St. Augustine Florida’s holiday lights celebration lasts the entire month of December with countless opportunities to see lights on foot or by any number of conveyances and tours.
We were warned about crowds, even on Sundays. In order to avoid some of the stress, we stayed at the Best Western Spanish Quarters Inn which is directly across from the National Park Visitors Center and the main Old Town trolley stop. I highly recommend staying at a centrally located hotel or a Bed and Breakfast ( B&Bs, decked out for the holidays, have daytime tours).
Sunday through Thursday, crowds are less and you have your pick of lodgings; weekends are more expensive. Weekend lodging in Old Town sells out early. Most tours run during the week, especially on Monday and daily, close to Christmas and New Years. so you won’t miss out.
Our visit in early December reminded us that Florida does have weather cold enough to justify funny winter hats, and hot chocolate, so be sure and bring winter clothing.
For the photographer, viewing lights on foot provides the best opportunity, but had we wanted to ride the trolley, tour by boat or ride a horse-drawn carriage, we could have done any combination of tours.
After 7:00 PM, on Sunday, at least, crowds and lines began to abate when families and day-trippers headed home making for less harried photographing
Though I used my tripod as recommended for low light, I don’t think it added much except the hassle of carting it around over a couple of miles. The lights are quite bright and almost feels like daylight. Hand-held shots are more likely successful with a boosted ISO (I used 2400). You might also want to photograph during the hours before and after sunset. Holiday Lights look great early in the evening when the sky is still blue. I used my 12-50mm lens for nearly all my photos simply because switching out lens wasn’t really convenient. Lenses are a matter of preference and there are no wrong choices.
St. Augustine literally has miles of holiday lights. I could easily spend more than one night here.