The 12 Best Things to Do in Gulf Shores at Christmas

Eva Faircloth - November 26, 2018

From lighted boat parades to merry celebrations and Christmas tree lightings, there are so many things to do in Gulf Shores at Christmas!

We’ve rounded up the best family-friendly Christmas events in Gulf Shores for the perfect coastal Alabama Christmas.

Check out the 12 best things to do in Gulf Shores at Christmas for the 2018 holiday season!


christmas tree and lights in background with wooden table in foreground

Ice Skating Rink at The Wharf

Ice skating by the Gulf? That’s right! Just a short distance from Gulf Shores, The Wharf in Orange Beach will once again feature its ice skating rink, a unique experience for all ages to enjoy this holiday season! Located next to the Fire Station at The Wharf, the ice skating rink is open from November 16th thru January 13th, with various times throughout. Admission is $10 per person and includes skate rentals. For $13, skaters can enjoy the ice skating rink and a ride on the Ferris wheel.

When: Friday, November 16th thru Sunday, January 13th; Various times

Where: The Wharf

Admission: $10 per person; includes skate rentals


Photos with Santa at The Wharf

Visit Santa’s Village and get a picture with the big man himself! You’ll find Santa’s Village at The Port at The Wharf from November 16th thru December 24th, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

When: Friday, November 16th thru Monday, December 24th; Various times

Where: The Port at The Wharf


Holiday Horse & Carriage Rides at The Wharf

Holiday Horse & Carriage Rides is the perfect way to spend an evening getting into the holiday spirit with your loved ones. Visit The Wharf Friday, Saturday, or Sunday between November 18th and December 16th for a ride through the lights and decorations of Orange Beach. Carriage rides are $25 per ride, up to four people, and $5 for single riders.

When: Sunday, November 18th thru Sunday, December 16th; 5 pm – 8 pm

Where: The Wharf

Admission: $25 per ride (up to four people); $5 for single riders


christams tree up close

Magic Christmas in Lights at Bellingrath Gardens

Get into the holiday spirit with over 3 million lights and 15 different scenes at the Bellingrath Gardens from November 23rd thru December 31st! Located about an hour and a half from Gulf Shores, this dazzling display of Christmas lights will fill all ages with Christmas cheer, including decorations at the Bellingrath Home, nightly choral performances, hot cocoa available for purchase, and holiday meals available nightly at the Magnolia Cafe. Listed as one of America’s top 100 events by the American Bus Associaton and one of America’s best public light displays by USA Today, you will not want to miss it! Tickets start at $8 for children ages 5-12 and $16 for adults.

When: Friday, November 23rd thru Monday, December 31st; 5 pm – 9 pm

Where: Bellingrath Gardens and Home

Admission: $8 for children ages 5-12; $16 for adults

Contact: (251) 973-2217


Christmas Tree Lighting at The Wharf

Visit The Wharf in Orange Beach, Tuesday, November 27th for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting! This jolly celebration is filled to the brim with holiday activities and excitement, including festive musical performances, cookie decorating, letters to Santa, and much, much more. This festive event concludes with the SPECTRA Sound & Light Spectacular.

When: Tuesday, November 27th; 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Where: The Wharf

Admission: Free


7th Annual Merry Market Expo

Over 70 vendors will be on hand at the 7th Annual Merry Market at the Orange Beach Event Center! Shop, peruse and enjoy the season’s tidings with unique gifts, crafts, and more Friday, December 7th and Saturday, December 8th. Search for the perfect gift for that special someone or shop for yourself at this year’s Merry Market. Admission is free.

When: Friday, December 7th 9 am – 6 pm & Saturday, December 8th 9 am – 5 pm

Where: Orange Beach Events Center

Admission: Free

Don’t miss out on the best holiday shopping in Gulf Shores.


9th Annual Gulf Shores Lighted Christmas Parade

Find the perfect spot around Gulf Shores Public Beach and Sims Park for this festive parade in Gulf Shores! Floats with glimmering lights, special appearances from holiday characters, and live performances from marching bands will be on hand for this holiday celebration. Once the parade concludes at Sims Park, the celebration continues at Sims Park with more Christmas fun and excitement including photos with Santa Claus and a snowball drop!

When: Friday, December 7th; 6:30 pm – 9 pm

Where: Gulf Shores Public Beach

Admission: Free


christmas ornaments on the beach

South Baldwin Community Theatre presents A Charlie Brown Christmas

The Christmas season isn’t complete without enjoying the holiday classic A Charlie Brown Christmas, and at South Baldwin Community Theatre in Gulf Shores you can enjoy it live! Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the other Peanuts come to life during this Christmas classic. Show dates are December 7th thru December 9th and December 14th thru December 16th.

Tickets start at $15 for adults and $9.95 for students. Call (251) 968-6721 for more information.

When: December 7th, 8th, 14th, and 15th at 7:30 pm; December 9th and 16th at 2:30 pm

Where: South Baldwin Community Theatre

Admission: $9.95 for students; $15 for adults

Contact: (251) 968-6721


2nd Annual Jingle Jubilee Kids Crafts Day

Visit The Wharf Saturday, December 8th for a fun-filled day of arts, crafts, and more! The Jingle Jubilee Kids Crafts Day is a great day for kids to use their Christmas spirit and create unique, homemade crafts like ornaments, cookie decorations, and more. Craft stations will be set up at various shops along The Wharf where kids can use their creativity for special holiday treats. There will also be live music. The fun starts at 12 pm and ends at 4 pm, but stick around for the evening’s Christmas Lighted Boat Parade!

When: Saturday, December 8th; 12 pm – 4 pm

Where: The Port at The Wharf

Admission: Free


33rd Annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade

Find a spot near the water for this year’s Christmas Lighted Boat Parade Saturday, December 8th from 5:30 thru 8:30 pm. Beginning at Lulu’s Homeport Marina, this glimmering holiday bonanza will wind past The Wharf, Bear Point, Ono Island, and Perdido Pass before making its stop in Terry Cove. Kayaks, sailboats, charters and many other vessels will be decorated with dazzling light displays and holiday spirit. A post-parade awards ceremony will be held at FloraBama Ole River Grille.

When: Saturday, December 8th; 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Where: Lulu’s Homeport Marina


2nd Annual Happy Howlidays Kid & Pet Parade

Humans and pets alike are invited to this jolly pet-friendly parade! Take a short trip from Gulf Shores to Orange Beach for this year’s Happy Howlidays Kid & Pet Parade at The Wharf. Don your four-legged friend in their holiday attire so they can strut their stuff along The Wharf. Kids and adults are encouraged to dress up too, so make it a family affair! The parade begins at 2 pm on Sunday, December 9th and concludes with kids activities like a bouncy house, a live DJ playing music and games, and face painting. Pet adoptions and donations will also be available through the Baldwin Humane Society.

When: Sunday, December 9th; 2 pm – 5:30 pm

Where: The Wharf

Admission: Free


12 Days of Christmas Shopping

Still in need of that perfect gift for that special someone? Don’t fret, the 12 Days of Christmas Shopping event at The Wharf has you covered! For 12 days starting December 13th, various shops at The Wharf will be offering exclusive deals and one-day-only sales so you can grab the perfect present that won’t cost you an arm or a leg.

When: Thursday, December 13th thru Monday, December 24th

Where: The Wharf


Looking to book your Gulf Shores vacation? Why wait till summer? Check out these 5 reasons why you should book a fall and winter vacation rental in Gulf Shores.