It began as a modest Christmas market held in Gulfport’s Rice Pavilion, featuring roughly 75 vendors.
Today, the Christmas City Gift Show is one of the longest-standing activities at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, with 300-plus booths drawing thousands of shoppers. As he prepares for the event’s 40th anniversary in November, founder Ron Meyers can’t help but be proud of what has become a cherished family tradition.
“We attract customers from up to 150 miles away from Biloxi,” he says. “It’s heartwarming to see three generations, including moms, grandmas and grandkids, coming together to enjoy our event.”
THE GREATEST SHOW IN THE SOUTH
Christmas City will be held Nov. 10-12 this year, but the planning and preparation are ongoing for months in advance. Office staff secure a wide array of vendors offering high-quality products and services, Meyers says, while floor staff ensure that all exhibit areas are clean and safe.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the layout was adjusted to create wider aisles, and the change has become permanent — allowing for a more comfortable shopping experience. Describing the atmosphere of Christmas City, Meyers says music fills the air, door prizes are awarded frequently and the spirit of the season permeates the entire venue.
“Our vendors are hand-selected,” he says. “You can find various handmade items, unique one-of-a-kind items, sale items, gourmet foods and thousands of great Christmas gifts. Our customers call Christmas City the greatest show in the South!”
Several activities have been added over the years to keep Christmas City fresh, including the Friday night, adults-only Shopper’s Paradise, which was introduced in 2016 and features live music, a silent auction, the option to purchase wine and beer while shopping and door prizes every 15 minutes. Kids can join Santa for breakfast on Saturday morning and visit Santa Land, where they can take a photo with St. Nick, compose a letter to him or craft a keepsake Christmas ornament.
“I have discovered that what people like is a fun and enjoyable experience,” Meyers says. “So, whether it’s photos with Santa or carolers strolling the aisles, shoppers are creating memories for life.”
Initially, Meyers set out to create one of the country’s finest gift shows, but he notes that Christmas City serves another, very important purpose. Some of the proceeds support the non-profit Ron Meyers Ministries, which produces faith-based radio shows and podcasts and supports other nonprofit ministries.
Last year’s Christmas City broke attendance records, drawing 13,240 shoppers, and Meyers is optimistic that 2023 will be another banner year. Guests never attend the same event twice, he says, as every year brings new and trendy gift items, home décor, clothing, jewelry and accessories.
“The future is about keeping the exceptional exhibitors,” Meyers adds as well as surprises that customers can only find at Christmas City.”
IF YOU GO
The Christmas City Gift Show’s 40th Anniversary
Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, Biloxi
- Doors open Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. for Veteran’s Appreciation Day. Military, dependents and vets get $2 off admission.
- Shoppers Paradise runs Friday from 5-9 p.m. This is adults-only shopping with live music; wine and beer will be available.
- Saturday hours 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday hours 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
- Single-day passes for Friday-Sunday are $10; children under 15 admitted free.
- Learn more or buy tickets at christmascitygiftshow.com.