From the City of St. Augustine
With just days to go until the start of the cityâ€™s annual holiday celebration, Nights of Lights, preparations by city crews are nearing completion on public buildings and throughout the cityâ€™s many parks as strands of lights are hung over massive live oaks and wrapped around the tall straight palms that line the streets.
Equally busy are the hundreds of residents and business owners who are working diligently outlining nearly every roof line and arched doorway of the Spanish Colonial buildings and the tall sturdy towers of the 19th Century hotels.
Then when the lights are turned on Light-Up! Night, Nov. 21, all the hard work pays off as the Nationâ€™s Oldest City becomes a city of light with a magnificent display of white lights that shine through Jan. 31.
For the first time, this yearâ€™s Light-Up! Night will also serve as a kick-off for the season of giving by offering the community an opportunity to give. United Way of St. Johns County will be collecting non-perishable food donations to benefit the more than 30 agencies and many food pantries throughout the county the organization serves.
It all begins on Light-Up! Night
As it has each year for the last two decades, the Nights of Lights begins with Light-Up! Night on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This year that is November 21.
The program begins at 4 p.m. with a spirited performance by Showtime USA, a high energy song and dance troupe of young people that deliver a wide variety of holiday musical favorites. Showtime USAâ€™s performance will be in front of the St. Augustine City Hall (the Lightner Museum), 75 King St. Then at 5:30 p.m. from the historic Plaza de la ConstituciÃ³nâ€™s Gazebo, the 16-piece All Star Orchestra takes the stage with great swing and big band sounds all in grand holiday style.
At 6:30 p.m. the lighting ceremony begins and culminates with the turning of a switch that fills every corner of the city with brilliant, magical holiday sparkle. Entertainment
continues in the Plaza until 8:00pm as the thousands who have gathered for the lighting linger in the historic downtown area for dinner, some early holiday shopping and to simply enjoy the beauty of the city and the company of good friends.
Kicking off the season of giving by giving
From 3 to 6 p.m. on Light-Up! Night, United Way of St. Johns County will be collecting non-perishable food donations at five locations. Each collection point is conveniently located so donations may be dropped off after parking and on the way to the Plaza for the lighting ceremony. Those locations are:
- at the exit of the Historic Downtown Parking Facility,
- on the east side of Francis Field,
- on the front lawn of Lightner Museum/City Hall,
- at Davis Park at the east end of Bridge of Lions, and
- the Cathedral Basilicaâ€™s east courtyard.
This kick-off to the giving season will help United Way of St. Johns County in its continuing effort to serve the needs of food pantries across the county. But opportunities to donate do not end after Light-Up! Night; thatâ€™s just the beginning.
A December to Remember
Community First Credit Unionâ€™s A December to Remember, the St. Augustine Amphitheatreâ€™s free holiday entertainment series, will offer attendees many opportunities to donate non-perishable food items to the United Way of St. Johns County. The series will feature several headliners where the â€œadmissionâ€ will be a canned food donation, at least one can per person.
The first such performance is The Blind Boys of Alabama on Nov. 29 followed by Clint Black onÂ Dec. 5. The series will also include family movie nights, Santa appearances, train rides, and several other family-friendly, community-based holiday festivities. All free, family-friendly events at the Amphitheatre are presented by Friends of the St. Augustine Amphitheatre
For more information on all the programming of Community First Credit Unionâ€™s A December to Remember, visit www.staugamphitheatre.com.
For more information on the work of United Way of St. Johns County, visit www.unitedway-sjc.org.
Nights of Lights continues through January 31
But of course, Light-Up! Night is just the first night of Nights of Lights for the holiday display continues, every night, through the end of January. The best way to experience the Nights of Lights and get the best views is to park at the Historic Downtown Parking Facility, adjacent to the St. Augustine Visitor Information Center, and then enjoy displays by strolling the city’s Old World streets or taking a horse and carriage ride or board one of the tour vehicles. Simply put, get out of the car and enjoy the lights.
Also, since the lights burn bright every night, many are discovering a more leisurely pace, shorter lines and less traffic by visiting the city midweek when many hotels and bed and breakfast inns offer reduced rates and parking is much easier.
For complete visitor information, including a calendar of events during the 10-week long Nights of Lights and details on the city’s wide variety of accommodations, restaurants and dining opportunities, visit www.NightsOfLights.com.
Those who make it all possible
The Nights of Lights is funded by the City of St. Augustine and the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council. The City of St. Augustine manages the installation and maintenance of displays at over 100 public property locations, including public buildings, parks, and gardens throughout the city. A great deal of credit for the success of the Nights of Lights must go to the businesses and residents who voluntarily participate at their own expense truly making the St. Augustine a city of light.
For guidelines regarding Nights of Lights displays, click here.
For visitor information during the Nights of Lights visit www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com.