On the west side of Jacksonville, FL, surrounding a large pond, and decorated with over a million Christmas lights resides the Enchanted Christmas Village.
Open to the public from November 25th to December 31st, this holiday village includes a hayride through a trail of twinkling lights and holiday decoration, a live Nativity scene (featuring the newborn King nestled in a stable surrounded by family, shepherds and livestock), an giant igloo for private parties; letter writing station for notes deployed military and letters to Santa; the Florida vacation home for Santa Claus complete with workshop next door (an opportunity to have a photo with the jolly elf himself); an outdoor food truck courtyard, Frosty’s play area (carousel and Christmas maze), Christmas barn/marketplace with hands on craft opportunities as well as vendors; a live event stage and an animated Christmas tree (dancing lights) performing every half hour. On Saturdays (through December 17th) there’s even the opportunity to have breakfast with the Claus family!
While the Enchanted Christmas Village is a bit of a drive, the visit is well worth the effort. This delightful and well organized event is a welcome and cozy respite from the jarring crowds of the larger theme parks to the south. While the event gets quite busy on the weekends, the family atmosphere is wonderful winter themed escape, right down to the snow-like crunching sounds from walking on the gravel pathways. From the strolling, guitar playing carolers, to the holiday light adorned hayride trial, Enchanted Christmas Village feels like Christmas should – festive, family friendly fun.
ITM had the opportunity to speak with the event’s organizer, Ann Urban. We were amazed to learn that this was the inaugural year for this event, given how well organized and pleasantly hassle free the entire experience was (from organized parking, easy entrance, friendly staff and well planned layout. What impressed and delighted us even more was what Anne told us about her motivation for the event:
Jacksonville has been so good to me over the last 25 years and we do about 400 events a year and I know our industry in Jacksonville does a lot of laying off during the month of December and our neighboring community like St. Augustine, they beef up, but our people tend to lay-off and I wanted to do something that each year we could grow as a destination and we created a lot of jobs for people and we want to see it become a destination so our hoteliers will get busy and hopefully people won’t lose hours and stuff. I just wanted to do something for the community that’s been so good to me.
-Anne Urban, Event owner/organizer
Know before you go:
- The wait to see Santa, and grab that perfect family holiday portrait, can be up to 45 minutes long during busy times; for a $10 online reservation (applied to the cost of the image), guests can select a specific time for the photo (see the photography website for details)
- Arrive early as onsite parking fills up fast (once that lot is full there is overflow parking at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, including shuttle service)
- Wear closed toed shoes, the area is paved in gravel.
- Check the website and Facebook page for specials and event entertainment information.
- Wednesdays Military personnel get in free (with discounts for dependents)
- Pricing: $22/adult $12/children (3-12); Family pack $60 2 children and 2 adults; Parking is $5 (additional rates and discounts on the Enchanted Christmas Village website.
- Dates and times: Wed-Sunday (Sun. Wed. and Thur. 5pm to 9pm; Fri 5pm to 10pm, Sat. 11am to 10pm) through December 31st (Including a Christmas Eve candlelight service on Saturday December 24th ).
- Address: 17255 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville FL, 32234