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Are you dreaming of a white-sand Christmas? Perhaps you need a warm-weather escape from the frigid temperatures of your hometown. With fewer crowds, lower rates, and mild weather, winter is one of the best times of the year to visit the Alabama Gulf CoastKeep reading to learn about some of the best things to do in Gulf Shores in December and during the holiday season. There are plenty of festive activities and Christmas events for the whole family to enjoy! 

When it comes to finding a home away from home for the holidays in Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, and Orange Beach, Harris Vacation Rentals has you covered. Browse our list of gorgeous vacation rentals and find the perfect one for your group. 

Top 10 Things To Do in Gulf Shores in December 

From ice skating to boat parades to holiday celebrations, there are so many fun-filled things to do in Gulf Shores in December.   

1. Christmas Lights at Bellingrath Gardens 

If you’ve never visited Bellingrath Gardens and Home during the Christmas season, you are missing out on the experience of a lifetime! There are over three million twinkling lights and 15 holiday scenes spread throughout the 65-acre estate. As stroll through the gardens and past the Bellingrath Home that are completely decked out for the holidays, you’ll be dazzled by the phenomenal display.  

2. Gulf Shores Christmas Parade 

One of the most beloved December traditions in Gulf Shores is the annual Lighted Christmas Parade and Holiday Celebration. Each year on the first Friday of December, the street is lined with festive floats, marching bands, and all your favorite holiday characters. There’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit! Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for Santa Claus sightings!  

3. Annual Snowball Drop

Immediately following the Gulf Shores Christmas Parade is the highly-anticipated Snowball Drop, a human-made “blizzard” of over 4000 ping pong balls dropped from above. This family-friendly celebration includes photos with Santa, holiday treats, unique crafts, and more.  

Note: This event has not yet been confirmed for 2020. Be sure to check the event website for up to date details.  

4. Ice Skating at The Wharf

No winter season is complete without a day or night spent on the ice rink! Thankfully, The Wharf in Orange Beach features a fabulous ice-skating rink. Whether you’re celebrating a day out with the family or a romantic date night, grab a pair of skates and brace yourself for an exciting time on the ice.  

5. Holiday Horse and Carriage Rides

Is there anything more magical than a horse-drawn carriage ride beneath the moonlight? When it comes to magical things to do in Orange Beach in December, this should be at the top of your list! Head to The Wharf for an enchanting evening. You’ll trot along the streets and gaze at the holiday lights and decorations with your loved ones. 

6. The Baldwin Pops Christmas Concert

There’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than by listening to a concert with all your favorite traditional Christmas tunes! The Baldwin Pops is an organization of volunteer musicians whose mission is to share music in a concert band format free of charge to Baldwin County citizens, and each year they perform in a highly-anticipated holiday concert.  Seats are first-come, first-served, so we suggest arriving early! 

Note: This event has not yet been confirmed for 2020. Be sure to check the event website for up to date details.   

7. Christmas Lighted Boat Parade

Did you know that Gulf Shores hosts one of the largest holiday boat parades in the Southeast? The Annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade occurs on the second Saturday of December 13th from 5 P.Muntil 8:30 P.MLine up and watch more than 45 decorated vessels sail along the Intracoastal Waterway. 

8. Holiday Shopping

You can cross everyone off your shopping list when you go shopping along the Alabama Gulf Coast. From amazing deals at the Tanger Outlets to specialty boutiques at The Wharf to holiday gifts at the Merry Market, the shopping possibilities are endless!  

9. Flora-Bama Christmas Potluck

If you’re visiting the Alabama Gulf Coast, you must visit the famous Flora Bama Lounge. One of their most popular annual events is their delicious Christmas Potluck. This event is perfect for those that don’t want to stay at home and do all the cooking on the holiday. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, this potluck is a time for a gathering of friends and family! Bring a covered side dish or dessert to share and enjoy live music while you dine! 

10. Enjoy the Great Outdoors

With uncrowded shorelines and beautiful weather, winter is one of the best times for a Gulf Shores vacation. Many of our first-time guests ask us if you can swim in Gulf Shores in December. The average temperatures range from the low 50’s to mid 60’s during this time of year, which is a bit too chilly for swimming. However, the weather is perfect for strolling the shoreline, golfingfishing, or simply enjoying the sunshine! 

Make It a December to Remember With Harris Vacation Rentals 

Now that you know about all the best things to do in Gulf Shores in December, it’s time to start planning your trip! If you’re searching for accommodations along the Alabama coastline, Harris Vacation Rentals has got you covered. We offer a wide array of sizeable family-friendly vacation rentals in Gulf ShoresOrange Beach, and Fort Morgan. Whether you prefer a pet-friendly rental or a beachfront home, we are sure to have the ideal property for your group 

Browse our availability and find the perfect property for your holiday beach vacationWe’ll see you soon! 

find your holiday home


Gulf Shores ChristmasSometimes it feels good to get away for the holidays, Christmas included. No matter if it’s staying through Christmas Day, attending a holiday event or enjoying New Year’s Eve, Christmas in Gulf Shores  and Orange Beach has much to offer the early winter traveler.

Everyday lives need a break from hurried and harried. The holidays are the perfect example. Shopping, parties, events, planning, catering, cooking, more shopping. . .the list is never ending. This year, why not leave gridlock behind and head to the beach for some rest and relaxation, and do the holiday season a little differently for a change. Eat out for Christmas dinner, deck the halls in a Gulf Shores condo or Fort Morgan beach house, see a boat parade and most of all, just enjoy the family. Here are some ideas to bring out the yuletide mood in your brood with Christmas in Gulf Shores 

51st Annual Trim-A-Tree Holiday Arts & Crafts

Tanger Outlet Center, 2601 S. McKenzie Ave. Suite 182, Foley

Nov. 9 – Dec. 23, 2018, Mon-Sat, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sun 11 a.m.-6 p.m.


Come join the fun as the Foley Art Center kicks off the annual six-week holiday fine arts and crafts event on Friday Nov. 9 and continuing through Dec. 23. The event features creations from more than 200 artist and craftsmen from all over the Southeast. Juried vendors are all members of the Foley Art Center and offer a huge assortment of items for gifts and holiday decorative ideas including ornaments, florals, wood-carvings, stained glass, quilts, jewelry and so much more. Also, original art work will be available in a variety of mediums.

Christmas in Gulf Shores

Holidays at the Fort Tour and Gift Shop Open House

Fort Morgan, 110 Hwy 180, Gulf Shores

Nov. 18, 2018 from 1-4 p.m.


Jumpstart your holidays with the “Holidays at the Fort” tour. There will be a small arms demonstration, special holiday decorations and gifts on sale in the gift shop along with refreshments.

Magic Christmas in Lights at Bellingrath Gardens and Home

Bellingrath Gardens and Home, 12401 Bellingrath Gardens Rd., Theodore

Nov. 23-Dec. 31, 2018 from 5-9 p.m. (Closed Christmas Day)

(251) 973-2217

In its 23rd year, this annual event, Bellingrath Gardens and Home is a Gulf Coast holiday tradition where guests can stroll through a beautiful display featuring some three million lights and 15 scenes across the 65-acre garden estate. The Bellingrath Home will be in its holiday finest and enhanced with lovely poinsettias. Magic Christmas in Lights also features choral performances each evening on the south terrace of the home (Sunday – Thursday). This award-winning event allows opportunities for photos with Santa and shopping in the Bellingrath gift shop.

Baldwin Pops Christmas Concert

Cultural Arts Center, Gulf Shores

Dec. 4, 2018 from 7-9 p.m.

A traditional Christmas Concert by the Baldwin Pops that will get your whole family in the holiday spirit! Free admission and there will be a visitor all the way from the North Pole! The concert is one of the highlights of Christmas in Gulf Shores.

Lighted Christmas Parade and Beach Celebration

348 W 19th Ave. Gulf Shores

December 7, 2018 beginning at 6:30 p.m.


Spectators will enjoy the festive lighted floats, holiday characters and marching bands that make up the Lighted Christmas Parade during Christmas in Gulf Shores. The route will follow Highway 59 from Gulf Shores Public Beach to the Sims Park where the celebration will commence immediately following the parade. Families take note – there will be Santa pictures, holiday treats, crafts and a snowball drop (a man-made blizzard of sorts with a helicopter dropping some 4,000 ping pong balls, some of which might have a winning number for a prize).

Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s Presents Billy Claus and the LuLuBelles

Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s, 200 E. 25th Ave. Gulf Shores

Dec. 8, 2018 from 1-4 p.m.


Billy Claus is a free, family-friendly holiday event at LuLu’s Gulf Shores. Billy Claus is Santa’s brother from the Caribbean who comes in each year to help Santa with Christmas in Gulf Shores AL. The LuLuBelles are like elves, just Billy’s fun version. Billy is delighted to hear wish lists from children and then pass along to Santa as well as pose for photos with the young ones. The kids will love doing the arts and crafts and the reading of “Billy Claus and the Spirit of Christmas” written by Lucy Bufffett. Plan to stay after to watch the Nautical Night of Lights at dusk, as the Lighted Boat Parade passes down the canal.

33rd Annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade

Parade path (by water) from LuLu’s to Cobalt

Dec. 8, 2018 from 5-8 p.m.


Looking for a unique experience? This is it! More than 45 decorated vessels (sailboats, charters, kayaks even) make this the largest boat parade in the Southeast. The Intracoastal Waterway offers great viewing sites but groups looking to watch together will have the best luck at The Wharf in Orange Beach.

Breakfast with Santa

Erie H. Meyer Civic Center, 1930 W. 2nd Ave., Gulf Shores

Dec. 15 at 8 a.m.


Enjoy a full breakfast and pictures with Santa! Admission is $5 for adults and kids three and under are free.

Flora-Bama Christmas Potluck

17401 Perdido Key Drive, Pensacola, FL

Dec. 25, 12-4 p.m.


What a fun way to enjoy a Christmas meal at the Flora-Bama. Flora-Bama will provide the main dish and everyone else just brings a covered side dish or dessert to share. Enjoy live music beginning at 11 a.m. and food will be served at 1 p.m.

December is a fantastic time of year to visit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach with plenty of sunshine, fresh Gulf seafood and great lodging deals on condos and beach houses. As you can see, there’s plenty to do during Christmas in Gulf Shores, too. Check those final gifts off your list with a shopping trip to Tanger Outlets in nearby Foley and if plans allow for staying a bit longer, ring in the New Year on the Gulf Coast.