Christmas on the Coast

Staff Writer
The Destin Log
Destin Commons is all decked out for the holidays. The shopping center’s decorated 50-foot Christmas tree is a perfect way to represent the holidays on the Emerald Coast.

Holiday Movie Night

Snuggle up with a blanket and some treats for a holiday family classic under the stars at 7 p.m. Nov. 29 in the Events Plaza at The Village of Baytowne Wharf.

Old Town Holiday

Rosemary Beach “turns on the town” at 6 p.m. Nov. 29 in North Barrett Square with a tree lighting, music by the Charles Dickens Carolers and Santa’s arrival. Visit the Town Center merchants until 8 p.m. for an evening of holiday shopping and refreshments.

Santa’s Arrival

Santa makes his grand entrance to the Destin harbor on Nov. 29 at the Christmas season kick off at HarborWalk Village. Kids will enjoy free activities and can visit with Santa Claus. The event is free and open to the public. Children can bring their wish list, visit with Santa and receive a special treat Nov. 30, Dec. 7-8. 14-15 and 21-22.

Breakfast with Santa

Children can enjoy breakfast with Santa from 9-11 a.m. Nov. 29 at Fish Out of Water in WaterColor. Reservations recommended at 534-5050.

Alys In Wonderland

Join Santa for cookie decorating and holiday cheer from 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 29 at Fonville Press, 147 N. Charles St. in Alys Beach.  Cookies to decorate will be available for purchase three for a $1. Bring an unwrapped children’s toy for donation to a local  Angel Tree Program.

Holiday Movie

A special holiday edition of Central Square Cinema presents “Elf” at 7 p.m. Nov. 29 in the Seaside Amphitheater.

Here Comes Santa Claus

Welcome Santa and cheer him on as he lights the Village Christmas Tree from 6-9 p.m. Nov. 30 at The Village of Baytowne Wharf. Stick around for a preview of the choreographed light show, 12 Nights of Lights, and watch as fireworks light up the sky over the lagoon. Make a lantern for the upcoming Baytowne Lantern Parade and listen to a choir sing holiday favorites and hop on Santa’s lap and tell him your Christmas wishes. Admission is free. Subject to change based on weather.

Breakfast with Santa

Children will enjoy Breakfast with Santa from 8-10 a.m. Nov. 30 in Santa’s Workshop at Town Hall in Rosemary Beach. Included are a bagged breakfast, professional photo with Santa and a special goodie bag from Gigi’s. Tickets are $15 and available at the door.

Holiday Market

Browse through booths filled with unique gifts at the Holiday Market from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 30 on the Town Center Lawns in Rosemary Beach. Find hand-crafted jewelry, pottery, paintings and more.

Holiday Parade: The Annual South Walton Holiday Parade begins at 4 p.m. Nov. 30 at Seagrove Plaza and rolls down Scenic Hwy. 30A and ends in Seaside where Santa’s arrival and the Christmas tree lighting will take place.

Harbor Lights

Dozens of boats of all sizes will illuminate the Destin harbor boardwalk during A Very Emerald Christmas from Dec. 1-31.

Holiday Concert

St. Andrews By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 307 Harbor Blvd. in Destin, will host a holiday concert for the community at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 with the Emerald Coast Symphonic Pops orchestra, an all-volunteer group of music loving adults from our local community. The concert will be free and everyone is welcome. 


The Abrakadoodle Art Studio in Destin Commons hosts the following Christmas classes.

• Create a nativity set to remind your family of the true meaning of Christmas from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 3. Bring beverage. Tuition is $30 and includes all materials.

•Adults 21 and over create a custom door hanger to decorate for Christmas from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 6. Tuition is $35 and includes paint, wooden ornament and ribbon.

•Ages 3-12 can create a gingerbread house from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Dec.14. Under 4 must be accompanied by parent. Tuition is $30 and includes all supplies.

• Make an angel topper for the Christmas tree from 4-5:30 p.m. Dec. 7. This is a drop-off class for ages 4-12. Tuition is $25.

Christmas Tree Lighting

The 27th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting, hosted by the City of Destin, will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Destin Community Center. This will be an outdoor event for the entire family with a visit from Santa Claus. Entertainment provided by local choruses, musical groups, dancers, etc. with refreshments served after the lighting of the tree. Donations of toys and canned food will be collected for families in need. Call 654-5184 for more information.

Open House

Ronald McDonald House, 5200 Bayou Blvd. in Pensacola, hosts a Holiday Open House from 5-7 p.m. Dec. 5. Ronald appears from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and there will be a kid’s cookie decoration area.

Sounds of the Season

Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation presents its gift to the community, the Sounds of the Season Christmas Concert, from 7-9 p.m. Dec. 6 at Village Baptist Church in Destin. Admission is an unwrapped child’s toy for underprivileged children in our community. A love offering will benefit MKAF’s All Kinds of Art educational programs.

The concert features Destin Assembly of God, Destin United Methodist Church, First Baptist of Destin, Grace Lutheran Church, Shoreline and Village Baptist performing sacred music and Christmas classics.

Holiday Toast on the Coast

The FPRA’s Northwest Florida Coast Chapter hosts its annual holiday fundraising event, Holiday Toast on the Coast, from 6-8:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Justin Gaffrey Studio & Gallery in Seaside to benefit the local NWFL Coast chapter and Food For Thought Outreach, Inc. Attendees are asked to bring five canned food items or a $10 grocery gift card for Food For Thought's Christmas Service, a dinner provided Dec. 21 for local families. Guests will enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres, muic by Geoff McBride and complimentary wine and beer. More than 30 silent auction items available. Tickets are $25/person and $20/FPRA members. Purchase at fpra.ticketbud.com or RSVP at erin@united-way.org. 

Freeport Parade

Santa will arrive in Freeport via fire truck during the Town Planters Society of Freeport’s 2013 Christmas parade, “Sounds of Christmas,” at 4 p.m. Dec. 6.  Lineup will be at Freeport Elementary School at 3 p.m. The parade route will follow Hwy. 331 S to Kylea Laird Drive turning onto Hwy. 20 W continuing past City Hall and ending at Blueberry Road.  Bands from Freeport High School and South Walton High School will be marching as well as the Walton High School AFROTC Color Guard. Call 706-718-0832 or 974-7772. 

A Victorian Christmas

The NWFSC Madrigals and Belle Voci will present “A Victorian Christmas” concert at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 and 7 in the Mattie Kelly Arts Center McIlroy Gallery in Niceville. Enjoy period music, dance and costumes, augmented by delicious desserts and holiday wassail. Tickets are $25 each at 729-6000 or www.mattiekellyartscenter.org

Wildlife Winter Wonderland

December's 1st Saturday event at the Biophilia Center is Wildlife Winter Wonderland from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 7 with live penguins at noon, a visit from Santa, Santa’s art and crafts workshop, story time with hot chocolate and cookies and Christmas tree decorating. Nature presentations with live animals will be held throughout the day and there will be a silent auction for adults.

Jingle Bell Run

Wear a holiday costume and tie jingle bells to your shoelaces for the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk Dec. 7 at The Landing in Fort Walton Beach. Register with your team members for a 10K Run, 5K or 1 mile Walk or Run. Dogs welcome in the 1 mile event only. Call 797-1449.

Christmas Gift & Farmers Market

In conjunction with the Jingle Bell Run, visit the Christmas Gift & Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 7 at The Landing.

There will be music by the Emerald Coast Community Band, Christmas caroling, Santa Clause, a free children's ornament making craft area, vendors selling Christmas wreaths, ornaments, and gifts and farmers selling seasonal produce and fresh jams, jellies and baked goods.

Here Comes Santa Claus

Greet Santa as he arrives on a fire truck from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dec. 7 in the courtyard in front of Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th at Silver Sands Premium Outlets. Children can enjoy face painting, a holiday craft project and a performance of “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some)” by the Seaside Repertory Theatre. Be sure to bring a camera for photos with Santa.

Winter concerts

The Junior Orchestra, an ensemble of young string students in grades 4 to 8, perform in concert at 11 a.m. Dec. 7 in Tyler Recital Hall in the Music Wing of the Mattie Kelly Arts Center complex in Niceville.

The Northwest Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra performs at 3 p.m. Dec. 8 in the mainstage theater. In the second half of the concert, the young musicians will be joined by the Emerald Coast Symphonic Pops musical group for additional holiday themed music selections.

The Giving Trees

The harbor will shine with a wonderland of designer Christmas trees and wreaths from 12-7 p.m. Dec. 7. Children will enjoy Santa, crafts and train rides. Bid on your favorite trees to decorate your home for the holidays, with donations benefiting the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center and Horizons of Okaloosa County. The event is free and open to the public. At 5 p.m. there will be a cocktail reception with food and music.

Open House at Camp Walton Schoolhouse Museum

The City of Fort Walton Beach Heritage Park & Cultural Center will hold its annual Christmas Open House at the Camp Walton Schoolhouse Museum from 12-4 p.m. Dec. 7. A free admission day includes children’s games and crafts, home-baked goodies, refreshments, local history and the beautifully decorated Camp Walton Schoolhouse which turned 100 years old last year. Call 833-9595 or email gmeyer@fwb.org.

Craft Show

Christmas in the Village Craft Show will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 7 and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Destin Community Center. Cost is $40/residents and $50/non-residents. Visit cityofdestin.com for an application.

Elf Ride

Meet for the Sixth Annual Elf Ride at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Seaside Post Office. From there, participants will bike, walk, run, skateboard, etc. to the WaterColor Fire Station, where upon arrival there will be 98 BBQ, face painting, Santa and station and fire truck tours. Each family please bring a gift to support the South Walton Fire District’s Angel Tree program. Parents must accompany children. Decorate and dress up for the ride.

Santa’s Wonderland

Create new traditions and lasting memories at Bass Pro Shops Santa’s Wonderland through Dec. 24. In addition to games, kids can visit one of the activity tables where they can write a letter to Santa, color, make holiday ornaments, a stuffed Christmas owl and Santa, a candy cane reindeer, and even decorate Christmas cookies from 3-5 p.m. Dec. 24, all for free. Also receive a free 4x6 photo with Santa.

Santa will be in residence until Dec. 8 from 3-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 12-5 p.m. Sunday. Beginning Dec. 9 hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays andnm12-5 p.m. Sundays.

Charity Gift Wrap

Sinfonia Gulf Coast and Shelter House have been chosen as the recipients of the Silver Sands Premium Outlets Annual Charity Gift Wrap Dec. 11-24. Sinfonia and Shelter House volunteers will wrap holiday gifts while you wait or you can drop them off and pick them up later.  Donations for wrapping range from $2-$15, depending on the size or items wrapped. Hours are 12-6 p.m. Dec. 11-18; 12-9 p.m. Dec. 19-23; and 12-6 p.m. Dec. 24.

A Peter White Christmas

A unique show blending contemporary smooth jazz with traditional holiday music, A Peter White Christmas featuring Rick Braun and Mindi Abair, makes its annual return with shows at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Fort Walton Beach Civic Municipal Auditorium on U.S. 98. All seats are reserved with tickets ranging from $40 general admission to $80 front section seating.

Order tickets at 800-595-4849 or www.seabreeze.fm. In addition, tickets are available at Playground Music Center at Uptown Station in Fort Walton Beach.   Presented by The Seabreeze WSBZ Radio 106.3 FM, the proceeds benefit Music In the Schools providing music scholarships to Northwest Florida high school seniors.

Festival of Trees - Freeport

The Freeport Town Planters’ Festival of Trees will be held from 3-7 p.m. Dec. 13, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 14 and 1-5 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Freeport Community Center. The trees, decorated by individuals, organizations and business, are competing for the People’s Choice award to be presented at the end of the show on Sunday. Admission is $5 and  refreshments will be served. Call 588-9945.

Southern Christmas Humor

Bestselling author, speaker and humorist Melinda Rainey Thompson will speak at a Southern Christmas Humor luncheon to benefit the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 13 at Northwest Florida State College’s Costa Leadership Room. Sponsored by Gulf Power, the limited seating luncheon is $20 per person. Call 833-9237, ext. 222, for reservations.

Holiday Pops Concert

Celebrate the holiday season with performances of light classics, pops selections and the ever-popular carol sing-a-longs when the Northwest Florida Symphony Chorale joins the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra for the annual Holiday Pops concert at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center, Mainstage Theater, at NWFSC in Niceville. Tickets are $22.50/adults, and $16/Active Duty Military and youth age 18 and younger. Purchase tickets at 729-6000 or www.mattiekellyartscenter.org.

Christmas Parade

The City of Destin’s 28th Annual Christmas Parade, “A Fantasy Christmas,” will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 14. The floats will start at Downtown Destin Shopping Center and travel west down Harbor Boulevard (U.S. 98) to Stahlman Avenue. Stand on the north side of Harbor Boulevard to watch the floats. For those who wish to put a float in the parade, applications are free and available at the Destin Community Center. Applications must be turned in no later than Nov. 29. Call 654-5184.

Yule of Yesteryear

Enjoy the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida’s annual Yule of Yesteryear — A Traditional Christmas Celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 14 at 115 Westview Ave. in Valparaiso. There will choirs, ornament making for children, a visit from Santa, a bake sale, craft demonstrations and gifts. Witness a Civil War Christmas of 1861 with the Walton Guard. A Victorian Tea will be held at 2 p.m. Registration required at www.heritage-museum.org, 678-2615, or info@heritage-museum.org.

Jingle Bell Jog

The 35th Jingle Bell Jog will be held at 8 a.m. Dec. 14 at Uptown Station in Fort Walton Beach. Register online at www.sfa7.com or www.active.com for the 5K Fun Run, 5K Walk, and 10K Race.

Holiday Lantern Parade

The fourth annual Baytowne Holiday Lantern Parade begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Village of Baytowne Wharf. This community event will feature commissioned paper lanterns in the shapes of iconic symbols of the holiday season. Individuals and groups can participate by making their own paper lanterns.

Boat Parade

The harbor will be dancing with holiday lights and cheer during the 27th Annual Destin Boat Parade at 6 p.m. Dec. 15. Boats will line up between 5 and 5:30. The parade can be viewed from docks and restaurants west of Grand Harbor Condominiums on Destin harbor. Enjoy live music, children’s arts and crafts and hot chocolate. Visit with Santa Claus from 12-4 p.m. A fireworks finale follows the parade. Rain date is Dec. 22.

Homemade Holiday Treat Exchange

Enjoy a festive evening of music, revelryand an assortment of delicious treats tobe exchanged from 7-8 p.m. Dec. 19 at the Walton County Coastal Library, 437 Greenway Trail in Santa Rosa Beach. Holiday attire encouraged. Seating limited to 10 participants. Registration at katyln11@gmail.com ends Dec. 12. Admission is homemade goodies. All treats must be homemade; cookies, brownies, candies: 5 dozen; mini cakes/breads: 20.

Holiday concert

Sinfonia Gulf Coast presents the Orchestral Holiday Concert at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at Destiny Worship Center. The concert features holiday orchestral favorites and excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s classic, “The Nutcracker,” featuring dancers from the Northwest Florida Ballet. To purchase tickets, $29.50 to $42.50, visit www.SinfoniaGulfCoast.org or call 850-269-7129.

Holiday Extravaganza: The Volunteer Guild at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast’s annual holiday sale takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Dec. 20. Call 278-3032.

Nutcracker: Ballet Conservatory and Destin School of Music and Dance present The Nutcracker at 7 p.m. Dec. 20 and 3 p.m. Dec. 21 at South Walton Beach High School Auditorium, 645 Greenway Trail,  in Santa Rosa Beach. Reserved seating is $15 and available at www.FloridaBalletConservatory.com. Tickets are door are $20 cash. Call 837-1133.

Holiday Baking Class

Chef Jim Shirah will hold a baking class from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Destin Community Center for children ages 8-14. The fee is $40/residents and $45/non-residents. Each student will learn how to bake and will take home several holiday cookies, treats and more. Pre-registration is required at 654-5184.

Christmas Art Market: The Arts & Design Society’s members host the annual Christmas Art Market through Dec. 21 at The Gallery, 17 First Street, SE, in Fort Walton Beach. Works are all under $200, with most considerably less. Call 244-1271.

Running of the Elves/Christmas Gift & Farmers Market

The first Running of the Elves for the whole family from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Fort Walton Beach Landing. Dress like your favorite elf and have a ball as Roller Derby Santas with candy canes find out who's naughty or nice while jogging along a one mile course through downtown Fort Walton Beach. Also includes kids activities and a costume contest. Register online by Dec. 19. After party includes live music, food and drinks for all registered elves. Visit www.downtownfwb.com for registration info.

Festival of Trees

Grand Boulevard’s fourth annual Festival of Trees showcases a dozen uniquely decorated Christmas trees from area non-profit organizations through Dec. 25 in Grand Park. The tree with the most votes will win the People’s Choice award, which will be announced by Santa Claus at 2 p.m. Dec. 21 in Grand Park.

New Years Eve Celebration

Dine, drink and dance into the New Year throughout HarborWalk Village on Dec. 31. Enjoy live music in the restaurants as well as the HarborWalk Village Main Stage. Fireworks begin at 8 p.m. and midnight. The sixth annual Ball Drop descends over the harbor to make this celebration Destin’s most exciting place to be on New Year’s Eve.

Baytowne Countdown

Dance the night away and enjoy live bands and breathtaking fireworks as they light up the sky over the lagoon at midnight during Baytowne Countdown at 8 p.m. Dec. 31 in the Events Plaza at The Village of Baytowne Wharf. Event is free.

Kids’ Night Out

A Kids’ Night Out New Year’s Eve Bash will be held from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at WaterColor Inn & Resort. Cost is $75/child; reservations required at 534-5975.

Polar Bear Plunge

The annual Polar Bear Plunge takes place at 9 a.m. Jan. 1 on WaterColor’s Beach. T-shirts available for purchase.

Outdoor Ice Skating Rink

The largest ice skating rink of its kind in Northwest Florida will line the Village Events Plaza through January, transforming the Village into a tropical winter wonderland