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 free things to do in Miami over the holidays.
Best places to see Christmas lights in Miami
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. Santa will be around for photos, plus milk and cookies will be served (for an additional fee).
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. 1881 SE 17th St, Fort Lauderdale. Dec 4–17, 10 at 6pm; Dec 11–23 at 6pm, 8pm. $25, children 12 and under $15.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Herb Neufeld
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.
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 and plenty of pop-up shopping opportunities and giveaways.
CityPlace Doral isn’t holding back for its first major holiday event. Festivities begin just before sunset and include performances from Dance South Florida, Dream Dance Studio and Impetu Dance Center, among several local troupes, and live music by Flavio Amador and the Playtime Band. A musical holiday-themed fountain show debuts alongside the 30-foot Christmas tree.
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, featuring hot chocolate, holiday music and a letter drop-off for Santa.
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.
While there may be more scaffolding and caution tape than in previous years, CocoWalk’s annual tree lighting ceremony is not one to miss. Start your holiday shopping early at a special pop-up market while the kids enjoy music, crafts and a visit from Santa Claus.