TORONTO, On. (November 8, 2021) – As winter’s chill sets in and the stress of the holidays is just around the corner, break away to the Sunshine State and get in the spirit of the season Florida-style. Holiday happenings are bold and bright across the state, here are some noteworthy ones:
Pensacola: The holiday spirit will be out on full display in Northwest Florida at Winterfest. Visitors are guaranteed a white Christmas beyond Pensacola’s sugar-white sand beaches as it “snows” every night during Winterfest between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. outside the Plaza Wonderland on Palafox Place. From November 21-December 24, guests can get into the holiday spirit strolling downtown Pensacola, sipping hot chocolate and viewing the Christmas lights hugging the palm trees. While downtown, visitors will also enjoy photo opportunities with Santa Claus and holiday characters like the Grinch. There are several trolley tours and immersive experiences for guests of all ages, including the Polar Express tour, where tap dancing servers lead visitors through a trolley-ride of the classic Christmas story. The Cajun Christmas Experience is a great choice for those who like a little history with their Christmas cookies. During this open air trolley ride, a guide tells stories of how they celebrate Christmas in the bayou as guests take a short ride to Pensacola’s Historic Village.
Miami: Who doesn’t need some pampering at this time of year? Take off to The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, a luxurious getaway just minutes from Miami’s buzzy atmosphere. Get yourself holiday-ready with seasonal-inspired spa treatments such as the Champagne and Peppermint Pedicure, Winder Gold Facial, and Warm Stone Chocolate Peppermint Ritual. Also offered is a Naughty or Nice Spa Menu, featuring 25-minute treatments and specialty cocktails. Guests are also welcome at a variety of events to get in the Christmas spirit and count down to the New Year. From cookies and eggnog in the lobby on Christmas Eve, to a pre-fixed menu on Christmas at Lightkeepers oceanfront restaurant and finally a NYE gala followed by a recovery breakfast on New Year's Day.
LEGOLAND: Just 45-minutes from Tampa, LEGOLAND Florida Resort’s rides and attractions provide tons of fun for the entire family. Add a little LEGO magic to the season by visiting during Holidays At LEGOLAND. On select dates in November & December, LEGOLAND will celebrate the season with a combination of special shows, tasty treats and twinkling lights. Guests will dance, sing-along, and deck the halls with interactive experiences, rock around a 30-foot-tall LEGO tree with interactive lights and music, meet LEGO Santa and create memories with giant holiday-themed LEGO builds.
West Palm Beach: The winter forecast for downtown West Palm Beach is “sandi”! Sandi Land, the city’s yearly holiday celebration will turn 10 this year. Making its return is Sandi, the world’s only 35-foot 70- ton holiday sand tree. Sand sculptors take approximately 10 days and 2,000 man hours to create the spectacular sand tree. A funnel is used to create her curvy shape, and then removed as the sculptors make their way down the tree. Nightly music and light shows will run daily.
Amelia Island: Northeast Florida’s Amelia Island is making the holidays merry and bright with a schedule of activities right through the season. Lights and decorations, exciting events, a historic downtown and the warmth of Southern hospitality combine to make the holidays especially enchanting. From December 9-12, enjoy “Dickens on Centre,” a Victorian-themed celebration of food, fun and entertainment under a canopy of twinkling lights, as well as a variety of holiday happenings that will banish even the strongest case of the "Bah Humbugs."
Northeast Florida’s coastal treasure, Amelia Island is a barrier island rich in colourful history and breath-taking natural beauty. Amelia Island offers long, beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife and pristine waters. Upscale resorts with world-class spas, championship golf and exclusive dining blend effortlessly with a captivating collection of bed and breakfast inns and historic districts. The island is home to Fernandina Beach, once a vibrant Victorian seaport village and now a charming downtown district of eclectic shops, attractions and eateries.
North Central: Join approximately 250 “dippers” for Iche Nippy Dip Day, New Year’s Polar plunge in Columbia County. Polar plunging, the act of diving into a cold body of water despite the wintry temperatures, has become a universally popular way for people to ring in the New Year. With springs that remain a constant 22 degrees Celsius year-round, Ichetucknee Springs offers the perfect location for visitors and locals to partake in a unique twist on these events. Here, the water is warmer than the exterior temperature. Iche Nippy Dip Day welcomes “dippers” into Ichetucknee’s warm waters, which provide a safe haven from the chilly temperatures above. This event is free with admission to Ichetucknee Springs State Park and takes place at the headspring at the north entrance on the first Saturday in January. Hot chocolate, coffee and donuts are regularly available to help participants reheat when they exit the steaming waters and feel the chilly air.
An enchantingly diverse ecosystem makes Columbia County a natural theme park for outdoor adventure and spring hopping with more than 350 miles of rivers, 1,500 miles of trails, aquatic caves, nine state parks, waterfalls and 300 documented natural springs. Known as the “Springs Capital of the United States'' for decades, most visitors choose to dive into the springs in the summer months, but one of the area’s best kept secrets is that the winter months are just as great of a time to visit.
Jacksonville: Every December, Jacksonville celebrates the holidays with its Winter on the Water festivities. These family-friendly, multi-generational holiday events include drive-thru light shows, a boat parade on the St. Johns River and a popular display of Christmas lights at Jacksonville Beach’s “Deck the Chairs” exhibit, a fun 6-week public art display of decorated lifeguard chairs in Seaside Park taking place November 20, 2021-January 1, 2022.
Daytona Beach: The annual Magic of Lights holiday display returns to Daytona International Speedway with a magical, family-friendly drive-through experience November 19, 2021 through January 1, 2022. Back for its fifth year, Magic of Lights will continue to bring a dazzling display of more than one million twinkling, sparkling lights and magical scenes, all viewed within the comfort and safety of the guest’s vehicle. The experience will include a drive behind the Ticket and Tours Building, through the state-of-the-art motorsports facility and conclude in the Midway display area. New this year will be the “Illuminating Mega Tree, which stands 40 feet tall, complete with dancing lights synchronized to holiday tunes. Favourite and festive traditional scenes are returning such as the notorious Enchanting Tunnel of Lights, 12 Days of Christmas, 200-foot Candy Cane Lane, Sports Row and Toyland – all guaranteed to warm the heart and create special family memories across generations.
Sebring: Nestled in a quiet corner of Florida’s Heartland, Hotel Jacaranda is the picture of Southern repose. Built in the 1920s and listed on the National Historic Register, Avon Park’s “gracious lady” boasts high ceilings and quiet hallways. In years gone by, the Jacaranda played hostess to the likes of Babe Ruth and Clark Gable. From November 10, 2021-January 22, 2022, step back in time and embrace the magical holiday season at this historic hotel. Full of traditional and festive holiday décor, the Grand Lobby will showcase a 15-foot Christmas tree, nutcrackers, fireplace and ornate holiday splendour. Stroll the Arcade decorated with poinsettias, an antique sleigh and lavish decorations. Stay in the newly decorated hotel rooms and suites, each with its own theme.
DeLand – From November 1, 2021 through January 22, 2022, Stetson Mansion will host their Christmas Spectacular! Rooms are embellished with elaborate designer decorations, 23 Christmas trees, more than two dozen Nativity scenes, several peacocks – a nod to the Stetson’s love of birds – and 10 elaborate themed rooms. Decorations change every year. Room themes this year include “Angels Appear When Cardinals Are Near,”“A Rockwell Kind of Christmas,” “Heroes Tribute,” “Snow Babies... It’s Cold Outside,” and “Hallelujah, The Christ Child Is Born.”
Built in 1886 for famed hat maker John B. Stetson, Stetson Mansion is the largest, grandest, and most historic home ever built in Florida before the 20th century. It was the first home in Florida that was designed and constructed with Edison electricity, steam heat, indoor plumbing and a call bell system. Opulent details include sixteen different mosaic parquet wood floor patterns, 10,000 panes of antique glass and various handmade wood embellishments. Stetson Mansion is honoured to have been named as one of the top Historic Holiday Homes Tours for two reader’s choice awards! Stetson Mansion was chosen as Florida’s winner in the USATODAY 10Best Readers Choice travel award contest for Best Holiday Historic Home Tour – placing third on the national list. Florida’s Most Historic Home was also named as the second-place winner in Fodor’s Travel Guide to Southern Holiday Homes and is the top tour in the state!
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