Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 concerns, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice. Please check with event organizers directly for the latest updates (view the "External Resources" section below).
Even without snow, Jacksonville knows how to create Christmas mood and a cozy festive atmosphere. Discover the city's most spectacular annual holiday lights on display and have yourself the merriest little Christmas before ringing in the new year.
Jacksonville Light Boat Parade (November 28, 2020)
If you come in late November, witness Jacksonville's favorite holiday tradition returning to downtown every Thanksgiving weekend. The Light Boat Parade has been lighting up St. Johns River for decades. Locals and out-of-towners alike gather at Riverfront Plaza and Friendship Fountain to watch the fancy cruising vessels bundled up with a bright festive glow. The light extravaganza starts at 6 pm and culminates at 8 pm with a fabulous pyrotechnic show. There will be fireworks between Hyatt Regency Riverfront and DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. Another highlight of the show—"waterfalls" off the Main Street and Acosta bridges.
Jax Illuminations (November 20, 2020–January 2, 2021)
Having missed the parade, you can still find various Christmas light displays throughout early January in the River City's eastern outskirts. Discover lights galore at Jax Illuminations drive-thru at the Morocco Shrine Center. A mile-long course features a million dazzling LED lights synchronized to your favorite Christmas classics. The drive-thru is open Sunday to Thursday, 6 pm through 9:30 pm, as well as Friday and Saturday through 10:30 pm. Admission starts at $20–25 per car, depending on the date.
Blackhawk Bluff Christmas Display at Girvin Road
You won't have to pay for the Christmas wonderland at Girvin Road off of Atlantic Blvd. A local community, called Blackhawk Bluff, offers a magical drive-thru to be enjoyed by everyone for free. Residents decorate their neighborhood with intricate strings of lights, shining stars, and iridescent balls hanging all around. This place becomes a real magnet to thousands during the season. Be prepared to wait in lines, as Girvin Road might be packed with cars. Just turn on your favorite holiday tunes, and absorb the magical surroundings.
Jacksonville Beach Deck The Chairs (November 21, 2020–January 1, 2021)
Another beloved and also free light show takes place in Jacksonville Beach near the Seawalk Pavilion. The display is right beside the Atlantic Ocean, about 20 miles (32 km) east of downtown Jacksonville. The main highlight of the celebration is dozens of American Red Cross lifeguard chairs ornamented with festive lights in various designs. Visitors are welcome to see the lights nightly from 5 pm to 1 am. Also, special shows run on weekends at 6 pm, 7 pm, 8 pm, and 9 pm.
Please note that Jacksonville's events and activities are subject to change due to inclement weather, which can shift unexpectedly on the Atlantic coast.