Miami Miami Moving Guide

Holidays in Miami: Miami Holiday Events & Celebrations

Christmas lights in Miami

Holidays in Miami

It's the holiday season in Miami. You won't be decking the halls with boughs of holly, unless you mean dahoon holly, a native tree that has red blooms but is rarely used for holiday décor. But Miami definitely decks the halls and a lot of other things as well.

Before you go all Bing Crosby and start dreaming of a "White Christmas," know that Christmas in Miami has its own special charms, even if they don't include chestnuts roasting on an open fire and Jack Frost nipping at your nose. In fact, the absence of frost is one of the things that makes the holiday season in Miami so special.

See Christmas Lights in Miami

Look for palm trees decked to the nines and Christmas lights on eaves, bushes, manatee mailboxes and other places you may not have thought to decorate before – like boats.

One of the most interesting places to see Miami Christmas lights is during a holiday boat parade. The big event is the Winterfest Boat Parade in Fort Lauderdale, but there are also several others, including one past Bayfront Park in downtown Miami.

You might even see a little snow, though it won't be falling unless you're at the Dolphin Mall.

Snow is trucked in for holiday events on behalf of children who have never seen the cold, wet stuff in real life. Here they get the best of both worlds – they can play in the snow without needing to bundle up in winter gear. Dolphin Mall also puts on nightly "snow shows" during the season, which you can attend in short sleeves.

Don't look for Christmas sweaters here, because no one in Miami has one. All we know about ugly Christmas sweaters is what we see on TV. You are much more likely to need a little black dress and heels to take you through the holidays in Miami.

People do occasionally light up the fireplace (yes, there are fireplaces in Miami), but they sometimes have to turn on the air conditioning at the same time.

Miami Outdoor Holiday Parties and Celebrations

The Miami holidays provide great opportunities for outdoor parties and barbecues. Most years you can have Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve gatherings outside. Some people leave Christmas lights on their patios and in their yards year-round for parties.

You may want to consider replacing holiday traditions such as playing board games, engaging in charades and arguing politics with the relatives with going to the beach, biking, boating and visiting outdoor attractions such as the Florida Everglades.

In Hispanic cultures, the big celebration is Noche Buena (literally, Good Night), Christmas Eve. Traditionalists roast a pig outside in a "caja China," while the more urban relatives buy a pig already roasted or roast up a pork butt from the supermarket in the oven. Side dishes are likely to include rice and beans, plantains and flan.

Miami's season of winter activities steps into high gear in December, with Art Basel the first of numerous outdoor parties, festivals, concerts, movies and other events that will continue until the weather gets unbearably hot again in spring. Among those events is the Orange Bowl, televised nationwide. And, of course, we drop the big orange on New Year's Eve.

Special Holiday Events in Miami

Miami holiday events include unique Christmas traditions and attractions. Among them is Miami's Santa's Enchanted Forest, the world's largest holiday theme park, which has the region's largest Christmas tree, more than 100 rides and has opened for the holiday season since 1984. Zoo Miami puts on an annual Zoo Lights events, and Pinecrest Gardens also has Nights of Lights. The Miami City Ballet performs "The Nutcracker," and the New World Symphony broadcasts its holiday concert on the wall outside so music lovers can picnic and watch for free. The Gold Coast Railroad Museum puts on a Polar Express holiday train event, and Jungle Island and the Miami Seaquarium often do special holiday exhibits and events.

You do need a contingency plan for your holiday outdoor parties just in case. There have been a few years when temperatures dipped into the 50s, and people dashed to their storage units in Miami to find sweaters, jackets, and socks. But, more often, they enjoy the winter holidays outdoors.

For Miamians, the holidays are not a time to curl up by the fire, but a time to go outside and enjoy the glory that is Florida in winter. The light has a special quality and most winter days are graced with cloudless blue skies. It is hard to describe the delicious quality of Miami's winter air – cool, but not too cool, and humid, but not too humid – it caresses you and reminds you why you moved to Miami.


About the author

Teresa Mears

Teresa Mears is a website publisher, writer, blogger and editor in South Florida who was raised to be frugal. After working as a newspaper reporter and editor, she moved her career online. In addition to running Miami On The Cheap, Florida On The Cheap, Fort Lauderdale On The Cheap, Palm Beach On The Cheap, Living on the Cheap and other websites, she writes about personal finance for U.S. News & World Report and other publications.

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