In Coastal Mississippi, we always find a reason to celebrate – and Christmas tops the list (well, maybe behind Mardi Gras)! From the nationally acclaimed Christmas light show at the Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival to the dazzling holiday entertainment at the casinos, we celebrate with families in mind.

Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival

Bringing in over 215,000 visitors over a five-year span, Jones Park in Gulfport plays host to one of the largest holiday light celebrations in the entire country!

A dazzling display of over 1,500,000 lights makes for a perfect backdrop to your Christmas festivities. The spectacular light show is presented as a walking tour or aboard a free heated trolley, and you can visit Santa in Santa’s Village every night! You can snap memorable pictures at the Elfie Selfie stations, enjoy fun rides such as the Merry Go Round Carousel and Santa’s Kid’s Master Express Train, all while staying warm with a nice cup of hot chocolate available for purchase.

In fact, the Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival is featured prominently in the 2017 Lifetime film “Christmas in Mississippi,” starring Jana Kramer and Wes Brown. Be sure to watch the movie before attending the festival, then you can recreate your favorite scenes when you visit!

The Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival runs daily from November 29 – December 31 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., but they are closed on Christmas Eve. Admission costs $10 for an adult, $5 for children aged 5-12, and is free for children under five!

If you’re looking for even more holiday light displays on The Secret Coast, be sure to visit the annual Snowflakes in the Bay celebration in Downtown Bay St. Louis and Depot Row as well as the illuminating display at the Biloxi Town Green!

Martina McBride’s ninth annual Joy of Christmas Tour

Martina McBride’s highly anticipated Joy of Christmas tour is back for a ninth year, and it’s kicking off right here in Coastal Mississippi! The Grammy-nominated country singer is bringing her talents to the Beau Rivage Theater in Biloxi on Friday, November 29, for the first of a 14-show swing across the United States.

“We have everything from classic hymns like ‘O Holy Night’ to fun, big band swing classics like ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town.’” It’s all a very visual, the songs are well-loved, and you leave with a warm feeling,” McBride said in her tour announcement.

Also, Postmodern Jukebox’s “A Very Postmodern Christmas” will be rocking the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino December 6-7! Postmodern Jukebox’s retro takes on modern hits have garnered them over 1 billion views on YouTube, and now they’re applying that same originality to a nation-wide Christmas Tour! Tickets start at $24.99.

Ocean Springs Tree Lighting with Santa

On Thursday, December 5, head to Marshall Park in downtown Ocean Springs to kick off your Christmas celebrations! Enjoy refreshments, listen to Christmas carols and take pictures with Santa, all in front of a beautiful backdrop of the annual Christmas Tree lighting.  This event takes place from 6-8 p.m. and is co-sponsored by the City of Ocean Springs and the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce – Main Street Tourism Bureau.

20th annual Christmas on the Bayou

What happens when you take a Mardi Gras parade, make it Christmas-themed and put it on the water? You get Christmas on the Bayou!

The annual lighted boat parade is as quintessentially “Coastal Mississippi Christmas” as you can get, and event organizers are hoping to make it bigger and better than ever for their 20th year! On Saturday, December 14, dozens of dazzling displays will parade from Gulfport Lake, down Bayou Bernard to the conclusion at the mouth of the Bayou at Big Lake. Admission is free, and bleacher seating is available for public viewing at Gulfport Lake and the foot of the Cowan Lorraine Bridge.

What started as fewer than twenty decorated boats enjoying a night on the water has grown into an incredible annual celebration featuring an average of 65-70 boats a year, now recognized as a Top Twenty Event in the Southeast United States by the Southeast Tourism Society!

The annual Christmas on the Water Boat Parade in Biloxi is another wonderful Secret Coast celebration! This holiday boat parade takes place on Saturday, December 7 at 6 p.m., with the best viewing locations coming between the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor and Casino Row, or between the Biloxi Lighthouse and Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. Be sure to stay for the fireworks show after the parade!

Downtown celebrations

Coastal Mississippi boasts a number of wonderful downtown districts, and the weekend of December 6-7 is a great time to come enjoy all the holiday festivities they have to offer!

On Friday, Pascagoula’s annual Downtown for the Holidays returns for a 41st year! Hosted by Main Street Pascagoula, the event will feature a Christmas tree lighting, a holiday parade, performances, carriage rides and more.

The Holiday Open House in Ocean Springs also begins that Friday! The two-day event is a celebration all around town at participating shops, restaurants and galleries, offering holiday specials, warm refreshments, and Santa sightings!

On Saturday, the Moss Point Recreation Center plays host to the city’s annual Christmas By the River celebration starting at 10 a.m. After enjoying Breakfast with Santa, be sure to stick around for the Christmas Parade at 3 p.m. from the Southgate Mall to the Riverfront, a 5:30 p.m. tree lighting at the Riverfront Welcome Center, and a 6:15 boat parade followed by fireworks!

Also kicking off at 10 a.m. that Saturday is the 15th annual Christmas in the City in Biloxi! Enjoy great entertainment in the downtown Biloxi Arts District on Rue Magnolia & Water Streets, including choirs, bands and dancers, pictures with Santa, and special Biloxi Pusharatas – a traditional holiday treat. The event lasts until 4 p.m. and will also feature vendors to help with any gift-giving needs you may have!

Christmas in the Pass features a tree lighting, a holiday parade featuring Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elves, music, food, arts and gifts, and even a pawrade for your favorite furry friends!

Finally, a full day of holiday fun kicks off in Bay St. Louis starting at 11 a.m.! The annual Bay St. Louis Christmas Parade starts at S Necaise Avenue & Main Street and heads to Beach Boulevard, then ends at the Depot District with the annual Snowflakes & Sugarplums Festival. The free celebration features live Christmas music, the Dream Castle Bounce Village, H&H Express Train and pictures with Santa, and lasts until 4 p.m.