December, January Events
Whatever your passion, Florida has something for you. Here are just some of the major events scheduled for November and December in the Sunshine State. Please check individual websites for more details.
DOWNTON ABBEY: THE EXHIBITION – Jonesing for some more Downton Abbey? This traveling exhibit transposes you to post-Edwardian England, where the Downton characters’ fashions and iconic house come to life. You’ll be immersed in the fascinating history, culture and some of the most memorable moments from the show’s six-season run. Sorry, no cast members will be in attendance, but some 50 costumes will be on display. Rooms such as the Crawleys’ glamorous dining room, Mrs. Patmore’s hectic kitchen and Lady Mary’s bedroom, to name a few, have been painstakingly recreated. This is the second stop on the tour, after a successful run in New York City. The New York Times gave the exhibit a great review, saying: “…a cleverly immersive experience mounted with the same exacting care as the show itself.”
When: Nov. 10 through at least early April, 2019
Where: Culture Lab at City Place, West Palm Beach
SANTA'S ENCHANTED FOREST – Features SoFla’s tallest Christmas tree light show, millions of dazzling lights, hundreds of themed displays, delicious food, live music and carnival rides.
When: through Jan. 6, 2019
Where: Tropical Park, Miami
NIGHT LIGHTS IN THE NAPLES BOTANICAL GARDEN – For 25 nights discover (or rediscover) the natural beauty of plants from the tropics and subtropics as thousands of lights illuminate the garden. Enjoy gourmet treats and music by local performers. On select nights, your stroll will include making a wish on a Wishing Tree and special holiday performances by Opera Naples and Naples Ballet.
When: Dec. 7-23, Dec. 26-30 and Jan. 1-3
Where: Naples Botanical Garden, Naples
LET THERE BE (MORE) LIGHTS! – Tis the season and millions of lights will brighten the South Florida holiday skies. Here’s 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. But you’ll see much more than pretty lights. Some examples: Santa’s Enchanted Forest features a 92-foot Christmas tree, 100 carnival rides (from scary to tame), pony rides and a petting zoo. Holiday Nights will feature historic decorations, nightly entertainment and river cruises.
When: Now through Jan. 6 for Santa’s Enchanted Forest; Nov. 23-Dec. 30 for Holiday Nights at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates; Nov. 20-Dec. 31 for the Festival of Lights at Fisherman’s Village and now through Jan. 1 for Symphony of Lights at Gulfstream Park.
Web: santasenchantedforest.com, fortmyersbeach.org/edison-ford-holiday-nights, fishville.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 Marshal is Huey Lewis. Other Winterfest events include the Free Family Fun Day (featuring a real ice skating rink) and the Black Tie Ball.
When & Where: Dec. 15 along the Intracoastal Waterway from Fort Lauderdale to Pompano Beach for the Boat Parade; Nov. 25 at Huizenga Plaza in downtown Fort Lauderdale for the Free Family Fun Day and Dec. 8 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood for the Black Tie Ball.
(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.)
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 for the Conch Shell Drop; bourbonstpub.com for the Drag Queen/Red Shoe Drop
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: CRYSTAL – Cirque du Soleil returns to SoFla with its coolest show yet, CRYSTAL, the group’s first ever on-ice production. Watch world-class skaters and acrobats explore their new frozen playground with speed and fluidity as they challenge the laws of gravity with never-before-seen acrobatics.
When: Seven shows from Dec. 13-16
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami
EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY – Save some holiday calories for some 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.
When: Dec. 13-16
Where: Various locations Palm Beach and Palm Beach County
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. 16
Where: First Baptist Church, downtown Fort Lauderdale
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 snowmen; Holiday FantaSEA, a giant diorama aquarium with a tropical holiday theme, and concerts.
When: Nov. 29-Dec. 31
Where: On the waterfront in West Palm Beach
KING MANGO STRUT – The 37th 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. 30
Where: Downtown Coconut Grove
MICCOSUKEE INDIAN ARTS & CRAFTS FESTIVAL – Experience the color and pageantry of costumed Native Americans from all over the country. Featured at the 44th 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
THE LOVE BURN – You’ll have a great time at this off-the-grid event, but when it’s over, there won’t be much proof (other than pictures and memories) that it actually happened. It’s the official regional version of the huge Burning Man arts festival held every year in Nevada. This year’s theme is “The Lost Island of Taboo” and inventive interactive sculptures will be erected to support that theme. The event adopts such Burning Man principles as self-reliance, gift-giving, self-expression and leaving no trace left behind. With the latter in mind, all the sculptures will be burned down at the end of the event! There’s a lot more, too, including themed camp grounds, circus-like tents, sun salutations, folks wearing great costumes, pop-up live music, performance art and parlor games. No official scheduled bands, no vendors – just people having a good time interacting with each other. Note: If you want to attend, book now because as of press time most of the approximately 3,000 tickets were sold.
When: Jan. 25-27
Where: Virginia Key Beach Park, Miami
UNIQUE FORT LAUDERDEALE ART FAIRS – There are two overlapping events that will give attendees a look at two distinct areas that contribute to the city’s culture and atmosphere:
· During Sistrunk-A-Fair, there will be a number of art events within the Northwest section of the city. Included will be exhibits, performances and films displaying the history of black communities of Broward County. One exhibit, The Beauty of Black Broward, will feature artists of color and their illustrations of the county’s historic black areas and famous people.
When: Jan. 21-26
Where: Various locations in North West Fort Lauderdale.
· Art Fort Lauderdale is a four-day curated art fair that transports attendees on a journey along the city’s famed Intracoastal waterways. Take the Water Taxi or private yachts and make stops at multimillion dollar waterfront properties featuring artists and galleries exhibiting various styles that reflect the past, present and the future.
When: Jan. 24-27
Where: Intracoastal Waterway, Fort Lauderdale
IT’S TOE-TAPPIN’ TIME -- There is a quintet of eclectic music fests in SoFla in January:
· The Caroline Aiken Band, David Olney The Kennedys, The Ronny Cox Trio and Tom Prasada-Rao are the headliners for the South Florida Folk Festival (Jan. 26-27 at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale). Also included: more than 40 acts on two stages, a jam area for attendees, workshops and a songwriting competition. southfloridafolkfest.net
· The Baygrass Bluegrass Festival (Jan. 18-20 at the Morada Way Arts District and Founders Park in Islamorada) will feature a blend of Oldgrass, Newgrass and the next generation of the genre’s stars. baygrassbluegrass.com
· The South Beach Jazz Festival (Jan. 4-6 at various venues on Miami Beach) will feature classic, Latin and New Orleans-style acts. The headliners are Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nestor Torres, the Marcus Roberts Trio, Alex Weitz, Maria Rivas, Nicole Yarling, Bobby Thomas Jr., Leesa Richards, Brian Lynch and Jonathan Joseph. southbeachjazzfest.com
· First a definition: Red Dirt music is loosely classified as Americana, folk, or alt- country, or a combination of some or all of them. Some of the country’s best Red Dirters will be appearing at the Mile O Fest (Jan. 29-Feb. 2 at various locations in Key West). Headliners are The Mavericks, Trampled by Turtles, Turnpike Troubadours and the Randy Rogers Band. mile0Fest.com
· The national headliner at the Annual Bluegrass Jamboree (Jan. 26 at the multi-purpose field of Cultural Park in Cape Coral) is the husband-wife band Nu-Blu. The local headliners will be Swinging Bridge and Blu-Ridg. capecoralhistoricalmuseum.org/BluegrassJamboree
BOCA BEACH CLEAN-UP – Take a break from your vacation or visit to South Florida to join a dedicated group called 4Ocean and help clean up a segment of beach in Boca Raton. During the event, there will be an education village with environmental conservation organizations from the community making small presentations on how you can help clean up oceans and coastlines.
When: Jan. 12, 9 a.m.-noon
Where: Spanish River Park, Boca Raton
SING OUT! CHORALE FESTIVAL – Uruguay is featured this year and all the music will be from that country. Coro Rapsodia, a choir of about 45 Uruguayan young adults will open the concert and perform for the first half. The second half of the concert will feature the Festival Choir (about 150 people) led by Coro Rapsodia’s director.
When: Jan. 19
Where: New Hope Presbyterian Church, Fort Myers
70th ANNUAL HOMESTEAD CHAMPIONSHIP RODEO – Grab your cowboy hat, put on your chaps and head over to one of the oldest annual professional sporting events in South Florida. All the exciting competitions are included: bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping and barrel racing. There’s a plethora of family-fun activities, too, including a Little Miss & Mister contest, rodeo bingo, rodeo parade and an after-rodeo dinner dance.
Where: Rodeo Arena and other locations in Homestead
SOUTH FLORIDA FAIR – Get ready for 17 days of national concert acts (headliners are The Outlaws, Pat Travers Band, Frankie Ballard, Charlie Aponte, Jordan Davis and Building 429), midway rides, exhibits, amazing livestock shows, auctions, competitions, tons of kids activities and, of course, lots of corn dogs, cotton candy, funnel cake and other tasty fair food.
When: Jan. 18-Feb. 3
Where: South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach
ORCHID PARADISE – This juried show, put on by the Fort Lauderdale Orchid Society, is one of the largest in the country, with more than 10,000 blooming plants on display and for sale. The event also features nearly 30 international vendors, jewelry, raffles, potting and growing supplies and a large display of plants grown by local orchid society members.
When: January 25-27
Where: War Memorial Auditorium, Fort Lauderdale
ART DECO WEEKEND – What started out as a small grassroots festival some 40 years ago has turned into one of the largest celebrations of Art Deco architecture and culture in the country. This year’s version will be even bigger and better with more than 85 events, including art exhibits, concerts, lectures, films, street theater, vendors, parades, antique autos, a variety of culinary offerings and the world-famous Bark Deco Dog Show.
Where: Along Ocean Drive in Miami Beach
HORSING AROUND IN WELLINGTON – Head west of West Palm Beach to Wellington for two outstanding horse-centered multi-month happenings: the Winter Equestrian Festival and the Palm Beach International Polo Season. The former brings together the partnership of horse and rider during the thrills and grace of show jumping and the elegance of dressage. The latter features the best polo players in the world. And, both are as much about the horsey-set lifestyle with many options and side shows to keep you entertained and well-fed.
When & Where: Respectively, Jan. 9-March 31 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center and Dec. 30-April 21 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Web: Respectively, pbiec.coth.com and ipc.coth.com
DELRAY BEACH FASHION WEEK –It’s not quite a week long, but who’s counting? It’s still an amazing event that showcases local, national and international designs found in the downtown boutiques. It features high energy fashion design events, beauty experiences, in-store designer trunk shows, makeovers, art expositions and the grand finale: The Fabulous Fashion Show showcasing more than 150 looks from 50 different stores. This year’s theme is “Fashion Never Dies,” inspired by 007 James Bond.
When: Jan. 23-27
Where: Various locations in downtown Delray Beach
UNCORKED: THE KEY LARGO AND ISLAMORADA FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL – This 11-day smorgasbord features more than 30 savory events to please just about every palate, with fresh, locally-sourced seafood and international style dishes. It includes wine tastings and dinners, cooking demonstrations, live music and food and wine pairing classes. It all culminates with the Grand Tasting on the final day.
When: Jan. 10-20
Where: Various locations in the Upper Keys
SPEAKING OF FOOD AND WINE… -- The holidays may be waning, but here are some more eat, drink and be merry happenings (many featuring live music) throughout SoFla in January:
· Big Swamp Bar-B-Que Smoke-Off: Jan. 5 at the Collier County Fairgrounds, Naples; bigswampsmokeoff.com
· Coconut Grove Food & Wine Festival: Jan. 26 at Peacock Park in Coconut Grove; coconutgrovefoodandwine.com
· Florida Keys Seafood Festival: Jan. 19-20 at Bayview Park, Key West; floridakeysseafoodfestival.com
· International Chocolate Festival: Jan. 25-27 at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, Coral Gables; fairchildgarden.org
· Key West Food & Wine Festival: Jan. 23-27 at various locations in Key West; keywestfoodandwinefestival.com
· Kiss Country Chili Cook-Off: Jan. 26 at C. B. Smith Park, Pembroke Pines. Musical headliners are Brooks & Dunn, supported by Luke Combs, Locash, Rodney Atkins, Tyler rich and Jon Langston; wkis.com
· Mullet Festival: Jan. 26-28 at Stan’s Idle Hour Bar in Goodland; paradisecoast.com/mullet-festival
· Naples Winter Wine Festival: Jan. 25-27 at various locations in Naples; napleswinefestival.com
· Stone Crab & Seafood Festival: Jan. 12 at Esplanade Park in Fort Lauderdale; goriverwalk.com/events
ARTS & CRAFTS GALORE -- You can’t swing an easel in SoFla in January without running into an outstanding arts or arts & crafts fair. You’ll be able to see (and of course, purchase) works in a variety of media: painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, clay, glass, wood and more. Many of the fairs also feature yummy food and/or live music. Here’s the lineup:
· ArtPalmBeach: Jan. 16-20 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach; nextlevelfairs.com/artpalmbeach
· Art Under the Oaks: Jan. 19 at San Pedro Catholic Church on Plantation Key in Tavernier; artundertheoaks.com
· ArtFest Naples: Jan. 19-20 at Fleischmann Park in Naples; artfestnaples.com
· Art Fest on the Green: Jan. 26-27 at the Wellington Amphitheater in Wellington; wellingtonartsociety.org
· Beaux Arts Festival of Art: Jan. 12-13 on the University of Miami campus in Coral Gables; beauxartsmiami.org
· Boca Fest: Jan. 12-13 at Town Center Mall in Boca Raton; artfestival.com/boca-fest
· Boca Raton Fine Art Show: Jan. 26-27 at Sanborn Square Park in downtown Boca Raton; HotWorks.orgboca-raton-fine-art-show
· Bonita Springs National Art Festival: Jan. 12-13 at Riverside Park in Bonita Springs; artcenterbonita.org/artfest
· Cape Coral Arts & Music Festival: Jan. 12-13 along Cape Coral Parkway in downtown Cape Coral; capecoralfestival.com
· Coral Gables Festival of the Arts: Jan. 26-27 in downtown Coral Gables; coralgablesartfestival.com.
· Downtown Delray Beach Festival of the Arts: Jan. 19-20 in downtown Delray Beach; artfestival.com/festivals/downtown-delray-beach-festival-arts
· Downtown Venice Craft Festival: Jan. 26-27 in downtown Venice; artfestival.com/downtown-venice-craft-festival
· Estero Fine Art Show: Jan. 5-6 at JetBlue Park, Fort Myers; hotworks.org/estero-fine-arts-show
· Key West Craft Show: Jan. 26-27 in Key West’s historic Old Town; keywestartcenter.com
· Las Olas Art Fair, Part 1: Jan. 5-6 along Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale; artfestival.com/las-olas-art-fair-part-i
· Naples Artcrafters Fine Art & Craft Show: Jan. 12 at Cambier Park in Naples; naplesartcrafters.com
· Naples New Year’s Art Fair: Jan. 5-6 in downtown Naples; naplesart.org/naples-new-years-art-show
· Punta Gorda Sullivan Street Craft Festival: Jan. 19-20 along Sullivan Street in Punta Gorda; artfestival.com/Punta-gorda-sullivan-street-craft-festival
· South Motors Fine Arts Festival: Jan. 26-27 at Pinecrest Gardens in Pine Crest; pinecrestgardens.org/fine-arts-festival
· Venice-Nokomis Rotary Club Fine Art & Craft Fair: Jan. 19-20 at Venice Airport Festival Fairgrounds; venicenokomisrotary.org/art-fest
IT’S FOR THE BIRDS, TIMES TWO – There are two overlapping “birding” events in SoFla in January and you can’t go wrong with either one:
· At the Everglades Birding Festival, you’ll experience the “River of Grass” as you never have before. There are daily trips to the Glades from South Miami to Palm Beach, searching for beautiful and rare birds in ancient moss-covered cypress swamps and marshes. Also included are photo tours and workshops.
When: Jan. 17-21
Where: Trips start at the official festival site, The Holiday Inn Express in Davie
· The Festival of Birds used to be known as the Southwest Florida Nature Festival and still invites you to explore the local environment through 40 guided field trips to 20 wildlife hot spots. The emphasis, however, has been shifted to our rare fine-feathered friends.
When: Jan. 18-20
Where: Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, Naples
IT’S FOR THE BOATS, TIMES THREE – Check out all the latest models of all kinds of boats and marine accessories at three events throughout SoFla in January: On the east coast there are the Stuart Boat Show and the Island Boat Show & Festival and on the west coast there is the Naples Boat Show.
When & Where: Respectively, Jan. 11-13 along NW Dixie Highway in Stuart; Jan. 11-13 at Hawks Cay Resort in Islamorada, and Jan. 17-20 at the Naples Municipal Airport
Web: Respectively, stuartboatshow.com, islandboatshow.com and paradisecoast.com/naples-boat-show
NAUTICAL FLEA MARKET – Come to this event for all types of new and used stuff and your search won’t be for naught. More than 200 vendors will be selling boating equipment, fishing gear, nautical antiques and artwork, scuba gear, beach attire, boat shows, jewelry, motors, tackle hard to find parts and manufacturer closeouts.
When: Jan. 19-20
Where: Community Park, Pompano Beach
BROWARD SHELL SHOW – Thousands of beautiful and unusual shells from around the world will be on display and for sale. Other highlights: competitive displays by dozens of collectors, shell artists showcasing their designs, a shell ID station and shell arts and crafts and jewelry.
When: Jan. 12-13
Where: Emma Lou Olson Civic Center, Pompano Beach
THE CELTS ARE COMING! THE CELTS ARE COMING! – At the Florida Keys Celtic Festival and the Caloosahatchee Celtic Festival, grab your kilt (or buy one at the event) and enjoy Celtic bands, a children’s glen and Celtic and local food fare and beverages.
When & Where: Respectively, Jan. 11-13 at Marathon Community Park in Marathon (mile marker 49) and Jan. 25-26 at Centennial Park in Fort Myers
Web: celticheritageproductions.com for both events
THE MIAMI JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL – This 15-day gathering always gets rave reviews and this year will be no exception as some 40 films will be offered. It’s one of the country’s preeminent festivals of its kind.
When: Jan. 10-24
Where: Various theaters in Greater Miami and the Beaches
"CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR!" HOLIDAY HOME TOUR - Elaborate, elegant, over-the-top designer Christmas decorations in one of Florida's most historic mansions. The 1886 "Gilded Age" Victorian Stetson Mansion has been recently been listed as one of the "Top 10 Things to do in Florida" by Tripadvisor. Reservations required.
When: Nov. 15 to Jan. 15.
Where: Stetson Mansion, 1031 Camphor Ln, DeLand, FL 32720
VARIOUS TAMPA BAY AREA HOLIDAY EVENTS – Sometimes it takes a little work to make Florida feel Christmas-y. Tampa Bay area towns are up for the challenge. Throughout the month, visit some of the pretty boat parades or festively lit botanical gardens and parks, or take the little ones to see “snow” at Clearwater’s Cleveland Street or There’s Snow Place Like Tarpon Springs. St. Petersburg’s Williams Park is even showing Christmas movies to put everyone in the holiday spirit.
When: Throughout December
Where: St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Largo and other Tampa Bay area cities
DOWNTOWN TAMPA HOLIDAY LIGHTED BOAT PARADE – Tampa’s many boat owners never disappoint at this spectacular parade along the Hillsborough River, where spectators can pull up a lawn chair and watch a sailing celebration filled with Santas, elves, lit trees and other dazzling displays of holiday cheer.
When: Dec. 22
Where: Downtown Tampa
DOWNTOWN ST. PETE HOLIDAY EVENTS – Holidays in the Sunshine City are a joy, bringing Santa, snow, ice skating and gorgeous holiday lights to some of St. Petersburg’s prettiest parks. The littlest Floridians love the one-day Snowfest, which features a toboggan slide, an art tent and a kids’ area designed especially for preschoolers with inflatable train and more. Or bring your blankets and enjoy holiday family classics such as The Christmas Story in Vinoy Park.
When: Throughout December
Where: Albert Whitted, North Straub and Vinoy parks
HUNSADER FARMS COUNTRY CHRISTMAS – Visit a real Florida farm and soak in the holiday country fun of train rides, hayrides, campfires, a Christmas village with Santa, pony rides, a petty zoo and live bands. Stay for dinner by stopping at any of the food vendors selling turkey legs, pizza, burgers, warm pretzels, hot chocolate and other festival fare, or shop at the antique and crafts store.
When: Dec. 14, 15, 16 & 21, 22, 23
Where: Hunsader Farms, Bradenton
ORLANDO CITRUS PARADE – As a prelude to the college football bowl game matchup, the Orlando Citrus Parade has become one of the better known sports-affiliated parades in the U.S., featuring signature floats made of citrus fruit, spirited high school marching bands from throughout the nation, participating bowl game college marching bands, specialty military units and other exciting performances by nationally known singers and bands.
When: Dec. 29
Where: Downtown Orlando
TAMPA BLACK HERITAGE FESTIVAL – Leading up to the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival offers a lineup of fun, informative and networking events, including a music fest with food vendors and children’s activities at downtown Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Waterfront park, a fitness boot camp, a business breakfast, a golf tournament, a gospel night, a 5K walk/run and more.
When: Jan. 10-20
SPACE COAST SEASHELL FESTIVAL – Fascination with seashells is shared by collectors all over the world, and this specials seashell show – in its 39th year! – is a beautiful display of some of the most unusual and rare marine gems and shells found around the globe. Admission is free and shells are sold for as little as 50 cents and as much as $50 and up.
When: Jan 19-20
Where: Eau Gallie Civic Center, Melbourne
CENTRAL FLORIDA RUM & FOOD EXPERIENCE – Rum lovers and aficionados get to sample sweet, fruity or smoky elixirs distilled both locally and afar at this fun little fest showcasing all types of flavors. Guests can enjoy tasting sips or full cocktails while noshing on dishes from various regional and national restaurants such as Duke’s Brewhouse, Hooters, Carters BBQ, Café Roti, Fred’s Southern Kitchen and more.
When: Jan. 12
Where: RP Funding Center, Lakeland
CENTRAL FLORIDA SCOTTISH HIGHLAND GAMES – Let the centuries-old Gaelic traditions begin! This cultural, family-friendly weekend blends old games with new, featuring archery competitions, stone throws, Border Collie sheep-herding demonstrations, authentic cultural dance routines, a scones and shortbread contest, kids’ games and lots and lots of bagpipes.
When: Jan. 19-20
Where: Central Winds Park, Winter Springs
ZORA! FESTIVAL – Held in her hometown just north of Orlando, famed storyteller Zora Neale Hurston and her groundbreaking works are honored in this weeklong celebration of public talks, museum exhibitions, theatrical productions, arts education programming and a three-day Outdoor Festival of the Arts. The fest has something for both the young and old and offers insight into African-American history and culture that you likely won’t find anywhere else.
When: Jan. 26-Feb. 3
Where: Historic Eatonville
FLORIDA MANATEE FESTIVAL – Relax and enjoy one of the great outdoor wonders of Florida – the majestic manatee, a creature known for its love of the natural warm springs of Crystal River – while tasting local seafood, taking a boat tour, lounging in the beer garden, hitting the Kids Zone, checking out unique crafts and artwork and soaking in the sunshine.
When: Jan. 19-20
Where: Downtown Crystal River
MANATEE COUNTY FAIR – Since launching its first fair in 1916, the Manatee County Fair has come a long way, bringing the latest in carnival rides, country music stars, gourmet food, arts and crafts and other fun events to its usual array of agricultural competitions. Check out the whip-popping contest, the dairy fitting and grooming contest and the pig races.
When: Jan. 17-27
BREVARD RENAISSANCE FAIR – History meets fantasy in this 16th century time-travel adventure, complete with live armored jousting, sheep tossing, dancing gypsies and smoked turkey legs as big as your head. Each weekend has a different theme – fantasy, pirate or Highland – and there are 70 shows daily with various types of revelry, food and fun.
When: Jan. 19-29, Jan. 26-27 & Feb. 1-3
Where: Wickham Park, Melbourne
ANNUAL KUMQUAT FESTIVAL – A true taste of Old Florida, the annual Kumquat Festival draws tens of thousands of visitors and families to quaint Dade City to celebrate the citrus family’s most adorable little fruit. Sample kumquat pie, kumquat cookies, smoothies, ice cream, marmalade, and even kumquat salsa while checking out antique cars, shopping for arts and crafts and enjoying live music.
When: Jan. 26
Where: Historic Dade City
GASPARILLA CHILDREN’S PARADE & PIRATE FEST – Tampa’s famous pirate-themed shenanigans return, filling Tampa Bay with boats, the street with floats and several miles of revelry in the form of partyers, music, strewn beads and other fun. The children’s parade is on the 19th followed by the elaborate and wild Pirate Fest the following Saturday, when the world’s only fully-rigged pirate ship, the Jose Gasparilla, will magically appear at the south end of Hillsborough Bay.
When: Jan. 19 & 26
YEEHAW MUSIC FEST – Enjoy Florida’s cooler outdoor weather, bring your camping gear and dance along to bluegrass, folk and country music by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Summer Brooke & Mountain Faith, Scattered Grass and other great bands. Jam with other musicians, play bingo, attend music workshops or just relax.
When: Jan. 15-20
4OCEAN DAYTONA BEACH CLEANUP – As a way to preserve and cherish one of Florida’s most precious assets, hundreds of people of all ages turn out for this wide-reaching volunteer beach cleanup, which includes a day of strolling along Daytona Beach as well as a pop-up shop selling shirts and bracelets and an “education village.” Hemp bags and gloves are provided and all ages are welcome.
When: Jan. 26
Where: Daytona Beach
VILLA ZORAYDA’S CANDELIGHT TOUR — St. Augustine’s Villa Zorayda, built in 1883 as a personal residence, is a 1/10th-scale model of a section of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, and kicked off the city’s love affair with the Moorish Spanish Revival architecture seen throughout the historic downtown. More than 100 candles illuminate its stunning interior during the 9th annual tour of the home-turned-museum, giving visitors a rare glimpse into the past complete with holiday decorations and a Christmas tree decked out in the museum’s red and gold colors. Reservations are required.
When: Dec. 19, 27; Jan. 5
Where: Villa Zorayda, St. Augustine
ZOO LIGHTS — Thousands of LED lights will transform the Jacksonville Zoo with moving sculptures, animal silhouettes, a lighted train ride, marshmallow roasting and carousel rides. For once the usual stars of the show, the zoo’s innovative exhibit’s Range of the Jaguar and Land of the Tiger, take a back seat to the tree-lined forest of fairy lights.
When: Dec. 14-Jan. 5
Where: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
36TH ANNUAL PALM COAST HOLIDAY BOAT PARADE — This longtime central Florida event is getting a little more razzle-dazzle with KOOL 100.9 broadcasting holiday music for the parade all evening long. The radio station will also be making live call-ins to the captains and crew of the more than 40 sailboats, fishing boats and yachts decked out with ALL the holiday spirit. Official boats from the Flagler Sheriff’s Office, Tow Boat US, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and U.S. Coast Guard will escort the parade. Rain date is Dec. 16.
When: Dec. 15
Where: Intracoastal Waterway, Palm Coast
POSADAS OF OLD ST. AUGUSTINE — For more than 400 years, Hispanic communities around the world have re-enacted Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging, the Spanish translation is “posadas”. Living history volunteers will present this historic march in candlelight along St. Augustine’s St. George Street. The year: circa 1580. The march will end at Plaza de la Constitucion where a Tallahassee mission group will present a scene from Cristo Nuestro Bien (A Shepherds & Angel play).
When: Dec. 15
Where: St. Augustine
APALACHICOLA RIVERKEEPER’S FIELD TRIPS — This volunteer-led eco tour provides the perfect excuse to get out of the house and enjoy the gorgeous beauty of the Apalachicola River by either hiking or kayaking. Paddling trips are dependent on the weather. Reservations are required, loaner kayaks are available and the group size is limited to keep the group size more intimate.
When: Dec. 22
Where: Apalachicola River
GATSBY GIRLS SPEAKEASY BALL — If only Leonardo DiCaprio would be there to hand each guest their first martini, right? Nevertheless, look through your costume jewelry for that long strand of pearls, add your best fringe flapper dress or don a dark as midnight tux and head out for a night on the town. Where? It’s a mystery. This speakeasy-inspired is taking a clue from the Roaring 20s with the location to be revealed. Includes signature cocktails, champagne tasting room, bootlegger man cave and dancing, dancing, dancing!
When: Dec. 29
Where: TBD, Pensacola
HAPPY NEW YEAR! — Break out the bubbly, pass out the noisemakers and be ready to ring in the new year at these only-in-Florida spins on the Big Apple’s iconic ball drop.
- PENSACOLA PELICAN DROP (Dec. 31, Pensacola): Pensacola’s family-friendly, early evening New Year’s celebration is being hosted for the second year at the Blue Wahoos Stadium during Kazoo’s Rockin’ Eve. The minor league ballpark rolls out the red carpet with live music and on-field activities before fireworks and the Pelican Drop. (milb.com/pelican-drop)
- NEW YEAR’S EVE BEACH BALL DROP (Dec. 31, Panama City Beach): The streets of Pier Park are for thousands of revelers only during an evening of free live music and entertainment and includes two beach ball celebrations. The drop for wee revelers happens early in the evening when 10,000 beach balls are dropped from suspended nets. Cheers explode from the late night crowd when the 10-foot-wide, lighted beach ball begins its descent down Celebration Tower 10 seconds before the stroke of midnight and continues with fireworks. (visitpanamacitybeach.com/ ball-drop)
FIRST CITY LIGHTS FESTIVAL — Shop, dine and experience Pensacola’s nightlife under a canopy of 400,000 twinkling fairy lights draped on trees and the historic downtown buildings. Visitors can experience the light display by foot, Segway, horse and carriage, pedi-cab or on the Winterfest trolley.
When: Nov. 23 - Jan. 31
VENARDOS CIRCUS — Kevin Venardos, once the youngest ringmaster in Barnum & Bailey’s history, has reinvented the circus to match modern interests (For example, there are no animal performers, only human.). The self-proclaimed “Little Circus That Could” has one ring and brings Broadway to the Big Top, or in their case Modest Top, combining musical theater with an array of death-defying feats.
When: Dec. 19 – Feb. 27
Where: St. Augustine Amphiteatre
TAKE THE PLUNGE — Polar Plunges and Florida seem like an oxymoron, but these are in North Florida and we do see frigid temps occasionally in this part of the state. Are you brave enough to start the New Year with a “refreshing” dip on one of Florida’s coasts?
· Pensacola: Polar Plunge on Jan. 1 at Paradise Bar & Grill. paradisebar-grill.com)
· Perdido Key: Polar Bear Dip on Jan. 1 at Flora-Bama Lounge, Package and Oyster Bar. florabama.com
· Navarre Beach: Pirate Plunge on Jan. 1 at the Navarre Beach Parking Lot and also includes a reception with live music and food. navarrepirateplunge.com
· Jacksonville Beach: Polar Plunge on Jan. 1 in front of the Seawalk Stage at the Red Cross lifeguard station wavemasters.org
PENSACOLA MARDI GRAS KICK OFF CELEBRATION — The local krewes unveil their 2019 floats, themes and colors, and each krewe’s float and its costumed members and “royalty” will be blessed in a ceremony and proclaimed a participator for the entire 2019 Mardi Gras season. Guests will enjoy King Cake and can groove to live music with a second line jazz band street performance.
When: Jan. 5
CAMELLIA SHOW — If you know the difference between japonica and reticulate camellias, then you’ll be in good company chatting with the growers cultivating their (hopefully) prize-winning blooms at the annual show. This is a fantastic opportunity to get tips from the Southeast’s top growers and purchase unusual hybrids for your own yard.
When: Jan. 5-6
Where: Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, Gainesville
FLORIDA MUSEUM 40TH COLLECTORS DAY — Do you have a unique collection or want to talk with someone else about how to get started? Opportunity is knocking! Each year, more than 100 collectors register to be on site during the museum’s annual event. Previous years collections on display have included stereoviews, signed baseballs, Native American musical instruments, records, antique microscopes, Coca-Cola products, classic cars and spatulas.
When: Jan. 12
Where: Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville
HITS OCALA WINTER CIRCUIT — The horse country capital of Florida gears up for three months of tournaments and gives away $4 million in prize money to best the hunter/jumper jockeys during the winter season. The HITS Post Time Farm has more than 450 acres, 100 permanent turn-out paddocks and 30 permanent bars for training. The season kicks off with the Ocala January Classic ($75 thousand in prize money) and ends with the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix on March 24.
When: Jan. 15 – March 24
Where: HITS Post Time Farm, Ocala
APALACHICOLA OYSTER COOK-OFF — How do you like your oysters? Buttery, garlicky, lemony, cheesy and chargrilled in the half shell or bacon-wrapped and smoked? Leaf through your recipe collection and enter your favorite dish in Apalachicola Oyster Cook-Off (applications are due January 11). Not much or a chef or bivavle lover? No worries, the annual event serves up smoked mullet, hamburgers and hot dogs to pair with local brews. Also includes an oyster-related silent auction, dance performances, kids activities, live music and the Half-Shell Hustle, a 5.5K fun run.
When: Jan. 18-19
Where: Apalachicola Riverfront Park
ST. AUGUSTINE FILM FESTIVAL — Cinephiles will have a full slate of entertainment and will have to pick and choose wisely between showings of more than 30 independent films that span the world in various genres from comedy to documentary. Films will be screened on five screens at three different venues all within walking distance. Individual tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door or purchase the All Films Pass. The All Access Pass includes entrance to all screenings and to the filmmaker parties.
When: Jan. 18-21
Where: St. Augustine
30A SONGWRITERS FESTIVAL — The trio of headliners for the 10th annual festival are led by Americana singer/songwriter Jason Isbell, who wrote the “Maybe This Time” for Bradley Cooper’s character in “A Star Is Born,” which received extra air play in the film’s trailer. Rounding out the trio are Americana star Brandi Carlile (“The Story”) and a 50-year rock veteran with four #1 hits, Felix Cavaliere, who will also be appearing with his full band and horn section. More than 100 artists will perform in 25 different venues including Steve Earle, Suzy Bogguss, Amanada Shires (Jason Isbell’s wife – Hope for guest appearances at each other’s shows, they’re magic together in Isbell’s “Cover Me Up”), Shawn Mullins, The War and Treaty, Randy Foster and more.
When: Jan. 18-21
Where: various venues along Hwy 30A near South Walton
AMELIA ISLAND RESTAURANT WEEK — Explore Amelia Island and Fernandina’s award-winning dining scene with prix-fixe lunch or dinners at 30 local restaurants. The menus (which can be viewed online) will be priced at $12 for lunch and either $21, $31 or $41 for dinner. Two culinary highlights include the Tribute to Coastal Treasures four-course dinner with wine reception at the Ritz Carlton-Amelia Island that kicks off the week and the closing dinner that Omni Amelia Island.
When: Jan. 18-27
Where: Fernandina and Amelia Island
FLORIDA CHAUTAUQUA ASSEMBLY — A four-day educational program geared toward family with keynote speakers, breakout sessions and evening and dinner performances related to this year’s theme, “A Journey into Main Street America.” This year’s assembly will talk about the economic changes in America and the new movement to bring business back to historic downtowns and communities. The keynote speaker is Patrice Frey, President and CEO of Main Street America.
When: Jan. 24-27
Where: DeFuniak Springs
TALLAHASSEE BEER FESTIVAL — Have a friend you want to introduce to the craft beer scene? Or, are you looking to sample some of the harder to find brews from around the country? This inaugural event brings together some of the best of the best of the sunshine state’s breweries and also some of the heavy hitters on the national scene. Florida craft breweries include 3 Daughters (St. Petersburg), First Magnitude (Gainesville), Veterans United (Jacksonville) and Cigar City (Tampa). National brewers pouring include Green Man and Highland (Asheville, N.C.), Rogue Ales (Oregon), Breckenridge (Colorado), Goose Island (Chicago) and Kona (Hawaii).
When: Jan. 26
Where: The Pavilion at The Centre of Tallahassee
FIELD DAY MUSIC FEST — Tailgating season is over but don’t put those chairs away yet. You’ll want them to save your seat for a day of live music, food trucks, games and more. The Vegabonds (new southern rock), The Mulligan Brothers (bluegrass/folk) and Slow Low Crow (country rock) will be performing. Don’t forget to take a break from the show and explore the gardens’ six miles of trails throughout the day.
When: Jan. 26
Where: Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
CRACKER VILLAGE TOUR — Learn about what life was like for the first Florida crackers in Florida’s piney woods. The state park has a collection of replica building representing a 1890s settlement that includes a cabin and outbuildings such as a barn, smokehouse, pantry and outhouse. During the tour, the building will be open and a “blacksmith” might be at work.
When: Jan. 26
Where: Silver Springs State Park, Ocala
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