Christmas Events in Miami

Festive Yachts, Classic Ballets, and Santa Too

Christmas Decorations, Miami, Florida, America
••• Joe Daniel Price / Getty Images

It's not likely to snow in Miami during the Christmas season, but that doesn't stop the city from celebrating the holidays with a varied selection of entertaining events for the whole family. Whether you visit the zoo to watch the animals open their presents or view lavishly decorated boats cruise down the local waterways, Christmas in Miami offers fun for everyone.

  • 01 of 07

    Christmas is in the air in Santa's Enchanted Forest, Miami's holiday theme park. Open from November through the first week of January, this venue has been a South Florida holiday tradition for more than 30 years. The whole family will enjoy the holiday light show, kiddie rides, thrill rides for the bigger kids, animal shows, and a carnival. 

  • 02 of 07

    The Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade takes place in downtown Fort Lauderdale, about 25 miles north of Miami, in early December. The 2.5-hour event offers magical moments along the Intracoastal waterways, featuring festively decorated boats that travel a 12-mile route to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. Sailboats, kayaks, and even corporate mega yachts are all adorned with thousands of festive lights.

  • 03 of 07

    Kick off the holidays at the Deering Estate, a historic environmental and archeological preserve on Biscayne Bay. The festivities begin with the Festival of Trees that showcases the decorated grounds and historic houses. Enjoy hot chocolate and cookies, and the sounds of carolers while wandering through the estate.

    Santa and his elves pay an annual visit to the Deering Estate’s Stone House Ballroom to read classic holiday stories and pose for photographs. Kids can also take part in holiday arts and crafts activities.

  • 04 of 07

    The annual Christmas tree lighting at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami officially starts the holiday season on the day after Thanksgiving. The 50-foot tree is covered with thousands of festive lights that bring cheer to Miami’s Flagler Promenade between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. The tree-lighting ceremony is accompanied by holiday music. The event is free to attend, but limited parking requires a fee.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    From mid-December through Christmas Eve, the Miami City Ballet company brings Geroge Balanchine's ballet, "The Nutcracker," to the Ziff Opera House. Don't miss this classic tale complete with sugar plum fairies and life-size dancing toys.

    The Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach hosts a version of this classic, "Great Russian Nutcracker," performed by a touring company of the Moscow Ballet.

  • 06 of 07

    This live, open-air reenactment of the Christmas Story takes place every year at the Miami Shores Presbyterian Church. It features live camels, donkeys, goats, and sheep, as well as live-action characters like Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. The depiction is narrated and includes digital projections and music. The event is free, but guests are invited to bring canned goods for donation to the local food bank.

  • 07 of 07

    The Miami Zoo comes alive for eight nights for Zoo Lights, the annual holiday event that lights up the zoo's grounds. Dozens of animal-shaped lights line the walkways, and 3D glasses are provided for the full effect. Visitors can take camel rides, go down the hippo slide, and ride the horses on the carousel. On weekends in December, you can watch the animals open their Christmas presents.