It’s the most magical time of the year. Holiday season is right around the corner! Many of you have already started decorating, shopping, and planning those family pictures and holiday cards to be sent to loved ones. Our beautiful and fair weathered Mississippi Gulf Coast offers many family and budget friendly ways to spend time together all while spreading holiday cheer. Even the grumpiest of Grinches will not be able to hold back the grins this year.
Gartman’s Tree Farm in Saucier is the real deal guys! There is still time to tag your Christmas tree this year. The first three weekends in November they are open from 8am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday. Your family is able to pick out a tree, tag it then come back to pick it up the day after Thanksgiving. This beautiful, family owned tree farm is also a perfect place for family pictures. They only ask that you come during the week, as the weekends are open for tagging. Call 228-669-0844 for more information.
Anyone with young children knows the struggle of finding a “good” Santa for that annual (ahem, sometimes traumatic) photo op. One of the best Santas I have ever seen is here locally at Beau Rivage every year. Starting Sunday, December 16 and going until Thursday, December 20, Photos with Santa at the Buffet is your best bet for a free Santa picture. Each night from 5-9pm receive two complimentary photos with Santa with each purchase of an adult dinner buffet. The kids love this because they get to eat nothing but dessert from the amazing buffet, and the parents can kick back with a delicious dinner they did not have to cook.
Holiday Twinkle Lights
Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival is an annual, extremely impressive display of over 1 million lights, live entertainment and a nightly appearance by Santa himself. Opening night is Friday, November 23 at 5:30pm and continues every night until Sunday, December 30, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Tickets to walk through the display are $10/adults and $5/children (under age 5 is free), and the last ticket is sold at 9:30pm each night. Pictures with Santa are included with admission until Sunday, December 23. Just bring your own camera. They offer free parking across Hwy 90 in the CTA parking garage with a shuttle to take you to Jones Park.
Community Tree Lightings and Parades
Pascagoula will host Downtown for the Holidays on Friday, December 7, which features the 41st Annual City of Pascagoula Christmas Tree Lighting, followed by a holiday parade. Downtown shops and restaurants will be open with local performers, and the night ends with a firework display. This event is from 5:30-9pm and is free to the public.
Ocean Springs will host their Annual Tree Lighting with Santa and Holiday Open House on Thursday, December 6 from 6-8pm. It is free to the public. The tree lighting in Marshall Park downtown features music, refreshments and pictures with Santa. Downtown shops, restaurants and galleries will be open with live music and holiday specials. One of the greatest family owned toy stores still around is in Ocean Springs, Miner’s Doll and Toy Store, and is sure to impress your family, young and old.
Biloxi is home to one of the Coast’s three boat parades. Their Annual Christmas on the Water Boat Parade is Saturday, December 1 at 6pm. Boats parade on the water in full holiday decor. The parade ends with a fireworks display that will entertain all. This event is free to watch with the best viewing locations being between the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor and Casino Row or between the Biloxi Lighthouse and Beau Rivage.
Gulfport has their boat parade, Christmas on the Bayou, the very next weekend on Saturday, December 8 at 6pm. This is also an entertaining lighted boat parade, going down Bayou Bernard, beginning at Gulfport Lake and ending at the mouth of the Bayou at Big Lake. Free to the public bleacher seating is available at Gulfport Lake and also at the foot of the Cowan Lorraine Bridge.
Long Beach has one of the most unique boat parades around. The Sea Santa Sail-A-Bration is a waterless boat parade. It runs on Saturday, December 1 at 5:30pm. The best place to view this parade is near Harper McCaughan Town Green, because after the parade the Town Green is alive with music, snow, lights and pictures with Santa. This event is free to the public.
Pass Christian has their Annual Christmas in the Pass on Friday, December 7 from 5-9pm in their quaint downtown. This merry evening includes not only a holiday parade but also a Christmas tree lighting, music, food and arts. Santa and Mrs. Clause make an appearance in this parade, which is free to the public.
Bay St. Louis is hosting their 11th Annual Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 1 at 11am in Old Town Bay St. Louis. The parade ends at the Depot with the Snowflakes and Sugarplums Festival which is a free event to attend with holiday fun for children of all ages. The festival continues through 3pm with a special appearance by Santa Claus and Ruddie the Reindeer.
Jolly Time for the Kids
One of the most fun activities on the Coast for children of all ages (and children at heart) is the Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum. Nightly, starting Friday, November 23, they are open until 9pm. This museum is home of the largest Lego railroad display in Mississippi, which is so fun to explore, but it is outside where the fun really happens. Their garden displays are covered in twinkling lights and include more than one riding train. You will have to drag your children away from this gem at closing time! The museum is proud to always be free to the public but they appreciate donations to keep the fun running year round. Their 36 Days of Christmas and Trains runs nightly until Monday, December 31.
The City of D’Iberville is hosting their Annual Santa’s Workshop on Saturday, December 1 from 12-3:30pm. There will be fun filled art and crafts, face painting and cookies. Admission is free with a non-perishable food donation. The fun concludes with city Christmas parade and the arrival of Santa.
Lynn Meadows Discovery Center will have their Annual Kids Street Christmas on Friday, December 21 from 5:30-8pm. This is an outdoor event held at Kids Street and On the Green at the center, featuring ornament decorating, refreshments, face painting, performances and a visit with Santa himself. This event is included with museum admission that day. Admission is $3/person (children under 1 are free). Free for LMDC members.
Menorah Lighting and Family Fun
Congregation Beth Israel will host a wonderful family event to celebrate Hanukkah on Sunday, December 2 at 5:30pm. The event includes a potluck dinner, great raffle prizes and goody bags for children. Bring your menorah to light for the first day of Hanukkah. Call 228-539-1655 for more information.
Chabad of Southern of Mississippi is hosting a community menorah lighting on Sunday, December 9 at 4:45pm at Edgewater Mall (behind carousel). Enjoy delicious latkes! Your kids will love making cute Hanukkah glasses and face painting. This is a free event.