Top 10 Family Holiday Favorite Events in South Florida

Holiday time is magical in South Florida for locals and tourists alike. Having always lived in South Florida I’m regularly asked about my favorite holiday events for kids by long distance friends traveling South for the holidays.

So, I’m sharing my top 10 list of holiday favorites that I’ve given to numerous friends to you in hopes you will make the most of your visit to my beautiful sunny home this holiday season.

  1. The Breakers Hotel ‐ Whether you need a getaway for shopping and relaxation, an activity‐filled Christmas vacation with family or a holiday celebration in paradise, the luxurious Breakers Palm Beach has it all. The hotel sparkles with more than 160,000 lights during the holidays, but it’s The Breakers dining that will truly dazzle you, from Holiday Tea at HMF to Christmas dinner. Check out a full list of their events on their site.breaker_hotel
  2. Tradewinds Park Holiday Fantasy of Lights Another local favorite if you are staying between Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, it is a short drive away. Open nightly from 6‐10pm from November 20 to January 2, even on Christmas day. You drive through this spectacular 3 mile long holiday lighting event. Great for the kids and short enough you can pass by and enjoy it after dinner.
  3. Santa’s Enchanted Forest ‐ Santa’s Enchanted Forest is the “World’s Largest Holiday Theme Park featuring over 100 rides, shows, games and attractions. Hundreds of thousands of people young and old visit each year to experience the magic of South Florida’s tallest Christmas tree, millions of dazzling lights, hand‐crafted themed displays, festive Christmas music and delicious foods from around the world. There is something for everyone to enjoy every holiday season at Santa’s Enchanted Forest.” The park is open every day after Opening Night, holidays included, from 5:00 p.m. to midnight during the season of October 29, 2015 to January 3, 2016.santa
  4. Polar Express Train Ride – The Gold Coast Railroad Museum features Polar Express train rides beginning November 27th through December 27th on select nights. What a fun family event if you are local or in town for the holidays! “Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers will relive the magic of the story as they are whisked away on THE POLAR EXPRESS. Once onboard, hot chocolate and treats are served as passengers read along with the classic children’s book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg. Santa and his helpers greet passengers at the North Pole and then board the train, where each child is given the first gift of Christmas – a silver sleigh bell.” Visit for more details and look for the full feature review of the train ride on WTK soon! And while you are there check out Knaus Berry Farm close by for seasonal homemade treats, a tradition since the 1950’s.
  5. Boca Resort’s Very Pink Boca Holiday – The Boca Raton Resort & Club has your holidays covered with its’ Very Pink Boca Holiday. Starting with their annual tree lighting over Thanksgiving weekend, to a very fabulous Christmas dinner, all the way into the New Year with the “Rock the Block” NYE event, there is something for everyone! Get all of the holiday details on their site.boca_raton
  6. Enjoy the wild side of the holidays at Zoo Lights at Zoo Miami and Wild Holidays at Jungle Island ‐ Zoo Miami will open at night for a special holiday event with more than half a million bright, animal shaped lights & dazzling tree lights! Zoo Lights runs from December 18th to the 30th (closed December 24 & 25) from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.  Jungle Island will host the Wild Holidays event from December 20th to January 2nd with special shows, animal parades and all kinds of holiday activities. Schedule a Jungle Island VIP tour to really take your family holidays to the wild side.
  7. Boat Parades – It is my favorite South Florida tradition, whether you have grown up going each year like me or you are visiting during the holidays and are lucky enough to see one. The Winterfest Boat Parade is on December 12th along the New River in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. Easily viewed by the walkway along the river just west of the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Blvd, or make a reservation at one of the waterfront restaurants that is on the route. Visit for more information. Boca Raton Boat Parade is December 19th from 6:30pm to 8 pm. It is a 6 1⁄2 mile route from the Boca/Delray Beach border south to Hillsboro Blvd Bridge. The Pompano Boat Parade, my local favorite, and one of the oldest in the nation, is on December 14th at 6pm. The route goes from Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach north to Hillsboro Blvd Bridge. Also check out the Miami Holiday Boat Parade at Bayfront Park.boat_parade
  8. The Nutcracker – Whereever you are in South Florida, get into the holiday spirit with an evening at The Nutcracker. The Miami City Ballet is performing The Nutcracker from December 11th through December 29th at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Or if you are in Miami you can see The Nutcracker at the Adrienne Arsht Theater from December 17th‐24th and in West Palm Beach at the Kravis Center from December 27th to 29th.
  9. Flamingo Gardens – If you are vacationing in Broward or Miami then check out Flamingo Gardens, located in West Broward. The grounds at Flamingo Gardens are decked out with thousands of lights and decorations while holiday music fills the air, with visits from Santa and special holiday light show set to music runs continuously on Saturday and Sunday nights, December 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 & 27, from 5pm‐8pm. “Gardens of Lights” is complimentary with daytime admission to Flamingo Gardens, or $5 per person for entry after 5pm to see the lights and light show only.
  10. Delray Beach’s 100 foot Christmas tree – This is another of my personal favorites and a family tradition. The holiday fun and tree‐mendous excitement begins with the lighting of our Famous 100‐foot Christmas tree at Old School Square. Kids can visit Santa, ride the holiday carousel, enjoy outdoor ice skating, listen to music, enjoy great food, and go inside the 100‐foot Christmas tree to see the animated elf scenes and more! The tree is illuminated on December 3rd and runs through the beginning of the New Year. Check out all of the holiday events on the website.100tree

Comment and share your favorite South Florida Holiday events! What would you add to my list?

Photo Credits: Santa’s Enchanted Forest, Sun

Michelle Donaghue
Michelle Donaghue

Michelle is the proud working mother of two children, a sweet 8 year old girl and an energetic 5 year old boy. Living in South Florida with her husband Todd, they are always looking for places to vacation well with their family. They love being on the water and beach activities, from boating to jet skiing to snorkeling. As the kids get older it is important to find the balance between working hard and showing their kids the experiences of traveling to new places. This summer they started a United States map project where they can track all of the places they have visited as a family.

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  1. December 1, 2015 / 5:29 pm

    For a state where sunshine always shines (at least they say that it does!), there are definitely a lot of ways to get into the Christmas spirit! My kids would love Santa’s Enchanted Forest but my first stop would be Breakers Hotel, it looks stunning!!!

  2. December 2, 2015 / 9:25 pm

    As a northerner, I think I would find it tough to spend Christmas in a warm climate. But all of these fun events look like they’d be worth trying out the holidays in the sunshine!

  3. December 4, 2015 / 4:58 pm

    This is a fabulous list! I am so excited to plan ahead for next year and catch some of them!