The water is chilly and the air is cool, but there’s still plenty to do at the beach during the holiday season. Light displays, meet-ups with Santa and the occasional “Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl” are just the beginning. Here are a few of our favorites for making the most of your coastal Christmas (and beyond).
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!
Christmas Reflections | Chipley Park, DeFuniak Springs
Enjoy a holiday family tradition with more than 10 million lights on full display at Chipley Park. Open through New Year’s Eve from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Cost is $5 per person and free for children five and younger.
Every Christmas Story Ever Told | Various Locations
Grab your chairs and get ready for the magical holiday tradition of “Every Christmas Story Ever Told,” with showtimes through the season until December 23. Performance locations include viewing opportunities in Seaside, Florida, Rosemary and Alys Beaches, NatureWalk and WaterSound Origins. More information is available at lovetherep.com.
Holiday on The Harbor Visits With Santa | HarborWalk Village, Destin
Every Saturday and Sunday through December 19, 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. Additional holiday activities including a Rudolph-themed treasure hunt are planned.
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 required by calling 850.424.0622.
Cabaret On The Boulevard | Grand Boulevard, Miramar Beach
Emerald Coast Theatre Company will present “Cabaret on the Boulevard” at 7:30 p.m. December 14-15 and 2:30 p.m. December 18. For more details, visit www.emeraldcoasttheatre.org/special-events.
Photos With Elf On The Shelf | Grand Park, Grand Boulevard
Join in the holiday cheer as Grand Boulevard hosts Photos with Elf On The Shelf in Grand Park, at the Festival of Trees display every Saturday through Dec. 18 from 2 to 4 p.m.
12 Nights of Lights | The Village of Baytowne Wharf
Experience a holiday light show from 6 to 8 p.m. on the Events Plaza Lawn at The Village of Baytowne Wharf from December 1 to December 15, 6 to 9 p.m. This event is free and open to the public and includes Christmas lights, visits with Santa and the Wednesday Night Concert Series.
Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides | Grand Boulevard
Tis’ the season to be jolly! The Town Center at Grand Boulevard will be awash with thousands of beautiful white lights, lending a festive and inviting spirit. Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride around the Town Center every Friday and Saturday between 5 and 8 p.m. from December 3 to January 1.
Baytowne On Ice | The Village of Baytowne Wharf
Skate through the season with real ice at the JVC Broadcasting Skating Pavilion with dates through early February. Cost is $13 for a 90-minute skate and a waiver is required to be filled out prior to arriving by visiting their website here.
Baytowne Wednesday Night Concert Series Holiday Edition | Events Plaza Lawn, Baytowne Wharf
Get in the winter spirit with us and listen to some of your favorite holiday classics. Every Wednesday this December enjoy our Holiday edition of the Wednesday Night Concert Series. Each concert will feature a festive choreographed light show and visits with Santa. December 1st’s performance (6-8 p.m.) is from Niceville High School. Cost is free.
J.Leon Gallery + Studio Holiday Shop, Sip N’ Stroll | 13370 U.S. Highway 98, Miramar Beach
A combined event featuring J.Leon Gallery + Studio, McCaskill & Company, and Mollega Eye Care & Optique. Shop local favorites, sip festive beverages, snacks, and enjoy a boutique shopping experience with some surprises along the way from 5 to 7 p.m.
Holiday On The Harbor/Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl | Coyote Ugly, Destin
Eat, drink and be merry with a game of drink specials bingo, raffle prizes, and live music on the main stage from 6:30 to 10 p.m. End the evening with an Ugly Sweater Contest at Coyote Ugly! Proceeds will benefit the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).
Santa’s Arrival at Pier Park | Pier Park, Panama City Beach
Celebrate the holiday season in Pier Park! Santa arrives by a red and white ’55 Chevy convertible on Friday, December 3 at 11 a.m. He’ll cruise through the mall before settling into his Pier Park home and will be available for photos daily until Christmas Eve.
Food For Thought Brunch with Santa | Food For Thought Full Circle Kitchen
Food For Thought is welcoming the holiday season with its much-loved event – Brunch with Santa! The event will take place Saturday, December 4, in the Food for Thought Outreach Full Circle Kitchen. This year will feature two seating times, one from 10 a.m. to noon and another from 1 to 3 p.m.
Rosemary Beach Holiday Tour of Homes | Rosemary Beach
Mark your calendars for the Holiday Home Tour from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, December 4, in the community of Rosemary Beach. Several of the most stunning homes, decorated in their finest, have been selected for this self-guided tour that’s guaranteed to get you into the holiday spirit. Advance tickets are required for two different touring times. Cost is $25 per person and includes a complimentary adult beverage. Visit rbhometour.com for more details.
Merry Main Street Mistletoe Market | DeFuniak Springs
Join Downtown DeFuniak Springs this holiday season for the Merry Main Street outdoor Mistletoe Market from 2 to 8 p.m., featuring a variety of artisans lined up and down Baldwin Avenue. Items for purchase include gift ideas, delicious treats and unique finds catered to the holiday season.
A Beachy Little Christmas | The Island Resort, Okaloosa Island
It’s the holidays and The Island is excited to bring a little sand into the season! Join The Island for a holiday tradition in paradise from noon to 4 p.m. The Island Resort will be decked out in beautiful Christmas decor to set the stage for the celebration in store. Festivities begin at noon, with an opportunity for resort guests and the local community to meet and greet with Misty Claus, The Island’s resident mermaid. Crafts, holiday music, special seasonal cocktails and more will also be offered, in addition to “snowman building” on the beach with tips and tricks from professionals. Cost is free.
Holiday On The Harbor | Santa Paws | HarborWalk Village
Bring your furry friend for their turn to get a picture with Santa and receive a free 4×6 photo from 1 to 4 p.m. Panhandle Animal Welfare Society will be onsite with furry friends looking for a new home. Proceeds will benefit PAWS.
Christmas at the Beach | Gulf Place, Santa Rosa Beach
“Christmas at the Beach” will be held from 12 to 3 p.m. December 4 on the lawn at Gulf Place in Santa Rosa Beach. This free, family-friendly event will feature children’s activities including an inflatable, games, crafts, caroling and live music, and pictures with Santa. Monetary donations along with proceeds from purchases will benefit the Walton County Sheriff Posse.
Seventh Annual Patriotic Christmas Concert | Panama City Beach
Join in an annual Panama City Beach tradition honoring God, country and veterans with a Christmas theme. Todd Herendeen will be in concert December 4 at 8010 Front Beach Road. Tickets are available by visiting toddherendeentheatre.com.
Winter, Wonder WaterSound | WaterSound Town Center Farmers Market
Celebrate the season with an afternoon of festive activities. Shop for artisanal foods and one-of-a-kind holiday gifts, listen to strolling carolers or enjoy a children’s play. Come back that night for a viewing of Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch and enjoy free hot cocoa and cookies. This event is free and open to the public. For more details, click here.
Breakfast With Santa | Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf & Spa Resort, Panama City Beach
Come cruise on The Champagne Lady, have breakfast and get your little one’s photo with good ol’ Santa Claus. Cost is $40 per adult and $20 per child, which includes breakfast, photos and an adult drink ticket. Reservations can be made by calling 850.236.6033.
“Christmas Characters” Christmas Parade | Fort Walton Beach
Fort Walton Beach’s Christmas parade will take place at 6:30 p.m. on December 6. The route runs along Eglin Parkway from First Street to Hughes Street. The public is invited to gather along Eglin Parkway to watch the parade and cheer on their favorite characters.
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 https://www.emeraldcoasttheatre.org/.
Baytowne Wednesday Night Concert Series Holiday Edition | Events Plaza Lawn, The Village of Baytowne Wharf
Get in the winter spirit with us and listen to some of your favorite holiday classics. Every Wednesday this December enjoy our Holiday edition of the Wednesday Night Concert Series. Each concert will feature a festive choreographed light show and visits with Santa. December 8th’s performance (6-8 p.m.) is the Gateway Singers of Gateway Academy and Fort Walton Beach High School. Cost is free.
Sinfonia Gulf Coast Holiday Pops with Broadway’s Nicholas Rodriguez | Village Baptist Church, Destin
The Holiday Pops concert from Sinfonia Gulf Coast featuring Broadway’s Nicholas Rodriguez is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. at Village Baptist Church in Destin. From holiday classics to Broadway to the great American songbook, this festive twist of music will put everyone in the holiday spirit. Secure tickets at sinfoniagulfcoast.org.
Sotheby’s International Realty presents Home For The Holidays with Christine Tosi | Virtual Event
Join a free holiday baking event hosted by Christina Tosi, award-winning chef and owner of Milk Bar. There are three convenient times available. Christina will be baking from a Sotheby’s International Realty listing at 555 West End Avenue, New York. To view the property, click here. Please click the time you’re interested in to register for this virtual event: 9 a.m., 1 p.m., 8 p.m. (CST).
Tuba Christmas | Event Plaza, The Village of Baytowne Wharf
Come out to The Village of Baytowne Wharf for Tuba Christmas, a wonderful concert with some of your favorite holiday classics from 5 to 7 p.m. It’s a beautiful holiday tradition in Sandestin. Admission is free and open to the public.
“Jingle Bell Rock” Christmas Parade | Destin
The 37th annual “Jingle Bell Rock” Christmas Parade will be held on Saturday, Dec. 11, at 10 a.m. The floats will begin at the Downtown Destin Shopping Center and travel west down Harbor Boulevard (U.S. Highway 98) to Stahlman Avenue. Spectators are asked to stand on the north side of Harbor Boulevard to watch the parade
Holiday On The Harbor | Olde Holiday Market | HarborWalk Village
Join us for two joyous days on the harbor, featuring a festive marketplace, holiday activities and live music from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. December 11 and noon to 8 p.m. December 12. Visits with Santa are available from 1 to 4 p.m.
2021 Christmas Parade | Panama City Beach
‘Tis the Christmas season — Jeep Style! Staging begins at Surfside Middle School at 2 p.m. Dress your Jeeps with Christmas spirit and cheer. The route proceeds south on Nautilus Street to Front Beach Road and then on toward Walmart.
Holiday Pops Concert | Lyceum Lawn, Seaside, Florida
Enjoy a special holiday performance guaranteed to get everyone into the holiday spirit. Event runs from 5 to 7 p.m.
Holiday By The Bay | Gretchen Nelson Scott Fine Arts Center, Lynn Haven
There’s no place like the Panama City Symphony concert for the holidays! Join Conductor David Ott and the orchestra and delight in the heartwarming sounds of the holiday season. Treat the entire family to this annual tradition of classic holiday favorites, joyous Christmas carols and plenty of yuletide cheer. Time is 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased here.
Harbor Boat Parade | Destin Harbor
The 35th annual lighted boat parade on the Destin Harbor will take place December 12. The evening begins at 6 p.m. at Boshamps and moves toward the Destin Bridge and Norriego Point, followed by fireworks. All commercial, charter and private boats are invited to participate by contacting the Destin History and Fishing Museum.
Dock The Halls Slacker Event | Boathouse Oyster Bar
Go be a slacker and stay for the 35th annual lighted boat parade on the harbor. This annual holiday giveback campaign partners with Toys for Tots. Bring toys for extra drink tickets. Individuals or teams will be given a map of seven locations to put their skills to the test in activities like hopscotch, jump rope, toilet paper toss, corn hole and more. There is no specific route. It is all in your strategy on how to get completed the fastest. The winner is who finishes all seven and gets back to the finish line first. All ages can participate. A silent auction and 50/50 raffle will be held all day to help raise additional money for families in need. Cost is $30 in advance or $35 at the door.
Scottish Christmas Tea | Veterans of Foreign Wars, Panama City Beach
Join in some holiday cheer with a Scottish Christmas Tea and musical theatre journey through the Highlands, set to music by the amazing North of Argyll, Scottish fusion band. Tickets are available for $25 per person, $10 for children younger than 16. This is a fundraiser by the Celtic Heritage Alliance for the Panama City Beach Scottish Festival in March 2022.
Origin of Christmas: Family Event | WaterSound Origins
Attend this Christmas event on 30A that will include live music, an ornament creation station, bonfire, food trucks, snowball fights and more. Admission is free. Time is noon to 3 p.m.
Holiday Mocktail Workshop | The Grayt Room, Santa Rosa Beach
Learn how to make your favorite Holiday Mocktails in this workshop! Tickets are $25 a person, all ages welcome. Mixers, glassware and garnishes provided, does not include gratuity. Alcohol is not included, but guests 21 and older are welcome to BYOB to add to your mocktail. Drinks include Nutty Elf, Peppermint Bark and Mistletoe Margarita. Time is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and tickets are available here.
Baytowne Wednesday Night Concert Series Holiday Edition | Events Plaza Lawn, The Village of Baytowne Wharf
Get in the winter spirit with us and listen to some of your favorite holiday classics. Every Wednesday this December enjoy our Holiday edition of the Wednesday Night Concert Series. Each concert will feature a festive choreographed light show and visits with Santa. December 15th’s performance (6-8 p.m.) is the Matt McCarty Band. Cost is free.
Wednesday Night Concert Series | The Village of Baytowne Wharf
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.
Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play | Emerald Coast Theatre Company
Staged as a live radio play, this version of “Miracle on 34th Street” — adapted from the 1947 Lux Radio Broadcast by Lance Arthur Smith with original songs and arrangements by Jon Lorenz — is the classic Christmas cup of cheer we all look forward to during the holiday season. Performances are scheduled for 10 a.m., December 16, and two performances at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 19.
Holiday Cheer! Live Music, Sips & Santa! | The Hub 30A
Celebrate an evening of holiday cheer at The Hub 30A from 6 to 9 p.m. Live music from Casey Kearney, visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus and a wine tasting are planned.
The Grayt Santa Pub Crawl | Grayton Beach
The Grayt Santa Pub Crawl takes place December 18 featuring a bar crawl and good food and drink all afternoon and into the night in Grayton Beach. Crawl begins at 2 p.m. with check-in at Hurricane Oyster Bar. Cost is $60 per person to crawl with costumes required. Prizes will be awarded to the “most naughty Santa,” “most nice Santa” and “best group categories.”
December Holiday Scavenger Hunt | Bay County Public Library
Try out this fun scavenger hunt featuring various winter holidays! It will be set up in Youth Services throughout the month. There will be a prize for those who complete it. View more details here.
Ugly Sweater Party | Idyll Hounds Brewing Company Taproom, Santa Rosa Beach
Celebrate the season with your favorite ugly sweater and live music from 6 to 8 p.m. December 23.
Christmas Eve Dinner | Fish Out Of Water
From 5 to 9 p.m., partake in an a la carte menu, chef features and kid’s menu as well as live music.
Baytowne Countdown NYE | The Village of Baytowne Wharf
You don’t want to miss The Village of Baytowne Wharf’s end-of-the-year celebration. Ring in the New Year with an evening to remember, with two breathtaking fireworks displays at 8 pm & midnight. Enjoy our family-friendly evening from 6 to 8 p.m. with face painting, kids’ activities, and live music on the Baytowne LIVE stage from 6 to 7 p.m. Finish off the family-friendly evening with our first fireworks display at 8 p.m. The fun doesn’t stop there! Dance the night away with live music from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m., featured on the Events Plaza Stage End the night with a spectacular midnight fireworks show. Event is 21 and older after 10 p.m.
New Year’s Eve at Fish Out Of Water | Santa Rosa Beach
Celebrate with special chef features, champagne, live music and special guests from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Ring in 2022 with a multicourse dinner, champagne, and a night full of memories. Enjoy live music, chef features and a photo booth to capture the evening’s festivities.
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 Eve dinner. The menu will feature items like a seafood trio, crab coconut bisque, seared duck breast and crab-stuffed sea bass. Seatings are available from 6 to 8:30 p.m. View more details at https://georgesatalysbeach.com/new-years-eve.
New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop | Pier Park, Panama City Beach
Momentum is building for The New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop at Pier Park. Say goodbye to 2021 and hello to 2022 with a great celebration on December 31 with a New Year’s Eve Fireworks Show in Panama City Beach. The fireworks will be held at three locations along Panama City Beach: Russell-Fields Pier, M.B. Miller Pier and Schooner’s.
NYE at Ara Rooftop Pool and Lounge at Hotel Effie
Bring in 2022 at Hotel Effie’s Ara Rooftop, the only rooftop pool and lounge on the Emerald Coast with friends and family while watching the spectacular Village of Baytowne Wharf New Year’s Eve firework show.
Pelican Plunge | The Boardwalk, Okaloosa Island
Add jumping in the frigid Gulf of Mexico to your list of New Year’s resolutions at the annual Pelican Plunge at The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island. The party continues at this New Year’s Day event, with a pre-party before the official splash. The post-plunge party has plenty of coffee, cocoa, and gumbo to keep you warm. Proceeds benefit The Emerald Coast Foundation, a supporter of children’s charities in northwest Florida.
January 14-17 | 30A Songwriters Festival
February 10-13 | Rosemary Beach Girls Getaway
February 12-13 | Valentine Tour of Homes – South Walton
February 18-20 | Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K
February 23-27 | 30A Wine Festival
April 22-24 | 17th Annual Destin Charity Wine Auction
Last updated: November 30, 2021