Beyond Destin: Pensacola Winterfest

Savannah Vasquez
Santa Claus greets children young and old at the Winterfest Christmas Town in Pensacola.

Destin has a lot to offer, and although its beaches are world-famous and its seafood delicious, there are hundreds of hidden treasures in the surrounding area of Northwest Florida that yield for fun adventures, day trips and weekend getaways. This column which will be featured once a month, will follow the wanderings of reporter, Savannah Vasquez, and explore the many opportunities in Destin’s surrounding area. I invite you to explore with me Beyond Destin.

The holiday season is officially here, and what better way to kick off the season than to enjoy a Christmas themed outing with the whole family. This year, while searching for a Christmas adventure I stumbled across Pensacola Winterfest, a unique experience that couples theater with an interactive tour of the historic Northwest Florida city.

The fun begins at the Pensacola Courthouse where conductors and elves welcome trolley passengers to Christmas Town. While awaiting the grand Winterfest tour, families can visit with Santa on his sleigh and enjoy a taste of Christmas with a snow machine ‘snowfall’ and a cup of warm hot chocolate.

Cristian and I visited Winterfest on preview night and enjoyed watching as the energetic staff guided the trolley into the ‘station.’ When our name was called we climbed aboard the trolley took a seat just as our conductor guide began his introduction.

“Welcome aboard the Frosty trolley, are you ready for some Christmas cheer?” our guide asked.

But, no sooner had our trolley left the station, and we were interrupted by a frantic passenger banging on the door wanting to be let on. The passenger was Ebenezer Scrooge; cue the first scene of the night.

As our trolley rolled through historic Pensacola, actors would hop on and off our moving stage to delight us with scenes from classic Christmas stories including A Christmas Carole, Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch that Stole Christmas, Polar Express and many other holiday favorites.

Characters acted out scenes, serenaded passengers with beloved Christmas songs, and even handed out small gifts to the children aboard the trolley. Each scene ended at a designated stop where the characters disembarked at places such as Whoville, Snoopy’s doghouse the Polar Express train station, and a live nativity.

To add to the fun, passengers were included in some scenes, as characters asked questions, danced with and encouraged participation from the audience throughout the night.

After the hour-long tour our trolley pulled into the ‘North Pole’ and we were greeted with a slew of dancing elves, Santa’s reindeer and Queen Elsa herself. All the characters invited children and adults alike to dance and sing along to Christmas songs, then the reindeer led everyone back to Santa’s sleigh.

The whole experience was magical and definitely put me in the Christmas spirit. If you want to experience this awesome Christmas tour my advice would be to book your tickets early because they sell-out quickly!

Pensacola Winterfest is located at 223 South Palafox Place. Trolley performance tour dates are Dec. 5, 11, and 18-23. Prices vary per night starting at $18 per adult and $13 per child. Purchase tickets online at For more information call 583-1365.

Wanna Go?