fledged holiday party with performances, music and kid-friendly activities. The evening begins with a brief presentation in the center’s theater, followed by roller skating in the courtyard and a special appearance from Santa Claus.

2
Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade
Photograph: Darryl Nobles
Things to do, Festivals

The Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade

Vessels ranging from LED-adorned paddleboards to corporate megayachts and privately owned seacrafts are decked out with lights, music, live entertainment, decorations and revelers as they travel east through the Intracoastal Waterway and north to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. They don’t call it the “greatest show on H2O” for nothing. Events get underway at 6:30pm, but eager attendees are encouraged to show up early for the best views.

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3
Water Taxi
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Herb Neufeld

Water Taxi Holiday Lights

Fort Lauderdale’s popular water taxi gets festive for the holidays, taking passengers on an illuminated cruise down the Intracoastal to see the brightly decorated homes along the shore. Bring cash for cocktails and merry drinks for the kiddos. Riverside Hotel, 620 E Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL. Dec 1–17, 10 at 6pm; Dec 1–23 at 6:30pm, 8:30pm. $30, children 12 and under $15.

4
Christmas tree at Shops at Merrick Park
Photograph: Orlando Garcia
Things to do, Performances

Holiday tree lighting at Shops at Merrick Park

With more than 55,000 twinkling bulbs to adorn its 50-foot tree, Merrick Park’s annual lighting ceremony is one of the highlights of the season. This year’s spectacle includes a performance by the Miami Royal Ballet, a Santa Clause sighting (he'll appear dramatically on the Coral Gables Fire Department’s fire truck alongside Master of Ceremonies Belkys Nerey) and plenty of pop-up shopping opportunities and giveaways. The tree remains through January. 

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5
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Photograph: Courtesy Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Things to do, Exhibitions

NightGarden

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is changing into a psychedelic neon playground this winter. Its NightGarden pop-up will convert 23 acres of the 80-acre property into an illuminated wonderland complete with talking trees, mazes, scavenger hunts and glowing dandelion fields. Sounds fun, huh? We agree. 

6
CityPlace Doral
Photograph: Shutterstock
Things to do, Performances

Tree lighting ceremony at CityPlace Doral

CityPlace Doral isn’t holding back for its first major holiday event. Festivities begin just before sunset and include performances from Dance South Florida, among several local troupes, and live music by Tairon Aguilera & The Latin Beat. A fountain show synchronized to holiday tunes leads up to the lighting of the 30-foot Christmas tree.   

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7
Deering Estate Christmas Tree
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Jon S
Things to do, Festivals

Festival of Trees

Charles Deering’s waterfront home is even more beautiful during the holidays, when it transforms into an illuminated wonderland. Witness the first spark of the season during the annual lighting festival on December 1, featuring hot chocolate, holiday music and a letter drop-off for Santa. The holiday decorations stick around through January and in between, visitors are invited to partake in Mistletoe & Martinis (Dec 8), storytime with Santa (Dec 9, 16) and more.

8
Christmas lights
Photograph: Unsplash/Toni Cuenca
Things to do, Cultural centers

Light Up North Miami

The City of North Miami ushers in the holiday season with a festive celebration on the MOCA plaza. Watch as the village tree is illuminated and enjoy music, themed drinks and snacks, and a visit from Santa. 

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9
Coconut Grove tree lighting
Photograph: Courtesy Coconut Grove BID
Things to do, Performances

Coconut Grove tree lighting

Coconut Grove’s annual tree lighting ceremony has moved to Florentine Plaza (3444 Main Hwy). The sixth-annual celebration features kids music, crafts and visits from Olaf the Snowman, Santa Claus and his elves.

10
Coral Gables City Hall Christmas tree
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Phillip Pessar
Things to do, Performances

City of Coral Gables Tree Lighting

Kids of all ages can’t help but get in the holiday spirit when Santa makes his yearly arrival via fire truck down Miracle Mile to flip the switch on the city’s giant tree. Stay for the food, rides, face painting and entertainment.

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11
Bayfront Park Christmas tree
Photograph: Shutterstock/Alexey Rotanov
Things to do, Performances

Holiday tree lighting at Bayfront Park

Miami’s most recognizable Christmas tree comes to life at 7pm the day after Thanksgiving. The 50-foot stunner overlooking Biscayne Bay, which is an artificial tree designed to look like a Rocky Mountain pine, is decked in thousands of bulbs.

12
600 Brickell
Photograph: Courtesy 600 Brickell

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.

Plan dinner and make it a festive night out

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