KEY WEST, Fla. — Santa might arrive by sailboat instead of sleigh, and balmy Key West has never seen snow, but visitors can immerse themselves in seasonal spirit and celebrations during the 2019 Key West Holiday Fest that runs through Dec. 31.
The festivities are to begin Wednesday, Nov. 27, with the Lighting of the Harborwalk at the Key West Historic Seaport. The illumination festivities are free to attend and are scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Greene Street plaza at Greene and Elizabeth streets.
The harborwalk area from Greene to Grinnell streets is to glimmer with holiday displays throughout the season, all themed to celebrate Key West’s maritime history. Elements are to include more than 61,000 lights, 58 lighted palm trees, a lobster trap holiday tree, a nautically decorated pine tree and a tree adorned with fishing buoys that resemble giant ornaments.
Holiday Fest’s subsequent highlights include tours of historic lighted inns on two consecutive Fridays, Dec. 6 and 13. Visitors can discover the holiday spirit — and Key West’s unique architecture and heritage — by exploring several festively decorated bed-and-breakfast properties each Friday. Tickets for the tours will be available at https://keystix.ticketforce.com/ or by calling 305-296-4959.
On-the-water enthusiasts can show their holiday spirit at the 29th annual Schooner Wharf Bar/Absolut Vodka Lighted Boat Parade set for 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. Dozens of decorated fishing vessels, sailboats, schooners and even kayaks are to light up the Historic Seaport and harbor areas, while spectators can view the procession from resorts, bars and restaurants in and around the seaport.
As well as these signature celebrations, the Key West Holiday Fest calendar is packed with events including the annual hometown holiday parade, festive island lights tours via the Conch Tour Train and Old Town Trolley, seasonal artisan markets and bazaars, pet photos with Santa, a “Violins in Motion” concert and multiple New Year’s Eve “drops” that spoof New York City’s annual Times Square “ball drop.”
Festival information and schedule: keywestholidayfest.com or 305-296-4959
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY