The most magical time of year gives you the most magical event, The Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival.
As the sun sets, the magic of the holidays beams brightly on the MS Coast. Every evening, starting at 5:30pm and running through 10:30pm, from November 24 – December 31, 2023, over 1.5 million LED lights gleam across the 40-acre Jones Park in Gulfport Harbor. The enchanting, colorful spectacular is designed with dazzling choreographed music and light guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit.
Beyond the lights, Santa Claus waits in Santa’s Village with his elves and looks forward to greeting everyone. So come visit Santa, take a photo and say hello. There will be carnival rides for the kids, as well as for the kids at heart. Hop on to the CTA Trolley along Jones Park Drive or take a train ride across the park; both let you sit and take in the festive view. Visitors can expect plenty of entertainment all evening as the lights across the park constantly change with the holiday music.
The Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival has grown since it began in 2015. The light display was much simpler in the early days. Council President Rusty Walker is credited for the inspiration to create the magnificent light display. He always enjoyed setting yard displays at home for Christmas and wanted to share his passion. It takes many to get a project such as this built each year. Billy Hewes, Mayor of Gulfport, along with the Director of Special Events, championed the cause. Today, the light show is part of the MS Coast Christmas celebration.
A considerable part of the event’s success goes to the sponsors, who have an initial commitment of 2.5 million dollars for the first few years. Island View Casino owners have played a vital sponsorship role since the beginning.
In 2017, Lifetime Television produced a holiday movie, Christmas in Mississippi. The production was shot in Gulfport, and the plot centers around the planning of the winter festival. Jana Kramer plays Holly Logan, and she returns home to Gulfport in this romantic drama. Watch the TV movie to find Fishbone Ally and Island View Casino, both used as set locations, along with plenty of locals playing extras.
This year, the City of Gulfport wants to spread holiday joy by offering discounted unlimited carnival rides Monday through Wednesday for $20. Also, Monday and Tuesday through December 13, teachers, all military, medical professionals, and seniors with a valid ID will receive discounted $5.00 admissions. Gulfport residents are invited with discounts on select Mondays and Tuesdays. All discounts must be purchased at the gate. There is always plenty of free parking.
The winter festival is the perfect tradition for your family and friends; whether you delight in watching the colorful dancing trees or riding the Ferris wheel, this must-visit light spectacular will surely be one of the highlights of your holiday season.
EVENT: Gulfport Harbor Lights
WHERE: Jones Park, Gulfport Harbor
WHEN: Now until December 31st.- Closed Christmas Eve – Opened Christmas Day