By Rebecca Alwine, Army Spouse

It’s starting to cool off just a little in the Florida panhandle, which makes the upcoming holidays even more exciting. When you need a sweater in the mornings, it’s easier to get excited. There are several awesome events coming up in the next few months in the Eglin/Hulburt area. Cities like Destin and Fort Walton Beach are ready for the season with a great combination of family, food, and fun.

Festivals & Food

Julia Child said, “People who love to eat are always the best people.” Take her word for it and check out these events centered on food.

Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival

Kick off November with the Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival. Held during the day on November 3rd at the HarborWalk Village, visitors can watch area restaurants compete in a BBQ competition. Your taste buds will love it if you take advantage of the creative BBQ styles (read – not just pork BBQ), as well as the traditional seafood options. If you can’t snag advance tickets, your military discount will save you a few dollars off the day of tickets. Those under 21 can also get a discount on tickets.

A Coast Boil, a Culinary Celebration

The following weekend, head back to HarborWalk Village for another delicious day. From 11 to 4pm on November 12th, join locals and tourists for A Coast Boil, a Culinary Celebration. Chefs from around the area come together to showcase their signature seafood dishes. Be prepared to sample shrimp, andouille sausage, new potatoes, corn and all the mouthwatering sides that made up a traditional seafood boil.

Unique Thanksgiving

Not sure if you want to cook for Thanksgiving? Take the crew to Dinner with a Purpose: Thanksgiving Dinner at Harbor Docks from 11am to 7pm on the 23rd of November. One of the area’s best local restaurants is serving up a complimentary traditional Thanksgiving meal. All tips and donations will be going to Habitat for Humanity and Destin Harvest House.

Kick off the Holiday Season

While it may not snow for the holidays, there are so many events to choose from to begin your celebration!

Deck the Halls at Dockside

Get a jump on your holiday shopping at the Deck the Halls at Dockside Holiday Market. Niceville High School Dance Team presents their third annual Holiday Market. Grab your tickets in advance and save $5. Vendors, Cajun Cuisine, raffles, and door prizes make this event a must attend.

Destin Christmas Tree Lighting

Kick off the holiday season by attending the Destin Christmas Tree Lighting on the evening of November 30th. Held at the Destin Community Center, this event is free for all. Canned goods or new toys are encouraged as donations, which will benefit the community throughout the season. There are refreshments, live entertainment and even a visit from Santa.

Sounds of the Season Christmas Concert

Get in the holiday mood with music. Head over to Village Baptist Church on Friday, Dec 1st at 7pm for the 22nd Annual Sounds of the Season Christmas Concert. Presented by the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, performances include soloists and groups. This year’s special guest artist is Sarah Simmons Langston, who appeared on The Voice. Admission is free, but in the spirit of the holidays, unwrapped toys will be accepted for distribution to children in the community.

Destin Christmas Parade

Nothing says holiday like a parade! The Destin Christmas Parade is on December 9th at 10am. Beginning at the Downtown Destin Shopping Center, the parade stretches west to Harbor Blvd and onto Nightown on Stahlman Ave. (Hint: The best place to watch from is the north side of Harbor Blvd.) This year’s theme is “All I want for Christmas,” and this annual event is a favorite among locals and visitors.

Destin Harbor Boat Parade

Some of the best events happen when you combine the holidays with something unique to the area. The Destin Harbor Boat Parade is one such event. On Sunday, Dec 10th, local boat owners will show off their boats at 6pm. But get there early, as events will take place in the HarborWalk Village starting at noon. The lights of the boats make for a fascinating show for all ages.

New Year’s

Say farewell to 2017 and welcome to 2018 with a New Year’s Eve Street Party at HarborWalk Village. Live music in local restaurants will keep you awake if the two fireworks shows aren’t enough. Celebrate the 10th annual Ball Drop over the Harbor at midnight. Festivities kick off at 8pm and you won’t want to be anywhere else on New Year’s Eve!

Don’t miss out on these great Destin area events. If you are stationed in the Eglin/Hurlburt area or are headed this way on your next PCS, visit for all the latest happenings, base housing info, neighborhood info, school ratings, realtor and moving company recommendations.

AuthorRebecca Alwine is a PCSgrades’ Blogger Affiliate, freelance writer, army wife, and mother of three. She enjoys coffee, running, lifting weights, and most of the menial tasks of motherhood. Her writing experience includes military family topics, research pieces, guest blogging, and much more. She’s a contributing writer for ARMY Magazine, a regular contributor for several publications including to Homefront United Network, PCSgrades, ESME, and has also been published in Ms. Magazine and The Atlantic. You can follow her online at or on Twitter (@rebecca_alwine) and Instagram (@rebecca_alwine).