A Local’s Guide to St. Augustine’s Annual Nights of Lights

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Every year the cherry pickers start hanging millions of little lights from the trees for Nights of Lights in the fall. There are so many ways to see the lights and events to attend, that you shouldn’t limit yourself to just one way. Here’s your local guide to the Nights of Lights from November 14th, 2020 to January 31st, 2021.

Light-Up! Night!

Nights of Lights usually begins with Light Up! Night ceremony on the first Saturday of its season. Due to precautions made necessary by the Coronavirus pandemic, this ceremony will not be held this year.

Luminary Night

Luminary Night at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is a family-friendly tradition during Nights of Lights. On December 1st from 7-9 pm. the Lighthouse will host the first-ever drive-thru event with various festive stations set up for families to enjoy. This Holiday-themed event includes volunteer elves, holiday carolers, and the opportunity to pick up pre-purchased luminary kits. Then on Thursday, December 3, families around the community will light their luminaries at 6:30 pm to be shared via social media through the hashtag #Luminary2020.

The luminary kits will go on sale on Sunday, November 1st, and are available for purchase through the Museum Gift Store and the Gift Store website. Each kit has 10 luminaries featuring holiday and Lighthouse themed silhouettes and costs $10.

Regatta of Lights

Canceled for 2020 due to COVD.
If the lights around the square aren’t enough then turn towards the water for more lights. This is an annual holiday parade, hosted by the St. Augustine Yacht Club, of motorized vessels — sailboats, trawlers, shrimp boats, and many other vessels decorated with brilliant lighted displays. Beginning at 6 p.m., the boats will light up St. Augustine’s Matanzas Bay between the Bridge of Lions and Castillo de San Marcos. This event is very popular so get there early to grab a spot!

Image courtesy of St. Augustine Social

THE BEST WAYS TO EXPERIENCE NIGHTS OF LIGHTS

The Old Town Trolley

The Old Town Trolley tours depart from the Visitor Center Information Center beginning at 6:00 pm every 10-15 minutes until 9:00 pm. Old Town Trolleys Famous Nights of Lights Tour will also be a little different this year, with safety measures in place that will ensure social distancing and increase focus on personal protection. By selling only full rows of seats this year, and only by reservation, the tour will involve significantly less contact with other people outside one’s own party. There will be no walk-up sales, and therefore no waiting lines. Plexiglass dividers are set up between the trolley rows, and the rows are disinfected after every tour. Face masks are recommended, but not required. Details on making online reservations for the 2020-21 Old Town Trolleys Famous Nights of Lights Tour will be available soon. Call (904) 829-3800 for more information. Admission: Tickets are sold for an entire row (up to 4 people) and by reservation only. The price is $59.95 for the row.

Image courtesy of Old Town Trolley

Ripley’s Big Red Christmas Train

Ripley’s Big Red Christmas Train is located at Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum on San Marco Avenue. Tours depart nightly from Saturday, November 14, 2020, through Sunday, January 31, 2021 (excluding Christmas day). Operating hours in November and December are 6:00 to 10:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 6:00 to 9:00 pm Sundays through Thursdays. In January, the hours are 6:00 to 8:00 pm nightly. There will be reserved seating only during the 2020-21 Nights of Lights season. Face masks are required. Admission: Information on prices will be posted as soon as it becomes available.

Golf Cart

St. Augustine City Tours takes you through St. Augustine on a golf cart equipped with plexiglass shields and experienced tour guides. Each tour is 45 minutes in duration and launch from the same location as last year, 19 Cuna Street. Ticket costs are as follows: Over 12 years old – $20; 5–12 years old – $10; Under 5 – free. Tours will run 7 days a week at the following times: 6 pm – 6:45 pm; 7 pm – 7:45 pm; 8 pm – 8:45 pm; 9 pm – 9:45 pm; and 10 pm – 10:45 pm. SPECIAL PROMOTION: Book x6 adult tickets and pay only $100.00. This will be your private 45-minute tour.  If you want to make use of the special promotion please call us on 904-325-3366 so we can ensure you get your discount. Guests must make a reservation at HTTPS://STAUGUSTINECITYTOURS.COM and face masks are required.

On the Water

Your family can now experience the magic of the lights from the water with multiple boat tours. Scenic Cruise Nights of Lights Tours depart from the St. Augustine Municipal Marina on select dates from November 14, 2020, to  January 31, 2021. Call (904) 824-1806 or visit here for information or to purchase tickets in advance. Reservations are encouraged because Scenic Tours is operating at 50% capacity. Face masks are required. Florida Water tours depart nightly from Camachee Island Marina Dock A-19 from November 14, 2020, to January 31, 2021. All tours are about 75 minutes long and BYOB. The 7:45 and 9:30 departures are adult-only tours. You can also see the spectacular Nights of Lights from the water aboard the tall ship Schooner Freedom. Nights of Lights Sunset Sails depart nightly (except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day) from November 14, 2020, to Sunday, January 3, 2021, at 4:15 p.m. Call (904) 810-1010 for more information and to make reservations.

Image courtesy of Visit St. Augustine

Horse and Carriage

Ride an old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage around the Old City starting November 14, 2020, to January 31, 2021. The Tasting Tours offers nightly excursions leaving from 47 Cordova Street. All rides include Reservations & VIP Boarding (no waiting in line), a complimentary bottle of wine (per two guests), and souvenir wine glasses (one per guest). There is limited seating on PUBLIC GROUP rides (two per seat). Southern Carriages and Country Carriages also offer smaller group/couple carriage rides.

Roadster Rides

The Tasting Tours also offers a family-friendly Roadster ride with the Grinch (11/14/2020 – 1/1/2021) or Cindy Lou Who (select Saturdays through 1/1/21)! Tickets cost $35 for adults and $20 for kids 12 and under to ride with the Grinch. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for kids 12 and under to ride with Cindy Lou Who.

By Helicopter

Your family can see every twinkle in the city of Old St. Augustine while enjoying a helicopter ride. First City Helicopters offers helicopter rides for up to 3 guests starting November 14, 2020, through January 31, 2021. Each tour costs $350 for up to three guests and departs from the St. Augustine Airport.

By Foot

On most Fridays and Saturdays in December and January, Ancient City Tours guides lead a 90-minute walking tour where participants can enjoy St. Augustine’s history while learning about unique colonial folklore and holiday traditions amid the backdrop of the glow of the city’s white lights.

TIPS FOR PARKING

Parking can be pretty hard this time of year so we recommend heading out midweek to avoid the crowds. If you must head out during the weekend here are a few helpful tips.

Parking Garage

The main parking garage for Nights of Lights is located at 10 S Castillo Drive. There’s a parking fee of $15 per vehicle. If you have a Park Now card the fee is $3 per vehicle. Once the parking garage is full it closes.

Shuttle

During peak nights of Nights of Lights, there’s a FREE shuttle you can catch from two locations. Shuttles arrive about every 20 minutes and drop off at the Visitor Center. There are two locations sightseers can catch the shuttle. For sightseers on the north side of town use the St. Johns County Health Department, 200 San Sebastian View. If you are on the south side of town use the San Marco Lot, 301 San Marco Ave.

Parking Lots

You can find both private and public parking lots in St. Augustine. The private lots will have an attendant and a sign saying how much for parking. The public lot hours are enforced Monday through Saturday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm except at Castillo de San Marcos where parking is also enforced on Sundays. We highly suggest downloading the ParkStAug App and take a look at your parking options before heading out.

NIGHTS OF LIGHTS ATTRACTIONS

Nights of Lights

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