Quaint New England Villages, frozen snowmen and the scent of wood-burning stoves may be some people’s idea of the holiday season. But not here in the Keys and certainly not in Key West which celebrates the holidays in true island style. As one of America’s top tropical holiday destinations, Key West is a small town that’s big on holiday cheer. And nothing embraces its holiday spirit more than the annual Holiday Fest celebration which is now in full swing.

On Saturday, December 8 at 7pm, the City stages its annual family friendly home-town Holiday Parade followed by an array of other festive events throughout the month including art walks, decorated trolley rides, special concerts and more. Highlights include Schooner Wharf Bar’s annual Tree Trimming Party which takes place at 5pm on Sunday, December 2nd and is also a fundraiser for “Toys For Tots” and “Angels Just For Kids.” Bring your own nautical ornament and enjoy a free holi-day cocktail.

Nutcracker Key West – a fabulous island interpretation of the original holiday extravaganza, opens on Friday, December 7 and plays through Sunday, December 16 at the Tennessee Williams Theater. This is one of the largest, most elaborate stage productions ever to hit the Keys and a definite “Must See” for the holidays.

Also not to be missed: the Holiday Historic Inn Tours. During two enchanted Friday evenings, December 7 and 14, you can embrace the spirit of the season with a delightful tour of five decorated inns and attractions.

Participating December 7 destinations are The Gardens Hotel, Island City House Hotel, Amsterdam’s Curry Mansion Inn, The Weather Station Inn, and Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory.

December 14 destinations include Old Town Manor, Wicker Guesthouse, The Mermaid & The Alligator, Suite Dreams Inn, Santa Maria Suites Resort and the Hemingway Rum Company Distillery. The self-guided tour, which takes place from 6 – 8pm, includes tasty holiday treats, libation samplings and free trolley transportation to each location. Advance tickets are available at keystix.com but are also available for walk-up guests the night of each tour at the first destination only.

On Saturday, December 15, the Key West Bight dazzles with a magical nautical display of lights during the magical 28th Annual Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade which sets sail at 8pm in the historic Key West Seaport.

The celebration wraps up on New Year’s Eve with wild events all over the island including the lowering of a Pirate Wench from the soaring mast of the tall ship, Schooner America 2.0 at Schooner Wharf Bar. But that’s just the half of it. For a complete schedule of holiday happenings, ticket info and room bookings, go to keywestholidayfest.com. For more info on all holiday events happening at the Key West Historic Seaport visit KeyWestChristmas.org.

Happy Holidays!