The spirit of the holiday season comes alive in the Florida Keys with holiday happenings and festive functions spreading cheer in a subtropical climate. Tranquility Bay Resort offers a lovely Christmas Day buffet as well, with all of the festive fixings and a double helping of tranquility!
View our Florida Keys Christmas menu
From Marathon to Key West the calendar is packed with events designed to celebrate the holiday spirit — including lighted boat parades featuring vessels whose decorations range from traditional greenery to offbeat salutes to the season. Listed here are some holiday highlights, all spiced with a characteristically Florida Keys flair.
- Now through Sunday, Dec. 22
Holiday Photos with a Dolphin at Dolphin Research Center (Marathon)
At Dolphin Research Center, mile marker (MM) 59 bayside on Grassy Key, visitors who participate in the Meet the Dolphin program also can pose with the dolphins for a holiday photo. Visitors can bring their holiday-themed props to pose with, and DRC’s experienced photographers will shoot the pictures using high-resolution digital cameras. The program is offered several times each day on a walk-in basis and costs $25 per person in addition to general admission prices. The photos are supplied on a flash drive for $20 for one person or $35 for multiple people in the same shot. Group size is limited to four people. Contact: 305-289-1121 or www.dolphins.org
- Wednesday, Nov. 27, 6 p.m., throughout the holiday season
The Lighting of the Harbor Walk (Key West)
The harbor walk along the Historic Seaport at the Key West Bight, stretching from Greene Street to Grinnell Street, is to be festively lit from rooftops to the sea for the holiday season. Celebrate with holiday events, browse at local shops and galleries and relax at waterfront restaurants and watering holes. This and other seaport festivities are part of the inaugural Key West Holiday Fest. Contact:www.KeyWestChristmas.org or www.KeyWestHolidayFest.com
- Saturday, Dec. 7, 7 p.m.
Key West Holiday Parade (Key West)
The island city shows its holiday spirit with this annual hometown parade. Featuring marching groups and motorized and nonmotorized floats, the festive procession traditionally draws entries from churches, civic organizations, businesses and neighborhood and school groups. Starting at Truman Avenue and White Street, it proceeds down Truman to Duval, where it takes a right and continues on to Eaton Street. Contact: 305-809-3881 or visit www.keywestcity.com
- Sunday, Dec. 8, 4-7 p.m.
Annual Tree Lighting Celebration (Marathon)
An early evening event in the parking area outside Fishermen’s Community Hospital gathers the Marathon community to light the tree atop the hospital. Holiday entertainment includes a “special guest” appearance, raffles, activities for kids, tap dancers, music, hot dogs, cookies and punch. Contact: 305-743-5533
- Sunday, Dec. 8, 6 p.m. (sunset)
Key Colony Beach Lighted Boat Parade (Marathon Area)
Spectators can applaud vividly lit boats in the Middle Keys at the Key Colony Beach Boat Parade. Open to all boats, the parade is set to start at the 7th Street canal and wind its way through canals on the west side of the city, ending in the canal between 11th and 12th streets. The best viewing spots include the Sadowski Causeway at MM 53.5 and the dock area behind city hall and the post office. An after-party with awards for captains and crews is to be held at Key Colony Inn, 700 E. Ocean Drive, with a free buffet and cash bar. Contact: 305-743-7214 or http://kcbca.org/kcbca-events/holiday-lighted-boat-parade/
- Saturday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Big Pine & Lower Keys Island Art Festival (Big Pine Key)
Experience the joys of art and music, and find some unique holiday gifts, at this festival held on the wooded grounds of the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce, MM 31 oceanside. Family fun highlights include live music by favorite local entertainers, exhibits and booths featuring the original work of artists and artisans, raffles and vendors offering food and beverages. Parking and admission are free. Contact:305-872-2411 or www.lowerkeyschamber.com
- Saturday, Dec. 14, 6 p.m.
Boot Key Harbor Boat Parade (Marathon)
At this Middle Keys holiday event, vessels from dinghies to mega-yachts are to cruise the harbor in a sparkling procession. The best viewing sites include Lazy Days South, Marathon Marina, Sombrero Dockside Lounge and Burdines Waterfront around MM 47-50. Contact: www.bootkeyharbor.com/christmas_parade.htm
- Saturday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m.
Lower Keys Lighted Boat Parade (Lower Keys)
All boats are welcome to participate in this favorite Lower Keys holiday event sponsored by the Lower Keys Rotary Club. Santa and Mrs. Claus are expected to arrive and hand out candy to the kids. Best viewing spots include the Old Wooden Bridge Guest Cottages & Marina, No Name Key Bridge and Big Pine Community Park, all off U.S. Highway 1 at MM 31. Contact: Steve at 305-923-5370 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Saturday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m.
Schooner Wharf Bar & Galley Lighted Boat Parade (Key West)
Festively decorated kayaks, fishing craft and schooners are to glitter in Key West’s Historic Seaport during the 23rd annual Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade. The Gerald Adams Elementary School Steel Your Heart Band kicks off the festivities at 6 p.m. singing holiday favorites, followed by popular family band The Doerfels. Spectators can view the dozens of participating vessels from resorts, bars and restaurants in and around the Historic Seaport. Contact: 305-292-3302 orwww.schoonerwharf.com
- Sunday, Dec. 15, 1-3 p.m.
Christmas on the Farm 2013 (Stock Island, Key West)
Kids and adults can visit the furry, fluffy and feathered residents of the Animal Farm and get a photo taken with Santa. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm is situated at the county’s detention center just outside Key West at 5501 College Road. This event is free and open to the public. Contact: Jeanne Selander at 305-293-7300 or www.keysso.net/miscellaneous/animal_park.htm
- Sunday, Dec. 15, 3 p.m.
Southernmost Christmas Tree Celebration (Key West)
Holiday revelers enjoy free conch chowder and then board Conch Tour Trains to proceed to the continental United States’ Southernmost Point to set up the southernmost Christmas tree at sunset overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The event is an annual community thank-you party presented by the Monroe Association for ReMARCable Citizens. The fun starts at 1401 Seminary St. Contact: 305-294-9526
- Saturday, Dec. 21, 5 and 8 p.m.
Marathon Community Theater presents a Christmas Concert (Marathon)
Two shows are slated to ring in holiday cheer for Marathon-area audiences. Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for children. Contact: 305-743-0994 orwww.marathontheater.org
- Tuesday, Dec. 31, just before midnight
Key West New Year’s Eve Celebrations (Key West)
The Southernmost City celebrates New Year’s Eve with a “conch shell drop” at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, 201 Duval St.; the descent of a super-sized red high-heel shoe carrying drag queen Sushi at the Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House complex, 724 Duval St.; the splash of a huge replica Key lime wedge into a massive margarita glass at Ocean Key Resort’s Sunset Pier and the descent of a pirate wench from atop a tall ship’s mast in the island city’s Historic Seaport. Contact: 305-296-2388, ext. 121, for the conch shell drop; 305-293-9800 for the high-heel drop; 305-295-7005 for the Key lime splash and 305-292-3302 for the descent of the pirate wench