Hometown Christmas in Key West

Santa Claus rows a boat in the Hometown Christmas Parade in Key West - photo by Barry Fitzgerald


You probably didn’t know that Santa Claus can row a boat just as well as he can handle a reindeer-powered sleigh … unless, of course, you’ve been to Key West for Christmas. Although the snow never flies in the tropics, that doesn’t keep Santa Claus or the magic spirit of Christmas away. Key West Christmas officially opens the first Saturday night of December, with an annual hometown parade delighting thousands of residents and visitors of all ages.

As the parade winds all the way down Truman Ave to famous Duval St, Keys kids are given a strong dose of Christmas cheer with bags of candy to throw into to the parade, while Santa is known to delight parade-goers by tossing small beach balls into their arms. The special Saturday night parade event brings back the old-fashioned feeling of a family Christmas centering on local businesses, artisans, schools, civic groups, and churches. And from this point on, the spirit of the holiday season is full on alive with the holiday lights and music all around the island!

Key West is a tiny walking island city, and strolling around downtown Old Town is a fantastic way to take in the spirit. There’s plenty of opportunity for the kids to visit Santa (and Mrs. Claus) with their Christmas wish-lists. Grand historic Victorian homes of Key West all aglow with twinkling lights look like gingerbread houses come-to-life. Island holiday shopping is made easy with lots of delightful local downtown stores and boutiques to shop in, and a few scaled down ‘big box’ stores on N. Roosevelt Boulevard to ‘fill in the blanks.’

You can also hop the ‘Conch Train’ or trolley tour that will make the rounds of the island sites on a regular basis. Harris Avenue, in the New Town neighborhood of Key West, is a well known residential street of local families and is famous for its ‘over-the-top’ outdoor lights and holiday yard art.  A popular Key West tradition for the whole family is to take the Conch Train for a night time tour of viewing the decorations and singing Christmas carols.

On Christmas Eve, Santa’s sleigh can usually be spotted flying over the Florida Keys via the ‘help’ of a local pilot in a small low-flying aircraft. And the young and ‘young-at-heart’ are always delighted to see Santa in shorts and a flowered shirt, and discover that even the ‘Old Saint Nick’ enjoys some Key West sunshine and a hammock under a palm tree, after a rigorous night of delivering packages all over the world.

Key West has an undying sense of community spirit that strongly unites residents from ‘all walks of life’ and opens arms to everyone all year around as “One Human Family.” Combined with the magic of the holidays, it’s hard to find a more genuine hometown Christmas anywhere in the world, combining tradition with a unique island twist.

There are plenty of things to see and do on the island over the holidays, so why not stay in an authentic vacation home and take a break from the cold weather before winter sets in ‘up north.’ Vacation Homes of Key West has an amazing selection of wonderful authentic vacation rental properties to rent for the holiday season. Beat the pre-holiday blues with an escape to the sunshine. Just imagine staging your family holiday in an historic Key West gingerbread house. And for just the two of you, it doesn’t get much better than a stay in a romantic little cottage … with a pool and a garden!


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