Train rides, dancing trees, visits with Santa, warming stations with s’mores and…a holiday octopus?
Yes, a 16×16 foot octopus complete with a Santa hat and thousands of LED lights will dazzle its way into the hearts of those attending the 2022 Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival held annually at Jones Park.
The new attraction will join other sea creatures and coastal crustacean light displays, including fish, crabs, and a shark. There’s even a glowing coastal Santa complete with sunglasses, swimming trunks, and an umbrella-shaded lounge chair among a pirate ship, lighthouse, and sea shell castle.
There are expected to be over 2 million lights throughout the many displays, rides, and villages. More than 110,000 people attended the winter festival last year and the city is expecting just as many or maybe more this year. Crews are already working to set up the festival.
“The city crews as well as our contractors are out here putting together Santa’s Village, starting to lay out ticket booths out, putting lights out, our dancing trees are almost complete, if not already complete,” said Gulfport Communications Manager Jase Payne. “So, we’re looking forward to continuing to add on, it’s a process that will go until we open the gates on Nov. 25th. But we’re excited to see people back in Jones Park this year for Harbor Lights.”
Santa lands on the Gulf Coast the day after Thanksgiving and will remain at the Gulfport Harbor through New Years Eve, closing only for Christmas Eve. The annual winter festival adds more lights and additional attractions each year. Organizers are also bringing back the talking reindeer that stole the show last year.
Gates will be open nightly from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The box office will stop selling tickets when the gates close at 9:30 p.m. and the festival will close at 10:30 p.m. each night. Festival pricing will be $15 for general admission, $5 for children ages 5 to 12, and free for children under 5. Leashed pets are welcome. Admission does not include festival rides. Ride tickets may be purchased at the event.
Trolley rides to and from the parking areas are free. In addition to parking at the west entrance of Jones Park, there will be a free shuttle service to and from the Coast Transit Authority parking garage at 2015 15th Street. Parking at the garage is also free. Online tickets are nonrefundable but may be used for any open night and purchased by clicking here. Tickets are also available at the box office at 2269 Jones Park Dr. in Gulfport.
Visit the Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival’s website for additional information.