KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Key West may be Florida’s subtropical southernmost island, but revelers can enjoy events as seasonal as Santa’s North Pole celebrations during the 2023 Key West Holiday Fest that runs through Dec. 31.
The Harbor Walk of Lights at the Key West Historic Seaport is illuminated nightly with holiday lights across the area from Greene to Grinnell streets, glimmering with maritime- and ocean-themed displays throughout the season. A lobster trap holiday tree, a tree adorned with fishing buoys that resemble giant ornaments, and a nautically decorated pine — as well as dozens of brightly lit palms — add to the festive flavor.
Holiday Fest highlights include the popular Holiday Historic Inn Tours on two consecutive Fridays, Dec. 8 and 15. Visitors can discover the seasonal spirit — and Key West’s unique architecture and heritage — by exploring several decorated properties each Friday. Tickets for the tours are available at etix.com/ticket/online/viewPerformanceGroup.jsp?group_id=1527.
On-the-water enthusiasts can show their holiday spirit at the 32nd annual Schooner Wharf Bar/Absolut Vodka Lighted Boat Parade, a celebration of seafaring heritage set for 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. Dozens of lavishly decorated excursion catamarans and tall ships, fishing boats and even kayaks are to light up the Historic Seaport and harbor areas. Spectators can view the parade from resorts, bars and restaurants in and around the seaport.
In addition to those signature celebrations, the Key West Holiday Fest calendar is packed with events including the annual hometown parade, a colorful concert and bazaar with a seasonal light show at the Custom House Museum, the popular Holiday Village and “Be-Lighted” Bike Ride, a “Parade of Paws” for costumed critters at Key West’s oceanside dog park, artisan markets offering unique locally crafted gifts, and holiday lights tours via the Conch Tour Train and Old Town Trolley.
Festivities are to conclude on New Year’s Eve, when island bars and restaurants stage multiple “drops” to welcome 2024 — all designed as warm-weather alternatives to New York City’s annual Times Square “ball drop.”
Holiday Fest information and schedule: keywestholidayfest.com or 305-296-4959
Crowds flock to the sunset lighting of the Harbor Walk of Lights at the Key West Historic Seaport. Photo: Carol Tedesco
Holiday Historic Inn Tours are packed with seasonal spirit — and Key West’s unique architecture and heritage. Photo: Carol Tedesco