Nights of Lights
You'll never forget Nights of Lights in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and the Beaches... Florida's Historic Coast!
Nights of Lights traditionally begins the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This year, Nights of Lights "turns on" November 19, 2016, and continues nightly through January 31, 2017.
During Nights of Lights, St. Augustine glows with holiday magic – from the ground to the rooftops. Selected by National Geographic in 2011 and 2012 as one of the 10 best holiday lighting displays in the world, St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights feature millions of tiny white lights that create a magical atmosphere in the Nation’s Oldest City.
The best way to experience Nights of Lights is to plan an overnight stay so you can soak up the sparkly, festive atmosphere and enjoy all the dining, tours, and entertainment this award-winning holiday celebration has to offer.
Parking for a fee is available in the St. Augustine Downtown Parking Garage, located off Castillo Drive. On select dates during Nights of Lights, there is a free Park 'n Ride Shuttle available. To learn more about parking options and the Park 'n Ride Shuttle, visit the City of St. Augustine's website. To download the Park 'n Ride Shuttle schedule and map, click here.
Nights of Lights can always be enjoyed on foot, by bicycle or pedicab, on the Old Town Trolley's Famous Nights of Lights Tour or the Ripley’s Red Train, or by horse and carriage.
Nights of Lights Events by Location
St. Augustine's annual Nights of Lights takes place during the holiday season and features events throughout the area. Here we tell you what's going on where (and offer tips on how to best enjoy the celebration).
Downtown St. Augustine
Each year, the Nights of Lights get their official kickoff on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. On that evening, a Light-Up Celebration is held in the town’s Plaza de la Constitucion. This includes the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree, followed by the flick of a switch that illuminates 3 million tiny white lights.
The first weekend in December features a Christmas parade and the annual Christmas Tour of Homes presented by the St. Augustine Garden Club, while the following weekend features the seagoing Regatta of Lights and the two-day Holiday Tour of Inns.
Plenty of parking is available at the Historic Downtown Parking Facility – best of all, the events are within convenient walking distance of each other. And while you’re out and about, warm up with some hot chocolate. Whetstones Chocolates on King Street and Claude’s Chocolates on Granada Street offer decadent handcrafted versions of the drink.
St. Augustine Lighthouse
At 6 p.m. on the first Wednesday in December, the grounds of the historic St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum are opened to the public for Luminary Night. The Keeper’s House is beautifully decorated as it was in the Victorian Age, Santa comes to visit with the children, and the walking paths and grounds are lit with thousands of luminaries.
Climb to the top of the tower for a spectacular view of the luminaries below and the lights of St. Augustine across the bay. Get there early and park in the lighthouse parking lot – otherwise it can be a hike.
St. Augustine Beach
In late November, Surf Illumination comes to the seaside town of St Augustine Beach. In a special ceremony, the city’s Christmas tree is lit and the area surrounding the ocean pier sparkles to life with thousands of tiny white lights.
On Dec. 31, Beach Blast Off comes to the pier. Live music, food and fireworks on the beach create a great way to greet the new year. The seawall behind the Cultural Center is a great vantage point. For the best parking, get there early and use the public lots along A1A.
Tours & Other Displays
The Annual Nights of Lights holiday spectacular centers mostly around the historic district of downtown St. Augustine. However, there are plenty of other locations around Florida's Historic Coast where you'll see amazing holiday displays, including A1A in St. Augustine Beach, World Golf Village and World Golf Hall of Fame, Vilano Beach and the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse.
To see the more than 3 million white lights that illuminate St. Augustine's historic district, take Old Town Trolley's Famous Nights of Lights Tour, Ripley's Red Train Nights of Lights tour, a horse and carriage ride, the Gold's electric car tour, the Nights of Lights Wine & Carriage tour offered by the Tasting Tours, the Nights of Lights Biplane tour, the Schooner Freedom Nights of Lights tour, or the Holiday Traditions Plaza Stroll tour by City Walks.
About Nights of Lights
St. Augustine’s popular holiday season city-wide event – the famed Nights of Lights celebration – glows with more than 3 million brilliant white lights each year, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to the oldest city in the nation.
Nights of Lights runs mid- to late November through late January in St. Augustine. The festival starts with a countdown in the Plaza de la Constitucion before the lights are officially lit at 6:30 p.m. on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. 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.
Many historic landmarks and locations are beautifully illuminated during Nights of Lights. The waters of Matanzas Bay glow from the nightly reflections of lights strewn along the bay walk and displayed on the Bridge of Lions. The Plaza de la Constitucion shines from the top of trees and throughout the famous center of St. Augustine’s historic district. Ponce de Leon Hotel, now the campus of Flagler College, is outlined in lights. And the Lightner Museum, once a resort hotel also built by Henry Flagler, is lit so brilliantly that it is a favorite among visitors.
Nights of Lights is inspired by the tradition of marking the holiday season with a single white candle burning in a window at each home during the nearly 250 years when St. Augustine served as the capital of Spanish La Florida. Today, Nights of Lights continues that tradition in a grand style reflecting the city’s more than 450 years of history.
Nights of Lights continues to garner accolades. In 2014, Rachael Ray magazine named St. Augustine one of the Nation’s “Twinkliest Towns.” National Geographic declared St. Augustine one of the Top 10 Places in the World to view holiday lights in 2012 and 2013. And the American Bus Association named Nights of Lights a Top 100 Event in North America.