Holiday Island on Jekyll Island, Georgia is the event that ushers in the Christmas Spirit around Brunswick and the Golden Isles. This large holiday lighting display begins each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving with more decorations added as the season progresses. After a dark ride across the marshes of the Golden Isles, guests to Jekyll Island cross the bridge and are immediately surrounded by a twinkling array of lights that highlight the beach and marshes of Jekyll Island.
Large, lighted displays and twinkling palms delight children of all ages. If you head toward the beach, you will continue to enjoy these displays along the way. The beach hotels join in the decorations by providing some beautiful displays of their own. Many of the displays feature sea creatures but you will also find many that will remind you of snowier climates. However, the star of the show is the large display of holiday lights you will find on the grounds of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.
While you can drive through most of this display in your car – or even bike, the weather is still plenty warm enough – the most fun can be had by pulling into the many convenient parking lots and walking the paths winding by the many homes and cottages remaining from the Victorian era.
The Jekyll Island Club was established in the late 1800’s as a winter retreat for the wealthy. While the cottages and hotel that remain might have seemed small and quaint to the Pulitzers, Rockefellers, and Vanderbilts who frequented the island, by today’s standards they are sumptuous and totally delightful dressed in their holiday best.
Wreaths and candles adorn the houses but tucked in between the homes and throughout the trees and Spanish moss are the lights and the large light displays that we have become familiar with in more recent years. The Jekyll Island Club staff do a beautiful job of combining the two types of displays for all to enjoy. Look for the snowflakes shining through the Spanish moss – a winter wonderland in the deep South.
More Holiday Events at Jekyll Island, Georgia
Many of the old buildings that served as workers quarters and support facilities for the wealthy now house lovely shops that are nice for finding that last little stocking stuffer. Be sure to visit the bookstore, the nature store, as well as the other gift shops – including a Christmas shop. All of these will be festooned with lights and wreaths for the season.
Take some time to have a salad, sandwich, or even ice cream on the porch of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. More fancy attire and food can be found inside in the main dining room if you arrived dressed for the occasion. For another fun place to stop for a bite, visit the restaurant or the bar area (which serves wonderful boiled shrimp) at the Jekyll Island wharf. You’ll be able to view the holiday lights while dining from any of these vantage points.
You will also not want to miss the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, housed in the former Jekyll Island Club power plant. Usually decorated for Christmas with light displays in the shapes of turtles across the front of the building, the Turtle Center now serves as a rehabilitation center for sick and injured sea turtles. Santa comes to visit the Sea Turtles during the month of December. This is a must-do for kids and a great way to combine a visit to the Sea Turtle Center with a trip to see the Christmas Lights on Jekyll Island. For more information, visit Santa and the Sea Turtles.
Be sure to visit for the tree lighting, which is also held on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving from 4:30 to 7:30. Plan to arrive in the early afternoon, do a little Christmas shopping, then stay for the tree lighting and watch as the holiday spirit of lights fills the Jekyll Island Club grounds.
Jekyll Island is a part of the Golden Isles of Georgia and located between Jacksonville, Florida and Savannah, Georgia. An easy day trip from either Jacksonville or Savannah, more information on the events during the Holiday Island on Jekyll Island can be found at the Holiday Island home page.
Holiday Island at JekyllIsland.com