Christmas in Miami: A Guide to the Magic and Sunshine of the Holidays
Miami sparkles with festive energy each December as palm trees are strung with twinkling lights and locals and visitors alike celebrate the holidays in sunny Florida fashion. Christmas in Miami offers a unique blend of Latin culture, Art Deco district decked out for the season, and endless blue skies perfect for beachside Santa sightings. From Zoo Miami's Santa-themed events to concerts by the FaLaLaLa Choral Group, Miami serves the Christmas spirit with a side of warmth and tropical flair. As Frank Sinatra sings, “It's December in Miami, the weather is fine!” So leave your mittens and scarves behind and join us down south this Christmas!
Weather and Average Temperatures
While much of the country is bundling up against icy winds and snowstorms come December, Miami stays pleasant and mild. Average high temperatures reach 77°F and average lows only drop to 65°F – certainly warm enough to stroll Miami Beach in shorts or sport a sundress to Christmas dinner! The water remains swimmer-friendly as well, hovering around 75°F near the end of the year.
Occasionally Miami sees cooler Christmas days in the 60s or a random cold front that necessitates a light sweater. But snow is unheard of, allowing sand to substitute for sleds and water sports to replace ice skating!
Festive Events and Attractions
Christmas events fill up the social calendar in Miami, ranging from concerts to markets, exhibitions, races, and festivals. Popular recurring events include:
Art Basel Miami
This vibrant contemporary arts festival welcomes over 250 leading galleries from across the globe each December. Art Basel offers not just exciting exhibitions but also special events, parties, public art displays, and star sightings!
Miami Book Fair
Authors, bookworms, and literature lovers flock to the immense Miami Book Fair each November. Fiction, poetry, art catalogs, unique journals – bibliophiles will be in heaven browsing the endless aisles and attending readings and seminars.
Miracle on Flagler Street
Downtown Miami’s Miracle on Flagler Street turns W Flagler Street into an illuminated winter wonderland. The event includes music, food, Santa sightings, domino tournaments, shopping, and fun for all ages!
Zoo Miami's Santa's Enchanted Forest
Meeting Santa amidst twinkling lights strung over tropical foliage and fauna makes for an unforgettable Christmas experience. Kids can visit with Saint Nick, snap selfies at holiday-themed photo stations, and enjoy free activities included with Zoo admission.
FaLaLaLa Choral Festival
Whether the beloved FaLaLaLa Choral Group is performing at the elegant Olympia Theater downtown or making surprise appearances at Pinecrest Gardens, they infuse Miami with joyful sounds of Christmas.
Can't Miss Attractions
Beyond the seasonal celebrations, Miami always shines with world-class attractions worth enjoying year-round or during a Christmas vacation. Top sites include:
Art Deco Historic District
Miami Beach's iconic Art Deco neighborhood dazzles year-round but looks especially magical when the historic buildings are adorned with glittering holiday lights and palm trees are wrapped in tinsel. Wander through the pastel paradise and admire the exotic architectural details as you shop for unique gifts and soak in the glamorous ambiance.
Pérez Art Museum Miami
This stunning waterfront museum offers bold, inspiring contemporary art shows perfect for some air-conditioned cultural enrichment during warm winter days. The angular modern architecture is itself an artistic statement. Grab a peppery cafecito Cuban coffee afterwards on the patio overlooking Biscayne Bay.
Splashed in color, the endless murals and eye-popping graffiti artworks of Wynwood Walls practically pulse to the beat of Miami. The cutting-edge district also claims some of Miami’s hippest bars, eateries, and boutiques in which to while away an afternoon.
At this world-class aquarium, visitors can watch the antics of playful dolphins and seals or feed stingrays and sharks (safely!). Mixed among the sea life shows and exhibits is seasonal festive décor spreading Christmas cheer.
The beautiful people meets paradise on South Beach’s white sands, perfect for working on your base tan while snow blankets everywhere else. The buzzing bars, restaurants, and boutiques provide prime people-watching. And the colorful lifeguard stands dressed up for Christmas make iconic backdrops for holiday photos!
Holiday Dining, Shopping & Decor
Beyond Miami's usual dynamite dining and world-class shopping, the magic of the holidays infuses restaurants and stores with festive feasts, flashy decorations, and gifts galore.
Dining Out for Christmas
Book your table early at Miami's hot eateries! Reservations fill fast by mid-December. Trendy haute cuisine havens like MC Kitchen host lavish Christmas Day feasts. Classic favorites such as Joe’s Stone Crab offer special holiday menus piled high with Florida stone crab claws. For Christmas Eve, locals flock to Italian restaurants like Casa Toscana or Puerto Sagua for the Feast of the Seven Fishes.
Christmas Lights Tours
Several tour companies offer Christmas Lights Tours via boat or bus to view decked out neighborhoods drenched in holiday magic. Popular spots include Brickell Avenue downtown, the Venetian Islands, Winter Wonderland at Tropical Park, and the merry main streets of Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Little Havana, and South Beach.
Christmas Markets & Fairs
Miami gets its holiday shopping done at fabulous Christmas markets! The German Christmas Market brings Old World holiday charm to Miami Beach's SoundScape Park. Here visitors can browse imported beers, gifts, and gourmet German treats while kids play in “snow” and Santa greets families. The Coconut Grove Christmas Tree Lighting Festival similarly offers an open-air market with art, gifts, decorations, and joyful carols.
For the ultimate holiday ambiance, book Christmas in Miami at one of the city’s festively decked out hotels. The Biltmore Hotel Coral Gables ushers in yuletide spirit with its enormous, opulent Christmas tree and holiday tea service. The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne sets out over a dozen designer Christmas trees. And restaurants like the Four Seasons Surf Club's Le Sirenuse Miami trim their al fresco trees in cheerful custom ornaments.
Weather Changes, What to Pack
Miami's eternal summer makes packing easy for Christmas travel. Leave the snow boots and parkas behind! Visitors should plan for warm 80°F days and balmy nights. At this temperature, light layers work perfectly for comfort. Breathable, casual fabrics like cotton and linen fit the relaxed vibe. Still, be ready for the occasional quick shower with a folding umbrella or light rain jacket. Do as the locals do and embrace color. Bright sundresses, flowy pants and tops, even festive Hawaiian shirts capture the vibrant spirit. Just don't forget the sun protection! Wide-brimmed sun hats and UV blocking sunglasses reduce harmful rays. And apply broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen – yes, even in December – to prevent painful burns.
Open-toed shoes remain in season all winter. But for long days of walking Miami’s enormous malls, arts districts, or holiday markets, supportive sneakers prove wise. Pack a nice outfit and dressier shoes for Christmas parties or holiday church services. And visitors may wish to toss in a light sweater or blazer for über air-conditioned restaurants and attractions.
Getting in the Spirit with Music & Movies
Capture the holiday mood in Miami by tuning into beloved Christmas tunes and movies – with a tropical twist of course! Queue up playlists fusing Latin beats with jazz or pop renditions of classic carols. Sway along to Gloria Estefan’s take on “Conga”-inspired “Get on Your Feet (This Christmas)” or upbeat hits like “Feliz Navidad.”
Several radio stations flip formats to all Christmas music come December, perfect for cruising Miami's palm-fringed roads or chilling beachside. And Miami's theaters screen blockbuster holiday films as well as seasonal favorites. Consider a beach picnic paired with iconic Christmas movies! Just pack your picnic blanket and snacks – perhaps pan cubano sandwiches, tropical fruit, and cinnamon christmas cookies – then snag tickets for a seaside cinema screening "Elf" or "Home Alone."
Miami Christmas Traditions
Christmas arrives early in Miami, with festive lights aglitter by mid-November. Locals adorn fir trees and wreaths despite the warm weather and anchor inflatable flamingos and Santa hats to their yachts. Even palm trees shine in Miami's version of evergreens strung with fairy lights!
In many Latin American cultures, the holidays focus on Christmas Eve celebrations with family. So don your festive finest for the Noche Buena feast. Classic dishes include pernil (roasted pork), black beans and rice, yucca, and fried plantains. Grown-ups sip Cuban eggnog with rum and toast "Feliz Navidad!" After dinner, head out for midnight mass. Then gather round to open gifts or party the night away salsa dancing.
Christmas Day dawns relaxed with sleepy brunching and lounging beachside or by the pool before enjoying a hearty holiday dinner. Standouts include roast pork from a Cuban restaurant or seafood like grouper and mahi mahi from an oceanfront eatery. Even Miami's sunny warmth can’t melt away the holiday magic shared with loved ones.
FAQ About Christmas in Miami
Curious about celebrating Christmas in the Magic City? Here we answer some frequently asked questions:
What is the weather typically like over Christmas in Miami? While December days average 77°F, occasional cold snaps can briefly dip temperatures to 60°F during the day or 50°F overnight. But true wintery weather remains extremely rare, allowing for Christmas pool parties amid sunny blue skies!
What should I pack for spending Christmas in Miami? Pack light, breathable fabrics like cotton and linen rather than winter woolies. Bring casual ensembles in bright, beachy colors and patterns. Don’t forget sun protection like hats, sunglasses, and high SPF sunscreen. Waterproof shoes work well for sudden showers. And throw in a light sweater just in case of scarce cold fronts.
Where are the best spots to view holiday lights? Some of the most popular neighborhoods to view elaborate light displays include Brickell Avenue downtown with its towering high rises outlined in white lights. Coconut Grove and Coral Gables boast festive small town charm with glowing trees and wreaths. And cruise through the canal-front Venetian Islands to take in the extravagant waterfront mansions dressed to the nines for Christmas.
What classic Christmas foods get a Miami makeover? Savor Cuban and Caribbean infusions of classic holiday dishes! Miami’s Noche Buena feasts feature pernil (slow roast pork) alongside black beans and rice or yucca. Tropical cocktails incorporate pineapple or mango. And we give cookies a Latin flair, like guava-glazed sugar cookies or dulce de leche-sandwiched shortbread.
What special events happen in Miami around Christmas time? Art Basel Miami ignites early December with an internationally acclaimed contemporary arts show plus star-studded parties across the city. Zoo Miami’s Santa's Enchanted Forest delights kids with tree lightings, carolers, and visits with Saint Nick. Several neighborhoods host Christmas markets filled with handmade gifts, gourmet eats, and holiday music. And flotillas of boats sporting thousands of glittering lights parade along waterways during Christmas boat parades for dazzling offshore displays.
Is Miami busy over Christmas? Should I book hotels early? As one of the few warm weather destinations in the States, Miami draws crowds eager to escape winter. Plus Miami’s fabulous dining and beaches never stop being a draw! Visitors who want luxury resorts or swanky South Beach hotels definitely need early reservations to swing Christmas right on the sand. More options exist away from the chaos on Miami Beach proper. But booking as early as September or October proves wise.
People Also Ask
Still seeking answers about Christmas in magical Miami? Here we’ve compiled responses to some other common questions from visitors:
Does it ever snow in Miami for Christmas? No, snow never falls in Miami due to its sub-tropical location. The average December low only hits 65°F, far too warm for freezing temps, let alone snow or icy conditions!
What do locals wear for Christmas since it’s hot? You won’t spot Miami locals bundled up for the cold! Light fabrics like breezy linen tops or pants and pretty sundresses keep sun-kissed locals comfortable in the balmy winter weather. Just bring sun protection like hats and high SPF sunscreen and you’ll fit right in.
What classic Christmas movies were filmed in Miami? Several iconic Christmas movies took advantage of Miami’s warm weather to film poolside December scenes! The 1947 film “Miracle on 34th Street” featured the famed Biltmore Hotel pool in Coral Gables posing as a Florida "summer camp.” Parts of the 1988 comedy “Scrooged” with Bill Murray were also shot around Miami and South Beach.
Does Miami have good holiday concerts or shows? Yes, Miami’s music and arts scene shines year-round! Catch a jazz or classical Christmas concert at venues like the gorgeous Olympia Theater. Or laugh along with seasonal humor brought by touring standup comics. If you time your trip right, you can ring in 2024 with Miami'ssignature parties and fireworks lighting up the sizzling downtown skyline and beaches.
What gifts should I bring home from Miami? Shop for special souvenirs in Miami’s boutiques and markets! Potent Caribbean rum makes a beloved gift, as does citrusy body scrub or sunscreen crafted from tropical fruits. Bring home hand-rolled cigars, Art Deco jewelry, or a flowing maxi dress. Or pick up Christmas tree ornaments shaped like beachy icons, from starfish to flip flops to bright pink flamingos!