Defuniak Springs Holiday Lights Around the Lake
Typically the weeks leading up to Christmas are busy for us. I love holiday activities. Going to see everything all dressed up in lights, doing all the crafts and going to all the special events. This year I’ve been looking for a few safe events to keep the holiday spirit alive, while still bathing us in holiday magic. The Defuniak Springs “Christmas Reflections” seemed like a perfect evening outing. Ten million lights placed all around the spring fed lake in the center of the community seemed ideal.
Defuniak Springs is about an hour from both Destin and Navarre. It is a well preserved Chautauqua Community and a lovely place to stop on any drive in this area. Our one issue with Defuniak Springs is the lack of great food. We wish there was a local brewery or restaurant that we could recommend. The Christmas Lights evening outing was a huge hit. We picked Jeff up at work and headed to the lights from there. (We picked up Chick-Fil-A on our way for an added treat.)
The Defuniak Springs light show runs from Thanksgiving to New Years. Entry is $3 per person ages 7 and up. The entrance to the lights for cars is at the intersection of Live Oak Avenue E. and Circle Drive. There are other activities associated with the lights like outdoor movies, concerts and a Festival of Trees. Check the calendar when you go. We purposefully went up on a weeknight to avoid the crowds.
The night we went the First Baptist Church of Defuniak Springs was putting on a live “drive by” nativity. You pass the church on Live Oak Avenue. (I have no idea how often they do this.) We parked in the parking lot to check out all the animals, including a camel, who was in a separate pen. I suspect he doesn’t play well with the goats and miniature ponies.
We didn’t really understand what your options are for visiting the lights. We thought you had to drive though so we followed the directions to the drive-through entrance and entered that way. The guy at the gate said we were welcome to park on the side of the road and walk. About a third of the way around, that is exactly what we did – parked and walked the full lake loop. If you choose to drive you can tune your radio in to 88.3 to hear commercial free Christmas music. (We found this station to have some interference and instead chose a different station playing Christmas music. Alternatively bring your own music.)
If I had it to do all over again, I would have parked on Baldwin Ave and walked over the railroad tracks (there are level crossings) on to Circle Ave. There is technically no charge for walkers, but they do have a donation station set up where the cars enter.
I also would have packed my own hot chocolate. There was evidence that there are hot chocolate stands available some nights, likely weekends, but there was nothing the night we visited.
Once you are in you can walk or drive (or some combination) around the lake as many times as you want. We loved walking around the lake. There are so many good photos to take. The kids loved being right up against the light displays.
There are so many fun structures around the lake. They are not off limits during the light show. We ventured down to the butterfly gazebo.
We even went inside for a little rest. (Too bad I failed to bring our own thermos of hot chocolate.)
The lakeside also has a playground and two piers that offer nice, peaceful views of the lights. You have to walk down by the lake to discover them.
It was so magical to be up close to the lights. The kids loved running between the lit trees and around glowing snowmen.
Plus, don’t miss your opportunity for a Covid safe photo with plastic Santa!
While the lights are lovely, the houses that overlook the lake are also fun to look at. They feel a bit like you’ve stepped into Stars Hallow. I enjoyed looking at the privately owned houses almost as much as the lights.
Overall, Defuniak Springs is a wonderful festive and easy outing. I can’t speak to weekends, but our weekday visit was not crowded. We easily avoided other people to have our run of the lights.
This is a yearly event, so mark your calendar if you are planning to head this way over the holidays in the future.