Celebrate the Season With These Holiday Happenings

November 30, 2021

Your 2021 guide to festivities and merriment.

When it comes to celebrating the holidays, the North Pole has nothing on The Palm Beaches — not even snow. With a wide variety of events on the calendar, from light shows and parades to the performing arts and visiting Santa, there are plenty of ways to get into the spirit of the season this year.

Magical Lights and Decor 

The Square Nightly Snowfall and Lightshow: Experience the winter wonderland transformation of The Square each night through Dec. 31, with a snowfall and lightshow at the Wishing Tree at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. West Palm Beach

Three girls taking a selfie during snowfall
Photo courtesy of The Square

Lights 4 Hope, Inc. Drive-Thru Light Show: On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Jan. 2 (closed Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve), drive through more than a mile of animated and musical holiday light displays at Okeeheelee Park. The cost is $15 per standard car with up to eight passengers, and proceeds benefit local children and families in need. West Palm Beach 

The Breakers: Soak up the magical ambiance of the holidays at the iconic resort, where you’ll find lush foliage, modern trimmings, elegant embellishments and other festive decor that is the result of 11 months of planning and six days of decking the halls. Thousands of lights wrap the trees lining the main drive and two 18-foot evergreen trees and a sculptural menorah illuminate the hotel lobby. Palm Beach

Path leading to The Breakers at night illuminated with lights
Photo courtesy of The Breakers

Zoo Lights: This Florida holiday tradition is back, with the Palm Beach Zoo illuminated for the holidays by more than one million eco-friendly lights. View the unique themed displays from 6 to 9 p.m. on select evenings through Jan. 2. Festive holiday fun also includes photos with Santa, a holiday dance party, seasonal treats and more. West Palm Beach

Flagler Museum: Don’t miss out on an evening holiday tour while Whitehall is adorned with Gilded Age trimmings, greenery, sparkly fairy lights and ornaments. The tours begin at 6:45 p.m. from Dec. 18-22, and are $25 for adults and $20 for children age 17 and under. Enjoy the strolling carolers in the Cocoanut Grove in addition to a festive party favor. Palm Beach

Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island: Stop by the main lobby to get a look at the impressive life-size gingerbread house at this oceanfront resort. The scent of the season fills the air and the masterpiece serves as a spectacular backdrop for Instagram pics and annual holiday cards. Riviera Beach 

Life-size gingerbread house
Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island

The Colony Hotel: The lobby of the famed pink boutique hotel has been taken over by Aerin Lauder, who designed the holiday decor through her AERIN brand. Drawing inspiration from cherished childhood memories of spending the holidays in the area with her grandmother, look for updated versions of classic Palm Beach glamour, with personal decorations from her own home incorporated into the design. Palm Beach

Garden of Lights: Twinkling nightly at the Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County, Garden of Lights brings a sense of awe, wonder and reconnection. Thousands of jewel-toned lights illuminate and amplify the lush tropical foliage, majestic trees and signature gardens along an easy-to-follow walkway. Experience the magic Tuesdays to Sundays through Dec. 23, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. West Palm Beach 

Palm trees and plants illuminated by lights
Photo credit: Jacek Photo

Find out where to see holiday tree lightings across The Palm Beaches — including Sandi, West Palm Beach’s famous tree sculpture made of sand.

Festive Community Events 

Greenacres Holiday in the Park: Celebrate a magical evening with Santa, a special tree-lighting ceremony, horse and carriage rides, school performances, face painting, arts and crafts, carolers and other amusements on Dec. 4, from 5 to 9 p.m., at Samuel J. Ferreri Community Park. The free event will take place rain or shine and refreshments will be available for purchase. Greenacres

The Square Hanukkah Celebration: On Dec. 5, from 3 to 5 p.m., join the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County for an afternoon featuring South Florida Instagram and TikTok dance star Sean Green, along with photo ops with Hanukkah “characters” and a large balloon arch. Guests can help give back by assembling toiletry kits for local women in distress, and the event will conclude with a candle-lighting ceremony. West Palm Beach

Man and girl standing with someone in menorah costume
Photo credit: Van Richardson

Winter Wonderland at the Marina: Bring the family out for live entertainment, holiday lights and snow, train rides, ice skating and more on Dec. 3, from 5 to 9 p.m., and Dec. 4, 11 and 18, from 6 to 8 p.m. Riviera Beach

Chanukah at the Marina: Join in the lighting of the community menorah on Dec. 5 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. There will be food, arts and crafts, live music and other entertainment to celebrate the last night of Chanukah. Riviera Beach

Santa Dash: Come out on Dec. 11 for a fun run/walk that starts at the Singer Island Community Gardens, heading over the Blue Heron Bridge and back to the gardens. The race starts at 9 a.m. and participants are encouraged to dress up in their most festive holiday attire for the 1.5-mile jaunt. Afterward, enjoy a pancake breakfast, costume contest, dance party, family activities and more. Riviera Beach

Parade Pageantry 

Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade: Kick off the holiday season on Dec. 4 as decked-out small boats, sailboats and even mega yachts navigate up the Intracoastal from North Palm Beach to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, beginning at 6 p.m. Led by a Zambelli traveling fireworks display, the parade’s theme this year is “Merry and Bright.” Spectators are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy for a toy drive benefitting Toys for Tots and Little Smiles. Palm Beach to Jupiter 

Boat with lights on it at night
Photo courtesy of the Marine Industries Association

Sea of Santas Holiday Parade: It's not just one Santa Claus coming to town, the streets of downtown Lake Worth Beach are going to be filled with hundreds of Santas! The parade is on Dec. 11, starting at 6 p.m. After the parade be sure to enjoy the local hangouts, tucked away bistros, and boutique shops of downtown. Lake Worth Beach

Boynton Delray Holiday Boat Parade: Watch a festive flotilla light up the Intracoastal as it cruises from Boynton Beach to Delray Beach on Dec. 10, starting at 6:30 p.m. The parade will form at Ocean Avenue Bridge in Lantana and travel south, with an official watch party at Boynton Harbor Marina and plenty of viewing locations along the route, including parks and restaurants. Lantana to Delray Beach

50th Annual Holiday Parade: Don’t miss the holiday parade in downtown Boynton Beach on Dec. 4 at 4 p.m. Taking place on Federal Highway, it’s expected to last about two hours. Feel free to bring a chair to watch the action. Boynton Beach

Kids in a band playing instruments while marching in parade
Photo courtesy of City of Boynton Beach

Jupiter Tequesta Christmas Parade: Line up for a Santa-themed parade on Dec. 12 at 1 p.m., where floats will overflow with colorful garland, tinsel, candy canes, ornaments, sleighs and other classic Claus displays. Jupiter to Tequesta

Wellington Holiday Boat Parade and Holiday Parade: Wellington is ringing in the holidays with two parades — one by land and one by sea. The Holiday Boat Parade on Dec. 11 starts at 6:30 p.m. and is visible from the Town Center Promenade as area boaters light up the lake. The following day on Dec. 12, the 37th annual Wellington Holiday Parade starts at 1 p.m., with imaginative floats, marching bands, dance troupes, characters and others making their way down Forest Hill Boulevard. Wellington

Family-Friendly Activities 

The Square Family Movie Night: Grab a blanket for a screening on the lawn of “The Polar Express” on Dec. 18 at 6:30 p.m. You’ll be transported into the inspiring adventure based on the beloved children’s book. The event is free and following the movie there will be a performance by the Palm Beach Symphony. West Palm Beach 
Christmas with the Chimps: Watch as humankind’s closest relatives get to explore a decorated island and receive wrapped presents on Dec. 16 at Lion Country Safari. Included in the regular park admission, guests are encouraged to arrive by 9:30 a.m. and make their way through the preserve to the chimp islands. It’s the only opportunity throughout the year to get out of your vehicle and experience the chimps vocalizing their excitement. Loxahatchee 

Chimpanzees playing with gifts and climbing
Photo courtesy of Lion Country Safari

Merry Movie Monday and Gift-Wrapping Demonstration: On Dec. 13 beginning at 11 a.m., enjoy a screening of the classic holiday movie “Elf” as well as seasonal snacks, hot cocoa and eggnog. You can also bring up to five unwrapped gifts per person to get a tutorial on wrapping like a pro — all the paper, bows, tape and scissors are provided. The program will take place in the Commission Chambers located on the first floor of City Hall. Boynton Beach

Kids Corner Holiday Shop: Through Dec. 24, head to The Gardens Mall, where children can shop with Santa’s helpers and pick gifts for their family and friends at a special kids-only store ($5 donation recommended). Palm Beach Gardens

Exterior of a holiday store
Photo courtesy of The Gardens Mall

Santa Sightings 

The Square Weekend Photos with Santa: Commemorate the holidays and meet the jolly man himself during photos with Santa under the Wishing Tree on Fridays and Saturdays, from 6 to 8 p.m., and Sundays, from 5 to 7 p.m., through Dec. 19. West Palm Beach 

Santa Claus reading a list in front of three children
Photo courtesy of The Square

Breakfast with Santa: Santa will make a special stop for a magical morning on Dec. 11, from 9 to 11 a.m., at the Boynton Beach Senior Center. The event ($15 for residents, children age 18 months and under are free), includes breakfast and a holiday craft. Boynton Beach

Santa Photo Experience: Swing by Town Center at Boca Raton for photos and visits with the big guy through Dec. 24. Reservations are encouraged and a special Caring Santa experience is scheduled for Dec. 5, from 9 to 11 a.m., exclusively for children with special needs. Boca Raton

The Gardens Mall Photos with Santa: Share your holiday wish list during a visit to Santa’s Enchanted Garden in the Grand Court through Dec. 24. You can choose from several photo packages to capture the moment, and there are also designated times set for Dec. 5 (6 to 8 p.m.), Dec. 12 (7 to 9 p.m.) and Dec. 19 (8 to 10 p.m.) to bring your four-legged friends for pet photos with Santa. Palm Beach Gardens  

Santa Claus sitting on an ornate seat
Photo courtesy of The Gardens Mall

Brunch with Santa: On Saturday mornings in December, from 9 to 11 a.m., Santa Claus will pay a visit to 3800 Ocean Restaurant at the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island. Dressed in his favorite resort wear, tropical, casual and pirate versions of Santa will greet families from week to week. Riviera Beach

Arts and Culture 

The Nutcracker: A holiday tradition for all ages, Ballet Palm Beach brings “The Nutcracker” to the stage Dec. 4 and 5 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. Experience the magic of the Enchanted Kingdom, complete with the Mouse King, Sugar Plum Fairy and more. West Palm Beach 

Group of ballerinas performing The Nutcracker
Photo credit: Steven Caras

Afrique Ngozi Dance & Drums Kwanzaa Performance: Don’t miss an immersive celebration that explores the seven principles making up Kwanzaa through live West African dancing and drumming at The Square on Dec. 27 at 7 p.m. West Palm Beach

Sounds of the Season: Tune into the Palm Beach Symphony’s holiday-themed concert when it airs during multiple broadcasts from Dec. 23-31. The program includes a spirited soundtrack of carols and seasonal favorites.

King’s Academy Jazz Ensemble: Enjoy an evening filled with classic holiday music during a free concert under the stars on Dec. 17 at 6:30 p.m. The performance on the lawn at The Square is sure to bring back your favorite Christmastime memories. West Palm Beach 

Band playing instruments
Photo credit: Van Richardson

Ornament-Making Class: Head to The Square for a pop-up studio with the Norton Museum of Art to create an “alebrije” ornament inspired by the museum’s special exhibition on Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism. Families can enjoy this free activity on Dec. 4, from 3 to 5 p.m. West Palm Beach

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens: Take advantage of seasonal programming that includes a workshop on the Art of Japanese Gift Presentation on Dec. 11 (10:30 a.m. to noon or 1:30 to 3 p.m.), as well as creating a Japanese New Year’s card called a “nengajō” during virtual sessions at 10 a.m. from Dec. 18-30. Delray Beach

Florida Atlantic University: Various FAU performing groups are offering chances to immerse in seasonal shows, including the Family Holiday Celebration and Toy Drive put on by the university’s choral groups on Dec. 5 at 3 p.m.; Tuba Christmas on Dec. 12 at 5 p.m.; Handel’s “Messiah” on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m.; and Holidays with the Duke, a Florida Wind Symphony Jazz Orchestra showcase on Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. Various locations

Group preparing to play instruments
Photo courtesy of Florida Atlantic University

Delicious Dining 

Holiday Tea: Partake in a timeless tradition at HMF in The Breakers. On Dec. 18, 20-24 and 27-30, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., put your pinkies up to enjoy afternoon tea with delicacies like handcrafted tea sandwiches, warm buttermilk scones, preserves and pastries. The price is $115 per person and reservations are recommended. Palm Beach 

Display of pastries and tea
Photo courtesy of The Breakers

Flagler Steakhouse: The vibrant American chophouse at The Breakers is welcoming guests on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) and Christmas Day (Dec. 25) with special prix fixe, three-course holiday lunch and dinner menus. Lunch will be available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is $145 per person ($60 for children age 12 and under). Dinner will be served from 4 to 9 p.m. at a price of $195 per person ($75 for children age 12 and under). Reservations are required. Palm Beach

Holiday Brunch in The Circle: From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 25, guests can enjoy a luxurious brunch that includes a one-of-a-kind buffet, festive desserts, unlimited champagne cocktails and a harpist playing tableside. The cost is $185 per person ($75 for children age 12 and younger) and reservations are required. Palm Beach 

Aerial view of tables and glass windows at The Circle restaurant
Photo courtesy of The Breakers

Holiday Dinner in the Ponce de Leon Ballroom: On Christmas Day, from 2 to 6 p.m., indulge in an elaborate buffet at The Breakers that includes Christmas classics and an array of festive desserts. The cost is $210 per person ($125 for children age 12 and under) and reservations are required. Palm Beach

Bake Shop on the Beach: Stop by the main lobby at the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island throughout December to sample Chef Kursten Restivo’s specialty cakes, cookies and pastries. A portion of the sales benefit The Arc of Palm Beach Country. Riviera Beach 

Red macaron cookies
Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island

Festive Afternoon Tea: The Leopard Lounge and Restaurant at The Chesterfield is the perfect place to book a tea experience. The holiday edition of this tradition runs through Dec. 30, from noon to 4 p.m., and features pastries, tea sandwiches and scones. You can also add on a holiday mimosa. The cost is $44 per person and reservations are required. Palm Beach

The Chesterfield: Whether you want to dine out on Dec. 24 or 25, The Leopard Lounge has you covered. Each is a four-course menu accompanied by live entertainment, and the Christmas Eve menu includes dish options such as arugula salad, beef au poivre and sticky toffee date cake. For Christmas Day, choose from items like grilled Australian lamb chops, glazed ham and Christmas pudding. Both menus cost $119 per adult ($35 per child age 12 and under) and reservations are required. Palm Beach

Ember Grill: Feast on The Ray Hotel’s Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day brunch offerings. On Dec. 24, the four-course prix fixe menu comes with a wine pairing for $85 and dishes include chestnut soup, prime rib and yule log dessert. On Dec. 25, treat yourself to prime rib and eggs, and holiday pancakes, desserts and cocktails. Delray Beach

Interior view of restaurant
Photo courtesy of The Ray Hotel

Ring in the New Year

The Breakers: On New Year’s Eve, The Breakers will host a variety of memorable experiences to ring in 2022. At Flagler Steakhouse, savor a three-course, prix fixe dinner from 5:30 to 11 p.m. ($375 per person). HMF’s evening starts at 8:30 p.m. and will include a chef-selected menu ($600 per person), live entertainment, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight with a balloon drop. At Seafood Bar, book a seating from 6 p.m. to midnight for a three-course, prix fixe menu ($265 per person). Reservations are required for all celebrations. Palm Beach 

Interior view of tables at Flagler Steakhouse
Photo courtesy of The Breakers

New Year’s Eve Gala: At The Chesterfield, NYE is a stylish affair that includes a cocktail party from 7 to 8 p.m. with passed hors d’oeuvres and an open bar, a four-course seated dinner, a midnight toast, live entertainment and party favors. The cost is $395 per person and reservations are required.

Lionfish: The party starts at this Atlantic Avenue hotspot at 8:30 p.m. with a four-course, prix fixe menu and open bar. The curated coastal menu ($225 per person) comes with a champagne toast at midnight, as well as live DJ entertainment from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Limited bar tickets are also available, which include bar seating, bar bites and open bar for $100. Delray Beach 

Interior view of Lionfish restaurant
Photo credit: Eric George

Ember Grill: Make your celebration unforgettable with a four-course, prix fixe menu and open bar ($250 per person) that includes choices like foie gras, tuna tartare and stuffed lobster. Or, recover from the night’s festivities with brunch on New Year’s Day. Delray Beach

Rosewater Rooftop: A floating playground awaits at this indulgent NYE party beginning at 8:30 p.m. DJ Diego Harispe and special guests will provide the entertainment, and an all-access premium open bar ticket ($250 per person) includes premium spirits, beer and wine all night, plus a champagne toast at midnight. Groups can also make VIP table reservations with dine and drink packages. Delray Beach

Outdoor rooftop with lounge furniture and a bar
Photo courtesy of The Ray Hotel

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