Less than 30 days separate Thanksgiving and Christmas, and in Pensacola, more than two-dozen holiday events fill the calendar within that time frame. With Pensacola’s busy holiday schedule, it’s easy to make Christmas memories, celebrate and get in the spirit. Whether you’re here for a day, weekend, week or the entire month (not a bad idea, when monthly rates kick-in, the beaches become, oh, so affordable) there’s always aplenty holiday events to experience. No other city does Christmas quite like Pensacola with its unique mix of island-style events, singing trolleys, character parades, famous Children’s Chorus, historic holiday tours and ample opportunities to take in modern, Southern cuisine. The icing on your Christmas coffee cake: Your accommodations take you to some of the world’s most beautiful snowy white beaches where the gentle crash of the Gulf waves lull you to sleep like a baby. Not even dreams of Black Friday deals can wake you from a beach slumber. You’ll sleep, relax and enjoy the easiness of the events without crazy traffic, parking and high prices. Many of the holiday events are free! Here are my top picks to help you decide which ones to add to your itinerary: The Elf Parade On November 27, beginning at 4:30 p.m., dress in red and green, as an elf, Santa, or whatever Christmas character makes you happy and join in the parade for anyone and everyone that marches down Government Street to the County Courthouse where a winter wonderland awaits. The Snow Princess will arrive with Santa and light the city’s official Christmas tree, students sell hot chocolate and candies, southern snow pours down from the steps of the Old Courthouse, and stores and restaurants are lit with Christmas lights and open for business afterward. My kids loved being part of the elf parade, seeing Santa and playing in the “snow.” It really was a magical experience for them and a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season. Christmas on the Coast This production is unique to Pensacola and a spectacular way to let the sound of music stir your soul, and it will with the beautiful angelic voices from the all children’s chorus. But, it’s not just music—it’s the acting and pageantry that go into the production that make it a must experience concert for anyone. Christmas on the Coast takes place Dec. 11, 12 and 13. The Pensacola Christmas Parade Candy canes, red and green beads and Santa in his old-fashioned sleigh are just a few of the things you’ll see at the annual Christmas parade. The parade also includes many of Pensacola’s Mardi Gras krewes who dress out in their most-spirited Christmas attire and jump on their floats to wind 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. This year’s parade takes place on Saturday, Dec. 12, beginning at 5:15 p.m. Christmas shopping on Palafox Street Palafox Street runs straight through downtown and is now a hot bed of great boutique shops that offer everything from fine and unique jewelry, children’s clothes, modern art and fine men’s clothes to designer denim, lotions and soaps and even yoga gear. Shop windows are decorated for the holidays, as are the old-fashioned lampposts. Shop anytime you’re here or participate in the outdoor, later-hours event under the night stars during Gallery Night on December 18. Hockey and ice skating in the Ice Zone I cannot say enough about the fun and excitement you’ll find at Pensacola Ice Flyers games. The Ice Flyers are our professional hockey team and winners of the 2013 and 2014 President’s Cup. The games are filled with sports action and entertainment, and you can take part in a good old-fashioned winter pastime right after the games: ice-skating on the rink. The Ice Flyers play at home at the Pensacola Bay Center a few weeks during December, so check the schedule and get ready to lace up after the game. Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl What a hilarious, genius idea! Got a Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer sweater that lights up? Or one with a jolly Santa and dancing snowmen? The uglier the better. And, if you don’t have one, people who partake in the pub crawl make their own. It’s a sight to see and filled with laughs and Christmas cocktails on Pensacola Beach. No wonder it gets larger each year. The Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl is scheduled to take place On Sunday, Dec. 13, beginning at noon. The Nutcracker It’s a beautiful Christmas tradition we have in our family. We attend the Nutcracker ballet each year, performed by Ballet Pensacola, and hope our Christmas is filled with as much love and joy as the ballet’s ending! You can also purchase one-of-a-kind nutcrackers before and after the show, and we always look forward to growing our collection. Shows begin Friday, Dec. 18, through Sunday, Dec. 20, at the Saenger Theatre. Pensacola Pelican Drop - Countdown to 2016 Ring in the New Year in true Pensacola fashion at the Pensacola Pelican Drop Celebration! Count down to 2016 with 50,000 other revelers, as a 14-foot tall, lighted pelican with a 20-foot wingspan descends from its perch in the night sky. Throughout the evening the giant Pelican (14 feet tall, with a 20-foot wingspan) is perched above the celebration on a 100-foot platform at the intersection of Palafox and Government Streets. Although Palafox and Government Street will be closed to traffic, area restaurants will be open and additional vendors will be providing refreshments. Live performances on two outdoor stages provide ongoing entertainment throughout the evening. The popular kids' area will be expanded this year and will feature the special kids' countdown at 8 p.m. with confetti and the "bubble stomp." At the stroke of midnight, the whole city celebrates as the Pelican descends amidst fireworks and more confetti. If you are planning a visit, check out the deals we have posted. Hope to see you soon!
Make a list and check it twice to fit in the abundant holiday activities awaiting you in Pensacola
Posted on Thursday December 03, 2015 | Sara Daniel