It seems as though Christmas events and festivities begin earlier and earlier each year. Several malls around town and a few parks host their Santa arrivals as well as tree lighting and holiday festivities in November and there are plenty in December as well. All events listed are free.
Here’s a schedule of what’s happening in November & December:
Through Dec. 24: Santa’s Wonderland returns to Bass Pro Shops: Santa’s Wonderland returns to Bass Pro Shops and Miami-area families are invited to enjoy this magical Christmas village offering free photos with Santa and free family holiday activities including fun crafts and games. Features include rustic Christmas cabins, holiday characters and live elves set amongst a dazzling backdrop of snow-covered hills and illuminated Christmas trees. The Santa’s Wonderland Christmas village offers remote control trucks, laser/ foam toy arcade, Lincoln Logs building area and much more. Kids can also spend time at one of the activity tables where they can write a letter to Santa, color and do fun crafts, all for free. Families can enjoy the wonder of Christmas inside Bass Pro Shops with Santa’s Wonderland through December 24 including free photos with Santa. Guests can schedule their Santa time using the free Bass Pass system. Visit the Bass Pass Ticket Depot located at the entrance of Santa’s Wonderland to pick up a time-stamped pass. Santa’s arrival coincides with Veteran’s Day and the start of a holiday round up program where customers can help support service members, military families and veterans through a donation program. Bass Pro Shops will donate 100 percent of customer contributions to USO Care Packages, which are shipped directly to active service members overseas, and AMVETS. 10 am-9 pm. 11551 NW 12 St., Miami, FL 33172 305-341-4200.
Through Dec. 24: Santa’s Flight Academy at Dolphin Mall: Each child becomes a member of the flight crew and enjoys a special visit with Santa, and • Receives a personalized Cadet Badge • Tries on a virtual flight suit • Learns how to operate the sleigh • Dances under magical lights and snowfall. Located on the 2nd floor of Las Ramblas at the Dolphin Mall, 11401 NW 12th St, Miami, FL 33172.
Merrick Park Holiday Traditions: Sponsored by Nickalus Children’s Hospital, the ceremonies including lighting of the 50′ Christmas tree, Santa’s arrival, interactive activities, performances by Miami Royal Ballet, Coral Gables High School Choir and Band and Miami Senior High School Marching Band and greetings by holiday characters. Stores will have pop-up stations. 6-9 p.m., Shops at Merrick Park, 358 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables, FL 33146
Brickell City Centre Holiday Kickoff Celebration: Await the arrival of Santa Claus for the official tree lighting while enjoy live musical performances, arts and crafts by GATHER, a holiday photo booth with 180-degree photos, letters to Santa and the unveiling of the first-in-the-country Saks Holiday Window unveiling. 6-8:30 p.m., Brickell City Centre, 701 S. Miami Ave., Miami, FL 33131 RSVP here.
CityPlace Doral Tree Lighting: Join Vice Mayor of Doral Claudia Mariaca and radio host Alberto Sardiñas of TU 94.9 for holiday kick-off festivities including a tree-lighting ceremony, performances by Latin music group Cortadito and local dance groups, Venezuelan Gaitas by Juan Carlos y su Swing Gaitero and Nutcracker dance and ballet performance by South Florida Dance Studio. 6-9 p.m., CityPlace Doral, 8300 NW 36 St., Doral, FL 33166.
Miracle on 136th St. Holiday Parade: Join the day-long annual event at The Falls Shopping Center with a holiday parade featuring holiday-themed floats, bag pipers, stilt walkers, junkanoos, local marching bands, costumed characters with a final snowfall to cap off the events and Santa pictures with Mr. Claus himself at his holiday house. 1 p.m., The Falls, 8888 SW 136 St., Miami, FL 33176
Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony #OnLincoln: The Lincoln Road Business Improvement District hosts a kick off to the holiday season with a tree lighting ceremony and accompanying festivities. The ceremony will include ornament making, caroling by Rockstarz Holiday Carolers, a children’s countdown to the tree lighting and a few special surprises. 4-8 p.m., Euclid Stage Folly, 660 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach, FL 33139
Bayfront Park Tree Lighting: Bring the whole family to Bayfront Park’s Tree Lighting and join us in kicking off the holiday season! Held annually the day after Thanksgiving, the event marks the start of the holiday season. The tree is a striking, artificial, 50-foot, Rocky Mountain Pine Tree — adorned with a custom lighting package. It will stay lit every night and remain in the park through the new year. 7:30 p.m., 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.
Miami Lakes Main Street ‘Festival of Lights’: Join the Main Street Merchants and The Graham Companies for the 35th Annual Main Street Festival of Lights from 5-9 p.m. Kick-off the holiday season making memories with family, friends and loved ones as Main Street lights up the evening with a series of holiday-themed presentations along two blocks of Downtown Miami Lakes. Enjoy a number of family- friendly performances and activations throughout the night, such as the Lighting of Main Street, Live DJ, Photo Stations, performances by students from local schools, characters, and lots of complimentary activities for children to experience courtesy of presenting sponsors, The Graham Companies, and Main Street Merchants, as well as supporting sponsor Publix Super Markets. Don’t forget to come early and Shop Small in honor of Small Business Saturday! 6700-6855 Main St., Miami Lakes.
City of North Miami Light Up: Kick off the holiday season at the MOCA Plaza with holiday music and other performances by local artists, a visit from Santa himself, the lighting of the tree and complimentary candy canes and holiday treats. 6:30 p.m., 770 NE 125 St., North Miami, FL 33161.
Tree lighting at Mercy Hospital: Ninth annual tree lighting event with Santa arriving at 6 p.m., complimentary photos with Santa, special performances, free hot chocolate and churros and pizza for purchase. 5:30 p.m., 3663 S. Miami Ave., Miami, FL 33133.
Holiday Tree Lighting: Watch Santa light up the city’s Christmas tree, sing along to holiday carols, enjoy arts & crafts plus other fun holiday festivities. 6-8 p.m., North Miami Beach City Hall, 17011 NE 19 Ave., North Miami Beach, FL 33162.
Coral Gables Holiday Spectacular: Come for the tree lighting, face painting, arts & crafts, musical entertainment, photos with Santa, a bounce house, food, carnival rides and games. Santa will be at the festive Merrick Park with holiday displays through Jan. 6, 2020 and photos with Santa through Dec. 23. Merrick Park across from Coral Gables City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables.
Palmetto Bay Light Up Your Holidays Celebration: Enjoy a faux snowstorm, student performances, arts & crafts, carnival rides and inflatables, take pictures with Santa, plus special character appearances and other surprises. Food and holiday craft vendors will have items available for purchase. 5-9 p.m., Village of Palmetto Bay, 9705 E. Hibiscus St., Palmetto Bay, FL 33157.
Parade & Christmas at the Gazebo: Santa’s Parade kick off at City Hall followed by festivities at the gazebo including visits with Santa, snow cones and popcorn, snow and Carnival rides (bracelet purchase required for rides). 5:45-9 p.m., 201 Westward Dr., Miami Springs, FL 33166
Coconut Grove Tree Lighting Ceremony: Celebrate the start of the holidays with the Seventh Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, ornament decorating, games in the family fun zone, appearances by Olaf the Snowman, Christmas elves and Sharkey and photos with Santa in is log cabin. 3-7 p.m., Commodore Plaza, Grand Ave. & Main Hwy., Coconut Grove.
Holiday Traditions at FNU: Tree lighting, music, arts & crafts, face painting, photos with Santa and food available for purchase at several food trucks. 5:30-8:30 p.m., 4425 W. 20 Ave., Hialeah, FL 33012.
Tree lighting in Coconut Grove: Tree lighting, holiday caroling and treats with countdown by Commissioners Ken Russell and Xavier Suarez. 6-8 p.m. on Grand Ave. and Douglas Rd., Miami, FL
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More free and cheap holiday events
Lincoln Road at Euclid Avenue