St. Augustine Shines Bright During Annual Nights of Lights Festival
More than 3 million white lights decorate the city’s historic district
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St. Augustine, Fla. - It may not snow in St. Augustine but the Nation’s oldest city is still a winter wonderland during the holiday season. For more than 20 years, the annual Nights of Lights celebration begins the Saturday before Thanksgiving and runs through the last weekend of January.
During Nights of Lights, the city’s historic district is lit by more than 3 million white lights from the ground to the rooftops. Historic buildings, museums, local businesses, the Bridge of Lions, the city’s bay front walkway, hotels, bed & breakfast inns and private residences all take part in the sparkly tradition.
The festival starts with a countdown in the Plaza de la Constitucion when the lights are officially lit. Holiday music and the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree add to the splendor of one of the world’s greatest holiday light displays.
Tracing its origins to the Spanish tradition of displaying a white candle in the window during the Christmas holidays, the spectacular lighting display reflects the city’s 450-year history and illuminates the beautiful ancient city.
Visiting St. Augustine during Nights of Lights has become a holiday tradition for locals and visitors alike. Tens of thousands of people take in the city-wide holiday display each year, which National Geographic listed as one of the ten best holiday lighting displays in the world in 2011 and 2012.
A simple way to enjoy Nights of Lights is to park in the Historic Parking Facility located off Castillo Drive and enjoy the sights in one of many different ways – on foot, by bicycle or pedicab, on the Old Town Holly Jolly Trolley, aboard Ripley’s Red Train or by horse and carriage. However to truly enjoy the festive evening celebration, book a room at one of the hotels or bed and breakfast inns downtown.
Many local attractions offer special Nights of Lights tours. See the remarkable display from the water with tours aboard the Schooner Freedom, the Osprey or with Ripple Effect Ecotours. Grab your friends and take an after dark wine and carriage ride with the Tasting Tours. Take a walk with the guides from Tour Saint Augustine through the brick lined streets and learn more about history along the way. See the city by air with St. Augustine Bi-Plane Tours.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum is one of the most popular landmarks aglow with white lights and the Villa Zorayda’s candlelight tours are high on visitors’ must-see lists. The Holiday Tour of Homes and the Tour of Bed and Breakfast Inns attract hundreds of merrymakers.
St. Augustine is one of only a few Florida cities that have a holiday boat parade. Sailboats, shrimp trawlers, schooners and private vessels large and small decorated with lights and other holiday décor float past a sea of onlookers that line the bay front and bridge after dark during the Regatta of Lights.
For a complete list of holiday events and for more information, visit www.NightsofLights.com.
Located midway between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Florida's Historic Coast includes historic St. Augustine, the outstanding golf and seaside elegance of Ponte Vedra, and 42 miles of pristine Atlantic beaches. For more information on events, activities, holiday getaways and vacation opportunities in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, go to the Visitors and Convention Bureau website at www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com, become a fan on Facebook or call 1.800.653.2489.