Galleons and turkeys will replace sleighs and reindeer this holiday season as Greater Fort Lauderdale serves up its holiday spirit with a side of history, fitness and a floating parade of boats to light up the festivities during the depths of winter. 


From the arrival of the 16th century tall ship replica, El Galeón Andalucía, to the Turkey Trot & Paddle Fort Lauderdale and the 43rd Annual Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, Greater Fort Lauderdale's calendar of holiday festivities is the gift that keeps on giving for travelers visiting South Florida.


This year's highlights include: 


Sail to Sunny 16th Century Ship Tour 2014: Pull on the pantaloons and party like it's 1513 for a Greater Fort Lauderdale winter celebration five centuries in the making when El Galeón Andalucía docks at Las Olas Marina from Dec. 5 - Dec. 14. The tall ship is a replica of the 16th Century Spanish Galeón sailed by explorer Juan Ponce de Leon from Puerto Rico to La Florida in his search of the fountain of youth. Be one of 100 people to experience the Winterfest Boat Parade from the ship on December 13th from 6:30-10:30pm. Enjoy an elevated view of the parade from the deck of El Galeón as you enjoy appetizers, soft drinks, beer and wine. 


Turkey Trot & Paddle Fort Lauderdale: Walk, run or paddleboard off the Thanksgiving calories at the 4th Annual Turkey Trot and Paddle on Fort Lauderdale beach in a 5k race along A1A on Thanksgiving morning. The event will support two local community organizations committed to developing leadership, inspiring community service, and promoting health and wellness - iTRACE Foundation, Inc. and Emerge Broward. In addition to the race, all are encouraged to donate canned goods in benefit of Feeding South Florida.


Light Up Lauderdale:  For a full ten weeks, Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale & the City of Fort Lauderdale will spread festive lights over 2.5 miles of the brick Riverwalk.  The lights span the sides of the New River in Downtown Fort Lauderdale for a magical holiday view.  This is the 6th year of this annual holiday light show.  To kick off this holiday attraction, the switch will be flipped at Esplanade Park on Thursday, Nov. 13 to officially bring in the holiday season.  The last day of lights will be Jan. 10.


Winterfest Boat Parade: The highlight of Greater Fort Lauderdale's winter will be the 43rd Annual Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, one of the top 20 parades in the world and the 7th largest one-day spectator event in the country taking place December 13. This year's parade Grand Marshall is Pop / Hip Hop music Flo Rida, leading the ultimate light show extravaganza with hundreds of brightly lit and decorated boats and yachts as they cruise from the downtown New River on a 12-mile route along the Intracoastal Waterway. This year, the greatest show on H2O will feature the 16th century tall ship replica, El Galeón Andalucía along with other top viewing spots along the route including the Grandstand Viewing Area at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, Flip Flops Dockside Eatery, Shooter's, Grateful Palate, Sonesta Fort Lauderdale, Riverside Hotel, and Downtowner Saloon.  


Light up the Beach: Fort Lauderdale Beach will come alive when thousands of holiday lights brighten the City's picturesque beachfront at Light Up the Beach on Tuesday, November 26 at A1A and Las Olas Boulevard. Local officials will flip the switch to illuminate a larger-than-life sandcastle display. Following the holiday lighting ceremony the Florida 9th District American Legion Symphonic Band will perform a free outdoor holiday concert in D.C. Alexander Park, located just down the street.


The 52nd Annual Christmas on Las Olas: A perennial favorite for more than half a century, the 52nd annual Christmas on Las Olas Boulevard will see the Winter Wonderland return to the chic shopping street on December 2, 2014. Festivities will include a Snow Mountain, carolers and performances various stages. The Enchanted Village on the Great Lawn beside the Riverside Hotel will feature photos with Santa Claus, while Skate Las Olas will bring the magic of ice skating to Las Olas Boulevard, Mango's Massive Movie Madness will show Arthur Christmas, and the Peter Glenn Ski and Sports SnowDeck will have more than 60 food, beverage and holiday booths.


Other Greater Fort Lauderdale holiday happenings include:


Holiday Fantasy of Lights

Nov. 21, 2014 - Jan. 3, 2015

Throughout the holiday season, Tradewinds Park in Coconut Creek will feature three miles of giant animated holiday displays and illuminated trees, blending favorites of the past and exciting new creations.


Fort Lauderdale Christmas Pageant

Nov. 28-Dec. 14, 2014

The 31st annual Fort Lauderdale Christmas Pageant with kick off on Nov. 28 with a lavish and colorful production bringing the sights and sounds of Christmas to a Broadway-style opening act featuring new takes on holiday favorites and a concert featuring the Chancel Choir and live orchestra. The second act tells the life story of Jesus, with flying angles heralding His arrival and live camels carrying kings through the


Garden of Lights at Flamingo Gardens

Dec. 5-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28

Every Saturday and Sunday in December, Flamingo Gardens will be decked out with thousands of lights, decor and music for the Garden of Lights display. Holiday concerts and performances, visits by Santa, kids crafts and other holiday fun fill the air from 5pm to 7pm.


Hollywood Beach Candy Cane Parade

Dec.7, 2014

The 59th Hollywood Beach Candy Cane Parade at the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk is celebrating its 59th year with marching bands, floats, and floats with this year's theme being "Peppermint Paradise."


The 52st Annual Pompano Beach Boat Parade

Dec. 14, 2014

The Annual Pompano Beach Boat Parade along the Intracoastal Waterway in Pompano Beach is one of the oldest holiday boat parades in the country. Dozens of glittering yachts and vessels sail along the parade route from Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach north to Deerfield Beach.


Skate Las Olas

Dec. 19, 2014 -January 4, 2015

From 12 noon to 9 pm daily, the outdoor skating rink will be open for holiday fun for all ages.  The 1,800 square foot outdoor rink will open on the Lawn at the Riverside Hotel in mid-December, and will be available for afternoon and evening recreation every day until Jan. 4.


Stars of David

Dec. 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015

Based on Abigail Pogrebin's best-selling book, "Stars of David" is a musical celebration of Jewish celebrities, Broadway lyricists and composers, and humorous songs for everyone, Jewish or otherwise.  The engaging show runs on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day.  Show times vary. 


Rock'n Noonyear's Eve Party

Dec. 31, 2014

You don't have to stay up late to party this year, with the Young At Art Museum's New Year's Party with a countdown to noon instead of midnight!  This afternoon celebration will feature a sparkling apple cider toast, music, and art.


New Year's Eve at America's Backyard

Dec. 31, 2014

Toast with champagne and a black & gold themed party to ring in the New Year at one of Fort Lauderdale's most happening open-bar venues.


Roaring Twenties New Year's Eve Bash

Dec. 31, 2014

Bring in the new year like it's the 1920's at Stache, a self-proclaimed "1920's drinking den" that will be featuring live burlesque, snacks, and an open bar for attendees of this New Year's event.