KEY WEST, Fla. — Although the southernmost island in the continental United States has never experienced a traditional white Christmas, visitors can immerse themselves in seasonal spirit and celebrations during the 2021 Key West Holiday Fest.
Continuing through Dec. 31, the festival is packed with events designed to spread holiday cheer — all spiced with an individualistic Florida Keys flair.
Throughout the holiday season, the Harborwalk at the Key West Historic Seaport, stretching from Greene to Grinnell streets, is to glimmer with thousands of holiday lights and displays themed to celebrate Key West’s maritime history. Elements are to include dozens of lighted palm trees, a lobster trap holiday 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. 10 and 17. Visitors can discover the Yuletide spirit — and Key West’s unique architecture and heritage — by exploring several lavishly decorated bed-and-breakfast properties each Friday. Sweets, treats and libations are to add to the merriment. For ticketing information and links, visit keywestholidayfest.com.
On-the-water enthusiasts can show their seasonal spirit at the 30th annual Schooner Wharf Bar/Absolut Vodka Lighted Boat Parade set for 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11. Dozens of decorated fishing vessels, sailboats, schooners and even dinghies are to light up the Key West 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 festival calendar is packed with events including the annual hometown holiday parade, a traditional family-friendly favorite. The parade kicks off at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at White Street and Truman Avenue and rolls down Truman and Duval Street. Marching bands, floats, community and school groups and even Santa typically participate to spread good cheer.
Revelers also can enjoy holiday lights tours via the Conch Tour Train and Old Town Trolley, a free concert and bazaar at the historic Custom House Museum, festive fundraising events that benefit pets and people, seasonal artisan markets, an Eaton Street stroll featuring diverse musical performances, multiple New Year’s Eve “drops” that spoof New York City’s annual Times Square “ball drop” and much more.
Festival information and schedule: keywestholidayfest.com or 305-296-4959
The harbor walk at the Key West Historic Seaport is illuminated throughout the Key West Holiday Fest revelries that take place across the island city through New Year’s Eve. (Photo: Carol Tedesco/Key West Holiday Fest)
Island City House, located at 411 William St. in Key West, is one of the enchanting locations that revelers can explore during the 2021 Holiday Historic Inn Tours, taking place Dec. 10 and 17. (Photo: Carol Tedesco/Key West Holiday Fest)
Highlights include a lighted boat parade with decorated fishing vessels, sailboats, schooners and even dinghies.