One of the biggest questions that loom over people’s heads when traveling to a new location is – When is the right time to visit? Usually, just getting to the chosen destination anytime you can is the right time to go. But several times you strike gold when the trip coincides with a fun festival that the place is known for.
Such was true for our visit to St. Augustine, Florida.
Why St. Augustine Nights of Lights Festival is Truly a Treat
December, the month that we planned our trip to St. Augustine, is when the famous bright light festival is held each year in St. Augustine. This holiday light display lasts a lot longer than just through the holiday season. It starts in December and goes all the way through February 2.
Fun Facts about Nights of Lights Festival
- It has been chosen as one of the top ten places in the world to see holiday lights on display by National Geographic
- Over one million tiny lights are lit up throughout the Historical District of St. Augustine
- The tradition of these lights dates back 448 years when the Spaniards used to light candles in their windows for Christmas
How to See the Nights of Lights in Action
There are several ways you can view the ancient city’s lights but in my opinion only one is the best.
Walking – You can definitely walk all of the narrow streets, enjoy sitting in the parks underneath the lights. But with young kids, even though they are impressed for the first five seconds, you really can’t keep them inspired to walk the entire district to see more lights. This is best done with older kids or adults only.
Driving – Most likely when visiting St. Augustine you will be arriving in a car. Driving the little narrow streets can be a fun way to see the lights. However, knowing how I drive, I focus too much on what’s in front of me, rather than taking in what is around me. Plus, kids don’t really see the novelty of being in ‘their’ car for some fancy-schmancy lights and can make the fun experience into a moan of ‘When do we go home’. Again, this is better done if you can drive and enjoy your surroundings and with older kids or just adults.
Trolley Tours – You probably figured it out already. But yes, this is by far the best way to go. There are several companies to choose from in town, but we decided to go with the Red Train Trolley that is run by Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. Just the fact that we are going to go on a trolley gets the kids into the mood.
When we arrived, the staff was dressed up in Christmas gear doing silly things with their wands as we boarded the train. Loud, fun Christmas songs played off the trolley, and we were handed cool glasses that made all the lights turn into Gingerbread men.
And the best part, we got to ride for almost 90 minutes while the kids bopped up and down to the music, playing with the glasses and let mama and papa enjoy the city at night.
The Red Train has many different tours to choose from. They also offer the hop-on and hop-off option, ghost tours and other festival-related tours.
My advice, a trolley for almost anything will get the kids excited. This will be more of an adventure for the whole family than whining kids that don’t want to walk around anymore.
St. Augustine Nights of Lights Festival – The One and Only