What’s on Your Holiday Calendar?

’Tis the season. Watch a lighted boat parade or light up your vessel and win a prize. Ask friends to come aboard to see New Year’s Eve fireworks from the water. If you’re in Key West that day, you can hoot ‘n’ holler as pirates lower their wench down the mast of the America 2.0 schooner, built in 2011.

All that said, here are some Gulf Coast events near marinas that are also worth considering:

• December 18-24: Pensacola’s Winterfest in Florida includes uplifting historic street tours on The Polar Express trolley. Along the way, you’ll greet characters from the movies The Polar Express and A Christmas Story. Meet Elfie; take a selfie. The Grinch steps on board and so does, yes, Elvis. Merry Christmas, Baby. pensacolawinterfest.org

• December 22nd: As darkness falls on New Orleans’ French Quarter, you can become part of a seasonal sing-along at Caroling in Jackson Square. This event is for all ages. Candles and song lyrics are passed around at 6:30 PM. Carolers meet carolers. Candles light candles. Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis overlooks hundreds of glowing singers and starting at 7 PM, their inspired voices sail across the Vieux Carré. experienceneworleans.com

• Through December 31st: Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast continues daily from 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM at Jones Park next to Bert Jones Yacht Harbor. Take the walking tour or ride the free, heated trolley. The lighthouse has never looked this bright, and the lights change colors, too. gulfportharborlights.com

• December 31st: First Night St. Petersburg is a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration spotlighting the art of performers and musicians along St. Pete’s waterfront and downtown business center on Florida’s west coast. firstnightstpete.com

By Bill AuCoin

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