There are plenty of opportunities on the Mississippi Gulf Coast within driving distance to have fun this month for all ages and most involve festive lights.
The TrainTastic Interactive Model Railroad Museum makes a great family trip and has several Christmas-themed events. Formerly known as the Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum, TrainTastic is located at 615 Pass Road in Gulfport. Holiday events at the museum include a display of two million lights. Santa will be at the museum each Thursday, Friday, and Saturday until Christmas from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. The event also features a snowy train ride on tracks lined with twinkling lights that transport guests through a winter wonderland. Admission is $25 per person. After Santa returns to the North Pole the museum will still offer train rides each evening December 28-30. The museum is open year-round and offers educational opportunities in a fun setting to learn about trains and travel of the days of yore. The museum showcases the roles that trains have played in Mississippi and throughout the United States. It also creates opportunities to build or grow your own model train display. The 50,000-square-foot exhibit space features interactive train displays, physically engaging exhibits, and outdoor train rides. Museum admission costs $15 for adults, $12 for seniors age 65 or older and for children under 18, and $10 for active military personnel. Family memberships start at $150 and include unlimited admission plus discounts on purchases and parties.
The annual Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival will be open daily at Jones Park until Dec. 31. Admission is $5 for ages 5-12 years and $15 for visitors over age 12. Friday, Saturday, and Christmas Day admission costs $20 for adults. The event has more than a million lights, fun rides, entertainment, and opportunities to visit Santa at his village. Located at 2269 Jones Park Drive, Gulfport, the event is in its 9th year. Gates are open from 5:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m.; tickets stop selling at 9:30 p.m. The event is closed Christmas Eve but is open Christmas Day. Free parking is available at the Coast Transit Authority garage and a shuttle transports guests every 15 to 30 minutes.
Magic Christmas in Lights is happening once again at Bellingrath Gardens. Located at 12401 Bellingrath Road in nearby Theodore, Ala., the 65-acre estate is flooded with thousands of lights. The light show runs nightly through Jan. 3 except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Tickets are $17 for adults and $11 for youth ages 5-12. The price for children ages 4 and under is $1. More information about food options and about discounts for groups is available here.
Fulmer’s Farmstead in Perry County offers a special Christmas festival each year. It’s called Christmas in the Orchard as it is set in the pecan orchard. The farmstead, located at 510 Wingate Road, New Augusta, is open year-round from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. However, on December weekends the farmstead fills with festive cheer, lighted decorations, and the aromas of holiday treats. Dickens’ carolers sing Christmas tunes while guests walk through cabins and exhibits for a historical, country Christmas tour. Hayrides and carriage rides are also offered. General admission is $10 per person. A delicious sit-down meal in the farmstead café is available for $35 per person for a choice of Cornish game hen with orange marmalade glaze or sugar and spice glazed country ham plus side dishes. Dec. 15 and Dec. 16 are the final nights of the 2023 Christmas in the Orchard. effectively.
Happy December, y’all!