Best Mississippi Gulf Coast Christmas Light Displays

A great memorable and photographic opportunity with your family is looking at Christmas lights.  Going to look at Christmas lights displays and neighborhoods is a favorite memory of my childhood.  On clear nights, we would load up in the car and drive around enjoying the lights. Some weekends we would watch Christmas on the Water or the King’s Christmas Display.  The Gulf Coast has a great selection to enjoy each season.

I have compiled a list of events along the Coast to enjoy during the Christmas holidays. Some are one night events and others run from after Thanksgiving to the New Year.  Some are free and some cost entry. However, they are all merry and bright! 

Best Gulf Coast Christmas Light Displays
A nice view of lights at Bellingrath Gardens.

Harbor Lights Festival

Gulfport, MS

Harbor Lights began in Jones Park in 2015 and features over 1 million lights!  They charge a general entry fee for $10, children (over 5) at $5 each, and younger children free.  They also have pictures with Santa included if you bring your own camera. There are carnival rides as well that are charged separately.  

It begins nightly from November 29-December 31 from 5:30-9:30 P.M. (Days and times are weather permitting.) 

Note:  The Harbor Lights Festival was even featured in a Hallmark Movie!  

King’s Christmas Display 

Biloxi, MS

Last year the King’s brought back their beloved Christmas display.  It is free and is a collaboration of the King family and their neighbors on Three Rivers Road.  It will begin again December 14-29, 2019. Santa will visit the 14th, 15th, 21st, and 22nd.  

The previous display, began with a Nativity scene in 1956 and ended in 1994.  For all my friends that grew up in the 80s and 90s on the Gulf Coast, this is a chance to relive your childhood! 

MGCCC Festival of Lights 

Perkinston, MS 

This event is a best kept secret on the Gulf Coast. The Perkinston Campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College hosts a lights display and Christmas Festival one night every December.  This year it was on the 8th, but usually is on a Friday night. They have various activities sponsored by campus and community groups. College, school, and church groups sell a variety of drinks and food during the event.  There are kids activities such as a petting zoo and train ride.  

Enjoy performances by the band, ensembles, and choirs of MGCCC.  Santa is always in attendance as well as the beautiful decorations on campus.  Check the MGCCC community calendar for times of future events.  

Christmas Light Displays Gulf Coast
Enjoy the lights and cheer!

Bellingrath Gardens and Home

Magic Christmas in Lights

Theodore, AL

With the exception of German Christmas Markets overseas, the Magic Christmas in Lights at Bellingrath Gardens is the most impressive lights display I have ever seen.  It is open nightly from November 29- December 31st. Entry fees range from 8 dollars for children to 16 for adults to look at the lights only. There is also the historic home on the property.  To visit it at the same time is an additional fee.

Allow plenty of time to travel to Theodore, Alabama and to view the light display.  The entire property is over 65 acres with 15 scenes. Prepare for crowds, and to eat ahead because refreshment purchasing is limited with long lines.  The Bellingrath home has a special coast connection. It is the home of some of the antiques from the City of Biloxi House of Treasures that was destroyed during Hurricane Camille in 1936.  The house of treasures was in the historic Baldwin-Wood Home.  

Best Christmas Light Displays Gulf Coast
A nautical theme can be seen in a lot of Christmas light displays on the Gulf Coast.

Christmas on the Water

Biloxi, MS 

Is another traditional annual event held in Biloxi.  It now corresponds with the Christmas in the City craft market as well. The boat parade is held the first Saturday every December.  It began in 1986 and celebrates our nautical roots. Viewers can enjoy boats decked out in Christmas decor. Normal viewing is between the Biloxi Harbor to the Biloxi Lighthouse.  Best of all, it is free!

I enjoy finding random sweatshirts from the event in thrift stores around to wear during the holidays.  

Christmas on the Bayou

Gulfport, MS 

This year’s Christmas on the Bayou is December 14th.  It is held in Bayou Bernard in Gulfport. You can expect the boats AND the beautiful waterfront homes to be decorated as well.  It is also free to attend.  

Deck Your Calendar

This is just a small sampling of events and displays I am familiar with on the Gulf Coast.  There are other amazing holiday festivals like the on held yearly at Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and beautiful homes decorated along the beach.  Take a look at Gulf Live, Coastal Mississippi, or the Sun Herald for other event ideas.  

Remember to charge your camera before heading out! 

Best Mississippi Gulf Coast Christmas Light Displays
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What is your favorite Christmas light display? 

Disclosure:  Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission is you click through and make a purchase.

The Southern Obsession with Hallmark Christmas Movies

In July, I called my mom to find that she had been sucked into a Hallmark Christmas movie marathon.  (You know, Christmas in July.) Sometimes they get me too! Binging cheesy Christmas movies made by Hallmark, Lifetime, and now Netflix who is in the game is a favorite holiday pastime.  

There is something about the low budget, predictable movies that get me in the Christmas spirit.  Life is never really like one, but we love to believe it can. These cheesy films have a special place in the hearts of southern women.  My friend Kacey captured our feelings exactly last month when she posted this statement: 

“We’ve officially reached that time of year when I have to choose between watching college football or Hallmark Christmas movies on Saturday.”

Hallmark Christmas Movies
We all enjoy some sweet and savory treats while watching Christmas movies!

Why Do We Love Them?

There is no doubt they are popular.  Hallmark’s first 2019 original film Winter Castle had 3 million views!  This year, Hallmark is releasing 40 new Christmas movies.  That is a whole lot of festive romcom!  

They already have a good thing going for them by setting them during America’s most nostalgic holiday.  It isn’t hard to find a cute Christmas town off any major highway. (More on that later.) It also does not hurt that the leading men are often great eye candy!  I mean their acting skills may be questionable, but they are always nice to look at.  

I like them most because I can check out for an hour and a half.  They do not require much emotion or brain power to enjoy. Cheesy Christmas movies offer me a great escape from the realities I face.  No need to worry about lesson plans or even laundry. Just enjoy the holiday fluff!  

Gulf Coast Hallmark Christmas Movie Towns 

Some towns along the Gulf of Mexico have been used to shoot actual holiday movies!  Others just look ready for their Hallmark Movie Debut. Here are some to check out locally!

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi 

This town is so picturesque with the harbor and old oak trees.  Go have a drink at one of the waterside restaurants and enjoy the lights.  Go during 2nd Saturday for night markets and a more festive atmosphere! 

Ocean Springs, Mississippi 

It has continued to flourish since Katrina.  The few new buildings that have gone up since then match the architecture already existing.  You can find a vintage inspired soda shop, French Kiss Bakery that serves beautiful little cakes, and legendary donuts at Tato-Nut.  I am shocked that Hallmark has not come to film under the massive snowflakes hung at Christmas time.  

Downtown Gulfport, Mississippi

Gulfport’s downtown has experienced a facelift recently with their facade project.  They also have the Harbor Lights Display at Jones Park across Highway 90 every Christmas.  Several locations including Fish Bone Alley were used in the Hallmark film Christmas in Mississippi.  You can enjoy all of these places in the month of December.  

Laurel, Mississippi

I have made a few day trips to the cute little town.  It is the location of the HGTV series Home Town and their shop Laurel Mercantile.  There is a beautiful art museum, a historic downtown, and a neighborhood that looks like it is in Savannah, Georgia.  Check out their city website for local events and festivals.  

Fairhope, Alabama 

Fairhope has already starred in a Lifetime movie called Coffee Shop in 2014.  My high school band used to travel there every Mardi Gras to march in their night parade.  It is a delightful town that is located only about 45 minutes south of Mobile. Check out the little shops and alleyways to find all kinds of antique treasures.  

Hallmark Christmas Movies
Deck the Halls and watch Christmas movies!

Girl’s Christmas Sleepover

Why not embrace the addiction?  Call or text some like minded friends for a merry little sleepover and Hallmark Christmas movies.  Our friends at Country Living even came up with a drinking game!  You can serve poinsettias, champagne with cranberry juice with holiday cookies.  

Look up movie night and see some beautiful set ups on Pinterest of twinkle lights and air mattresses.  Some engineering people have fashioned beautiful blanket tents to go long with the sleepover theme. Add all the movies to your Netflix  playlist or subscribe the Hallmark App for FireTV to have viewing pleasure all night! 

Hallmark Christmas Move Party
Make watching these movies a social gathering with your nearest and dearest.

 ‘Tis the Season for Sentimental Movies 

Unless you subscribe to the Hallmark Channel, now is the time to enjoy the holiday silliness in its full glory.  Use it as time to relax and enjoy all of the holiday movies.

Just keep a list so you don’t repeat them like I have before.   

What is your favorite holiday movie?  

Hallmark Christmas Movies
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Disclosure:  Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission is you click through and make a purchase.

Friendmas: Finding time for our friends during the holidays.

Friend Photo Shoot 2015

There has always been a big hustle and bustle during the holidays in the south.  Throughout my childhood, I remember going to no less that three to four houses on Christmas day!  Not to mention my cousins who would do Christmas family activities in the weekends leading up to Christmas.  My Christmases went this way all the way until 2007 when I was living in Scotland an ocean away from my family.  Edward came and we had a trip throughout German Christmas Markets in Berlin, and enjoyed a quiet Christmas day in Amsterdam.

We spent time with all my new friends upon returning to Edinburgh, and celebrating the New Years with them.  That Christmas changed my perspective on the holidays.  It’s not just for family, but friends that are family as well.  Now I try to create time with my friends and family.  Especially now that some of my friends have moved away, and other have begun families of their own.

For the past three years, finding time for friends during the holidays has become an elaborate well thought out schedule.  Not making this time any less meaningful or taking away from my family.  (In some cases, we join in on our family events interchangeably!)  Here are some of my ideas for making time for friends during the holidays!

Friend Dinner date:

My mother has always done this with her high school fiends, and we have adopted this as well.  Finding a spot three or four nights from Christmas Eve we will meet at a central restaurant and enjoy some merry cheer together.  This has the benefits of no one having to host or clean up.  The restaurant can be centrally located as well.  We can also invite the whole group seeing many wayward friends at the same time.

It’s fun to play Dirty Santa, take selfies, and catch up with all our friends at the same time.

Early Morning Coffee Date:

There are several adorable coffee spots around the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  My friends will pick one for a coffee date early in the morning before all the holiday fuss begins or errands we need to run.  We pause, and enjoy the quiet before the tinsel so to speak.  Our favorites are The Greenhouse on Porter, Cat Island Coffee Company, Bank House Coffee, and the newly opened Coast Roast.  The warm December weather this week, makes The Greenhouse on Porter a pleasant coffee spot.

Greenhouse on the Beach

After Christmas Shopping:

One five year tradition I have with my best friend is to hit the after Christmas sales.  We use this time to restock Christmas bags, cards, gift wrapping, and tissue paper.  It is tradition for us to hit up Starbucks before 6 A.M. to get to Target or Pier One as the doors open.  We usually can shop until lunch enjoying each others company.  It is never a conflict since all holiday events are finished, and everyone is tucked soundly in bed.

After Christmas Haul

 Walk off the Holiday Feast:

Whenever the television loses its luster, and our pants begin to feel tights we decide to take walk.  Just a few hours out of the day to stretch our legs on the beach or a local trail is a nice break from the holiday rush.  Being able to go at any time in the day frees up our schedule.  We like to walk the Ocean Springs Bridge, East Beach, or other trails on the coast.  It is also the added benefit of beginning those New Year’s Resolutions early!

The road less taken after the holidays…

Late night Bond fire:

For friends that are night owls, a late night bond fire can also be a great activity to catch up with friends.  The cooler weather is a fantastic excuse to put on warm boots, roast marshmallows, and enjoy the company of friends.  Everyone can bring a beverage or snack to roast over the fire.  Fire wood can be found on the cheap or for free around the south.  (Someone has always just cut down a tree in my family!)  With going out later, most families have finished their festivities.

Bond fire fun


What are your traditions and ideas with your friends during the holiday?