by kellie abrahamson
Dig out your coats and dust off your scarves- winter has officially hit the First Coast and with it came the St. Augustine Amphitheatre’s annual family event Winter Wonderland. This terrific celebration of all things chilly and festive is now in its third year and is better than ever.
Activities abound as you enter the complex, which itself is covered in twinkling lights and holiday decor. In fact, chances are you’ll get a glimpse at one of Winter Wonderland’s most popular attractions before you even get out of the car. A horse-drawn carriage begins its journey in front of the box office adjacent to the parking lot. From there, the sleigh takes visitors on an unforgettable ride through an enchanted forest, where the trails are decorated with holiday scenes and cheerful music is heard around every corner. This is a great way to start or end your night of family-friendly fun.
Arguably the biggest crowd-drawing activity at Winter Wonderland is ice skating. The Amphitheatre’s stage has been transformed into St. Augustine’s only outdoor ice rink and guests of all skill levels can lace up some skates and give it a try. The rink is also one of the few places where you can experience snow in Florida. Each night there’s a 100% chance of flurries between the hours of 7 and 9 pm.
Those who prefer a little adrenalin rush with their holiday cheer can take a trip down the revamped Ice Slide. This 32-foot high thrill ride was a big hit with guests when it was introduced last year and now it’s even faster, making for a more exhilarating trip down the 100-foot-long slab of ice.
Another thing you do not want to miss on your next trip to Winter Wonderland is the original play A Time for Everything. The charming holiday tale is presented by Veddy Theatre and tells the story of a young princess with three questions and her father’s efforts to find her some answers. The play is truly a First Coast affair with all of the talent, from the story itself to the music to the acting, provided by locals.
While those may be the biggest attractions, they are certainly not the only things to do at Winter Wonderland. New activities have been dreamt up for younger kids, like a bounce house and the Elf Express Train. You can also try your luck at carnival-style games with winter themes (dubbed- adorably- “Reindeer Games”), take a walk through a charming little elf village (which also has nightly snow-fall), stroll through a “Candy Cane Forest” and even visit Santa. Plenty of yummy concessions will keep tummies from grumbling including snacks, hot cocoa and, of course, s’mores.
Admission to Winter Wonderland is free for all but most of the activities cost anywhere from $2 to $20 per person. For a complete breakdown of prices, times and anything else you need to know, visit www.winterwonderlandflorida.com or call (904) 209-0367.
winter wonderland at the st. augustine amphitheatre
by kellie abrahamson