Northwest Florida Holiday Events December 2014 Calendar

It's time for holiday events in Northwest Florida, so get out the hot chocolate and pretend there's snow. We've got the scoop on activities all around the region, from tree lightings to shopping.

One of the great things about living on the gulf coast is the variety of ways we celebrate. Our history includes fishing and boating as well as logging and agriculture. Match that with Native American roots, Spanish heritage and deep South traditions and you have a mix that allows for many creative ways to honor our past while we enjoy our present.

Of course, December events just must include Santa Clause who'll be making appearances all along the coast, arriving in everything from a fishing boat to a golf cart, and tree lightings and holiday light shows make the coast colorful and festive. Most towns offer free special events, parades, and holiday cheer, so jump right in and enjoy.

Oh, and if you're looking for that "Perfect Christmas Tree," why not visit a Northwest Florida Christmas Tree Farm this year and choose and cut your own.

Meanwhile, browse through this list of December holiday events in Northwest Florida and if you see something that isn’t correct, please Contact me. I'm only human and mistakes are easily made, so please let me know about it so I can fix it. Also you can add events that you know about in the comments box below.

Note: All times listed on the Northwest Florida Holiday Events Calendar are U.S. Central Time Zone unless otherwise indicated.

Holiday Gallery Night

Date: December 5, 2014
Hours: Saturday 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.  
Where: Downtown Milton, Santa Rosa County
Cost: Free
More Information: Call 850-981-1100 or visit Santa Rosa Arts & Culture Foundation

This old fashioned holiday event features a performance by a hand bell choir, a live Nativity scene, horse drawn carriage rides, artists, bagpipers, a children's choir, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas elf reading, and a lighted boat parade. Santa will be there too.

A Dickens of a Christmas

Date: December 5, 12, 19, 2014
Hours: 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Where: Downtown Panama City
Cost: Free Admission, May be a charge for some activities
More Information: Call 850-785-2554

Start your holidays in historic Downtown Panama City with this family-friendly Christmas celebration. The first three Fridays of the month will feature horse-drawn carriage rides, ice skating, kids activities, train rides, bounce houses, carol singers and more. 

Zoo Lights

Date: December 5-7, 12-24, 26-28, 2014
Hours: 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Where: Gulf Breeze Zoo, 5701 Gulf Breeze Pkwy., Gulf Breeze
Cost: Adults and Children $10 (includes zoo admission)
More Information: Call 850-932-2229 or visit Gulf Breeze Zoo

This annual holiday events display puts the Gulf Breeze Zoo in a different light. Enjoy a nocturnal view of the zoo with holiday flair. The animals will love it if you do.

10th Annual Christmas in Panacea

Date: December 6, 2014
Hours: 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)
Where: Downtown Panacea
Cost: Free
More Information: Call (850) 210-8831 or (850) 528-1527

The annual Christmas in Panacea includes the Panacea Market Place arts and crafts show, live entertainment, and a Boat On Trailer Parade. All kids activities are free and include bouncy houses, games, a story teller, and face painting. Visit the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab for free from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. and see Santa right after the parade.

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Full Moon Climb at St. George Island Lighthouse

Date: December 6, 2014
Hours: 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)
Where: St. George Island, Franklin County
Cost: $15 general public, $10 St. George Lighthouse Association Members
More Information: Call 850-927-7745 or visit St. George Island Lighthouse Association

Holiday events reach new heights on St. George Island when you climb to the top of the lighthouse for a spectacular view of the sunset and moonrise. Enjoy complimentary hors d'oeuvres and a sparkliing cider toast to the full moon. Additional climbers are welcome after sunset to view the full moon. Reservations are recommended.

Christmas Gala

Date: December 6, 2014
Hours: 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Where: Pensacola Lighthouse, 2081 Radford Blvd., Pensacola
Cost: Free
More Information: Call 850-393-1561 or visit Pensacola Lighthouse

Climb the Pensacola Lighthouse, visit with Santa Claus and munch on cookies, hot apple cider, and hot chocolate. No reservations required.

Lighted Boat Parade

Date: December 6, 2014
Hours: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Pensacola Beach
Cost: Free
More Information: Call 850-932-1500 or visit Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce

This nautical but nice boat parade floats from the Pensacola Beach Marina to the Boardwalk and officially delivers Santa Claus to the island.

28th Annual Living Christmas Story

Date: December 12-14, 2014
Hours: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Killearn United Methodist Church, 2800 Shamrock South, Tallahassee
Cost: Free
More Information: Call church office at 850-893-1116 or visit Living Christmas Story

Once again Killearn United Methodist Church presents the Living Christmas Story. Drive your own vehicle or take one of the church hayrides and travel through “Bethlehem” on the night Jesus was born. Six major scenes depict events described in the Bible surrounding Christ’s arrival, including The Annunciation, Shepherds in the Field, Herod’s Court, Mary and Joseph at the Inn, The Nativity, and The Empty Cross of the Risen Christ. Over 300 church members work each night to present this family favorite holiday production.

Pensacola Christmas Parade

Date: December 13, 2014
Hours: 5:15 p.m.
Where: Downtown Pensacola
Cost: Free

One of the biggest parades in the region, with bands from all over Escambia County and units coming from as far away as Houston and New Orleans, this night parade is a glittery holiday treat.

Holiday on the Harbor and Boat Parade of Lights

Date: December 13, 2014
Hours: Begins 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Where: The Harbor in Carrabelle, Franklin County
Cost: Free
More Information: Call 850-697-2585

Enjoy the glitter of thousands of lights on the harbor as the town of Carrabelle's annual Boat Parade of Lights gets underway just after sunset. Santa will be there too. 

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28th Annual Holiday on the Harbor Destin Lighted Boat Parade

Date: December 14, 2014
Hours: 6:00 p.m.
Where: The Harbor in Destin
Cost: Free to view ($25 entry fee for boats)
More Information: Call 850-837-6611 or visit Destin History and Fishing Museum

Once again the Destin History and Fishing Museum hosts the Holiday on the Harbor Destin Boat Parade, where everything from kayaks to commercial fishing boats promenade around the Destin Harbor showing off their holiday color. Festivities will be held that afternoon all along the Harbor and the Lighted Boat Parade and judging starts at 6:00 p.m. Boats will start lining up in the Harbor around 5:00 p.m. This family-fun evening finishes with fireworks over East Pass after the parade and is one of the region's most popular holiday events.

New Year's Eve Beach Ball Drop

Date: December 31, 2014
Hours: Family Events 5:30 8:00 p.m., Countdown Celebration 8:30 1:00 a.m.
Where: Pier Park, Panama City Beach
More Information: See Panama City Beach Events

Watching something drop slowly out of the sky as a transition to the new year is a tradition all over the world, so at the beach, why not drop a beach ball? This family-friendly celebration is a highlight of the region's holiday events and begins at 5:30 p.m. followed by grow-up entertainment at 8:30 p.m.

Pensacola Pelican Drop

Date: December 31, 2014
Hours: 3:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Where: Palafox and Government Streets, Downtown Pensacola
Cost: Free
More Information: Call 850-434-5371 or visit the Pensacola Pelican Drop

One of the most popular holiday events with a beach flair is the Pensacola Pelican Drop. Over 50,000 people will flock to downtown Pensacola to celebrate the new year with the landing of a giant Pelican (14 feet tall, with a 20-foot wingspan). Children's activities run from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and will feature the special kids' countdown at 8 p.m. with confetti and the "bubble stomp." Live performances on three outdoor stages provide ongoing entertainment throughout the evening and at midnight, the Pelican descends amidst fireworks and more confetti.

America's State Parks First Day Hikes

Date: January 1, 2015
Hours: 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. - Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park                           4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. - St. Andrews State Park                  

Where:  Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park, 10 miles southwest of Pensacola on County Road 293                                                                                                  St. Andrews State Park, 3 miles east of Panama City Beach

Cost: Standard Park Fees at Tarkiln, Free at St. Andrews                               More Information: Call 850-492-1595 Tarkiln Bayou                                                                 Call 850-233-5164 St. Andrews

Start the year off right with a park ranger-led hike through one of the region's beautiful state parks. The Tarkiln Bayou Trail is a leisurely 1.3 miles and is both wheelchair and stroller accessible.  Heron Pond Trail at St. Andrews State Park is a half-mile long and moderately difficult. Participants should bring drinking water, close-toed shoes, a hat, camera, binoculars, sunscreen and a picnic lunch. Meet at the South Bridge Picnic Area. First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family.

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