The holidays are an exciting time of year for families with young ones, especially in Miami, where you can often don bikinis and flip-flops while Northerners wear puffy coats and boots. From multicultural orchestral performances to nighttime strolls around historic estates and sustainable ornament-making workshops, the Magic City offers a plethora of activities for families of all ages, sizes, and creeds. Here are the top ten kid-friendly holiday events this year.
1. Festival of Trees Evening Stroll at the Deering Estate. Imagine seeing the 1920s-era Deering Estate glittering with holiday lights and decorations. At the Festival of Trees Evening Stroll, families can watch a holiday movie on the lawn, roast s’mores over a campfire, and make holiday crafts. For a history lesson, they can tour the houses and main grounds and learn the story of the estate’s owner, Charles Deering. 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, December 12, at the Deering Estate, 16701 SW 72nd Ave., Palmetto Bay; deeringestate.org/holiday-season. Admission costs $15 for adults and $7 for children aged 4 to 14.
2. Recycled Christmas Ornament Workshop. Sustainability is especially important during the holidays, which can be a time of excess. At this recycled-ornament workshop organized by Attabi Studio, you and the kids can learn a fun way to recycle junk mail, unwanted flyers, and newspapers to create a material called "paper clay" that can be molded into any shape. The kids will get a lesson in the importance of recycling, and everyone will work together to make a sustainable Christmas ornament that you can hang on the tree when you get home. 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, December 13, at Space Called Tribe Co-Work & Urban Innovation Lab, 937 NW Third Ave., Miami; eventbrite.com. Tickets cost $35.
3. The Nutcracker at the Arsht Center. The holidays are a time for tradition, and there’s nothing more classic than Miami City Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker with choreography by George Balanchine, which is celebrating its 30th year. This season, the company will debut new costumes and sets designed by Isabel and Ruben Toledo. Prior to seeing the Sugar Plum Fairy twirl and a battle with a seven-headed mouse, on select nights, kids can line up to take free pictures with the star of the night, the Nutcracker. Friday, December 14, through Monday, December 24, at the Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; miamicityballet.org. Tickets start at $30. Free photo ops are available before the evening performances Friday, December 14, and Wednesday, December 19.
4. Gingerbread House Workshop at Taste Buds Kitchen. Delicious treats and sweet memories await at Taste Buds Kitchen. During this gingerbread house workshop, parents team up with their children to design,
5. Gifts for the Animals and Zoo Lights at Zoo Miami. Animals love to get into the holiday spirit too. At Zoo Miami, children can watch creatures open gifts prepared by the zookeepers. Lions will get holiday-themed ice treats, while Asian elephants will receive edible ornaments. Zoo Miami will also celebrate the tenth anniversary of Zoo Lights, which has themed weekends such as Superhero nights and Santa- and elf-lookalike nights. Guests can experience animal encounters, free boat rides, a musical performance, hot chocolate and cookies, and photos with Santa. And after Christmas, Zoo Lights will host a Holiday Bling Out weekend December 28 and 29, when parents are encouraged to bling out their strollers and themselves with string lights and glow-in-the-dark garb. Gifts for the Animals: Select dates from Saturday, December 15, through December 31 at Zoo Miami, 12400 SW 152nd St., Miami; zoomiami.org. Tickets start at $18.95. Zoo Lights: Friday and Saturday, December 14 and 15; December 21 and 22; and December 28 and 29 at Zoo Miami, 12400 SW 152nd St., Miami; zoomiami.org. Tickets start at $17.95.
6. Holidays Around the Globe With Orchestra Miami. It’s vital to teach children to respect diversity. At Holidays Around the Globe, kids can learn about key celebrations in different cultures. Dancers from Nach Bollywood Style will perform a traditional dance to celebrate the Hindu festival of Navaratri. To teach about the Day of the Dead, dancers and musicians from Ballet Folklórico de Miami will perform. Lily Dance Club from the United Chinese Association of Florida will present traditional dances for the Chinese New Year and the Moon Festival. Western holidays will be represented through caroling, a sing-along, and an appearance from Santa. 3 p.m. Sunday, December 16, at Pinecrest Gardens, 11100 Red Rd., Pinecrest; orchestramiami.org. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $12 for seniors aged 65 and older, and $10 for kids aged 3 to 17.
7. Bayskate's Holiday Boogie. Who’s feeling funky this holiday season? Get your groove on at Bayskate's Holiday Boogie, taking place around the historic Pepper Fountain in Bayfront Park. Circle the fountain in your roller skates, strollers, or scooters while live music and DJ sets keep the beats thumping. If you’re feeling peckish, Bayskate will offer a beer garden and a coquito bar for the grownups, and a food village will serve everything from barbecue to sweets for the whole family. 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, December 21; and 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday, December 22, at Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; bayskatemiami.com. Admission is free. UPDATE: Bayskate Miami has canceled its Thursday night Holiday Boogie due to weather concerns.
8. Santa’s Post Office and Free Photos With Santa at Brickell City Centre.
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9. NightGarden Magical Light Spectacular at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. The holidays are an enchanted time of year. At the NightGarden, you’ll feel the magic in the air while traversing 23 acres of Fairchild Garden, lit up at night with illuminated displays, sculptures, videos, special effects, holograms, 3D projection mapping, and motion sensor technology. Kids can also interact with a talking tree, participate in a scavenger hunt, and eat gelato. 6 to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 6 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through January 6, 2019, at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables; 305-667-1651; fairchildgarden.org. Tickets cost $28 via thenightgarden.com.
10. Lantern Light Festival. Let there be light! Witness a 400-foot-long dragon, a 30-foot-tall panda, and a castle you can skip through, all glowing with LED lights. In this festival that celebrates Chinese culture, the lanterns are created using a sculpted metal frame and covered with a silk-like fabric. In addition to marveling at the lanterns, kids can also experience an inflatable maze, complete an obstacle course, watch Chinese acrobats, and dine on yummy food. 5 to 11 p.m. Thursdays to Sundays through January 20, 2019, at the Fair Expo Center, 10921 SW 24th St., Miami; lanternlightfestival.com. Tickets start at $18.