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By: Shayne Benowitz

Greater Miami & Miami Beach is a magical place to spend the holiday season with loved ones. Our sunny subtropical climate is perfect for beach days made extra special by a touch of holiday cheer. Discover a treasure trove of activities ideal for the whole family, from a Christmas-themed amusement park to pictures with Santa at a historic estate and performances of the classic “Nutcracker” ballet. You’ll also find holiday light spectaculars at tropical gardens, at the zoo and even at the speedway. Read on for some of our favorite kid-friendly holiday events in Miami this year.

Shimmering Lions at Zoo Lights
Stroll through the twinkling holiday Zoo Lights

Zoo Lights

Select evenings through December 30

Experience Zoo Miami in a whole new light during Zoo Lights, the annual holiday tradition where the zoo stays open late to showcase a dazzling array of lights. Throughout these immersive light displays, you’ll find animal lanterns, festive entertainment and seasonal treats, including cookies and hot chocolate. With a 26-foot-tall LED tree, themed nights and the chance to meet Santa, Zoo Lights is a fun-filled holiday treat for the whole family.

Festive decorations at Deering Estate
Experience the historic holiday decorations at Deering Estate

Holidays at the Deering Estate

Select dates throughout December

Enjoy a family-friendly evening at the Deering Estate in South Dade on the Historic Holidays Evening Strolls on December 2 and 14. Tour the sprawling grounds all decked out in their holiday best, led by designer-in-residence Alfredo Brito and featuring decorations by Miami’s top interior designers. The evening includes a campfire, holiday movies, a mailbox to drop off letters to Santa, and bedtime stories read by Mrs. Claus. Check the calendar for a holiday bay cruise and other holiday events at the Deering Estate throughout December, including story time and photos with Santa on December 17.

Magic of Lights at Homestead Miami Speedway

Through January 1

Homestead Miami Speedway is getting into the holiday spirit with Magic of Lights – where more than a million sparkling lights create themed vignettes all across the grounds. Already a hit at Daytona International Speedway, Miami’s inaugural Magic of Lights features a Tropical Christmas, Fairytale Scenes, Candyland, the 12 Days of Christmas and the Enchanting Tunnel of Lights. Don’t miss the 40-foot-tall “mega tree” with dancing lights synchronized to holiday music. Displays use the latest in LED technology and digital animation to create a truly magical experience.

Santa’s Enchanted Forest

Through January 8

Santa’s Enchanted Forest has been a holiday tradition in Miami for nearly 40 years, with more than a million merrymakers descending on the Christmas-themed amusement park annually. They come for the twinkling holiday lights and more than 100 games, rides, attractions and dozens of food stands, plus the chance to meet Santa. This year, the festivities are taking place at the biggest venue yet, spanning more than 40 acres at its new site in Doral.

Glowing lights of the NightGarden
Discover the NightGarden's illuminated magical fairyland

NightGarden at Fairchild

Through January 8

Pay a visit to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables after dark to enjoy the NightGarden spectacular. More than 20 acres of lush tropical flora are transformed into an illuminated magical fairyland with technicolor flowers and unique sculptures made with a combination of lighting effects, holograms, motion-sensing technology and projection mapping, and accompanied by music. Download the FairyScope app before your visit for a fully immersive augmented-reality experience.

“The Nutcracker” by Miami Youth Ballet at The Moss Center

December 3-4

The Miami Youth Ballet will bring to life Tchaikovsky’s timeless classic, “The Nutcracker,” at The Moss Center with its troupe performing alongside professional guest dancers, all under the direction of artistic directors Yanis Pikeiris and Marielena Mencia. Sit back, relax and enjoy this joyful holiday tradition with the family.

Sparkling trees & butterflies
Explore the festive Nights of Lights at Pinecrest Gardens

Nights of Lights at Pinecrest Gardens

December 11 to January 1

Pinecrest Gardens is transformed into a winter wonderland, Miami-style, during its annual Nights of Lights holiday celebrations. The lush tropical gardens become a sparkling holiday paradise with the addition of thousands of lights. Explore the holiday-themed maze in the lower gardens, indulge in a sweet treat or holiday cocktail and check out special concert performances, magical story time and appearances by Santa.

Sugar Plum Ballerinas dancing
Watch The Miami City Ballet perform George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Miami City Ballet presents George Balanchine's The Nutcracker at the Arsht Center

December 16-24

It simply isn’t the holidays until the curtain rises on the Miami City Ballet’s production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. More than 100 dancers take the stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Miami for this classical ballet performance designed for ages 4 and up. Enjoy an enchanting performance filled with sugar plum fairies, waltzing flowers and swirling snowflakes.

Celebrate Hanukkah in Miami Beach

December 18-26

Make your way to Lincoln Road, the pedestrian-friendly mall that runs through the heart of South Beach, to join a Hanukkah celebration, Miami Beach-style. You’ll find an enormous menorah made of seashells in the plaza where Lincoln Road intersects with Euclid Avenue. Throughout the Festival of Lights, which begins at sundown on December 18 and lasts for eight nights, various Jewish organizations and synagogues host special events and menorah lighting ceremonies for all to enjoy.

Be sure to check out more December events in Miami.

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