It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Greater Fort Lauderdale!
The sparkling and splendid tropical holiday season is upon us, and our vibrant cities, family-friendly attractions, and local businesses are decking the halls with drive-thru light displays, festive parades, one including boats, and even appearances by Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus! Here’s a roundup of the popular holiday events happening in GFL.
Start the holiday season off right by attending the 59th Annual Christmas on Las Olas held at Fort Lauderdale’s buzzing Las Olas Boulevard on Nov. 30. During the event, meet Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus and enjoy live performances by local children’s and church choirs, arts and crafts vendors, plenty of festive sips and treats, an ice skating arena, and snow.
Throughout the season, Las Olas Oceanside Park transforms into a holiday wonderland filled with exciting experiences, as larger-than-life dreamlike holiday vignettes unfold, Nov. 23-Dec. 31. "WONDERLAND" themes include The Grinch Who Rocked Christmas (Dec. 2-5), Nutcrackers & Sweets (Dec. 9-12) and Let's Jingle & Flamingle (Dec. 16-19), with a tropical holiday theme. The six-week series of events include holiday markets, strolling characters, children’s activities, live music, dance performances, contests and games, selfie stations, holiday movies and more. Then on Nov. 29, the City of Fort Lauderdale will host its Menorah Lighting in celebration of Chanukah. Guests can experience the wonder of “WONDERLAND” with Santa appearances every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Over Christmas weekend, the LOOP presents two special free holiday concerts, starting with A Night of Sinatra featuring Jeff Grainger and The Hoboken 11 Big Band.
On Dec. 11, take your family to the Sunrise Arts & Crafts Festival featuring Winter Wonderland at the Sunrise Sportsplex. The holiday event features artificial snow, an appearance by Santa Claus and plenty of tasty treats, and holiday games.
Make new Christmas family traditions at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, which hosts several holiday-inspired shows this time of year, including George Balanchine’s “Nutcracker” by the Miami City Ballet and “Elf The Musical.” Over at The Parker, catch a live Christmas special by the Bee Gees, among other holiday shows.
Everyone Loves a Parade
Fort Lauderdale’s waterways will be aglow on Dec. 11 for the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Winterfest Boat Parade, celebrating its milestone 50th year. A parade of beautiful vessels lit up with Christmas lights will float down the New River and the Intracoastal Waterway for 12 miles. Watch from viewing spots along the waterway, reserve your table at a waterfront restaurant or attend a party at a waterfront home.
The Yuletide on Atlantic Parade will make its way through Pompano Beach on Dec. 2 with dancers, marching bands, floats, and Santa Claus himself. The parade begins at Riverside Drive and heads west towards Atlantic Boulevard.
Whip out your cell phones and get ready for a selfie! This year’s theme for Coral Springs’ annual Holiday Parade is “Lights, Cameras, Selfies!” with more than 60 groups participating. The Dec. 15 parade starts on Coral Springs Drive at Sample Road and ends at City Hall.
A longstanding tradition in Hollywood, the Hollywood Beach Candy Cane Parade returns on Dec. 4 with dozens of floats strutting their stuff for the crowd. The parade begins on the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk at Missouri Street and heads south towards Harrison Street.
Light it Up
Light Up the Beach takes center stage on Nov. 23 with the illumination of more than 50,000-holiday lights along Fort Lauderdale's picturesque beachfront and the return of “Olas,” the wildly popular larger-than-life 20-foot beach snowman at A1A and Las Olas Boulevard. Highlights include performances by the Yuletide Carolers, jazz saxophonist Randy Corinthian, the Fort Lauderdale Symphonic Winds, plus a kids zone with Santa, inflatables, slides, pony rides, and more.
There’s no need to leave your car during the Holiday Fantasy of Lights drive-thru event at Tradewinds Park in Coconut Creek. From Nov. 19 to Jan. 1, the park offers three miles of lit-up trees and holiday displays, including arches, snowmen, reindeer, Santa Clauses, and other whimsical holiday creatures. This event has spread holiday cheer to families for nearly 30 years.
On the west side of Greater Fort Lauderdale is Christmas Lights in the Acres, another drive-thru tour of lights in Plantation Acres, hosted by Plantation Baptist Church and held between Nov. 26 and Dec. 30.
If you’re in or around Tamarac, check out the Tinsel Town Holiday Drive-Thru at the Tamarac Sports Complex on Dec. 10.
Throughout the entire holiday season, you can stop by Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach for a show-stopping light display. Lit up with more than 250,000 lights, synchronized to holiday tunes, the Symphony in Lights Holiday Celebration is a 10-minute light and sound show that occurs at the beginning of every hour each evening from Nov. 13 to Dec. 31.
Watch in awe as the streets light up to usher in the holiday season at the 11th Annual Light-Up Pompano Beach held at the E. Pat Larkins Community Center on Nov. 20. The official tree lighting begins at 7 p.m., and there will be live performances, food and drinks, and interactive games.
The historic Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is ready for the holidays with five nights of holiday events kicking off Dec. 3 with a holiday magic soirée. The treasure trove of Floridian flora and fauna, including art, is transformed into a Christmas village this time of year with trees, wreaths, and centerpieces for sale, as well as live entertainment, a scavenger hunt, book readings, and more.
Old Davie Christmas celebrates its 20th anniversary on Dec. 11 at the Old Davie School Historical Museum. Join the community for hayrides, a petting zoo, holiday music, a tour of the museum, a meet-and-greet with Santa Claus, and plenty of photo ops. Earlier in the month, on Dec. 4, visit the schoolhouse for a tour guided by Mrs. Claus.
The Historic Stranahan House Museum in Fort Lauderdale has a couple of holiday events in store, including its Home for the Holidays party on Dec. 8 (featuring cocktails, food, and an auction) and its Victorian Christmas Tours led by docents dressed in period attire, Dec. 18-23. Once the beloved home of Fort Lauderdale pioneers — Frank and Ivy Stranahan — the historic house will be decked out from roof to lawn with Christmas decor. You won’t want to miss it!
A visit to Greater Fort Lauderdale is a special treat any time of year, but if you’re here for the winter season, you won't want to miss out on all the heart-warming holiday events and traditions we've got in store for you and your family.