Visit Pensacola presents exciting weekend travel itineraries in December that celebrate the spirit of Christmas

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Surfing Santas, lighted boat parades, and the famous Snowball Derby are just a few of the unique Christmas time events that attract travelers looking for holiday fun to the beaches and bustling city of Pensacola, Florida.

The Lighted Boat Parade on Pensacola Beach takes place the first weekend of December.

Like the lights on the city’s annual beach boat parade, Pensacola shines during the month of December and the weeks leading up to Christmas. December weekends are jam-packed with unique “island style” holiday activities ranging from the Surfing Santas Christmas Parade to the national Snowball Derby automobile races. Add in traditional Christmas musical performances, professional hockey games, tree lightings and trolley tours, and any traveler looking for a warm winter wonderland will find it in Pensacola along with award winning white beaches and water activities. Pick a weekend and plan a getaway!

December 5-7: The first December weekend in Pensacola is the official kick-off to the Christmas season.

  •     Pensacola Beach hosts several coastal Christmas themed events with Santa sightings including the beautiful, nighttime Pensacola Beach Lighted Boat Parade and the daytime Surfing Santa Beach Parade.
  •     Sports fans won’t want to miss the nationally known Snowball Derby automobile races that attract big names in short track racing and even top series NASCAR drivers. Or, take in a Pensacola Ice Flyers hockey game at the Pensacola Bay Center. The Flyers are Pensacola’s professional hockey team and winners of the 2013 President’s Cup.
  •     History buffs can tour a Victorian home decorated for the holidays and learn more about life in the Victorian era and how it influenced modern holiday traditions during Historic Pensacola’s Victorian Holiday Traditions tours.
  •     The Historic Pensacola Lighthouse will officially light Pensacola’s tallest Christmas tree during its Christmas Gala, featuring Santa Claus and hot cider.
  •     The Pensacola Choral Society will jump-start the sounds of the season with a performance of Handel’s Messiah, featuring the Choral Society Orchestra and guest performers.
  •     Old-fashioned Christmas-themed trolley tours provide family-friendly entertainment and the chance to get close to the big man in the red suit! Pensacola Winterfest coordinates 30-minute sing along tours with Santa Claus, Frosty, and other classic Christmas characters.

December 12-14: Celebrate additional unique coastal Christmas events, the arts, music and the grand Pensacola Christmas Parade featuring the Blue Angels the second weekend in December.

  •     The Pensacola Christmas Parade brings the holiday sights and sounds through historic downtown Pensacola. The parade draws more than 50,000 people each year and features 90 entries, including the Blue Angels and bands from across the Southeast.
  •     Santa parachutes onto the beach during the annual Santa Drop at the Flora Bama in Perdido Key, kicking off a daylong holiday celebration, including Christmas carols for the kids.
  •     The Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl on Pensacola Beach is a fun way to celebrate and flaunt those “spirited” Christmas sweaters you might hide in the back of your closets 394 days of the year.
  •     The famous Pensacola Children’s Chorus presents Christmas on the Coast, one of Northwest Florida's most popular holiday musical events, featuring pint size singers with perfect pitch.
  •     Art enthusiast will be greeted by a whimsical wonderland at the Pensacola Museum of Art. The Alice in Wonderland exhibit brings Lewis Carroll’s beloved novel to life through brightly colored oil on canvas paintings.
  •     Watch live theater and celebrate local actors during Pensacola Little Theater’s production of Snow Queen, a mysterious and magical performance, based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson.
  •     In addition to the above, the Victorian Holiday Traditions and Winterfest trolley tours continue through the second week of December.

December 19-21: Take advantage of last minute, unique Christmas shopping opportunities the weekend leading up to Christmas during downtown Pensacola’s Gallery Night as well as artistic performances, hockey, ice skating, and spirited trolley tours in a relaxed atmosphere—unlike the mall this time of year.

  •     Ballet Pensacola’s beautiful performances of The Nutcracker tell the traditional story of Clara and her dream of the Nutcracker Prince.
  •     Gallery Night is a Friday street celebration in downtown Pensacola where retail shops, museums, art galleries, and restaurants celebrate the Christmas spirit with light refreshments, activities, and holiday music.
  •     The Ice Flyers are at home this weekend and public ice skating sessions take place afterward. Victorian Holiday Traditions tours continue in Historic downtown Pensacola as do the Winterfest trolley tours and carriage rides.

In addition to the variety of Christmas and cultural events listed above, deep discounts and travel incentives are plentiful in Pensacola and along Pensacola Beach during December. For a list of discounts, more information on holiday events, or to request a Visitor Guide, call Visit Pensacola at (800) 874-1234 or visit

Visit Pensacola leads the effort of economic development through tourism in Escambia County. Comprised of over 200 member businesses, Visit Pensacola’s mission is to position the Pensacola Bay Area as a premier year-round travel destination through tourism marketing, communications, meetings and conventions, reunions and group tour initiatives.

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Sara Daniel
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