Celebrating Christmas in Fort Lauderdale

Celebrate Christmas in Fort Lauderdale and uncover the city’s best festive activities in our comprehensive guide.  Being local residents, we have spent Christmas in Ft Lauderdale many times!  Although we love going home to see family in Minnesota and California, spending Christmas in Ft Lauderdale, despite there being no presence of snow, can be a very festive time.  In this guide we share with you places you can see festivities that bring the Christmas spirit to you in our home town.

From the iconic Winterfest Boat Parade to the bustling Las Olas Boulevard lined with lights, we’ll share with you holiday markets, light displays, and Santa visits that define Fort Lauderdale’s Christmas allure. Whether you plan to visit or are a curious local, this article is your roadmap to a memorable seaside holiday season.

Table of Contents

Where to See Christmas Events in Ft Lauderdale

  • Las Olas Boulevard is the epicenter of Fort Lauderdale’s Christmas festivities, offering light displays, boutique shopping, and the chance to engage in caroling and street performances.
  • The Winterfest Boat Parade is a treasured local tradition featuring decorated vessels. Despite cancellation in 2023, excitement builds for next year’s event, which offers numerous viewing spots and an after-party.
  • Fort Lauderdale celebrates the holiday season with diverse community events including Santa meet-and-greet opportunities, enchanted Christmas markets with artisan crafts and food, and dazzling neighborhood light tours.

Yuletide Joy on Las Olas Boulevard

Holiday decorations on Las Olas Boulevard

Stroll down the enchanting Las Olas Boulevard, where the spirit of Christmas is alive in every twinkle of its dazzling light displays. Each year, this iconic street transforms into a yuletide wonderland, complete with:

  • Holiday cheer that’s palpable in the air
  • Unique boutiques offering perfect holiday shopping opportunities
  • Spontaneous caroling that fills the streets with festive songs

Las Olas is the heart of Fort Lauderdale’s Christmas celebrations.

It’s here that family memories are made and the joy of the season truly takes hold.

Seasonal Sips and Savory Delights

As the sun dips below the horizon, Las Olas invites you to indulge in holiday cheer with seasonal sips and savory delights that are sure to warm your soul. Imagine sipping on a Snowball Old Fashioned from the Miracle pop-up bar or a holiday Horchata at Lona Cocina, surrounded by the twinkling lights of festive decorations. Many local restaurants and bars, like American Social and Cuba Libre, offer special menus and happy hours, creating a culinary celebration of the season that’s as delicious as it is merry.

The food trucks and outdoor satellite bars further add to the vibrant holiday atmosphere, making every bite and sip a part of the Christmas magic.

Unique Gifts and Boutiques

In search of that perfect holiday gift? Las Olas Boulevard is a treasure trove of unique finds, including:

  • Exclusive artwork at Las Olas Capital Arts
  • Marine-inspired treasures at the Guy Harvey Gallery & Shop
  • Custom medications at Las Olas Chemist that make thoughtful and personalized presents

As you wander from boutique to boutique, the glow of dazzling light displays guides your way, making holiday shopping an experience all its own.

Caroling and Street Performances

The melody of classic holiday songs performed by street carolers mingles with the rhythm of live bands, turning Las Olas into a stage for unforgettable street performances. As you explore, the sound of music wraps around you like a warm embrace, inviting you to join in the celebration.

Keep an eye on community boards and online event calendars to catch the next caroling group or band performance and immerse yourself in the musical heartbeat of the holiday season.

The Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade

Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade

Nothing says Christmas in Fort Lauderdale like the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, a spectacular procession of vessels adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. This floating festival of lights is a beloved tradition that encapsulates the holiday spirit of South Florida, drawing locals and visitors alike to the shores of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Although the 2023 parade was preemptively canceled due to weather concerns, the community’s anticipation only grows stronger for the next event, which promises to be a shining example of holiday cheer.

Best Viewing Spots

For those eager to witness the Winterfest Boat Parade in all its glory, there are several options for viewing:

  1. Grandstand Viewing Area in Birch State Park: This is the best spot for views of the parade. It also offers food vendors, interactive games, and live entertainment for the whole family.
  2. Riverside Hotel’s balconies: For a more upscale experience, consider watching the parade from the balconies of the Riverside Hotel.
  3. Parade Viewing Area at Las Olas Intracoastal Promenade Park: This sponsored area offers a full festival atmosphere and is another great option for viewing the parade.

And for a more spontaneous view, the public spots along the Intracoastal Waterway in Pompano Beach provide a free, first-come, first-served option to enjoy the parade.

Join the Festivities

The Winterfest Boat Parade is more than just a spectacle—it’s a tradition that brings together the community to celebrate the joy of the season. Although we missed the parade this year, the spirit of the event remains undiminished. From the comfort of the VIP Viewing Party to the camaraderie among attendees, the parade’s festive spirit is infectious.

So, mark your calendars and join us next year as we celebrate this cherished highlight of the Fort Lauderdale holiday season. Let’s make the next parade a dazzling display of holiday cheer that reflects the vibrant heart of our community.

Parade After-Party

When the boats have docked and the lights begin to dim, the parade after-party is where the night truly comes to life. Join us for an evening filled with live entertainment, dancing, and a sumptuous sit-down dinner. It’s the perfect way to cap off a night of festive celebration, and the proceeds from this event, including the silent auction, benefit Winterfest—a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enriching the community.

Santa’s Enchanted Evenings

As the holiday cheer spreads throughout Fort Lauderdale, Santa Claus himself makes several enchanting appearances across the city. From traditional settings to innovative experiences, there’s a Santa visit for everyone.

Whether you’re capturing a classic holiday photo by the Middle River or enjoying a festive photo-op with your furry companions at Colohatchee Dog Park, Santa’s presence adds a touch of magic to the holiday season.

Snap a Photo with St. Nick

The opportunity to meet and snap a photo with Santa is a cherished holiday tradition, and in Fort Lauderdale, you’re spoiled for choice. Malls like Coral Square and The Galleria host jolly Santa meet-and-greets, while unique locations like the Historic Stranahan House Museum and the Symphony in Lights at Gulfstream Park offer special moments with St. Nick. Don’t miss out on the festive fun in Coral Springs as well!

Don’t miss out on these memories that will last a lifetime—check the schedules and make sure to reserve your spot for a magical encounter.

Breakfast with Santa Events

Imagine starting your day with the joy of breakfast alongside Santa. Fort Lauderdale offers a variety of delightful breakfast and brunch events with Santa that are perfect for families. From the waterfront views at Shooters Waterfront to the tropical ambiance of the Rainforest Cafe at Sawgrass Mills, these events provide a festive feast complete with photo opportunities and holiday activities. It’s a wonderful way to share the spirit of the season with loved ones and create cherished holiday memories.

Pet-Friendly Santa Visits

Our four-legged friends are part of the family too, and in Fort Lauderdale, they’re not forgotten during the holidays. Pet-friendly Santa visits are a highlight for pet owners, with opportunities to capture holiday memories at The Galleria and PetSmart locations.

For a good cause, join the Dogs, Beaches & Brews event at The Parrot Lounge and support Everglades Angels Dog Rescue with your donation. It’s a wonderful way to include your pets in the holiday festivities and give back to the community.

Christmas Markets and Craft Fairs

Fort Lauderdale’s Christmas markets and craft fairs are a festive wonderland, where the air is filled with the scent of mulled wine and the sound of holiday carols. These markets are not just about shopping; they’re about experiencing the joy of the season in a community setting.

With a variety of unique, handmade crafts and delicious food options, they’re the perfect place to find that one-of-a-kind gift while basking in the holiday spirit.

Artisan Crafts and Local Vendors

The Holiday Craft Show & Green Fair is just one example of the many events where you can support local artisans and vendors. These markets showcase handmade crafts that are as unique as the people who create them. From hand-painted ornaments to artisanal soaps, these crafts are more than just gifts; they’re a piece of Fort Lauderdale’s vibrant arts scene and a testament to the creativity of our community.

Holiday-Themed Food and Beverages

What’s a Christmas market without the mouthwatering taste of holiday-themed food and beverages? In Fort Lauderdale, you can indulge in sweet delights from Kilwins or enjoy a steaming cup of cocoa while browsing the stalls. These festive markets offer a variety of treats that are sure to satisfy your holiday cravings and add an extra layer of cheer to your market experience. Some of the delicious treats you can find include:

  • Gingerbread cookies
  • Candy canes
  • Hot apple cider
  • Roasted chestnuts
  • Peppermint bark
  • Eggnog
  • Fruitcake
  • Sugar plums

So make sure to come hungry and ready to indulge in the festive flavors of the season!

Workshops and DIY Crafts

Embrace your creative side with workshops and DIY crafts at Fort Lauderdale’s Christmas markets. Whether you’re making holiday cards at the Holiday Craft Show & Green Fair or participating in free DIY workshops at the Broward County Library’s Craftapalooza, there’s no shortage of opportunities to create holiday masterpieces.

It’s a fun way to engage with the community and make something special that you can cherish year after year.

Light Up the Night: Dazzling Light Displays

Dazzling light displays in Fort Lauderdale

When night falls in Fort Lauderdale, the city comes alive with a brilliant spectacle of lights. From the annual ‘Get Lit’ event at Esplanade Park to the Light Up Atlantic Village celebration, every corner of the city sparkles with holiday cheer. The dazzling displays are more than just decorations; they’re a beacon of joy that invites both young and old to bask in the glow of the season.

Don’t miss the chance to wander through these luminous landscapes and witness the city as it transforms into a luminescent wonderland.

Drive-Through Wonderland

One of the most enchanting experiences during the holiday season is the drive-through light display at the Bonnet House. Imagine a journey through a wonderland where every twist and turn brings a new array of twinkling lights and festive scenes to life, all from the comfort of your car.

This event, supported by local sponsors, is a delightful way for families to enjoy the splendor of the season together.

Beachside Illuminations

There’s something truly special about beachside illuminations, where the ocean’s horizon meets a sky lit by Christmas lights. In Fort Lauderdale, these beachfront displays combine the natural beauty of the sandy shores with the festive charm of the holidays. It’s a unique Floridian twist on the season that offers a memorable contrast to the typical snowy landscapes often associated with Christmas celebrations.

Neighborhood Light Tours

Fort Lauderdale’s neighborhoods take holiday decorating to new heights, with residents creating dazzling light displays that are a feast for the eyes. Embarking on a self-guided tour offers a glimpse into the festive spirit that runs deep in the community.

From extravagantly lit homes to intricately decorated lawns, these neighborhood displays are a testament to the joy and creativity of the season.

Family Fun: Holiday Edition

Family ice skating at Las Olas Oceanside Park

The holidays are a time for family, and in Fort Lauderdale, there’s no shortage of family-friendly activities to enjoy. Some of the events include:

  • Light Up Lauderdale
  • Light Up the Beach
  • Light Up the Galt
  • Light Up Sistrunk

The city offers a diverse array of events that cater to all ages. Whether you’re listening to live music or enjoying the activities, there’s something to delight everyone in the family.

These events create a sense of community and fill the holiday season with laughter and joy for families in Fort Lauderdale.

Ice Skating and Snow Experiences

Who says you can’t find winter wonderland experiences in sunny Fort Lauderdale? At Las Olas Oceanside Park, the synthetic ice rink brings the joy of ice skating to the beachfront. Themed skating nights such as Chill & Thrill Mondays and Family Skate with Santa Sundays offer fun-filled experiences for all who participate. And for those who enjoy a slower pace, there are special half-time skates for seniors and designated times for young children.

Children’s Workshops and Craft Corners

Craftapalooza and other children’s workshops offer a creative outlet for the little ones during the holiday season. These events are a place where imagination takes flight, and kids can engage in activities like decorating puzzles and making jewelry.

The Home Depot’s Kids Workshops and stores like JCPenney and Michaels also provide festive crafts, ensuring there’s always a place for children to express their creativity and make something special to take home.

Interactive Holiday Shows

Interactive holiday shows are a hallmark of Fort Lauderdale’s festive lineup, including those in nearby Hallandale Beach. The LOOP Fort Lauderdale Beach hosts events like Nutcracker & Sweets and Jingle & Flamingle, where families can enjoy performances and meet Santa.

Light Up the Beach turns the seaside into a stage for musical performances and children’s entertainment, while Light Up Sistrunk and Light Up Carter Park offer lively celebrations with tree lightings, live bands, and craft sessions.

New Year’s Eve in Fort Lauderdale

New Year's Eve fireworks on Fort Lauderdale beach

As the Christmas festivities wind down, Fort Lauderdale gears up for a New Year’s Eve celebration like no other. The city offers a plethora of events, including:

  • The family-friendly Orange Bowl Downtown Countdown
  • Elegant galas
  • Oceanfront extravaganzas
  • The Wharf’s Captain’s Ball
  • Fireworks at B Ocean Resort

There’s an event to suit every style and taste.

It’s a time to reflect on the year past and ring in the new with hope, joy, and the warmth of the Fort Lauderdale community.

Fireworks and Beach Celebrations

Nothing captures the excitement of New Year’s Eve quite like a fireworks display over the ocean. At B Ocean Resort’s Diamonds & Martinis Extravaganza, guests can enjoy a dinner buffet, live entertainment, and a midnight champagne toast to accompany the spectacular fireworks. It’s a beach celebration that combines the thrill of the countdown with the natural beauty of Fort Lauderdale’s coastline.

Elegant Galas and Dinner Parties

For those seeking a more upscale way to welcome the new year, Fort Lauderdale’s elegant galas and dinner parties offer a night of sophistication and celebration. Some options include:

  • The Speakeasy Cruise
  • The New Year’s Eve Yacht-Boat Party
  • B Ocean Resort
  • The Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach

These events at Deerfield Beach provide a unique waterfront experience, with dinner buffets, live music, and champagne.

It’s a chance to dress up, dance the night away, and celebrate life’s finer moments as the clock strikes 00 pm, just before midnight.

Family-Friendly Countdowns

For families with young children, Fort Lauderdale offers early evening New Year’s Eve events, ensuring that everyone can partake in the countdown fun. Some of these events include:

  • The Young at Art Museum hosts a Noon Year’s Eve party with a rock ‘n’ roll theme
  • The Downtown Countdown includes activities like bounce houses and a special kids’ countdown
  • Tarpon River Brewing’s Babies + Ballers party even features an early ball drop

These events, which serve as perfect family activities, allow families to celebrate together, creating lasting memories with every tick-tock towards the new year.

Culinary Delights: Christmas Dining Specials

The holidays are a feast for the senses, and in Fort Lauderdale, the culinary scene takes center stage with Christmas dining specials that tantalize the taste buds. Local restaurants offer multi-course menus featuring everything from prime rib to fresh seafood and artisanal desserts. With options to suit every dietary preference, these dining experiences are a highlight of the season, whether you’re enjoying a festive brunch or a gourmet Christmas dinner.

Christmas Eve and Day Dining

Christmas Eve and Day dining in Fort Lauderdale is an affair to remember, with restaurants offering a diverse array of cuisines to celebrate the occasion. From the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes to Caribbean flavors, there’s a special menu to match any holiday tradition or culinary preference.

It’s a time to gather with friends and family over delicious food and create new memories around the table.

Festive Brunch Locations

Brunch has a special place in the hearts of Fort Lauderdale locals, as well as those in nearby Pembroke Pines, during the holiday season. Some popular brunch hotspots include:

  • Lauderdale-By-The-Sea
  • The Riverside Market
  • Tap 42
  • Coconuts
  • YOLO

These places offer festive atmospheres complete with unlimited mimosas and a wide selection of breakfast favorites.

The homemade desserts and exceptional service make these brunch locations a must-visit for a memorable holiday meal.

Take-Home Holiday Menus

For those who prefer to celebrate at home, Fort Lauderdale’s take-home holiday menus provide the perfect solution. These prepared meals from local establishments allow you to enjoy a professionally crafted feast without the stress of cooking. From generous portion sizes to high-quality desserts, these take-home options are a convenient and delightful way to bring the restaurant experience into your own dining room.

Cultural Celebrations and Performances

Fort Lauderdale’s cultural tapestry is rich and diverse, and the holiday season showcases a range of celebrations and performances that reflect the city’s artistic spirit. From Broadway classics to holiday favorites, local talents like Christopher Calhoun bring the stage to life with performances that capture the essence of the season.

It’s a time when music and theater join the festivities, offering entertainment that resonates with the heart and soul of the community.

Hanukkah Happenings

The Festival of Lights shines bright in Fort Lauderdale, with Hanukkah celebrations that honor tradition and community. The Menorah Lighting Celebration at Las Olas Oceanside Park and the menorah car parade by Las Olas Chabad are just a few of the events that bring the holiday to life. These gatherings, complete with traditional music, treats, and a sense of togetherness, are open to all and free of charge, making them a cherished part of the city’s holiday offerings.

Kwanzaa Festivities

Kwanzaa is a time of reflection and celebration, and in Fort Lauderdale, the Kwanzaa Ujamaa event at Bass Park embodies these principles. Focusing on cooperative economics, the event features entertainment and activities that resonate with the holiday’s values.

Located in the heart of the city, this celebration is a reminder of the strength and beauty of community during the holiday season.

Theatrical and Musical Productions

The holiday season in Fort Lauderdale is elevated by the presence of theatrical and musical productions that add a touch of drama and melody to the festivities. The Broward Center Spotlights and other local talents contribute their artistry to the celebratory atmosphere, providing live performances that range from music and caroling to full-scale theater productions.

These events are a testament to the city’s commitment to the arts and the joy they bring to life during the holidays.

Volunteer and Give Back This Season

The holiday season is also a time for giving back, and Fort Lauderdale’s community comes together to support one another through volunteer work and charitable events. From toy drives to fundraising galas, there are countless opportunities to make a difference.

Whether you’re donating gifts to children in need or attending a benefit that supports local causes, each act of kindness contributes to the warmth and generosity that define the holidays in Fort Lauderdale.

Toy Drives and Charitable Events

Toy drives are a tangible way to spread holiday cheer to those less fortunate. By bringing unwrapped gifts to events like the Christmas Mingle & Toy Drive or participating in local charity initiatives, you can help fill the sleigh for children in need.

The joy that these gifts bring is immeasurable, and the collective effort of the community to organize and support these drives makes the season all the more meaningful.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering during the holidays is a rewarding experience that allows you to connect with the community and contribute to the spirit of the season. In Fort Lauderdale, there are numerous organizations and events that welcome volunteers, offering a range of activities such as:

  • Serving holiday meals
  • Wrapping gifts
  • Organizing toy drives
  • Assisting with holiday events
  • Visiting nursing homes or hospitals

By volunteering, you can make a positive impact and spread holiday cheer to those in need.

It’s a chance to give the gift of time and effort, which often proves to be the most valuable gift of all.

Fundraising Galas and Benefits

The glitz and glamour of fundraising galas and benefits take on a special significance during the holidays. Events like the Winterfest Black Tie Ball showcase Fort Lauderdale’s philanthropic heart, providing a festive environment where community leaders and residents can support charitable efforts. These galas are not just about dressing up and enjoying a night out; they’re about coming together to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

Whether you just moved here, or are thinking of visiting, have a look at our holiday guides so you can follow our motto and “live like a local.”

Summary

As we’ve journeyed through the myriad of holiday events, culinary experiences, and cultural celebrations in Fort Lauderdale, it’s clear that the city is a vibrant tapestry of joy, community, and festive spirit. From the Yuletide wonders of Las Olas Boulevard to the bright lights of the boat parade and the heartwarming moments with Santa, Fort Lauderdale truly embodies the magic of the season. As you make plans to visit or celebrate in this coastal paradise, remember to embrace the warmth of the community, the joy of giving, and the unforgettable memories that await during Christmas in Fort Lauderdale.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the weather like in Fort Lauderdale at Christmas?

The weather in Fort Lauderdale at Christmas is typically warm and humid, with minimal rainfall, making it a great escape from colder climates. It’s a perfect time to enjoy a warmer and drier climate while visiting this city on Florida’s southeastern coast.

Is Fort Lauderdale fun in December?

Yes, Fort Lauderdale is fun in December with warm temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a lively atmosphere with plenty of activities to keep you entertained. It’s the perfect escape from chilly winter weather up north.

Where can I find the best Christmas light displays in Fort Lauderdale?

You can find the best Christmas light displays in Fort Lauderdale at the ‘Get Lit’ event at Esplanade Park, the Light Up Atlantic Village celebration, and the neighborhood light tours offering a self-guided experience through festively decorated homes. Enjoy the festive displays!

Are there any unique Christmas shopping opportunities in Fort Lauderdale?

Yes, you can find unique Christmas gifts in Fort Lauderdale at Las Olas Boulevard’s boutique shops and Christmas markets, which offer artisan crafts and local vendors. Happy shopping!

Can I still enjoy ice skating in Fort Lauderdale’s warm climate?

Yes, you can still enjoy ice skating in Fort Lauderdale’s warm climate at Las Olas Oceanside Park with a synthetic ice rink and themed skating nights for all ages.

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About 

Tim Schmidt is a 20+ year Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer. A Fort Lauderdale-based "Digital Nomad," he enjoys traveling as much as possible with family and friends. AllWorld is his escape to document all of his adventures, including being a hardcore "foodie." He has property in Costa Rica and visits several times each year and is happy to offer his expert advice for planning your trip.

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