Not everyone dreams of a snowy Christmas. In fact, a good number of Canadians shirk the white stuff in lieu of white sand. If you'd rather exchange the snow shovel for a pail and shovel this holiday, there's a beach chair in Pensacola with your name on it. Concerned that Christmas in the tropics won't feel traditional enough? You'll have to live with the concession of gifts piled high under a palm tree, but we promise the season is well greeted. A full calendar of community events fuel the festivities. Snap photos of Santa parachuting onto the beach, walk amongst the elves in one of the town’s two Christmas parades, and listen to the sounds of the season with Christmas concerts.  Take in the classic Nutcracker ballet, ice hockey (yes - ice hockey!) or the famous Snowball Derby. So, are you ready to soak up a winter wonderland without the frigid temperatures?  Us too. 

How to use this activity guide

Weekends are jam-packed with original island-style, historic and jolly holiday activities. As such, you'll find them listed below by date. PS - don't forget to pack an ugly Christmas sweater. 

November 27

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Mark your kids' calendars, they're going to be so excited by the holiday hubbub kicking off the day after American Thanksgiving. It's an afternoon and evening brimming with holiday activities. 

Snow Princess Tea

If you ‘re looking for a one-of-a-kind experience for your child, a must attend event is the Snow Princess Tea.

Time: 3 p.m. 
Location: Pensacola Cultural Center. 400 S Jefferson Street, Pensacola 32502


Elf Parade and Lighting of the Greens

Following the tea, the annual “Elf Parade and Lighting of the Greens” will spread cheer throughout downtown Pensacola.  Anyone is invited to participate. Hundreds of children dressed as elves, adults and holiday characters meet Santa Claus at the Escambia County Courthouse for the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree and a pouring down of Southern-made snow.

Time: 4:30 p.m. 
Location: 330 S Jefferson St, Pensacola, FL 32502


Winterfest trolley tours and carriage rides

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Pensacola Winterfest begins operating its old-fashioned trolleys and intimate carriages throughout downtown Pensacola.  The lively, music-filled Christmas trolley tours provide family-friendly entertainment and the chance to get close to Santa Claus, Frosty, and other classic Christmas characters.

 Winterfest website:


December 4-6

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Pensacola Symphony’s “Home for the Holidays”

The Symphony joins forces with Broadway star and Pensacola native Ashley Brown for a melodious Christmas concert. 

Date: Friday, December 4
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Saenger Theatre, 22 E Intendencia St, Pensacola 32502


Pensacola Beach Lighted Boat Parade

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Lights twinkle brightly at this beautiful, nighttime Pensacola Beach Lighted Boat Parade. The nautical parade, from Pensacola Beach Marina to Boardwalk, officially delivers Santa Claus to the island.

Date: Saturday, Dec. 5
Time: 6 p.m. 
WebsiteClick here

Surfing Santa Parade

Watch Santa oversee delightfully decorated whimsical floats as they wind their way down the island's main street. Sharing in the holiday joy and catch some spirit. 

Date: Sunday, Dec. 6
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Via de Luna

Snowball Derby

derby(c) Visit PensacolaSports fans won’t want to miss the nationally known Snowball Derby automobile races that attract big names in short track racing and even top series NASCAR drivers.  Preliminary races and car contests lead up to the big event, the Snowball Derby, on Sunday, Dec. 6.

Dates: December 2-6
see schedule here
Location: 7451 Pine Forest Rd. Pensacola FL 32526

Historic Pensacola Lighthouse Christmas gala

The Historic Pensacola Lighthouse will officially light “Pensacola’s tallest Christmas tree” (the lighthouse itself) during its Christmas Gala, featuring Santa Claus and hot cider on

Date: Saturday, Dec. 5
Time: 6 to 9 p.m.
Location: 2081 Radford Blvd, Pensacola 32508

Pensacola Ice Flyers

What Canadians love at home, they love abroad too. The Pensacola Ice Flyers are the local Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) team. Oh, and as 2013 and 2014 champions they dominate the division. Come watch the competition heat up.

Date: December 4 (vs Macon Mayhem) and Dec. 5 ( vs Fayetteville Antz)
Time: 7:05 p.m. 
Location: Pensacola Civic Center. 201 East Gregory Street Pensacola 32502

Ice Hockey and Ice Zone ice skating

The Ice Flyers are Pensacola’s professional hockey team and winners of the 2013 and 2014 President’s Cup.  This weekend’s home game on Saturday, Dec. 5, takes place at the Pensacola Bay Center at 7:05 p.m. with public ice skating sessions following.


Victorian Holiday Traditions Tours

pensacola victorian tour(c) Visit PensacolaHistory buffs can tour a Victorian home decorated for the holidays and learn more about life in the Victorian era and how it influenced modern holiday traditions.

Date: - December 19
Time: Tuesdays - Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

December 11-13

Christmas on the Coast holiday concert

The famous Pensacola Children’s Chorus presents Christmas on the Coast, one of Northwest Florida's most popular holiday musical events, featuring pint size singers with perfect pitch.

Dates: December 11, 12 and 13
Time: TBD
Location: TBD


Trainfest Kickoff

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Beginning at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Santa Claus, his elves and a team of carolers will take over the Pensacola Museum of Art to kickoff Trainfest, a week-long display of working model trains, whistles, smoke and sirens amidst different backdrops including an Indian village and city complex, with a working mini drive-in movie. 

Date: December 11-19
Time: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m
Location: Pensacola Museum of Art, 407 S Jefferson St, Pensacola 32502


Santa Drop

Santa parachutes onto the beach during the annual Santa Drop at the Flora Bama in Perdido Key, kicking off a daylong holiday celebration, including Christmas carols for the kids.

Date: December 12
Time: 3 p.m.
Location: 17401 Perdido Key Dr, Perdido Key 32507

33rd Annual Pensacola Christmas Parade

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The Pensacola Christmas Parade brings the holiday sights and sounds through historic downtown Pensacola.  The parade draws more than 50,000 people each year and features 90 entries, including the Blue Angels and bands from across the Southeast.  

Date: Saturday, December 12 
Time: 5:15 p.m.

Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl

The Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl on Pensacola Beach is a fun way to celebrate and flaunt those “spirited” Christmas sweaters you might normally not want to be seen in.  

Date: Sunday, December 13


Winterfest tours continue along with the Victorian Holiday Traditions.

December 18-21

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Gallery Night

Take advantage of last minute, unique Christmas shopping opportunities the weekend leading up to Christmas during downtown Pensacola’s Gallery Night.  Browse the beautiful boutiques on Palafox Street that offer everything from fine wines, olive oils, coffees, bath products, unique clothing, and designer jewelry.


The Nutcracker

Ballet Pensacola’s beautiful performances of The Nutcracker tells the traditional story of Clara and her dream of the Nutcracker Prince.  

Dates: Friday, Dec. 18 through Sunday, Dec. 20
Location: Saenger Theatre, 22 E Intendencia St, Pensacola 32502


The Santa Express-special Winterfest tour

Take a trip with Santa through downtown Pensacola on an old-fashioned trolley.  This 30-minute tour is especially great for young children and out of town guests, and is only offered in late December.

Dates: December 15, 18, 22 & 24

“A Christmas Carol”

The traveling musical stops in at Pensacola’s Saenger Theatre the week of Christmas. It’s the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge and all of the characters from Dickens’ 1843 novel complete with timeless Christmas carols. 

Date: Monday, December 21
Time: 7:30 p.m.  
Location: Saenger Theatre, 22 E Intendencia St, Pensacola 32502

Pensacola Ice Flyers

What Canadians love at home, they love abroad too. The Pensacola Ice Flyers are the local Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) team. Oh, and as 2013 and 2014 champions they dominate the division. Come watch the competition heat up.

Date: December 18 (vs Louisiana IceGators)
Time: 7:05 p.m. 
Location: Pensacola Civic Center. 201 East Gregory Street Pensacola 32502

Trainfest, Winterfest tours continue, along with the Victorian Holiday Traditions.


Ready to trade snow for sand?  
Let Visit Pensacola lend a hand planning your holiday
Click here to see an official visitor's guide

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