Florida Events Calendar

    Whatever your passion, Florida has something for you. Here are just some of the major events scheduled this month in the Sunshine State. Please check individual websites for more details.

    South Florida | Central Florida | North Florida

    The 41st original Cirque du Soleil original production, Volta tells the spellbinding story about the freedom to choose and the thrill of blazing your own trail. Inspired in part by the spirit that fuels the culture of action sports, the show weaves the adrenaline rush of acrobatics into a visually striking world driven by a melodic score.

    The 41st original Cirque du Soleil original production, Volta tells the spellbinding story about the freedom to choose and the thrill of blazing your own trail. Inspired in part by the spirit that fuels the culture of action sports, the show weaves the adrenaline rush of acrobatics into a visually striking world driven by a melodic score.

    - Cirque du Soleil



    MIAMI ART WEEK – Art Basel Miami Beach is the centerpiece for what has to be the most amazing week for great art anywhere. At the main hall, about 260 galleries from around the world will show work by masters of modern and contemporary art, as well as the new generation of emerging artists.  Ambitious large-scale art works, films and performances become part of the city’s outdoor landscape.  Art Basel is a whirlwind of non-stop revelry with great parties hosted by luxury retailers in the Design District or on rooftops of chic South Beach boutiques. Nightclubs host celebrity-splashed soirees and “pop-up” clubs abound from South Beach to Wynwood. And, don’t miss the smaller but wildly eclectic satellite art fairs, too.  
    When: Dec. 7-10 for Art Basel Miami Beach. Dec. 5-17 for the satellite fairs.
    Where: Miami Beach Convention Center and other Miami Beach locations for Art Basel. Various Miami Beach and mainland Miami locations for the satellite fairs.
    Web: For Art Basel: miamiandbeaches.com/art-basel-miami-beach; for the satellite fairs: miamiandbeaches.com/art-basel/miami-art-weekSee
    miamiandbeaches.com/party-during-art-basel for where to party during Art Basel.

    CHINESE LANTERN FESTIVAL – Fun for the entire family can be had at this eight-week event. It’s a totally immersive experience of all things Chinese, featuring multi-hued animal lantern displays, live entertainment, authentic Chinese food, hand-made gifts by Chinese crafters, live Kung Fu and martial arts performances and Kung Fu coaching by master martial arts champions.
    When: Nov. 21 and then Wednesdays through Sundays from Nov. 23 until Jan. 15, 2018.
    Where: Central Broward Regional Park, Fort Lauderdale
    Web: chineselanternfestival.com

    LET THERE BE LIGHTS! – Tis the season and millions of lights will brighten the South Florida holiday skies. Here is where to see some of the best and the brightest: Santa’s Enchanted Forest at Tropical Park in Miami; Holiday Nights at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers; Festival of Lights at Fisherman’s Village in Punta Gorda, and Symphony of Lights at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale.  You’ll see so much more, too. Examples: Santa’s Enchanted Forest features a 92-foot Christmas tree, 100 carnival rides (from tame to scary!), pony rides and a petting zoo. Holiday Nights will also feature historic decorations, nightly entertainment and river cruises.
    When: Respectively – Nov. 2-Jan. 7 for Santa’s Enchanted Forest; Nov. 24-Dec. 23 and Dec. 26 for Holiday Nights at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates; Nov. 18-Dec, 31 for the Festival of Lights at Fisherman’s Village and Nov. 24-Dec. 31 for the Symphony of Lights at Gulfstream Park.
    Web: Respectively – santasenchantedforest.comfishville.com/festival-of-lights and gulfstreampark.com

    SEMINOLE HARD ROCK WINTERFEST BOAT PARADE -- It’s the gold standard of holiday boat parades with the well-deserved nickname of “The Greatest Show on H20.” This year’s Grand Marshals are country music stars Big & Rich. Other Winterfest events include the Free Family Fun Day (featuring a real ice skating rink) and the Black Tie Ball (featuring the Jersey Boys Broadway touring company).
    When & Where: Dec. 10 along the Intracoastal Waterway from Fort Lauderdale to Pompano Beach for the Boat Parade; Nov. 26 at Huizenga Plaza in downtown Fort Lauderdale for the Free Family Fun Day and Dec. 2 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Fort Lauderdale for the Black Tie Ball.
    Web: winterfestparade.com

    (EDITOR’S NOTE: Speaking of boat parades, you can’t swing a strand of holiday lights in SoFla without hitting a boat parade in December. Some of the other cities, just to name a few: Fort Myers, Key West, Naples, West Palm Beach, Pompano Beach, Punta Gorda, Boynton Beach and Boca Raton. Use Google for dates and times.)

    COLLIER COUNTY CELEBRATES WINTER! – Who cares if it’s 80 degrees outside? Don’t miss these cool tons-of-snow centric events:

    • Snowfest – They’re trucking in about 100 tons of snow for this one. You can climb up a snow mountain or toboggan and ski down snow hills. Also includes an ice skating rink, a carnival, arts and crafts, a petting zoo, pony rides, Mrs. Claus’s Kitchen and Santa’s South Pole. It’s all happening Dec. 2 at the Golden Gate Community Center in Naples. See snowfestnaples.com.
    • Christmas Around the World Parade & Gala – Featured will be: a lighted Christmas parade, snow mountains, a toboggan slide, Santa’s workshop (with arts & crafts for the kids), live entertainment, a bounce house and ethnic and American food. It’s at the Immokalee Sports Complex on Dec. 9. See colliercountyparks.com

    KEY WEST NEW YEAR’S EVE – Ball drop, schmall drop. Anybody can drop a glitter ball and call it a year. Not Key West – no way. Nobody does New Year’s Eve like Key West.  This year’s highlights: Conch Shell Drop and Drag Queen/Red Shoe Drop.
    When: Dec. 31
    Where: Key West
    Web: sloppyjoes.com/events for the Conch Shell Drop and www. bourbonstpub.com for the Drag Queen/Red Shoe Drop

    EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY – Save some holiday calories for a host of SoFla food & drink events this month, including:

    • Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival -- From specialty Chef Talk panels to gourmet five-course dinners with premium wine pairings, to evening karaoke cocktail gatherings, this gastronomic gala offers an unprecedented collection of talent for this four-day fest. Dec. 14-17 at the Four Seasons Resort and other locations on the island city of Palm Beach. See pbfoodwinefest.com.
    • Southernmost Spirits Festival – Making its debut this year, this gathering is expected to be a cocktail and culinary extravaganza.  Also featured will be tastings and celebrity bartender competitions. Dec. 8-10 at various locations in Key West. See southernmostspiritsfest.com.
    • Fort Myers Restaurant Week & Naples Restaurant Week – Actually, both are 14 days (Nov. 30 through Dec. 13) and feature specially-curated three-course prix fixe meals starting at $25 and $35. See swflrestaurantweek.com for both.
    • The South Florida VegFest celebrates plant-based living, with free food samples, 125 food vendors, chef demos, fitness and yoga classes, kids’ activities. Dec. 2 at War Memorial Auditorium, Fort Lauderdale. See vegfestexpos.com.

    CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: VOLTA – The 41st original Cirque du Soleil original production, Volta tells the spellbinding story about the freedom to choose and the thrill of blazing your own trail. Inspired in part by the spirit that fuels the culture of action sports, the show weaves the adrenaline rush of acrobatics into a visually striking world driven by a melodic score.
    When: Dec. 15-Jan. 14
    Where: Big top tent next to Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens
    Web: CirqueDuSoleil.com

    RIPTIDE MUSIC FESTIVAL – What a lineup! This year’s fest includes Boyz II Men, KC and the Sunshine Band, Lou Gramm of Foreigner, Salt-n-Pepa, Loverboy, Tito Puentes Jr., Morris Day and the Time (doing a tribute to Prince), Weezer and Cage the Elephant. At the Underground Village, you can win free backstage meet & greet passes. Enjoy great wine and spirits at the festival Wine Garden.
    When: Dec. 2-3
    Where: Fort Lauderdale Beach across from Bahia Mar
    Web: riptidefest.com

    FORT LAUDERDALE CHRISTMAS PAGEANT – This celebrated event has been thrilling audiences for decades. It features a festive opening scene with traditional carols, inspirational contemporary songs and a musical drama of the nativity and life of Christ. Tip: Book as soon as you see this, because the run sells out quickly.
    When: Nov. 30-Dec. 17
    Where: First Baptist Church, downtown Fort Lauderdale
    Web: christmastickets.com

    11th ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF THE TREES – Christmas trees will be designed and decorated by local businesses, organizations and individuals. Then, they are auctioned and raffled, so attendees could win a beautifully decorated tree. Naturally, there a host of other holiday activities, too, including Santa’s Block party.
    When: Nov. 29-Dec. 3
    Where: Sydney & Berne Davis Art Center, Fort Myers
    Web: sbdac.com/festival-of-trees

    SOUTH FLORIDA WEBFEST -- This gathering brings non-traditional voices of cinema to the forefront. It aims to connect creators by providing a physical space for producers, directors, investors and fans of web series and digital entertainment to network, share and learn the art of sustainability.
    When: Dec. 6-10
    Where: Little Haiti Cultural Center, Miami
    Web: soflowebfest.com

    HOLLYWOOD BEACH CANDY CANE PARADE -- Join the fun on the famous Hollywood Broadwalk. The 62nd annual event features marching bands, floats and more.
    When: Dec. 2
    Where: Hollywood Beach, Hollywood
    Web: visithollywoodfl.org

    SANDI LAND: HOLIDAY IN PARADISE – A 35-foot Christmas tree sculpted from 600 tons of sand is the centerpiece of this annual month-long event. She has come to be known as “Sandi” and she is strung with real lights. There are dazzling nightly musical light shows and spectators can “sync with Sandi” using LED snowflakes that bring the audience into the show. Other highlights: Snowie-Ville, where kids and adults can create their own life-size tropical snowman; Holiday FantaSEA, a giant diorama aquarium with a tropical holiday theme, and concerts.
    When: Dec. 1-31
    Where: On the waterfront in West Palm Beach
    Web: www.wpb.org/Sandi-Land

    ISLAMORADA HOLIDAY FESTIVAL – The 13th edition’s centerpiece is a 35-foot Christmas tree with “magical snow” blowing from its branches. Also: a 30-ton snow mountain, Santa Paws Pet Parade (prizes for best costume and best trick) and contests to choose the Best Baked Goodie, Little Miss Sugar Plum Fairy and Mr. Gingerbread Man.
    When: Dec. 1
    Where: Founders Park in Islamorada, Mile Marker 87
    Web: islamoradachamber.com

    KING MANGO STRUT – The 36th Strut parade will bring off-beat, off-the-wall mango mania to a new generation of Mango Heads. Warning: No one and nothing is safe from parody and satire. Nutty characters welcome! After the parade, the King Mango Music Massacre begins with many top local bands participating.
    When: Dec. 31
    Where: Downtown Coconut Grove
    Web: kingmangostrut.org

    OAKLAND PARK HOLIDAY VILLAGE – A relative newcomer to the holiday scene (this is year number two), it will feature a children’s activity corner, arts & crafts vendors, live entertainment, health & wellness seminars, cooking demonstrations, interactive games, visits from Santa and a food court supplied by city restaurants.
    When: Dec. 8-10
    Where: Jaco Pastorius Park, Oakland Park
    Web: oaklandparkevents.com

    INAUGURAL KEY WEST GRAND PRIX OF THE SEA – You’ll see non-stop racing action as Sea-Doo, Yamaha and Kawasaki personal watercraft racers hit speeds of 75 miles per hour. It serves as the overall championship for the PRO Enduro and International Amateur Championships. Jetcross Jet Ski stand-up races are also included.
    When: Dec. 9-10
    Where: Key West
    Web: p1aquax.com/Races

    MICCOSUKEE INDIAN ARTS & CRAFTS FESTIVAL – Experience the color and pageantry of costumed Native Americans from all over the country. Featured at the 43rd edition: nonstop entertainment, arts, crafts, music, native goods and more.
    When: Dec. 26-Jan. 1
    Where: Miccosukee Indian Village, Mile Marker 70, U.S. Highway 41, Miami
    Web: miccosukee.com

    BONNET HOUSE ORCHID, GARDEN & GOURMET FOOD FESTIVAL – If you haven’t been to this beautiful historic house, now would be a good time. In addition to the unique collection of exotic orchids and plants sold by more than 40 local vendors, also featured will be gourmet food trucks, libations, orchard care lectures, live music and cooking and gardening demonstrations.
    When: Dec. 2-3
    Where: Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale
    Web: bonnethouse.org/orchid-festival

    REEF FEST – This re-scheduled event (it was knocked out during the hurricane season) is a celebration of marine conservation. Morning activities include kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling and diving, all alongside marine life experts. Afternoons feature free seminars from renowned experts in marine mammals, shark behavior and deep sea exploration. All free, but pre-registration required.
    When: Dec. 7-10
    Where: Various locations in Key Largo
    Web: reef.org/REEFFest

    Bikers love the Highland’s Bike Fest, a two-day course that cycles the rolling hills, citrus groves, small towns and sparkling lakes of Highlands County, ending each day with lunch, shopping, door prizes, and other activities.

    Bikers love the Highland’s Bike Fest, a two-day course that cycles the rolling hills, citrus groves, small towns and sparkling lakes of Highlands County, ending each day with lunch, shopping, door prizes, and other activities.

    - Highland’s Bike Fest


    – For its 6th year, the popular Mount Dora Half Marathon hosts, runners, joggers and walkers to its single-loop half marathon course and 5K, set in beautiful Mount Dora during one of the mildest weather months of the year. More than 1,000 runners from all over the state come to participate and then linger for the weekend at the restaurants and bars along Mount Dora’s entertainment district.
    When: Dec. 17
    Where: Mount Dora
    Web: mountdorahalfmarathon.com

    HIGHLANDS BIKE FEST – Bikers love this two-day course that cycles the rolling hills, citrus groves, small towns and sparkling lakes of Highlands County, ending each day with lunch, shopping, door prizes, and other activities. Meet teams of cyclists from all over the state, some of who will be participating for the 20th year. 
    When: Dec. 2-3
    Where: Sebring
    Web: highlandsbikefest.com

    LAKE HELEN CHRISTMAS HOME TOUR – Discover the history of this charming small town by touring these beautiful homes, many of which date back to the 1880's and some that have been restored to their original glory. This year's tour will include a stroll through some community churches, including Blake Memorial Baptist Church, noted for its stained-glass windows, original pews and pulpit furniture which are still in use since its first service on Christmas Day in 1894.
    When: Dec. 9-10
    Where: Historic Lake Helen
    Web: lakehelenchristmashometour.com

    ARAB AMERICAN FESTIVAL – Experience Arabic culture through folk dances and pop music performances, delicious Middle Eastern dishes and their rich aromas, handmade arts and crafts and other fun at this kid-friendly fest. The event focuses on mixing old traditions with new, making this a favorite among Arabic guests of all ages who can dance along to live music, sample falafel and buy traditional Arabic clothing.
    When: Dec. 10
    Where: Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa
    Web: aaccflorida.org/festival

    BASS PRO SHOPS WINTER WONDERLAND – Santa’s Wonderland returns to Orlando’s Bass Pro Shops, bringing an entire Christmas village offering free photos, rustic Christmas cabins, holiday characters and live elves set amongst a dazzling backdrop of snow-covered hills and illuminated Christmas trees. The Santa’s Wonderland Christmas village offers remote control trucks, a laser and foam toy arcade, a Lincoln Logs building area and more. Kids can also spend time at one of the activity tables where they can write a letter to Santa, color and do holiday-themed crafts, all for free.
    When: Dec. 1-24
    Where: Bass Pro Shops, Orlando
    Web: basspro.com/santas-wonderland

    TAMPA THEATRE HOLIDAY CLASSICS – The historic Tampa Theatre, in partnership with other local sponsors and businesses, bring free screenings of the holiday favorites such as The Polar Express, Elf and It’s A Wonderful Life to downtown Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park. Bring your own blankets and folding chairs.
    When: Dec. 1, Dec. 15 & Dec. 16
    Where: Downtown Tampa
    Web: tampatheatre.org/holiday-classics

    WINTER GARDEN ANNUAL LIGHT-UP & CHRISTMAS PARADE – Downtown Winter Garden welcomes the holiday season with this annual tradition of lighting up the shops, restaurants, landscaping and buildings of downtown. The night is followed by a parade day of floats, marching bands and dignitaries, including most important guest at the end, Santa Claus.
    When: Dec. 1-2
    Where: Downtown Winter Garden
    Web: cwgdn.com

    HONEYMOON ISLAND BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL – Beautiful Honeymoon Island State Park is the setting for this family-friendly and dog-friendly day of bluegrass and folk music, food and fun. The headlining national act this year is The Little Roy and Lizzie Show, known for witty banter and impressing fiddling solos. Kids under 12 get in free.
    When: Dec. 2
    Where: Honeymoon Island State Park
    Web: honeymoonislandbluegrassfestival.com

    ATOMIC HOLIDAY BAZAAR – If you’re seeking unique, affordable and quirky holiday gifts this year, look no further than the Atomic Holiday Bazaar, a cool marketplace where independent artists and crafters bring their edgy and creative jewelry, t-shirts, tote bags, mugs, dolls, pins, artwork and other odd trinkets and baubles for sale at bargain prices.
    When: Dec. 9-10
    Where: Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, Sarasota
    Web: atomicholidaybazaar.com

    CRACKER STORYTELLING FESTIVAL – Holding strong for nearly three decades, this longstanding Florida folk festival aims to preserve the state’s rich pioneer “cracker” history through stories, poems, song, puppetry and music. Well-known Florida storytellers from all cultures and backgrounds tell fascinating stories, often encouraging audience participation, in the rustic Homeland Heritage Park.
    When: Dec. 6-9
    Where: Homeland
    Web: crackerstorytellingfestival.com

    OKEECHOBEE MAIN STREET CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL – The quaint Okeechobee Main Street rings in the holiday season with its annual Christmas Festival held in pretty Flagler Park, followed by a lively lighted night parade. Enjoy a variety of food, winter-themed kids’ activities and music while shopping for locally made gifts and artwork.
    When: Dec. 9
    Where: Okeechobee
    Web: okeechobeemainstreet.org

    THE NUTCRACKER CHRISTMAS SHOW SPECTACLE – Support local arts and enjoy this popular holiday dance performance in which young heroine Mary faces off in an epic battle with the Nutcracker against the Queen of Mice before embarking on a journey to a world of dazzling delights, all told through dance. The ticket price includes dinner, drinks, and dancing along with the show.
    When: Dec. 9
    Where: Anastassia Ballroom & Dance, Leesburg

    Exploring the nation’s oldest city during holidays when it’s aglow with three million twinkling lights is one of the state’s can’t-miss holiday experiences. But what makes it extra special are the additional events St. Augustine plans in conjunction with it.

    Exploring the nation’s oldest city during holidays when it’s aglow with three million twinkling lights is one of the state’s can’t-miss holiday experiences. But what makes it extra special are the additional events St. Augustine plans in conjunction with it.

    - St. Augustine


    — Chattahoochee is commemorating the 200th anniversary of the first U.S. defeat during the First Seminole War. The attack on the U.S. infantry led by Red Stick Creek, Seminole and Miccosukee was a retaliatory strike for a previous attack on a Creek village. The event will have living history encampments and demonstrations for both sides of the battle as well as tours, memorial services, craftsmen and a chance to meet with Florida authors.
    When: Dec. 1
    Where: Chattahoochee
    Web: dosomethingoriginal.com

    ROBERT E. LONG CANE SYRUP COOK OFF — See how cane syrup has been made since the 1940s by the Long family during the annual heritage event in Two Egg. Imagine using a 12-foot-long and eight-foot-wide stainless steel pan and a 1947 mill that has a conveyor belt still powered by the original family tractor. Don’t miss the free sausage biscuit and syrup breakfast in the morning and buy bulk sausage, rib slabs and Boston Butt roasts to take home.
    When: Dec. 2
    Where: Two Egg
    Web: visitjacksoncountyfla.com cane-syrup-cook-off

    TALLAHASSEE COMIC CON — Whether you’re the biggest Star Wars nerd or prefer Samurai Jack, Tallahassee’s Comic Con clearly states that “no one should feel excluded because their fandom isn’t a major one”. So don’t be surprised to see Wonder Woman mixing it up with Ming the Merciless on the convention floor. Special guests include actors John Anderson (Guardians of the Galaxy), Erick Avari (Stargate) and Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story), artists Frank Fosco (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and Larry Hama (G.I. Joe and Batman) and more.
    When: Dec. 2-3
    Where: Tallahassee Automobile Museum
    Web: tallahasseecomiccon.org

    NIGHT OF LIGHTS — Exploring the nation’s oldest city during holidays when it’s aglow with three million twinkling lights is one of the state’s can’t-miss holiday experiences. But what makes it extra special are the additional events St. Augustine plans in conjunction with it.

    • 63rd Annual St. Augustine Christmas Parade (Dec. 2): Floats, marching bands, cars and horses all lead up to highly anticipated arrival of Santa who will be available for photos in Plaza de la Constitucion afterward.
    • Luminary Night (Dec. 6): The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum hosts an annual holiday celebration which includes a string quartet inside the lighthouse tower. Includes youth activities, holiday crafts and an opportunity to view the downtown lights from the top of the lighthouse.
    • Regatta of Lights (Dec. 9): Trawlers, shrimp boats, yachts and sailboats bedazzle their decks with lighting displays for a bayfront parade along Matanzas Bay from the Bridge of Lions and the Castillo San Marcos.

    When: Nov. 18 - Jan. 31
    Where: St. Augustine
    Web: floridashistoriccoast.com/nights-lights

    33RD ANNUAL CHRISTMAS ON THE SQUARE — Who doesn’t love snow, fireworks and a fun run? Christmas in the Sunshine State is always a mixed bag of northern and southern traditions and Live Oak’s weekend of events fits that model. The fun starts Friday when more than 30 tons, yes tons, of snow are used for Snow on the Square and also includes a Santa Land, fireworks and tree lighting. Saturday features the Lighted Christmas Parade and the Jingle Bell Fun Run/Walk.
    When: Dec. 1-2
    Where: Live Oak
    Web: suwanneechamber.com/christmas-on-the-square

    PIRATE INVASION — After another tough hurricane season, the ceremonial burning of the hurricane flag at Cedar Key to celebrate the season’s end is just one reason to save the date for this rescheduled annual fest. Although, Cedar Key was spared by Irma, the region knows what hurricane recovery is like because of Hermine in 2016 so they rescheduled the pirate fest making all of us winners. Who doesn’t want to wear an eye patch and let sayings like “shiver me timbers” roll off the tongue in early December? Don’t miss the pirate parade, historic battle for Cedar Key, kids’ treasure hunt, weapons demos, youth and adult costume contests, live music and more.
    When: Dec. 1-3
    Where: Cedar Key
    Web: cedarkeypiratefest.com

    LET’S SKATE OCALA — Every Southerner has their winter dreams with images of racing toboggans on snow-covered hills, sipping hot chocolate around a roaring fire or a thick scarf blowing in the breeze while skating on a frozen pond. Live out one of those dreams on Ocala’s manmade holiday ice rink — although the scarf probably won’t be needed. Includes theme nights on Fridays like Santa’s Workshop, Superheroes and Disco Night.
    When: Nov. 11 - Dec. 31
    Where: Tuscawilla Park, Ocala
    Web: ocalamarion.com ice-skating-at-tuscawilla-park

    22ND ANNUAL TRAINS AT THE HOLIDAYS — Thanks to iconic images of model trains circling Christmas trees, the mini train sets are oh-so-popular in December. Kiddos and adults will enjoy the exhibit created each year by the Ocala Model Railroaders that features local, historical landmarks such as the Six-Gun Territory.
    When: Dec. 9-23, 26-30
    Where: Dassance Fine Arts Center, Ocala
    Web: ocalamarion.com trains-at-the-holidays

    CANDLELIGHT VISITS — This event is the only time the historic 6,200-square-foot 1856 plantation home is open for public tours at night. Explore the former Haile family home decked out for the holidays when it’s aglow with candlelight. Enjoy refreshments, costumed docents and live music during the tour.
    When: Dec. 8
    Where: Haile Homestead, Gainesville
    Web: hailehomestead.org

    FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS — The park illuminates 5 million twinkling lights that are wrapped around oak trees, draped around the windows of the park’s antebellum mansion and strung from the 200-foot-tall Carillon Tower that’s bells will be ringing with Christmas songs. But that’s not all, visitors will also enjoy hot cocoa, marshmallow roasting, a bonfire, craft activities and snow flurries.
    When: Dec. 1-23
    Where: Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, White Springs
    Web: floridastateparks.org Stephen-Foster

    HOLIDAY HOME TOURS — Get ready to deck the halls of your own home after stealing decorating tips on back-to-back weekends from the historic Victorian homes, inns and B&Bs of Fernandina.

    • 11th Annual Holiday Home Tour (Dec. 1-2): Get a chance to walk through the door of some of Fernandina’s lovely Victorian homes with each one decked out by a local florist and decorator. (ameliamuseum.org/holidayhometour)
    • Holiday Cookie Tour of Inns (Dec. 9): This annual, self-guided tour of six of the community’s inn and B&Bs also makes sure you don’t leave empty-handed and hungry as each stop features a signature Christmas cookie and a recipe card for tour participants. (ameliaislandinns.com/cookie-tour)

    DECK THE CHAIRS — Trees are too predictable for Jax Beach. Instead, local businesses sponsor regional artists to deck the seats, arms and legs of the iconic lifeguard chairs used by the American Red Cross Life Saving Corps with twinkling lights, tinsel and ornaments. Throughout the month of December, there is a light show each Friday, Saturday and Sunday and live entertainment on select dates.
    When: Nov. 24 - Jan. 1
    Where: Seawalk Pavilion, Jacksonville Beach
    Web: deckthechairs.org

    LIGHTED BOAT PARADE — If you missed the traditional lighted boat parades in most Florida cities in at the start of the holiday season, Jacksonville’s spectacle along the St. Johns River is for you. The annual event was moved from November to late December to give visitors in town for the Tax Slayer Bowl an opportunity to experience one of the city’s top downtown events. Includes fireworks after.
    When: Dec. 30
    Where: Jacksonville Landing
    Web: taxslayerbowl.com

    PENSACOLA WINTERFEST — All aboard! Like Tom Hanks’ conductor calling you to action, grab a ticket and take a seat on the trolley for an hour-long ride through downtown Pensacaola featuring scenes from the holiday classics Polar Express and the Grinch (new for 2017!). Kids will love the tour stops which include a puppy party at the Escambia County Animal Shelter, Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree lot and an opportunity to dance with Rudolph and his reindeer friends.
    When: Nov. 19, 24-25, Dec. 1-2, 8, 10, 15-24
    Where: Pensacola
    Web: pensacolawinterfest.org

    CELEBRATE TWICE — Who doesn’t want to pop the bubbly and toss the confetti to toast the end of 2017 twice? This event doesn’t boast a lighted shrimp (Fernandina Beach) or a pelican (Pensacola), instead it’s a test of time for people in the Panhandle beach towns of Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach. Fireworks will boom in the sky over Port St. Joe at 10 p.m. (EST). After the first show, jump on the free trolley for the midnight (CST) festivities in Mexico Beach. Families also can participate in a scavenger hunt between the cities during the day.
    When: Dec. 31
    Where: Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach
    Web: celebratetwice.com

    FIGHTING GRAVITY - This holiday season, the term "lift-off" takes on a new meaning at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The internationally acclaimed performance group Fighting Gravity will put on a nightly show during the visitor complex's annual Holidays in Space celebration. Fighting Gravity's black-light illusion dances gained notoriety in 2009, as third-place finalists on the popular NBC TV show, "America's Got Talent," and has been featured on stages around the world.
    When: Dec. 20-31
    Where: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
    Web: kennedyspacecenter.com  

    If you have an event you’d like to be considered for inclusion in this monthly feature, please forward information at least six weeks in advance of the event’s date to one of our correspondents:

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