There’s always something happening at the beach! Whether you live here full-time or visit as often as possible, these festive Emerald Coast activities are just as much fun as enjoying the sand and surf. From visits with Santa to beach ball drops on New Year’s Eve, here are a few of our favorites for making the most of your coastal Christmas.

Multiple Opportunities through early 2024

Christmas Reflections | Chipley Park, DeFuniak Springs
Enjoy a holiday family tradition with more than 10 million lights on full display at Chipley Park. Open daily through December 31 from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
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Baytowne On Ice | Baytowne Wharf, Sandestin
Dust off those skates and get in the winter spirit at The Village of Baytowne Wharf’s Baytowne on Ice. Skaters must be at least three years of age and fit into appropriately sized skates. Children younger than 6 must be accompanied by a parent or adult family member. Ice skating is available through February 5 with varying hours.
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Holiday on The Harbor Visits With Santa | HarborWalk Village, Destin
Visits with Santa will continue every Saturday and Sunday through December 17 from 1-4 p.m.
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Rockin’ Holiday Concert Series | HarborWalk Village, Destin
Visit the main stage at HarborWalk Village, which will be rockin’ with your holiday favorites beginning at 5 p.m., followed by fireworks at 8 p.m. This takes place every Saturday through December 16.
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A Christmas Carol | Grand Boulevard, Miramar Beach
Emerald Coast Theatre Company will present “A Christmas Carol” December 8-22 at ECTC’s location at 560 Grand Boulevard at Grand Boulevard in Miramar Beach.
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A Jingle Jangle Christmas Musical Revue | Grand Boulevard, Miramar Beach
Emerald Coast Theatre Company will present “A Jingle Jangle Christmas Musical Revue” December 16-21 at ECTC’s location at 560 Grand Boulevard at Grand Boulevard in Miramar Beach.
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Pictures With A Penguin | Gulfarium, Okaloosa Island
On select dates through December 31, you can get a picture with adorable African penguins at The Gulfarium. Slots for these photos are limited, so book yours today. General admission is required; cost for photos is extra at $15.
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Breakfast With Santa | Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village, Destin
Don’t be a Grinch! Join in a joyous breakfast with Santa at 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. on December 9, 10, 16 and 17 in the Grande Ballroom. A festive buffet of the Grinch’s fruit kabob station, Cindy Lou Who’s breakfast items, Whoville Bakery, and Max’s Donut Station will be offered. Cost is $25 per person.
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Photos With Santa and Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides | Grand Boulevard, Miramar Beach
Enjoy complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides around the Town Center while taking in coastal white Christmas lights and the Festival of Trees display. To add to the festivities, get a professional photo with Santa while listening to the seasonal sounds of the “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” musical revue from Emerald Coast Theatre Co. This takes place on Friday and Saturday nights from 5 to 8 p.m. through December 30.
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30A Farmers Market Holiday Market | Rosemary Beach
Check out multiple market opportunities on Dec. 21 and 28 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
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Nights of Lights | The Village of Baytowne Wharf, Sandestin
This December, enjoy a festive light show in The Events Plaza every day. This sparkling event will also be featured during their special holiday edition of the Wednesday Night Concert Series. Watch three dazzling shows on the Village tree at 6 p.m., 7 p.m., and 8 p.m.
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Winter Fun For Everyone | Emerald Coast Science Center, Fort Walton Beach
Join in holiday fun December 20-22 and December 27-29 to celebrate the season. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, and all activities are included with general admission. The schedule of events includes Col-AR the Holidays, sciPad Winter Games and Creature Feature.
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30A Songwriters Festival | Santa Rosa Beach, 30A
30A Songwriters Festival is right around the corner. It features more than 250 artists from January 12-15 at more than 30 venues along 30A.
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December 9

Christmas ZOObilee | Gulf Breeze Zoo, Gulf Breeze
Visit the Gulf Breeze Zoo for their Christmas ZOObilee, which includes winter-themed bounce stations; live music and entertainment; photos with Santa; and, the Candy Cane Market full of gifts, sights, smells and tastes of the season including unique gifts from local artists and delicious holiday treats. This event takes place December 9-10 as well as December 16-17.
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December 15

Grinchmas | Baytowne Wharf, Miramar Beach
During this holiday season, put a little snark in your holiday spirit with The Mean One himself. Meet the maven of mischief, The Grinch, for a photo opportunity from 5 to 7 p.m., then enjoy a movie showing of The Grinch starting at 7 p.m. Don’t miss out on this Who-liday spectacular!
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December 16

Beachy Little Christmas | The Island Resort, Fort Walton Beach
Join in this free event featuring tons of seasonal activities and Christmas tree “sandcastle” building with Dan In The Sand. This is the new date after a December 2 rescheduling due to weather.
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Breakfast With Santa and Holiday Festival | Aegean Restaurant, Shalimar
Enjoy a breakfast buffet, pictures with Santa and arts and crafts for the kids. Cost is $20 for adults and $5 for children six and younger. Breakfast is served from 8 to 11 a.m., with crafts and photos also available.
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Cookies & Crafts With The Grump | The Island Resort, Fort Walton Beach
The Island Resort is delighted to announce the arrival of everyone’s favorite grouchy holiday character, December 16 and 17, from noon to 4 p.m. Grab a cup of apple cider or hot chocolate, listen to live music and get photos with the green guy himself. Following the music, families can engage in a fun and creative craft session. This festive holiday event is open to the public free of charge. This year, they’re including face painting and a Whoville hair station, adding an extra festive touch to an already enchanting holiday experience.
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Merry & Bright: A Sandestin Gourmet Holiday | The Grand Sandestin, Miramar Beach
Join in a festive and fun-filled day at a fully decorated holiday-themed market. Get ready to indulge in an array of delectable wines and mouthwatering food options while your little ones enjoy craft activities and a visit with Santa himself. And the best part? You can take home your favorite wines at incredibly competitive prices. It’s a holiday shopping experience like no other, open to both ticket holders and the public. Cost is $75 for adults 21+, $35 for ages 13-20 and $25 for 12 and younger.
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Kids’ DIY-U Workshop: Holiday Delivery Truck | Lowe’s, Fort Walton Beach
Calling all little elves! Join in this jolly Holiday Delivery Truck build that’s also a gift card holder. Kids will love hand-crafting this unique toy that also makes a memorable gift.
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Jolly Jubilee Holiday Festival | Destin Commons, Destin
Experience the joy of the holidays while surrounded by reindeer topiary, live musical performances, Christmas caroling, and of course, the beloved 50-foot Christmas tree. A full schedule of performances is available at the link below.
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Movie Night with Billy Claus and The LuLuBelles | Lulu’s, Destin
Get ready for some holiday fun with the annual Billy Claus and The LuLuBelles appearance followed by a Christmas movie. The Billy Claus celebration is better than ever this year. Billy will “arrive in style” looking for that magic gumbo that keeps him warm and awake to make all of his rounds. The LuLuBelles will be tagging along to show you the new and cozy “Billy Claus and the Spirit of Christmas Island” story-time reading corner. New crafts and treats will be available for free. The best-of-all newest addition is all of the Billy Claus fun will lead up to a screening of the latest Dr. Seuss’ “The Grinch.”
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The Grayt Santa Pub Crawl | Grayton Beach
The Grayt Santa Pub Crawl features a bar crawl and good food and drinks all afternoon and into the night in Grayton Beach. Crawl begins at 2 p.m. with check-in at Hurricane Oyster Bar. Additional stops include Red Bar, Chiringo, Beach Camp Brew Pub and AJ’s Grayton Beach. Cost is $60 per person to crawl with costumes required. Prizes will be awarded to the “most naughty Santa” and “most nice Santa,” among others.
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December 20

Polar Express Movie Night | LuLu’s, Destin
Choo-choo! All aboard the Polar Express, heading to LuLu’s. Bring a blanket and your PJs to cozy up for dinner and a movie. A showing of the Polar Express will begin at 6 p.m. Enjoy complimentary popcorn, Christmas cookies and hot chocolate, as well a free kid’s meal with the purchase of an adult entree. Arrive early if you would like to stay for dinner.
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December 24

Christmas Eve Dinner | Soleil, Destin
Guests will enjoy a three-course prix fixe menu; pricing is $75 for the three-course dinner and $20 for a kid’s chicken tenders plate. Reservations are currently available online through the Resy app, at or by calling 850.353.2867.
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December 25

Christmas Dinner | Emerald Grande, Destin
There’s no better place to celebrate the holidays than at the Emerald Grande. If you’re looking for holiday cheer surrounded by twinkling lights, Christmas decorations and a cozy ambiance, then look no further than dinner here from noon to 5 p.m. Enjoy a three-course plated meal; reservations are highly recommended by calling 850.424.0621.
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December 28

Ugly Sweater Ladies’ Night Party | McGuire’s, Destin
McGuire’s Ugly Sweater Ladies Night Party! One last chance to wear your favorite holiday sweaters from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. DJ Doc Roc will be rocking the deck and Cormac McGuinness will be playing in the pub.
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December 31

New Year’s Eve | HarborWalk Village, Destin
Dance away 2023 with live entertainment happening on the main stage, beginning at 7 p.m. with Stranger Boy, followed by The New Royals at 9:30 p.m. Turn your eyes to the skies for a dazzling firework display over the harbor and shout along as we countdown the ball drop, welcoming a new year. This event is free and open to all.
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Baytowne Countdown | Baytowne Wharf, Sandestin
Enjoy an evening to remember with two breathtaking fireworks displays at 8 p.m. and midnight. Enjoy a family-friendly evening with face painting, kids’ activities, and live music on the Baytowne LIVE stage from 6 to 8 p.m. Later, dance the night away with live music from Bay Kings Band from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m., featured on the Events Plaza Stage. This event is 21 and older after 10 p.m.
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14th annual New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop | Pier Park, Panama City Beach
Join in the New Year’s Eve fun at the 2023 New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop in Pier Park. The family-friendly celebration kicks off at 5:35 p.m. featuring live music, shopping, food vendors and games and activities for the children.
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Noon Year’s Eve Balloon Bash with Bluey | Fort SK8 Family Fun Center, Fort Walton Beach
Choose from two slots for skating, a ball drop, games, a playground, arcade and more. Reserve your slot now from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 2 to 5 p.m.
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New Year’s Eve Dinner | Primrose, Destin
Elevate your New Year’s Eve with a spectacular dining experience that captures the essence of celebration, promising an unforgettable night of indulgence and glamour. Complimentary parking is available. Cost is $125 for adults and $35 foe kids, and reservations are required.
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New Year’s Eve Fireworks On The Beach | The Boardwalk, Okaloosa Island
Celebrate the beginning of a new year with fireworks on the beach and all your favorite foods from Rockin Tacos, The Crab Trap, Floyd’s and more.
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New Year’s Eve Mardi Gras Ball | The Village Door Dance Club, Miramar Beach
This New Year’s Eve, party with The Village Door Dance Club. Enjoy free drinks from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., Mardi Gras beads, fireworks and your favorite dance tunes.
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Poppin’ New Year’s Eve | Hotel Effie, Miramar Beach
Jam out to live music, sip on hand-crafted cocktails and enjoy the stunning panoramic view of the Baytowne Wharf fireworks shows. General admission and VIP seating are available. 21 and over after 9 p.m. Cocktail attire is encouraged.
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New Year’s Eve at Melting Pot | Melting Pot, Miramar Beach
Join us for a specially curated five-course meal and receive a complimentary party favor and a champagne toast at midnight.
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