With miles of sugar-white sands as white as snow and rolling emerald waves, the holidays are wrapped in even more cheer each winter as the streets – and beaches – come alive for the season. This year, swap the snow for the sand for this year’s holiday celebrations.
All winter long, Pensacola offers ample experiences to choose from, like the annual First City Lighting Festival in mid-November that illuminates the walkable downtown square with 500,000 lights. The stunning spectacle is free to the public and creates a scene straight out of a storybook. Beginning Nov. 16, 2023, the local favorite Winterfest brings “snow” to Plaza Wonderland during a magical festival complete with holiday music, live performances, holiday treats and so much more. After the Thanksgiving holiday, visitors can venture to the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk to experience the annual Christmas tree lighting.
Beginning in November, visitors are invited to be on the lookout for the Holiday Cube in Downtown Pensacola. The perfect backdrop for a memorable photo op, the cube features different destination scenes inspired by the holiday season. Don’t forget to hashtag #ExperiencePcola!
And for those looking for a festive boozy beverage, don’t miss Nightmare on Palafox. The Halloween cocktail pop-up takes over The Old Hickory Whiskey Bar and The Kennedy each October with Halloween-themed cocktails, collectible decor, and more. Nightmare on Palafox is a must-see experience for visitors ages 21 years or older. Following Thanksgiving, the bars will transition into a Christmas-themed pop-up that will have guests returning for more festive fun.
Leading into December, annual immersive experiences also return to Pensacola like the Polar Express Tour where tap-dancing servers lead visitors through a trolley ride of the classic Christmas tale. In addition, The Cajun Christmas Experience is a great choice for those who like a little history with their Christmas cookies. During this open-air trolley ride, a guide shares stories of how they celebrate Christmas in the bayou as guests travel to Pensacola’s Historic Village.
On Dec. 2, 2023, the Lighted Boat Parade will illuminate the Santa Rosa Sound as guests watch from the shoreline and Pensacola Beach Boardwalk starting at 6:30 p.m. Then, on Dec. 3, 2023, visitors can venture out to Pensacola Beach to witness the Surfing Santa Beach Christmas Parade.
On Dec. 9, 2023, don’t miss a trip to the Flora-Bama to experience the Annual Santa Drop, where Santa Claus will skydive onto the snowy-white sandy beach on Perdido Key. Visitors are encouraged to keep their eyes on the skies as Santa Claus prepares to make his magical entrance at 12:30 p.m. in this free-to-the-public event.