Whether you are escaping the lake effect snow of Chicago, the wind chill of New York or a drizzly London winter, you don’t have to leave the delights of the holiday season back home along with your wool scarf and parka. Greater Fort Lauderdale is its own kind of winter wonderland. The months of November and December in Greater Fort Lauderdale are filled with holiday spirit. You’ll find concerts, special events and seasonal traditions with a Florida twist all across this destination. And with the warm and sunny weather, it’s easy to get out and explore them all.
Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade
With a theme of “Movies on Parade,” the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade returns to the waterways of Greater Fort Lauderdale on December 14. Nearly 50 years old, the Winterfest Boat Parade just gets better and brighter. Vessels ranging from private boats to giant showboats to corporate megayachts will be illuminated with hundreds of thousands of lights, decorations, music, performers and other exciting creativity as they float from the Stranahan House on the New River to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach.
The size of the boat doesn’t matter; you never know who will be a fan favorite. From start to finish, there is plenty of eye candy to behold. There are great spectator spots along the 12-mile parade route, and you can also purchase tickets for grandstand seating at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park online or by phone.
Have an Old Florida Holiday
Amid the luxury hotels, new gourmet restaurants and thrilling nightlife that everyone craves, you can still find patches of beloved Old Florida thriving in the Fort Lauderdale area.
The Bonnet House Museum & Gardens kicks off its 100th anniversary this holiday season. Located between the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale, this architectural delight was clearly built by artists. It features framed art, lush tropical landscaping, fountains, and — kicking off December 6 — it will be adorned with designer-decorated holiday trees, wreaths, and centerpieces. Enjoy evening tours and holiday cheer on select dates.
Located in Davie, Flamingo Gardens invites everyone to the return of its Garden of Lights, when the gardens (a former orange grove) and historic Wray home will be decked out with lights and decorations. On select evenings between December 13 and December 29, hours will be extended so you can experience it all after the sun goes down.
Already dollhouse-like and built in 1901, the Stranahan House transforms into a Victorian Christmas every year at this time. The candles, garlands and towering fruit centerpieces at the Stranahan House will probably have “visions of sugar plums” dancing in your head. It’s located on Fort Lauderdale’s New River, so take the Water Taxi.
Greater Fort Lauderdale has a diverse, multicultural community, which makes this season even more special. There are several annual events that celebrate individual cultures, and also invite others to learn and share fellowship.
On December 6, the annual Light Up Sistrunk festival returns. This holiday event brings Fort Lauderdale’s African American community together and in past years has included live performances; a kids' fun zone, including bounce houses, arts and crafts, and Santa; health and wellness; food trucks; a giant tree lighting and more.
On December 29, Downtown Jewish Center Chabad presents the Chanukah Fair on Las Olas. Taking place in Huizenga Plaza, this annual event has previously featured carnival rides, bounce houses, kosher franks on the grill, a children’s chorus, music, and the lighting of the menorah.
From November 29 to December 15, First Baptist | FTL presents their annual, Emmy award-winning Fort Lauderdale Christmas Pageant. This Broadway-style stage show features more than 300 performers, holiday songs and a dynamic retelling of the story of the first Christmas, complete with live animals, flying angels and more.
Classical Holiday Entertainment
The 2019 holiday season is bringing your classical favorites, plus new delights, to the many stages in the Fort Lauderdale area. In addition to the destination’s diverse roster of concerts and shows, you’ll find all the costumes, colorful lights, music, and dancing to satisfy your craving for holiday confection.
No matter how many movies are made — and there have been plenty — only a real theater outing can give you the true experience of seeing “The Nutcracker.” Perhaps you go every year, or maybe you haven’t seen the Sugar Plum Fairy pas de deux since your kids’ field trip. Well, make a date with the Parker Playhouse from December 13 to 15. That’s when Arts Ballet Theater of Florida will remind you why the glittery costumes, twirling ballerinas, dazzling set and unforgettable score by Tchaikovsky make this an enchanting experience for all ages.
Holiday traditions continue at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts. On December 31, the Strauss Symphony of America returns with “Salute to Vienna™ New Year’s Concert” and invites audiences to enjoy a re-creation of the golden age of Viennese music, including the “Blue Danube Waltz” by Johann Strauss. The evening also includes a soprano, a tenor and featured dancers from the National Ballet of Hungary and International Champion Ballroom Dancers.
Make It a Modern Holiday
The Greater Fort Lauderdale arts scene also knows how to kick it new-school, with modern holiday entertainment for everyone.
Disney starts the holiday season early with the “Disney Junior Holiday Party!” Appearing on stage at Coral Springs Center for the Arts on November 22, this musical wonderland wants you and your preschoolers to sing along to Disney Junior songs, plus holiday classics, with Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Elena of Avalor, Doc McStuffins and more. There will also be a special guest from the North Pole in his red and white suit!
On December 8 and 9, the Au-Rene Theater at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts presents “Hip Hop Nutcracker.” Tchaikovsky’s score, hip hop dance, and New York City-style come together for a genre mash-up for the whole family. It’s the same story with a new twist — like synchronized windmills. Remix your holiday with a dozen dancers, a DJ, a violinist and a special appearance by the legendary MC Kurtis Blow.
On December 13 and 14, Amaturo Theater at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts presents the Tony award-winning “A Christmas Story, The Musical.” Enjoy all the warm and fuzzy 1940s Indiana nostalgia, based on the 1983 movie featuring stories from the life of author Jean Shepherd.
Watch Some Sub-Tropical Touchdowns
Yes, it’s the holiday season, but it’s also football season! If you’re from colder climates, it’s not often you get to see your home team play while you’re wearing shorts and a t-shirt. It’s more like gloves and lots of layers. That sounds like the perfect reason to add an NFL game to your vacation itinerary. Plus, Hard Rock Stadium is only minutes from Greater Fort Lauderdale, off the Florida Turnpike.
The decades-old rivalry between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins isn’t losing any steam. See how it plays out on November 14. The Philadelphia Eagles will play the Miami Dolphins on December 1. And see which team unwraps a win when the Cincinnati Bengals play the Dolphins on December 22.
Whatever your style of holiday, you’ll find a celebration that suits you in Greater Fort Lauderdale. Best of all, it all happens in swimsuit weather. Mark your calendar or get your tickets now.