Here are some delightful tours that transport guests around St. Augustine's spectacular Nights of Lights holiday display by land and sea.
Nov. 19, 2022 to Jan. 30, 2023
During the Christmas holidays, the city of St. Augustine becomes a festival of twinkling white lights as it hosts the annual Nights of Lights holiday display. Visitors and long-time residents alike are treated to a wonderland of lights adorning the Ancient City, beginning at the Plaza de la Constitución, with its stunning holiday tree in the center and oaks strung with lights, and stretching out to illuminate all of St. Augustine's historic district. From roof shingle to doorway entrance, the downtown buildings take on a glow of holiday cheer, with millions of twinkling white lights covering the historic sites, bed and breakfasts, museums, restaurants, and shops of the Nation's Oldest City.
There are many ways to experience the Nights of Lights, including just wandering the historic downtown streets and taking in the festival of lights that Rachael Ray Magazine named one of the nation's "twinkliest" and National Geographic Magazine listed as one of the Top 10 Cities in the World for Holiday Lighting Displays. The lights are on from November 19, 2022, to January 31, 2023.
For those who want a different perspective on the lights, or just want to be sure they see it all with a minimum of foot weariness, numerous tours are offered throughout the season, some every night and some just on special nights.
Guests can see the lights, sing Christmas carols and experience the spirit of the season on Old Town Trolley's Famous Nights of Lights tour. The tour includes complimentary magical viewing glasses, which turn the lights into glittering snowflakes or star shapes. Complimentary sugar cookies and warm apple cider are also offered during the ride.
Tours depart nightly from Saturday, November 19, 2022, through Saturday, January 29, 2023. Guests can catch the trolley at the Visitors Information Center (10 W. Castillo Drive) across from the Historic Downtown Parking Facility. Operating hours are from 6 to 9 p.m. through December 31, 2022, and changing to a shorter schedule (from 6 to 8 p.m.) in January 2023. The tour is by reservation only. Guests can reserve an entire row of seats (up to 4 people) on the trolley, which has plexiglass dividers between each row. The price is $69.95 per row. For information or to purchase tickets online, visit here.
Relaxing aboard one of Ripley's festive red trains for a "lightseeing" tour of the Nights of Lights, guests can delight in the special effects of their magical viewing glasses on the dazzling light displays, join in the holiday caroling or just enjoy the company and the holiday spirit.
Also known as Santa's Red Express, Ripley's Nights of Lights tours run nightly from Saturday, November 19, 2022, through Sunday, January 29, 2023 (excluding Christmas day). Hours in November and December are from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 6 to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. In January, tours run nightly from 6 to 8 p.m. Visit here for more information.
Scenic Cruise offers Nights of Lights Tours aboard the Victory III on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from November 19 through December 31, 2022, and then on Saturdays only in January. Departure times are 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. from the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, 111 Avenida Menendez. Reservations are encouraged. Call (904) 824-1806, ext. 210, for reservations.
Celebrate the beauty and festivity of Nights of Lights from the water with St. Augustine Boat Tours. Three tours are available nightly at 6 p.m., 7:20 p.m., and 9 p.m. Special 3-D glasses make the viewing even more fun. Nights can be cool on the water, so guests are asked to dress for the weather. This trip lasts approximately 1.25 hours and departs from the Conch House Marina on Anastasia Island, just a short distance from the historic downtown across the Bridge of Lions. This tour can be booked individually or for private group charters. St. Augustine Boat Tours runs nightly from November 19, 2022,to January 31, 2023. Call (904) 687-8297 or visit here for reservations.
This tour offers breathtaking water views of St. Augustine's festival of lights, with three tours going out nightly. The first, which departs at 6 p.m., is ideal for kids 3 and older. Later tours are available at 7:45 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Excluded dates are November 24 and December 25, 2022, and January 10, 17, and 24, 2023. Call (904) 827-7728 or visit here for reservations.
St. Augustine Land and Sea Tours offers private golf cart tours beginning on Saturday, November 19, 2022, and continuing daily through January 31, 2023. Parties of up to seven may take a 30-45-minute private ride throughout the town. Tours start on the hour from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will take between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on the traffic. Spanish-speaking drivers are available. For more information, go here or call (904) 679-9880.
From Saturday, November 19, 2022, through Tuesday, January 31, 2023, St. Augustine Sailing will offer Nights of Lights charters every night, with three packages available. The Glitter Package is a three-hour tour plus a four-course dinner, The Sparkle Package is a one-hour tour that includes sweet and savory bites with a festive beverage for up to eight guests, and the Twinkle Package is a one-hour trip with dessert and a festive beverage, available as a private charter for up to eight guests, or as a shared charter, starting at $99.00 per person. Call (904) 829-0648 or visit here for more information and to make reservations.
Daily from 4:15 to 6:15 p.m., guests can see the city light up aboard the Black Raven as the sun sets. Sing along as the pirate crew sings Christmas Carols and Pirate Sea Shanties. On the weekends, guests can join in on the Black Raven's Ugly Sweater Contests. Reservations are required. For more information or to make reservations, visit here.
Glide along under pedal power in the Old Town Cycle Cruise Holly Jolly Yachty tour during Nights of Lights. From Saturday, November 19, 2022, through Tuesday, January 31, 2023, Old Town Cycle Cruise will take guests along the waterfront every evening at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Guests can bring their own cocktails and can opt to provide the power by peddling during the cruise. The captain will steer and make sure everyone has a great time as well as many opportunities to enjoy the Nights of Lights from the water. Call (904) 599-9492 for more details or visit here for more information.
Gold Tours offers another option for viewing St. Augustine's Nights of Lights — up close and personal, with no waiting. These electric cart tours are 45 minutes long and can accommodate up to six people. The tours depart at 6, 6:30, 7:30, and 8 p.m. Sundays, and Tuesdays through Thursdays, November 19, 2022, to January 31, 2023. Call (904) 325-0547 for more information.
Bluewater Adventure offers Cycle Boat Tours every evening during Nights of Lights. Boats generally leave from English Landing Marina at 509 Ponce de Leon Blvd., where there is plenty of free parking. Guests may choose to have the boat meet their party at other docks along the rivers. Bluewater Adventure only books friend and family groups so that social distancing is maintained, and boats are sanitized between trips. Guests are encouraged to wear warm clothing and to bring beverages and snacks. Bluewater Adventure will provide ice, music, a captain, and hot chocolate. Visit their website here, or call (904) 460-4004 for more information or to book a trip.
Explore Tours and Pickups offers up-close and personal holiday tours during Nights of Lights. The tours are 45 minutes to one hour and are available nightly from Saturday, November 19, 2022, to Tuesday, January 31, 2023. Tours are available from 6 to 9:30 p.m. The cost is $75 per row (three seats), and $180 for the entire cart (10 seats). Vehicles are not restricted to a set route. Visit here to book a spot. Dogs are welcome. Call (904) 853-1500 to make a reservation.
For a bird's-eye view of the Ancient City decorated with millions of white lights, Old City Helicopters offers two Nights of Lights tours every night during the season. Reservations are required. The cost is $200 for up to three passengers. Call (904) 824-5506 or visit here for more information.
See St. Augustine's spectacular Nights of Lights from the water aboard the tall ship Schooner Freedom. Nights of Lights Sunset Sails depart at 4:15 p.m. nightly (except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day) from November 19, 2022, to Sunday, January 1, 2023. Call (904) 810-1010 for more information and to make reservations.
Another option to tour St. Augustine's Nights of Lights is on a horse-drawn carriage or on an old-fashioned roadster with The Tasting Tours. Call (904) 325-3911. Both private and group tours are offered.
St. Augustine City Tours offers a comfortable and up-close view of the city's annual Nights of Lights display in a luxury eight-seater golf cart. The tours are offered nightly (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day) from November 19, 2022, through January 31, 2023.
Pineapple Rides and Tours offers Nights of Lights Tours with Jack Frost as the driver of their electric 10-person vehicle. The ice-blue, energetic "Jack" takes guests on a one-hour tour at 6, 7, 8, and 9 p.m. Tickets are purchased by rows of three, and plexiglass is installed between the rows.
About Nights of Lights
St. Augustine's Nights of Lights festival traces its origin to the Spanish tradition of displaying a white candle in the window during the Christmas holidays. The tradition continues in 2022, with more than 3 million white lights twinkling on the wonderful old buildings and landmarks along the bayfront and throughout the city's brick streets.
The City of St. Augustine offers a Free Park and Ride Shuttle Service for Nights of Lights from November 19, to December 30, 2022. For information about operating times as well as pick-up and drop-off locations, visit here.