Christmas Celebrations in Florida's State Parks

L. Cane

There is no shortage of Christmas events for people living in or visiting Florida. Hotels, theme parks, and malls have special events, but these can feel commercialized to some.

For those who like to be outside and are looking for free or low-cost events, the state parks can be a wonderful place for Christmas celebrations. Here is a list that may be worth your consideration:

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park Festival of Lights, White Springs: From December 9th -23rd, this park in White Springs will be awash in light beginning at dusk. Popcorn, hot cocoa, and marshmallows will be served. There will be a bonfire, Santa greetings, and kids' crafts. Admission is $4. Children under 3 are free. The address is 11016 Lillian Saunders Drive in White Springs.

Celebration of Lights, Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park: Beginning on Saturday, December 17 and ending on Friday, December 23, this park will offer a synchronized sound and light show along with live entertainment each night. The schedule of live entertainment is as follows:

December 17: Singer Lisa Coan and Santa's arrival.

December 18: 50's R&B music with Stan Prinston of The Flamingos.

December 19: 50s music with Mike Webb.

December 20: Classic and southern rock with Curtis Frazier.

December 21: Casey Young with a Jimmy Buffett vibe.

December 22: JoJo Jones performing music of the Janis Joplin era.

December 23: Singer Billy "Elvis" Lindsey and Santa.

Suggested donations are $7 for adults and $3 for children. The address is 4150 S Suncoast Boulevard in Homosassa.

Eden Gardens Luminary and Wesley House Christmas Tour, Santa Rosa Beach: This is a free event on December 10th. Enjoy over 2,000 luminaries along the paths of the park. Historic Wesley House will be decorated for the holiday, and live music with carolers will be on site. Cookies and hot beverages are provided as well. The address is 181 Eden Gardens Road in Santa Rosa Beach.

Maclay Gardens State Park, Camilla Christmas, Tallahassee: On December 2nd from 6-9pm enjoy holiday music, decor, and candlelight. Hot cider and cookies will be served, and Santa will make an appearance. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. The address is 3540 Thomasville Rd in Tallahassee.

Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, Christmas on the Florida Frontier, Bushnell: On December 3rd from 2-7pm, guests can step back in time and create crafts from another era such as fashioning corn husk dolls, and participating in soap carving, punch tin crafts, and candle dipping. Old-time music will be playing, carols will be sung, and you can visit a soldier's encampment. Admission is $5 per vehicle, and the address is 7200 Battlefield Parkway in Bushnell.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park: Santa's Camp Christmas, Santa Rosa Beach: From December 9th - 10th, enjoy crafts, music, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Kids can mail letters to Santa. The address is 7525 West County Highway 30A in Santa Rosa Beach.

The state parks are popular Florida destinations because they're a way to enjoy "old Florida" for little cost. Some of them offer this at Christmas time as well.

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