Sunny South Beach may not be what we think of as a postcard-perfect Christmas destination, but it more than delivers in the holiday spirit department. Think of it as the North Pole, but warmer and quite a bit hipper. You can enjoy brilliant, dazzling displays of lights, holiday parades, and events, as well as plenty of opportunities to get your Christmas in Miami shopping done. Our list of the best things to do in Miami to celebrate Christmas includes:
- Santa’s Enchanted Forest
- Bayfront Park Christmas Tree
- Miami City Ballet’s The Nutcracker
- Zoo Lights Miami
- Tri-Rail Winter Wonderland
- Luminosa at Jungle Island
- Holiday Evening at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
- Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s NightGarden
- Pinecrest Garden’s Nights of Lights
- Tastes of Miami Festival at the Miami Seaquarium
- And more!
Santa’s Enchanted ForestOctober 31, 2019 – January 5, 2020 Billed as the world’s largest holiday theme park, Santa’s Enchanted Forest is the place to start off your Christmastime celebrations. It’s a free carnival with over 100 rides, shows, games, and attractions that are sure to delight the whole family, young and old. Now in its 37th year, this Christmas extravaganza is one of our favorite festive things to do in Miami.
Bayfront Park Christmas TreeSure, we’ve all been accustomed to impassive, giant pine trees bedecked for the holidays with hundreds upon hundreds of lights and ornaments. But have you ever seen an artificial tree quite so big and beautiful? The Bayfront Park Christmas Tree is lit up the day after Thanksgiving each year and shines brightly throughout the holiday season. It’s accompanied by stellar light shows and other festive performances.
Miami City Ballet’s The NutcrackerDecember 13 – 29, 2019 A dazzlingly glorious production of George Balanchine’s Christmas classic, this performance of The Nutcracker is a beautiful and moving experience for everyone. Soak up the gorgeous, ornately detailed sets alongside the timeless music of Tchaikovsky as you participate in this perennial holiday tradition.
Zoo Lights at Zoo MiamiNovember 29 – December 29, 2019 (select dates) Visit Zoo Miami to be a part of one of the best Christmas traditions in the entire city. Zoo Lights offers a plethora of brilliantly illuminated light sculptures alongside much more—expect everything from festive animal encounters and Santa’s River Boat Rides to holiday shopping at the Zoo Miami gift shop. There are also plenty of optional upgrades that include free cookies and cocoa and photo packages.
Tri-Rail Winter WonderlandDecember 14, 2019 Beginning at 11 am, the annual Tri-Rail winter celebration is a delightful family event that encompasses just about every holiday tradition you could imagine. Kids can enjoy face-painting, cookie decorating, coloring book activities, bouncy houses, a “snow” playground, and so much more. You can also expect holiday carolers alongside food and drink for purchase. So pop by Miami’s Tri-Rail Airport train station to make a whole afternoon of it!
Luminosa at Jungle IslandCelebrate the Chinese Lantern Festival this year at Jungle Island for an experience that’s both rare and special in Miami. Journey through this magical animal park after dark to enjoy the four different themed areas that explore a stunning illuminated depiction of Chinese culture and Miami cityscapes. For example, you’ll see light sculptures of various plants and animals alongside installations that evoke “Miami Style.” It’s not confined to the Christmas season, either, so you can enjoy it well after the holidays.
Holiday Evening at Vizcaya Museum & GardensDecember 18, 2019 The gorgeous historic Vizcaya Museum goes all out for this unique holiday celebration. The carefully manicured grounds will be elaborately decorated just as it would have been a hundred years ago during the time James Deering lived at the estate. You can also visit the Main House (rarely open at night) and enjoy art-making activities alongside guided tours of the gardens.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s NightGardenNovember 23, 2019 – January 6, 2020 (select dates) Each winter, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden hosts an exciting festive holiday event for the whole family. Visitors will appreciate the unique experience of walking through tropical plants in the middle of December while surrounded by holiday décor and serenaded with Christmas music. This illuminated fantasyland is a must-visit for everyone spending Christmastime in Miami—where else can you marvel at holographic butterflies and orchids while getting sage advice from the Wise Talking Tree?
Pinecrest Garden’s Nights of LightsDecember 13, 2019 – January 1, 2020 A lovely little Christmas celebration at another one of South Florida’s beloved botanical institutions, the Nights of Lights see Pinecrest Gardens magically transformed into a winter wonderland. Families can meet Santa, enjoy Christmas carols and festive storytelling, gawk as thousands of glittering lights, and snack on yummy festive treats.
Tastes of Miami Festival at the Miami SeaquariumDecember 26 – 30, 2019 Enjoy the flavor of the international culture that makes Miami so special at this charming event. The Tastes of Miami festival is held at the Miami Seaquarium to invite visitors to enjoy a whole new side of this important marine rescue center and animal park. Celebrate Miami’s role as “the crossroads of the Americas” and savor Latin and Caribbean flair in the form of music and food. There will also be a kid’s play area for the little ones.
More Festive Things to Do in Miami
- View the beautiful Christmas tree at the historic Deering Estate
- Take the kids to A Christmas Carol, The Musical in Coral Gables
- Meet Santa at the Time Out Market Miami
- Get some holiday shopping done at Bayside Marketplace
- Enjoy a holiday show at the Adrienne Arsht Center
- Be a part of the Christmas Tree lighting party at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex
- Trees can also be found in Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, North Miami, and more