While no South Florida city could ever be mistaken for a “winter” wonderland, that doesn’t stop Boca Raton from pulling out all the stops to celebrate the holiday season. And after our long, air-conditioned hibernation through the record-setting heat of our summer months, there’s no better reason to dust up our windbreakers with fake snow and enjoy all that our city has to offer. From holiday tree lightings and parades to football and that perfect Santa selfie, here are our top picks for this year’s can’t-miss holiday events.
CP Group’s Eighth-annual Community Tree Lighting and Holiday Extravaganza
Thursday, Nov.16, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Boca Raton Innovation Campus (BRiC) on Yamato Road at 5000 T-Rex Avenue
Update: Due to inclement weather, the Tree Lighting & Holiday Extravaganza will be rescheduled to its rain date, this Friday, Nov. 17.
Boca Raton kicks off the most wonderful time of the year with the lighting of a 40-foot Christmas tree at Boca Raton Innovation Campus. Sponsored by locally headquartered commercial real estate firm CP Group, this year’s Community Tree Lighting and Holiday Extravaganza will be emceed by WPTV Meteorologist Steve Weagle and is chock full of activities and entertainment—but it wouldn’t be the holidays without a big beneficiary, and that’s why all proceeds from VIP ticket sales ($50 per adult, $15 per child) will directly benefit the Junior League of Boca Raton. Attendees can look forward to meet-and-greets with Santa, an animal petting zoo, food, live music and, of course, a festive countdown to the lighting of the tree. Parking is free and so is admission if you arrive with an unwrapped new toy or monetary donation to Spirit of Giving to support the nonprofit’s Annual Holiday Gift Drive.
Boca Holiday Festival
Dec. 9-10, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Sunday at Mizner Park Amphitheater
The Mizner Park Amphitheater will be decked out for a weekend of holiday cheer at this year’s Boca Holiday Festival. Taking place December 9-10, this festive weekend has enough offerings to grow the Grinch’s heart three sizes, from ice-skating on a synthetic rink and holiday rides to capturing photos with Santa. Local vendors will also be in attendance, serving up an enticing array of dishes, cocktails and desserts. Live entertainment will be provided by Disney’s Frozen Variety Show, the Holiday Magic Show, Elves Science Show, carolers and much more. And for those of us who like to put off our Christmas shopping to the last minute, the Festival’s Shopping Village will have an assortment of unique gifts that may help you cross those last few names off your list.
ESPN Roofclaim.com Boca Raton Bowl
Thursday, Dec. 21, 8 p.m. at FAU Stadium
Boca’s biggest annual sporting event may be a mouthful, but the holidays just wouldn’t be the same without it. The ESPN Roofclaim.com Boca Raton Bowl returns for its 10th year on Dec. 21 to the Florida Atlantic University Stadium, and after last year’s nail-biting matchup between Liberty and Toledo (with Toledo clinching the win 21-19), we can’t wait to see what this year’s game has in store. As of this writing, the two teams have not been decided, but that’s not slowing our tailgate planning for what will surely shape up to be one of the city’s biggest outdoor parties. Expect plenty of fanfare in the days leading up to the big game, and make sure to arrive early on game day to not miss the pep rally!
Boca Raton’s “Very Merry Holidays”
Saturday, Nov. 18, 5-9 p.m. at Mizner Park Amphitheater
Mizner Park will be converted into a garden of wintry delights on Nov. 18 for the beginning of Boca Raton’s “Very Merry Holidays” event series. Attendees can enjoy live music, a holiday vendor marketplace, and Santa Claus photo sessions, followed by the city’s annual tree lighting ceremony, featuring the illumination of Mizner Park’s 30-foot “Merry Magenta” tree. Both Mizner Park and Downtown Boca will be radiating plenty of holiday cheer, with more than 50,000 LED lights adorning the park’s palm trees and downtown’s festive flamingo and sea-themed holiday lights switched on in full display. Mizner Park’s restaurants will also be open with special seating options offering a front-row seat to the festivities. The event will kick off a series of holiday festivities including the Holiday Parade, “Deck the House” contest, “Season of Lights Music Series” and “Merry in Mizner: Meet the Grinch” event.
Boca Raton Holiday Street Parade
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, 7:30-9 p.m., along Federal Highway
Boca’s Holiday Street Parade is celebrating its 51st anniversary on Dec. 6 with a dazzling array of dance, lights and more than 70 floats. This year’s theme is “Holidays on the Silver Screen,” so be sure to plan your outfit with that in mind. Keep in mind that traffic along Federal Highway will be temporarily closed, so plan accordingly. Fortunately, there’s free and plentiful parking available at various city lots, including City Hall and the Downtown Library. Be sure to get there early to participate in the family-friendly Boca Mile Run with the Boca Raton Police Athletic League. Pro tip: Opt for the grandstand view of the parade from Sanborn Square.