Nights of Lights: The Events
St. Augustine’s Night of Lights celebration began in 1997, when a city commissioner proposed it as way to entertain visitors and create a sense of holiday pride among residents of the nation’s oldest city. Over the years, dozens of holiday events have been added to the 10-week celebration. Most of these take place in the downtown historic district and Matanzas Bay, but events are also held at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and in St. Augustine Beach.
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 second 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 and Claude’s Chocolates, both on King 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 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
The beach comes to life during Surf Illumination! 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 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.