Bells, lights, music: COVID-proof holiday display

Cathedral District of Jacksonville offers contactless way to get in festive spirit

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Looking for a safe way to get in the holiday spirit? A drive through celebration kicks off in the Cathedral District downtown Jacksonville Friday evening with special light displays, musicians performing safely outside for you while you drive through and a live nativity scene.

If you get there by 6 p.m., you’ll hear opening “bells” with all five churches ringing simultaneously for a full five minutes. Visitors can follow an audio-guided tour of the district and enjoy music by the Jacksonville Symphony in this first-of-its-kind experience.

“Christmas in the Cathedral District: Let There Be Light” will be visible from I-95 and the Acosta, Main Street, Hart and Mathews bridges. This first-of-its-kind spectacular event is the Cathedral District’s gift to the community after a long and challenging year.

Like many nonprofits, the Cathedral District was in the middle of event planning when the pandemic up-ended public life. With COVID 19 making it impossible to repeat the district’s wildly successful holiday event of last year with the same up-close and personal church tours, Christmas market, and musical performances, the Cathedral District’s board of directors came up with the idea of hosting a safe, family-friendly, drive-through event to showcase its five historic churches instead.

Drive through holiday display downtown
Drive through holiday display downtown

Every evening from Nov. 27 through Dec. 31, The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, First Presbyterian Church of Jacksonville, First United Methodist Church, Historic Mount Zion AME Church and St. Johns Episcopal Cathedral will shine as part of a driving tour that includes more than 100 brightly lit trees. Other significant landmark buildings will be illuminated as well.

“Imagine the central core of our beloved Cathedral District, with our five historic churches, shining as a beacon of light from the highest point in Jacksonville,” said Ginny Myrick, CEO and president of Cathedral District Jax. “It will be a thing of beauty and a wonderful gift to the community during such a challenging year! Guests will be able to enjoy the display from their cars, sharing the delight of the season with their families while remaining safely distanced from others. We are keeping the holiday spirit alive during the full season of Christmas.”

The Cathedral District’s green team will use energy-efficient LED lighting to provide more light with much less energy thanks to event partner JEA, which will provide the infrastructure for this amazing gift of light.

For maps and to download the audio program, visit cathedraldistrict-jax.org/lbl

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