Nights of Lights1

Photo credit: Marina K. Villatoro /Gringa TravelingMom

One of the most common questions people as when traveling to a new location is: When is the best time of the year to visit? To me, being able to get to the chosen destination at all is the right time to go. But there are times when you strike gold and the trip coincides with a fun festival that the place is known for.

This was true for my family’s visit to St. Augustine, Florida.

Why St. Augustine Nights of Lights Festival is Truly a Treat

We planned our trip to St. Augustine for December. Luckily, this is the time when the famous nights of lights festival is held. This gorgeous display of lights lasts a lot longer than just the holiday season. It starts early December and goes all the way through February 2.

Fun Facts about Nights of Lights

The festival was chosen as one of the top ten places in the world to see holiday lights by National Geographic.
The historic district of St. Augustine gets lit up with over one million of tiny lights.
This tradition goes back 448 years, before electricity the Spaniards used to light candles in their windows for Christmas.

DisclosureTMOMHow to See the Nights of Lights in Action

There are several ways you can view the ancient city’s lights but in my opinion only one is the best.

1. Walking – Taking a relaxing walk along narrow streets and sitting in the parks underneath the lights is a great experience. But with young kids, after being impressed for a whole five seconds, they get bored and the relaxing walk is so not.
2. Driving – It is likely that when you arrive to St. Augustine you will arrive by car. So, using it to explore the narrow streets can be a lot of fun. However this option wasn’t for us either. The kids didn’t find it exciting to see some lights from inside the car. This is better for families with older kids.

Nights of Lights2

Photo credit: Marina K. Villatoro /Gringa TravelingMom


3. Trolley Tours – This is by far the best way to tour the streets decorated with lights. There are several companies that offer this service. We decided to go with the Red Train Trolley that is run by Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. Just the fact that we are going to go on a trolley gets the kids into the mood.
The staff members were dressed up in Christmas gear. Loud fun Christmas songs where playing during the ride and we were handed cool glasses that made all the lights turn into Gingerbread men.

The tour lasted 90 minutes. This was the best part for us because during this time mama and papa were able to enjoy the city at night while the kids bopped up and down to the music, playing with the glasses.

There are many tours to choose from with the Red Train. There is also a hop on and off option, ghost tours and other festival related tour.

I learned that trolleys almost always get kids excited and makes exploring different places a lot more fun. My advice is to take them for almost anything.