Christmas on the Coast: It’s the perfect start to the holidays!
By Kara Kimbrough
The email in my inbox sounded so appealing: “From Thanksgiving to New Years, Beau Rivage in Biloxi is transformed into a winter wonderland adorned with larger-than-life nutcrackers, colossal Christmas ornaments, hundreds of frost-covered trees, thousands of brilliant poinsettias and Santa’s sleigh and reindeer soaring high above the atrium. A stunning 25-foot Christmas tree and classic winter scenes throughout the resort’s public spaces invoke the spirit of the season.”
It’s ironic that a Currier & Ives-like Christmas is recreated on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, an area more famous for sun, sand, beaches and warmer temps. But regardless of where we find it, Mississippians, myself included, long for a similar Christmas. Coast residents still speak longingly of the “Christmas snow of 1963,” but we'll likely never enjoy a Christmas filled with the cozy fireplaces and sleigh rides depicted in 99% of all Hallmark Christmas movies.
I try to visit the Coast each December to view Christmas decorations at cities and towns along the beach, shop at holiday open houses and dine at new and innovative restaurants that pop up every week or so. Believe me, our state’s southernmost area is the perfect holiday getaway for those in need of a jumpstart to the Christmas season.
My first stop is always the Beau Rivage. The sights, sounds and smells of Christmas are everywhere, especially in the cavernous lobby, atrium and shops. In short, it rivals anything Hallmark has to offer. It’s fun to simply wander around or people watch while sipping coffee in the open-air Roasted Bean.
The four-diamond beachfront resort is open to the public for shopping, dining at one of the fine or casual eateries and trying one’s luck on the gaming floor, regardless of whether or not you're staying in one of the comfortable guest rooms. And from now until New Year’s, an entertaining mix of shows, concerts and family events are planned for guests of all ages.
Below are a few Christmas events at the Beau, followed by additional Coast holidays happenings. As always, contact each venue or municipality with questions about hours, parking and tickets:
· The Beau’s BR Prime will host an upscale Santa Brunch on Dec.4. Capture memories and dine on an exquisite holiday meal with an exclusive event featuring Santa. Enjoy strolling characters, a commemorative photo and cherished keepsake gift to mark this special holiday occasion.
· Scheduled for Dec. 15-26 in the Beau Rivage Theatre, Finding Christmas is a Broadway-style musical variety production that follows young siblings as they set out on a quest to find the true meaning of Christmas. Besides a spectacular show, attendees are treated to snowfall at each performance.
· December headline entertainment at the Beau kicks offs with The Commodores (Dec. 2) followed by A Boy Band Christmas (Dec. 3) and country singer-songwriter Josh Tuner (Dec. 9). The Nutcracker presented by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Ballet Theatre performs on Dec. 10 and Dec.11. Popular party band The Molly Ringwalds will close out 2022 with an unforgettable New Year’s Eve performance in the Beau Rivage Theatre.
· Gulfport’s Annual Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival is recurring daily until Dec. 31 (closed Christmas Eve). The festival features over 1 million Christmas lights across Jones Park. Visitors can walk or ride aboard a free heated trolley. Admission is $15 general admission; $5 for children ages 5-12, and free for any child age 4 and under. Tickets can be purchased online here or at the box office.
· It’s not actually an event, but one of my favorite Coast “sights” - Annual Snowflakes in the Bay- begins November 28 and extends through Jan. 1 in downtown Bay St. Louis and Depot Row. Beautiful century old Live Oaks are decorated with illuminated snowflakes, providing a breathtaking backdrop for walking, shopping and dining in the historic Bay area filled with restaurants, shops and nightlife.
There are literally hundreds of Christmas activities taking place on the Coast, ranging from tree, lighthouse and boat lightings, parades, Santa events for children and so much more. For a complete listing of holiday events, visit gulfcoast.org and simply search “Christmas.” Officials at Coastal Mississippi are happy to help plan your trip.
If there are festive Christmas events or decorations in your city or town, please drop me an email and let me know. I’ll share everything I receive in upcoming columns. In the meantime, if you’d like my list of favorite places to stay, dine and shop on the Coast, email me and I’ll send it to you.
To get into the Christmas spirit before my Coast trip, I made a batch of microwaves pralines found in one of my favorite cookbooks, The Gulf Gourmet. It’s almost foolproof and in reminiscent of the pralines found in New Orleans. Like almost everything on our Gulf Coast, it’s simply wonderful.
1 box brown sugar
1 small container whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup pecans
Mix brown sugar and whipping cream together in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cook in microwave for 8 minutes. Take out and stir. Place back in microwave for 5 minutes. Take out, stir in butter and pecans until mixture begins to lose gloss. Spoon quickly onto wax paper. Let stand until candy sets and remove from wax paper. Makes about 30 pieces when dropped by tablespoon.
Recipe from The Gulf Gourmet, Recipes from the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at email@example.com.