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The Best Festive, Family-Friendly Holiday Events in Miami

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In case you haven’t noticed, what with all the lit-up homes and all the TV commercials where people give each other brand-new Lexuses as gifts, Christmastime is upon us again. If you’re like us, you’re knee-deep in tinsel and eggnog and front-yard inflatables and office parties and fruit cake. And with all the excitement of the holidays drowning you into oblivion, you may have forgotten that this time of year is really all about the kids. And an excuse to eat all of the cookies. But, mostly, the kids.

So, with the big day a mere week away, it’s time to plan Christmasy stuff with the little rug rats — because you need to start filling your Instagram feed with pics of them crying in terror at the sight of Santa instead of pictures of food. Or maybe you just need a reminder to have fun during the holidays, because it really is all about those smiling little faces. Here are six things you can do around town with your kids during the Christmas holidays:

Go Listen to the Holiday Sights and Sounds by New World Symphony
It ain't Christmas without the music, and no one does music better than the New World Symphony. Under the direction of conductor Dean Whiteside, the symphony will hold a special, free holiday sounds performance on Saturday, December 17, that will be projected on its Wallcast — their 7,000-square-foot projection wall. Did we mention it's free? Free is good. So bring your favorite blanket to chill on, and kickoff your Christmas festivities by diving headlong into the sights and sounds of the holidays courtesy of the renowned symphony. The festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. at the New World Symphony SoundScape (500 17th St., between Washington and Drexel Ave. in Miami Beach). Call 305-673-3330 or visit nws.edu for more info.

Go Eat Pancakes With Santa in Wilton Manors
Pancakes are great. Story time is great. Santa is great. But what's even greater than those things? When you combine all three! And that's exactly what the folks at Wilton Manors have done with their Breakfast With Santa event on Saturday, December 17. All the big names will be there: the elves, Rudolph, the Grinch, and, of course, the main man himself — Jolly Ol' Saint Nick. The event will serve a pancake breakfast and will feature story time for the kids. There's also going to be a bounce house, pony rides, and arts and crafts. The good times will go from 10 a.m. to noon at the Wilton Manors Hagen Park Community Center (2020 Wilton Dr.). Registration costs $10 per person. Be sure to arrive early to get a good spot.

Go Watch A Christmas Carol at the Actors’ Playhouse
There are many different versions of the Charles Dickens classic, but most of them are creepy as hell and serve up a nice dose of nightmare fuel for the kids. Not ideal. But Actors' Playhouse presents a musical version of the tale of Scrooge and his dead partner and a bunch of ghosts that visit him to scare him straight — all geared solely toward children. It's festive, it's fun, it has old-timey clothes, and it's totally sensory-friendly. All in all, it's a great way for your kids to experience the timeless tale of how one shouldn't act like a total douche during the holidays (or any day, for that matter). God bless us, every one! Performances run every Saturday at 2 p.m. through December 24 at the Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre (280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables). Tickets start at $13. Call 305-444-9293 or visit actorsplayhouse.org for more info.

Go Play in Snow at Dolphin Mall
It's Christmastime and it's friggin' 80 degrees outside. But no worries, because Dolphin Mall has just what you need to make you feel like you're living in a winter wonderland without having to shovel your driveway. Every weekend until Christmas Eve, the mall will be featuring its Magical Snowfall, which is basically just a machine that spews shaved ice into the air, but we won't tell the kids if you don't. It's a neat little way to make it feel like a white Christmas while also not having to wear eight layers of clothing. The snowfall begins at 7 p.m. at the Ramblas Plaza in Dolphin Mall (11401 12th St. NW, Miami) every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Go See the Miami Lantern Light Festival
The Miami Lantern Light Festival is a celebration of Chinese culture, but with a Christmas-y vibe to it. There's a seemingly endless array of colors and shapes via some huge lanterns. Each one is handmade from hundreds of pieces of silk and custom-built by Chinese artisans. Some lanterns are as big as 300 feet, and each one is a feast for the eyes. Speaking of feasts, the festival also features great food. All in all, not a bad way to take in the holiday festivities while getting your culture on with the kiddos. The festival runs from 5 to 11 p.m. through January 8 at the Miami-Dade County Fair Expo Center (10921 SW 24 St.). Tickets cost $25 for adults and $21 for kids 2 to 15, as well as seniors and active military. Parking costs $5.

Go to the Coral Gables Christmas Park
Every year around this time, Coral Gables turns Merrick Park (405 Biltmore Way) into a mini North Pole of sorts. There's a sled, (fake) snow, a mini igloo, a web of Christmas lights, mini slides, and a mailbox to drop off those letters to Santa. Oh, and there's a plastic Polar Bear the kids can climb up on and pretend to ride like a bronco. And it all takes place under the shadow of the big lighted Christmas tree outside City Hall. Also, Santa shows up for photos on Thursdays and Fridays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. until December 23. It's a great place to shoot some fun photos and then grab a coffee or ice cream in the shops nearby. Entrance into the park is free, and photos with Santa cost $6 each.

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