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A Coastal Christmas: Holiday Happenings at the Beach

Just because we’re at the beach doesn’t mean we take Christmas any less seriously. (Have you seen our sand that looks like snow? I digress.) Anyway, we love holiday lights, meetings with Santa and winter concerts as much as the next community. Here are a few of our favorites for making the most of your coastal Christmas.

As always, with this type of information and due to potential COVID restrictions, we recommend calling ahead to verify event details and to make reservations as needed. Do you know of other holiday events we’ve missed? Comment below and let us know!

Multiple Opportunities through late December

Christmas Reflections 2020 | Chipley Park, DeFuniak Springs
Enjoy a holiday family tradition with more than 10 million lights on full display at Chipley Park. Open daily through New Year’s Eve from 5 to 9 p.m. Cost is $3 per person and free for children six and younger.

Holiday on The Harbor Visits With Santa | HarborWalk Village, Destin
Every Saturday and Sunday through December 20, enjoy visits with Santa from 1 to 4 p.m. Receive a free 4×6 photo; $1 will be donated to Panhandle Animal Welfare Society for each letter written to Santa during the holiday season.

Breakfast With Santa | Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village, Destin
Enjoy breakfast with Santa on December 12, 13, 19, or 20 from 8 a.m. to noon in the Grande Ballroom. A buffet breakfast, Santa letter writing station, build-your-own hot chocolate station, and visits with Santa will be available. Cost is $18 for children and $25 for adults plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are highly encouraged by calling 850.424.0622.

A Christmas Carol | Grand Boulevard, Miramar Beach
Emerald Coast Theatre Company will present “A Christmas Carol” at 7:30 p.m. December 4-5, 10-12 and 17-19 and 2 p.m. December 6, 13 and 20 at ECTC’s location at 560 Grand Boulevard at Grand Boulevard in Miramar Beach.

Hospital Holiday Sale | Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast, Miramar Beach
The annual holiday sale, featuring unique gifts, holiday decorations, nativity sets, angels, jewelry and much more, will take place at the hospital, weekdays through December 22 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

12 Nights of Lights | The Village of Baytowne Wharf, Sandestin
Experience a holiday light show every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at 6, 7 and 8 p.m. through December 23 on the Events Plaza Lawn at The Village of Baytowne Wharf.

December 5

Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl | Coyote Ugly, Destin
Coyote Ugly on the harbor will host an ugly sweater contest, along with drink specials, bingo and live music, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. December 5. You can obtain a bingo card with a monetary donation to Panhandle Animal Welfare Society or by bringing a toy for Emerald Coast Toys for Tots “Fill the Boat Drive.”

Christmas at the Beach | Gulf Place, Santa Rosa Beach
“Christmas at the Beach” will be held from 12 to 3 p.m. December 5 at the Gulley Amphitheater at Gulf Place in Santa Rosa Beach. This free, family-friendly event will feature children’s activities including an inflatable, a stilt-walking balloon-maker, games, crafts and pictures with Santa. There will be free food and live music including caroling and performances by local school groups. There will also be a cakewalk. Monetary donations along with proceeds from the cakewalk and raffle will benefit the Walton County Sheriff Posse.

A Beachy Little Christmas | The Island, Fort Walton Beach
Join The Island, 1500 Miracle Strip Parkway SE in Fort Walton Beach, December 5, for a new holiday tradition, A Beachy Little Christmas. This event is free to attend and open to all who seek the holiday spirit. Events include Professional Team Finalizes Island Sandcastle “Beach House” at noon; Community Sand Sculptures at 2; and Ornament & Cookie Decorating, Beverages, and more from 2-4 p.m.

Holiday Tour of Homes | Rosemary Beach
The Holiday Tour of Homes, a self-guided tour of six homes in Rosemary Beach, will take place at 11 a.m. December 5 and 6. Tickets available at All proceeds benefit Habitat For Humanity Walton County.

December 7

“Christmas Lights & Winter Nights” Christmas Parade | Fort Walton Beach
Fort Walton Beach’s Christmas parade will take place at 6:30 p.m. on December 7. The route begins at First Street and proceeds north on Eglin Parkway to the old K-Mart parking lot. The parade will include approximately 100 entries ranging from non-profits and the military to area schools, bands, civic organizations and area businesses.

December 8

Christmas Cabaret on the Boulevard | Grand Boulevard, Miramar Beach
Mix, mingle and enjoy live musical selections when Emerald Coast Theatre Company presents Christmas Cabaret on the Boulevard at 7:30 p.m. December 8 and 15 at 560 Grand Boulevard, Suite 200 (Upstairs), in Miramar Beach. Enjoy classic holiday songs and join in some carols as well. Purchase tickets at

December 9

Wednesday Night Concert Series | The Village of Baytowne Wharf, Sandestin
Holiday classics from the Fort Walton Beach High School Chorus (December 9) and the Matt McCarty Band (December 16) will take over the concert series at The Village of Baytowne Wharf. Time is 6 to 8 p.m.

December 10

Chanukah Celebration | HarborWalk Village, Destin
Join HarborWalk in a special Menorah lighting featuring traditional foods, crafts, live music and more at 5 p.m. December 10.

December 12

Destin Christmas Parade | Destin
The 36th annual “Joy to the World” Christmas Parade will begin at 10 a.m. December 12. The floats will begin at the Downtown Destin Shopping Center (Old Time Pottery) and travel west down Harbor Boulevard (Hwy. 98) to Stahlman Avenue. Spectators are asked to stand on the north side of Harbor Boulevard to watch the parade.

Olde Holiday Market | HarborWalk Village, Destin
This festive marketplace features holiday activities, live music and visits with Santa. Get your holiday shopping done early and support local vendors. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. December 12, throughout HarborWalk Village.

Jingle & Mingle Christmas Market | Twin Cities Pavilion, Niceville
This benefit for the residents of Twin Cities Pavilion in Niceville will take place from noon to 4 p.m., December 12. Activities include a market with food and gifts for purchase, pictures with Santa Claus, entertainment, a snowmaker, raffle, wine tasting, craft table and activities for children. Entry is free, but a suggested donation of $3 will benefit the residents of Pavilion Assisted Living Center.

Café Thirty-A Charity Christmas Ball | Santa Rosa Beach
Café Thirty-A will host its annual Christmas Charity Ball benefiting Caring and Sharing of South Walton from 7 to 11 p.m. December 12. The restaurant will be transformed with festive holiday décor. Attendees will enjoy a glass of champagne and passed heavy hors d’oeuvres, a dinner buffet and a cash bar. There will be music by DJ 30A and a commemorative photo booth. Guests are encouraged to dress in evening attire, black tie optional. Tickets can be purchased at

Teddy Bear Brunch | The Palms Resort, Destin
The Palms Resort and Palms Bistro are adding their own twist to the traditional New Orleans Teddy Bear Tea with Teddy Bear Teas of their own. Seatings are available at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. December 12 and 19. Hot chocolate, teddy bears, storytime with Mrs. Claus, cookies, handwritten letters to Santa, Christmas caroling, photos and an amazing brunch all included in your ticket purchase. Plus, take home your cookies, a novelty mug and canvas tote.

The Grayt Santa Pub Crawl | Grayton Beach
The Grayt Santa Pub Crawl takes place December 12 featuring a bar crawl and good food and drink all afternoon and into the night in Grayton Beach. Crawl begins at 3 p.m. with check-in at Hurricane Oyster Bar. Additional stops include Red Bar, Chiringo, Hibiscus and AJ’s Grayton Beach. Cost is $60 per person to crawl with costumes required. Prizes will be awarded to the “most naughty Santa” and “most nice Santa.”

December 13

Dock The Halls Fundraiser | Boathouse Oyster Bar, Destin
Join the staff and management of Boathouse Oyster Bar as they support Children in Crisis from 2 to 4 p.m. December 13. Tickets are $30. Attendees are asked to bring gift cards for children’s stores, clothing and toys for extra drink tickets. A silent auction and 50/50 raffle will also be held to help raise additional funds for families in need.

Holiday Gospel Brunch | Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, Sandestin
Sinfonia Gulf Coast will presents “D’Vine” at 10:30 a.m. December 13 in the Coastal Ballroom at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa. Ticket price is $95 to $125 and includes performance, brunch and all gratuities. Cash bar also available.

Harbor Boat Parade | Destin Harbor
The 34th annual lighted boat parade on the Destin Harbor will take place December 13. The evening begins at 5 p.m. and includes a performance of The Nutcracker and the Boat Parade at 6 p.m., followed by fireworks and fire-spinning. The parade will be visible up and down the harbor from Grand Harbor Condominiums to HarborWalk Village.

December 16

Wednesday Night Concert Series | The Village of Baytowne Wharf, Sandestin
Holiday classics from the Fort Walton Beach High School Chorus (December 9) and the Matt McCarty Band (December 16) will take over the concert series at The Village of Baytowne Wharf. Time is 6 to 8 p.m.

December 17

Ugly Sweater Party | Idyll Hounds Brewing Company Taproom, Santa Rosa Beach
Celebrate the season with your favorite ugly sweater, live music and food by Summer Kitchen from 5 to 8 p.m. December 17. There will be new beer releases, prizes and specials. Outdoor seating available.

December 19

Santa Paws + Sinfonia Concert | HarborWalk Village, Destin
Bring your pet for a free 4×6 photo with Santa from 1-4 p.m. December 19 at HarborWalk Village. PAWS will be there with adoptable dogs. Afterward, enjoy a live performance by the Sinfonia Youth Orchestra at 6 p.m.

Winter Wonderland | The Village of Baytowne Wharf, Sandestin
The Village of Baytowne Wharf’s Event Plaza is turning into a Winter Wonderland full of real snow from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. December 19. Slide down the ice slide, make snow angels, and enjoy a day of frosty fun for the whole family.

Tacky Christmas Sweater Cocktails Class | The Gathering Spot, WaterColor Inn
Put on your tackiest Christmas sweater and join in for a holiday-themed cocktail class with the bartenders from Fish Out of Water. Beginning at 8 p.m., December 19, guests will learn how to create handcrafted holiday cocktails and the basics for building your very own creative holiday libations at home.

December 23

Holiday Farmers Market | Rosemary Beach
The Rosemary Beach Farmers Market will be open for business on December 23 and December 30 for a holiday market beginning at 9 a.m. This is in addition to the normal Sunday market.

December 24

Christmas Eve Dinner | Havana Beach Bar and Grill, Rosemary Beach
Secure a reservation for a special three-course meal from 4 to 8 p.m. Cost is $85 for adults and $45 for children three to 12. Outdoor seating will be available.

Christmas Eve Dinner | Fish Out Of Water, Santa Rosa Beach
Enjoy a special holiday meal curated by the restaurant’s executive chef from 5 to 10 p.m. No reservations necessary.

December 25

Christmas Dinner| Havana Beach Bar and Grill, Rosemary Beach
Secure a reservation for a special three-course meal from noon to 8 p.m. Cost is $85 for adults and $45 for children three to 12. Outdoor seating will be available.

December 29

Wine & Song | NEAT Tasting Room, Alys Beach
Champagne-focused event to celebrate the holiday season with outdoor seating available. Event takes place from 5 to 7 p.m.

December 31

Baytowne Countdown NYE
Ring in the New Year with an evening to remember, featuring two breathtaking fireworks displays. Enjoy a family-friendly evening from 5-8 p.m. with face painting, kids activities and live music on the Baytowne LIVE stage with DJ 30A from 5 to 7 p.m. Finish off the family-friendly evening with our first fireworks display at 8 p.m. Dance the night away with live music from GROOVY 7 from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m., featured on the events plaza stage. End the night with a spectacular midnight firework show.

New Year’s Eve at Fish Out Of Water | Santa Rosa Beach
Celebrate with special chef features, champagne, live music and special guests from 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Reservations are not accepted.

New Year’s Eve at Havana Beach Bar & Grill | Rosemary Beach
Toast to the last evening of 2020 with a three-course menu and live entertainment. Pianist Michael Johnson will perform live from 5 to 9 p.m., and will be joined by visiting pianists Nate Sangsland and David Mark Butler for a dueling pianos performance from 9 p.m. to midnight. Cost is $125 per person with seating times between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. Reservations are required.

New Year’s Eve at George’s at Alys Beach | Alys Beach
George’s at Alys Beach is accepting reservations for four seatings of their four-course New Year’s Even dinner. The menu will feature items like a seafood trio, crab coconut bisque, seared duck breast and crab-stuffed sea bass.

“Best of the Big Band” Rooftop Dinner | Pescado, Rosemary Beach
Ring in 2021 at Pescado, with a three-course dinner and live music by the David Seering Trio on the rooftop and Jamah Terry in the courtyard from 6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. The evening will include a late-night dessert station and a toast at midnight. Reservations are required.

Last updated: December 9, 2020

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