Every year we try and develop a new family Christmas tradition. The hope is that when my young children are adults, they’ll look back fondly on their Christmases past and thank us for being spectacular, fun parents. 

However, last year’s Christmas tradition became the sound of children fighting over everything - like the Elf Pet that came home with the Elf on the Shelf. Then, there was the fighting in between takes of the Christmas card picture, and how can I forget the fighting over what to wear to Christmas church? The fact that eventually they both donned smocked outfits, instead of their preferred attire of sweatpants and minion sweatshirts, was a win for me.

Another win for this busy mom during the holidays? Departing from our four walls -even if it’s just for a day or two - to find happiness, the Christmas spirit, and that new tradition! I’m looking for loud, large, wildly entertaining and magical to keep the kids’ attention spans entertained.  I found them in these annual events.

The Pensacola Christmas Parade

The Pensacola Christmas Parade is in its 34th year and never disappoints in making my kids’ eyes bright and merry while filling adults’ heart with joy.  Cheesy sounding?  Possibly. True? Yes. This year’s parade takes place at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10.

It’s a classic Christmas parade with its own unique Pensacola twist. What other Christmas parade begins with the world famous Blue Angels? Floats with beachy themes, marching bands and music fill the streets as revelers catch Christmas beads. A gorgeous Santa in his shiny red sled ends the parade, but not the evening. 

Parade-goers stroll down the decked out Palafox Street, named one of the ten best streets in America, sipping caffeinated concoctions, dining indoors and outdoors (because you can in Florida when the temp is 70 in December), and admiring the millions of dazzling holiday lights and store window decorations. For a moment you’re in a surreal Christmas wonderland, and everyone, including my fighting children, is happy.

Christmas on the Coast

Dec. 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 11 at 2:30 p.m.

One of the best Christmas concerts I’ve ever been to, these pint-sized singers with perfect pitch put on quite an impressive show at the Pensacola Saenger Theatre.  The famous Pensacola Children’s Chorus does not disappoint during this lively Christmas concert appropriate for kids two to 110.  

Santa Drop

Dec. 10, 10 a.m.

This is as unique as it gets when it comes to the arrival of the white-bearded man in the red suit. Watch Santa drop from an airplane and parachute safely onto the beach behind the Flora-Bama in Perdido Key, kicking off a daylong holiday celebration, including Christmas carols for the kids.

Winterfest Performance Tour

Friday-Sunday nights at 5 p.m. through Dec. 19

The lively, music-filled Christmas trolley tours provide family-friendly entertainment and the chance to get close to Santa Claus, Frosty and other classic Christmas characters, including the, the, the, THE GRINCH! Your kids will love singing along and hopefully enjoy posing for pictures on this ride.

Snowball Derby

Sunday, Dec. 4 at 1 p.m.

NASCAR drivers, picture opportunities, popcorn and race cars, painted in Christmas themes is what you’ll find at the world famous Snowball Derby. The Snowball Derby stock car races attract big names in short track racing and provides big fun and fab memories! 

Pensacola Beach Lighted Boat Parade

Saturday, Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m.

This is a beautiful evening event on the water. Sparkling vessels decked in holiday lights sail through the dark December sky and create a magical scene to launch the Christmas season. The boat parade ends at Pensacola Beach Boardwalk, with a dazzling display of fireworks.    

Surfing Santa Parade

Sunday, Dec. 4 at 2 p.m.

The Pensacola Beach Christmas parade combines this surfing hot spot with holiday splendor! You’ll see Santa and delightfully decorated floats wind their way down Via De Luna street as families play in the snowy-white sands.   

Pensacola’s laid-back vibe always provides me the holiday escape we all need each year. No matter where life takes me, a trip to its snowy white sands and the fabulous Christmas parade is a family holiday tradition I intend to keep forever!