Christmas Magic in Naples
There is something extra magical about Naples during the Christmas season. My wife has fond memories of Christmas Eve– family drives through Victoria Park to look at the expanse of lights, trips to the Ritz Carlton to see the impressive gingerbread house displays, and taking advantage of the hometown community feel that the holidays inspire.
Now, with a family of our own, we are blessed to share these experiences with our children. My crazy amazing wife dedicates her time to filling our home with seasonal whimsy (and the captivating smells of Christmas baked goods) while also embracing new traditions —looking at you, Elf on a Shelf —and man, does she get creative with that Elf, along with the help of our two older daughters.
New traditions and old alike, one thing is for sure: there is no place like Naples for the holidays.
Make your Own Magical 12 Days of Christmas
Everyone knows the 12 Days of Christmas, and while, in theory, the extravagant gift-giving is romantic, so many days with so many birds would have anyone feeling just a little crazy. There are better ways to spread holiday joy. These are some of our favorite traditions for the 12 ways you should spend your days leading up to everyone’s favorite holiday.
You can explore curated holiday trees decorated by local artists and businesses. Enjoy pop-up shops featuring boutique gifts, unique holiday tea blends, and more! Tickets to this event are included when you attend this year’s production of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, presented by the Naples Players, or a performance of the Wonderettes! This one will surely fill you with the holiday spirit and give you an early opportunity to cross everyone off your holiday shopping list.
3rd Ave has some of the most beautiful and complex holiday light displays. The city and shops alike fully embrace the holiday magic. They will transport you to a winter wonderland nestled safely in the comfort of the warm Florida weather. Santa and Mrs. Claus start the celebration early, arriving on Nov 20th and appearing throughout December with opportunities to listen to traditional carolers, pet pictures with Santa, and even a night of scheduled snowfall!
Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Florida isn’t exactly known to have snow-friendly weather for Christmas. And let’s be honest, Christmas is really the only day that snow is acceptable. But if you find yourself missing the magic of a fresh snowfall, you can attend SnowFest for games in the snow made just for a day of fun. There are also other activities, such as bounce houses, face painting, vendors, and more!
5th Ave South is a must-visit for everyone in the Naples area during the season. The lights are hypnotizing, and the whole community pitches in for this must-see event. Santa and Mrs. Clause are available for pictures, carolers stroll the streets, shop fronts are decked out, and a handful of local restaurants and bistros offer limited holiday menus for attendees. (Though if you want to participate in these limited menus, reservations ahead of time are a must!) Tree lighting ceremonies occur on Dec 8th and Dec 9th from 5-10 pm.
From Broad St South to 8th St. South, this parade is sure to put anyone in the holiday spirit. This local staple features floats, boats, and more from businesses, local clubs, community organizations, and more!
This is one of our absolute favorites. The Collier fairgrounds are wholly transformed with lights that are even more impressive (and successful) than National Lampoon. There are traditional displays portraying Santa and his workshops and other more modern displays like my favorite, Prehistoric Christmas, featuring Christmas dinosaurs. (What is not to love about Christmas and dinosaurs?) Cars get in for just $28 a ticket. Party and Limos can access this display for just $50.
Looking for the best places to check out Christmas Lights in Naples? These are our picks: Victoria Park Neighborhood (Make sure you wave as you drive by! Not only is the historically THE BEST neighborhood for Chistmas light displays, but it is FREE! ) Mercato Tree Lighting CeremonyCoconut Tree LightingMagic of Lights
The target audience may be children aged 9-12, but everyone in the family is sure to have fun at the Teddy Bear Tea. Prepare for a delightful afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, scones, and more. Attendees will be presented with a keepsake photo with Santa from the day, along with a plush teddy gift to keep to remember the holiday joy. Teddy Bear tea reservations are available for local residents and resort guests only.
This is the second holiday event from the Ritz Carlton on our list, and that is no surprise (you’ll see it pop up a few more times!), as the resort elevates the Christmas season in a way that delights people of all ages. The timeless tradition of gingerbread houses is taken to the extreme in this talented culinary display of massive talent in this life-sized gingerbread house crafted entirely from confections by the in-house pastry chefs. Down to the last gumdrop, this house is a delicious work of art that people from all over flock to take in. Enjoy snacks and cocoa while you take in the sights and write your letter to Santa to drop into the magical mailbox to the North Pole. You have been good, after all. Tickets are available for local residents, with proceeds going to the Conservancy of SW Florida. They are complimentary for resort guests. $25 covers a family of five and includes parking, smores, snacks, and other experiences!
The Seagate Baptist Church puts on the Naples live Nativity. It features a fully costumed (and with live animals!) re-enactment of the reason for the season. This outdoor event is free to attend and offers snacks, refreshments, and a gift for families to take home.
Is there anything more Christmassy than breakfast with the big man himself? Breakfast with Santa is available at many locations in the Naples area. Still, we can’t praise the Ritz Carlton’s take on this tradition enough. You’ll find that fine dining and Christmas spirit are a marriage of perfection for you and your family this holiday. Early reservations are a must (available to local residents and resort guests) as this is one of the area’s most popular ways to celebrate!
Looking for the best ways to visit with Santa? We have got you covered! These are our picks for the best places to see the man behind the gifts!
Breakfast with Santa at the Ritz Carlton
Santa at The 50th Annual on 5th Ave South
Pictures with Santa at the Coastland Center Mall
This market features local artisans, crafters, and food! With sweet snacks to warm ciders and cocoa, this must-visit market will surely add magic to your family’s holiday. But perhaps the most magical thing at this event is the nightly flurries in the air that give the joy of snowfall in the comfort of warm Florida weather. Who says you can’t have the best of both worlds?
Christmas isn’t all about receiving gifts, and that is something that my family and the communities around us are very passionate about. Multiple charity and donation events around the holidays highlight Naples locals’ kindness and giving hearts. This is one of the many reasons we love our home so much. Many of the events we highlighted in 12 Days of Christmas picks donate proceeds to SWFL Conservancy and give back directly to the community while helping preserve the natural beauty of our environment.
Our Christmas Charity pick for this year is Charity Chix! Charity Chix is a group of about 18 women in the Naples community who are dedicated to giving back to those in the community. When Charity Chix works with an organization they underwrite the whole process and all donations go directly to the organization they are working with. Because of this Charity Chix, takes choosing very seriously. Each year the Charity Chix picks around 6 different projects to give back to in the community, culminating in the end-of-year Christmas Fundraising party. This Christmas party includes a speaker from the organization they choose to work with, music, food, and an auction that directly supports their fundraising goals.
This year, the Charity Chix worked to raise funds for New Horizons of South West Florida. New Horizons is an after-school program that works within the community to provide mentoring, tutoring, and character-building to underprivileged and underserved children. They have been serving the community since 2002. These kids often have both parents working, are struggling in school, or are learning English as a second language. New Horizons was specifically looking to replace their outdated busses, with new 15-passenger vans, and the Charity Chix pledged to cover the donation costs of one of these vans. These vans allow for New Horizons to transport children from their schools to the after-school program, as well as back home at the end of the day, should their parents be unable to pick them up. The total amount of donations needed to cover the cost of one of these 15-passenger vans is around $50,000. Thanks to the generosity of local business owners, families, and others in the community, Charity Chix was able to raise over $60,000 for New Horizons this year! If you want to join Charity Chix and their support of New Horizons of South West Florida, you can follow them on Facebook for new giving opportunities.
There is so much holiday magic in Naples this time of year, and we can’t wait to share it with you!