Downtown Lighting Ceremony Nov. 23 Heralds First City Lights Festival

Posted: Oct 03, 2018 06:10 pm Updated: Oct 17, 2023 10:19 am

On Black Friday the Downtown Improvement Board's annual holiday lighting ceremony will kick-off the First City Lights Festival, a season-long lineup of  diverse holiday events that range from Ballet Pensacola’s “The Nutcracker and a “Little Spruce” makers market,  to Christmas lights tours with Go Retro, Winterfest trolley performance tours, O'Riley's Holiday Pub Crawl and many others.

Join your friends in downtown Pensacola at around 5pm immediately following the Winterfest Elf Parade to watch the grumpy Grinch attempt to prevent Augustus Maywho—that mythical mayor of Whoville—from flipping the switch to light up downtown streets with half a million white lights. By then, Winterfest Elf Parade characters from the Peanuts Gang, the Island of Misfit Toys and other Christmas classics, along with hundreds of costumed kids, their wagons, elf ears and sleighs, will have made their way from the T.T. Wentworth Museum to the steps of Artel Gallery to enjoy live  performances,“reindeer” games, faux snow, music, hot chocolate, food, fireworks and more. 

All evening long, Winterfest’s popular Performance Tours will transport visitors along a 60-minute trolley ride through downtown's historic streets, stopping along the way for live street performances featuring carolers, meticulously detailed sets and a full cast of Christmas characters. Tours depart every 15 minutes from the steps of Artel Gallery.

Throughout the holiday season you'll experience music, shopping, food, art and nightlife under a canopy of white lights illuminating downtown Pensacola's historic buildings, parks, shops, galleries and outdoor spaces. Navigate the eclectic district, voted “Florida’s Greatest Place," on foot or by Segway(R), horse and carriage, pedi-cab or a Winterfest trolley. Wandering along Palafox throughout the holidays, you may chance upon live street performances, caroling in the streets, Santa posing for photos and Winterfest Trolley Tours.

Funded in part by grants from the City of Pensacola and Visit Pensacola, the dazzling downtown lights and 68-day festival have become a popular attraction for visitors and residents alike. Pensacola’s Downtown Improvement Board (DIB) conceived the idea of lighting up the district, then coordinating, supporting and branding all of the district’s diverse holiday events synchronously. Come light up the holidays with us!


PHOTO CREDIT: Laura Bogan Photography