Have a white Christmas on the sugar-white sandy beaches of the Emerald Coast. The weather outside is delightful this time of year, perfect for the variety of planned activities to keep your group full of holiday cheer during the month-long celebration.
What to Do
Special events begin in late November and go through the New Year. Sit back and enjoy Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, put on by Northwest Florida State College. Attend the 18th Annual Sounds of the Season by Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation and visit with Santa at Harbor Walk Village. Your group will love Holiday POPS!, a concert with the Northwest Florida Symphony Chorale featuring holiday attire, a carol sing-a-long and classic Christmas music. For a smooth jazz and jingle bells performance, check out A Peter White Christmas, taking place in the Mattie Kelly Arts Center.
During Destin Harbor’s 28th Annual Destin Boat Parade, enjoy live music, children’s arts and craft, hot chocolate and fireworks above the harbor. ARTwalk on the Harbor, taking place all along the Destin boardwalk every third Sunday of the month, features local and regional artists.
Enjoy the Lunch with Santa at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar. The free family event features live music with Cheryl Jones, arts and crafts with Build-A-Bear, cookie decorating, games, a Home Depot Workshop, face painting, a bouncy house and more. You can even take a turn on Santa’s lap to share your holiday wish list.
When you shop in the Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast, your group will find plenty of stocking stuffers and presents to put under the tree. Choose from traditional malls, open-air complexes, designer outlets and distinctive boutiques—all with ample free parking.
The season will wrap up with a New Year’s celebration. Dine, drink and dance throughout Harbor Walk Village and listen to live music in the restaurants as well as the Harbor Walk Village Main Stage. Fireworks and the 5th Annual Ball Drop descending over the harbor make this event Destin’s most exciting place to be on New Year’s Eve.
Where to Stay
The Breakers of Ft. Walton Beach offers group rates for 10 or more. The Okaloosa Island location is close to shopping, golf, the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier, the Emerald Coast Convention Center and the city of Destin. The property offers free high-speed (wireless) Internet access, an exercise facility with sauna, two outdoor pools (one heated during the winter) and a lighted tennis court. The Breakers also offers a meeting room with kitchen that will accommodate 10-100 people. Seaspray has a Meeting Room & Clubhouse Special. Seaspray’s fully equipped clubhouse/meeting room seats 60 and is ideal for meetings, groups or gatherings. Book five or more units and all units get 10% off and the clubhouse/meeting room is free. Book 10 or more units and get 15% off and the clubhouse/meeting room is free. Best Western Beachfront offers group promotions and a meeting facility that accommodates up to 50 people. Ramada Plaza Beach Resort offers discounts on meeting room rental with a block of 15 rooms and complimentary meeting space (accommodates up to 300) when purchasing food and beverages. Be sure to mention the Emerald Coast meeting special.
There is a variety of hotels, condominiums and private rentals available on The Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast. To see all specials, visit Emerald Coast’s website.
Fourteen area religious organizations, churches, temples, and synagogues call the Emerald Coast home. Whether you are looking for a holiday getaway or a naturally beautiful retreat, Emerald Coast is any religious group’s dream destination.
By Lauren Reiniger