The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama Shines for Christmas

The Wharf—Orange Beach, Alabama’s waterfront shopping and entertainment center—is aglow for the holidays with events for all ages.

Horse and carriage rides through the decorated Main Street area are scheduled throughout December. The rides start at 5 p.m and give visitors a chance to see The Wharf all decked out and lit up for the holidays.

The North Pole Express Train, which runs Saturdays through Christmas Eve, offers another festive sightseeing option. Photos with Santa are available weekends, and include the opportunity for children to bring their wish lists for the Big Guy, or to write one in his village.

Ice skating has never been readily available on the Gulf Coast, but The Wharf is addressing the problem with an ice skating rink open through January 16. DJ nights are scheduled for December 10 and 17.

The Entertainment Stage showcases a variety of acts

One of the most exciting events of the holidays happens December 10 and 11 with the third annual Holly Days on Main Festival. A free-to-attend festival run by the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber, Holly Days on Main is presented by South Baldwin Regional Medical Center and Riviera Utilities and aims to bring Christmas cheer through a wide range of activities. Vendors will be selling a variety of fine arts, retail goods and arts and crafts, providing a golden opportunity for some last-minute shopping. An entertainment stage sponsored by Wharf tenant Dick’s Last Resort hosts acts including youth choirs.

The Santa Pub Crawl raises funds for Toys for Tots

For the over-21 set, the Lower Alabama Young Professionals’ Santa Pub Crawl, presented by Gulf Group at EXP Realty, promises a fun-filled expedition through The Wharf’s bars and restaurants and serves as a fundraiser for Toys for Tots. Everyone’s encouraged to wear their favorite Santa or Christmas-themed gear.

The Lighted Boat parade passes by The Wharf

Saturday night offers a chance to see one of the area’s most-loved holiday events, the Lighted Boat Parade, which leaves at dusk from LuLu’s Restaurant in Gulf Shores and proceeds festively down the Intracoastal Waterway to The Wharf.

For more information on Christmas events at The Wharf, visit  For more information on Holly Days on Main,

Photos courtesy Ryan Moberly and LuLu’s

Kathie Farnell
Kathie Farnell
Freelance writer Kathie Farnell lives in Foley, Alabama, ten miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, with her husband, photographer Jack Purser, and a flock of cats. She has written travel articles for print and web publications since 1992, and also produces programming for public television and radio through her nonprofit corporation, Artemis Media Project. The couple enjoy exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations and spending time on the Gulf beaches.

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