Tis the Season
Here comes Santa Claus
Bass Pro Shops’ Santa’s Wonderland, A Classic Christmas, returns for its fifth year beginning with a special Preview Night from 5-8 p.m. Nov. 10. Local children's groups and choirs sing Christmas carols in front of the store and customers will be treated to hot chocolate and cookies. Santa arrives at 5 p.m. in a Tracker boat pulled by a Toyota Tundra truck, and will light up the outside of the store and a Christmas tree.
Sparkling Wines and Holiday Lights
The Sandestin Wine Festival begins the holiday season with Sparkling Wines and Holiday Lights from 4-7 p.m. Nov. 17. Stroll streets lined in twinkling lights and greenery and sip a variety of champagnes and taste featured menu items from various Village restaurants. Cost is $40/person. Must be 21 to participate. For more information and to purchase tickets visit sandestinwinefestival.com.
The Northwest Florida Ballet presents the magic of The Nutcracker at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17 and 2:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center. Tickets are $28/adults and $14/ children 12 and under. Call 664-7787 for tickets or additional information.
Holiday Lights in Concert
The Holiday Lights in Concert spectacular is back at Silver Sands Premium Outlets from 5-9 p.m. Nov. 18-Jan. 1. This visual presentation features a display of colorful lights synchronized to all-time favorite Christmas songs.
Festival of Trees
More than a dozen decorated Christmas trees will be on public display during the Festival of Trees from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily Nov. 20-Dec. 25 at Grand Park in Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. The kick-off begins at 5 p.m. Nov. 20 as all the trees are turned on. Non-profit organizations vie to win cash prizes for Best of Show and People’s Choice awards during the contest. Vote once a day at the Visitor Services Kiosk at Grand Park. At 2 p.m. Dec. 15, contest winners will be announced with hot chocolate and cookies served.
Santa Claus Weekend
Bring in the holidays Nov. 23 and 24 at Baytowne Wharf. The Here Comes Santa Claus Weekend includes the annual Village tree lighting, a holiday movie, and, a visit from Santa Claus.
• Nov. 23: A family movie, “Arthur Christmas,” under the stars at 7 p.m. • Nov. 24: Welcome Santa as he lights the Village Christmas Tree at 6 p.m. followed by the choreographed light show, 12 Nights of Lights, and fireworks over the lagoon.
Turn on the Town
The Merchants of Seaside welcome the holidays with events for the entire family on Nov. 23 and 24. Grab your blankets and head down to the Seaside Amphitheater at 7 p.m. Nov. 23 for a holiday edition of Central Square Cinema featuring a Christmas comedy on the lawn.
The annual South Walton Holiday Parade begins at 4 p.m. Nov. 24 in front of Seagrove Plaza and continues down Scenic Highway 30A with holiday floats. The parade ends in Seaside as Santa arrives. Parade participants should meet at the Seagrove Plaza at Garrett Realty no later than 3:15 p.m. with decorated entries.
The celebration continues with Turn on the Town at 5 p.m. as Santa Claus and the kids sing and light the Christmas tree. Take photos with Santa from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
The 23rd annual Hometown Christmas will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 24 — rain or shine — at the Walton County Fairgrounds on Hwy. 83N. The annual shopping event features activities for children, food, entertainment and hundreds of unique, one-of-a-kind gifts for every taste. For booth space reservations or general information, call 892-7830.
A Coastal Christmas
The City of Fort Walton Beach and the FWB Chamber have joined to provide a festive holiday beginning at 4 p.m. Nov. 29 at the Fort Walton Beach Landing, 139 Brooks Street. Santa will arrive by fire truck for pictures with all the good boys and girls and the City of Fort Walton Beach Dance Department will be on stage with their presentation of “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” plus local church and high school choirs.
There will be face painting provided by Fantasea Faces and the City Cares Fundraising Team’s Concession area will have hot chocolate, cookies, popcorn, hot dogs and soft drinks available for purchase.
Local businesses are invited to sponsor and decorate a Christmas tree for the Coastal Christmas Festival of Trees. Tree sponsorships are $75/Chamber members; and $100/non-Chamber members per 8 foot live tree, which includes a stand, a sponsorship sign, and a spot at the Landing. Organizations are responsible for decorating their own trees. Decorated trees will be sold, via silent auction bids, to benefit their selected non-profit organizations.
The Holiday Beach Parade returns with two size divisions and prizes will be awarded. Entry forms can be found at fwbchamber.org. There is a $35 entry fee per vessel. Call 833-9575 for more information.
Don’t miss the arrival of Santa at Silver Sands from 12-2 p.m. Dec. 1. Children are invited to greet Santa as he arrives and join in a fun parade to the courtyard by Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th for refreshments and complimentary photos.
Christmas Tour of Homes
Partners in Progress presents its 2012 Annual Christmas Tour of Homes from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 1 in DeFuniak Springs. The tour features five homes and includes a narrated tour aboard the Lil' Trolley which emphasizes Historic Circle Drive and the area around Lake DeFuniak that served as the campus of the original Florida Chautauqua.
Tickets sold day of tour from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at DeFuniak Springs Visitors Center, 1162 Circle Drive. Adults are $18.75+tax; children under 12 are $7.50+tax; babes in arms, free. Call 892-2448.
The Choral Society of Pensacola will perform the holiday classic, Handel’s “Messiah at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at St. Paul Catholic Church, 3131 Hyde Park Road in Pensacola, and at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at Gulf Shores United Methodist Church, 1900 Gulf Shores Parkway.
Tickets are $20/reserved seating and $15/general admission. Student tickets are available only for the concert at St. Paul Catholic Church and are $5. Tickets will be available at the door one hour prior to performance time for both concerts. To purchase tickets, call 484-1806.
Wednesday Night Concerts
Enjoy a special holiday edition of the Concert Series from 6-8 p.m. Wednesdays in December in the Events Plaza at the Village of Baytowne Wharf.
Sounds of the Season
The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation will present their annual Christmas concert, Sounds of the Season, at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at Village Baptist Church.
Admission is a donation of an unwrapped child’s toy to be distributed among the participating church’s outreach ministries. A love offering at intermission will benefit the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation’s “All Kinds of Art” program, a children’s educational outreach for the literary, performing and visual arts.
Call 650-2226 or visit www.mattiekellyartsfoundation.org
Singing Christmas Tree
First Baptist Church of Niceville presents the 27th Singing Christmas Tree, “The Hope of Christmas,” at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 and 8 and at 3 p.m. Dec. 9.
Tickets are for a $1 donation per ticket. Tickets may be obtained at the church office or by mail. Please include your 1st and 2nd choice of presentation, ticket money and a self-addressed stamped envelope when ordering by mail at 622 Bayshore Drive, Niceville, FL 32578. Call 678-4621.
Destin Christmas Parade
The City of Destin hosts its 27th Annual Christmas Parade beginning at 10 a.m. Dec. 8 at Downtown Destin Shopping Center at U.S. 98 and Main Street. It will proceed down Harbor Boulevard to Stahlman Avenue. The theme this year is Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Call 654-5184.
Destin Boat Parade
The 26th Holiday on the Harbor Boat Parade begins between 5 and 5:30 p.m. Dec. 9. Festivities will be held that afternoon all along the harbor. The parade can be viewed from docks and restaurants from HarborWalk Village. A fireworks show will light up the sky at the end of the boat parade. Call 837-6611.
The Fifth Annual South Walton Elf Ride begins at 2 p.m. Dec. 9 as participants bike, walk or skateboard from the Seaside Post Office in Seaside to the S.W.F.D. Watercolor Fire Station.. Adults and children meet at 1:30 p.m. Each family is asked to bring at least one gift to benefit the South Walton Fire District’s Angel Tree.
There will be a bike decorating contest, fire truck tours, Santa and refreshments. Bruno’s Pizza will donate pizza to the participants at the WaterColor Fire Station on CR395. Call 502–0017 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Victorian Christmas
A festive night of Victorian holiday traditions with Christmas carols, jolly dancing, decadent desserts, heavenly wassail and a special visit from Father Christmas will be held at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13 in the McIlroy Gallery of the Mattie Kelly Arts Center at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville. A Victorian Christmas features the college’s Madrigals Singers, Belle Voci and the NWFSC Dance Ensemble.
Seating is limited. Tickets are $25 each and may be purchased in-person or by phone from the Mattie Kelly Arts Center Box Office at 729-6000. All proceeds go to the NWFSC Fine Arts Scholarship fund. Online ticket sales are not available for this event.
Holiday Lantern Parade
The Third annual Baytowne Holiday Lantern Parade will take place at 6 p.m. Dec. 15 with paper lanterns in the shapes of iconic symbols of the holiday season. Individuals and groups are invited to participate by making their own paper lanterns. Sandestin Homeowners will light up their golf carts and join in the fun as they pass by with parade treats. Call 267-8186.
The Walton County Extension Office will host a holiday craft event from 3-5 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Coastal Branch Library in Santa Rosa Beach. Bring the entire family for an afternoon of fun decoration making. RSVP by Dec. 12 at 892-8172.