The Sunshine State is Full of Cheer this Holiday Season
Tallahassee, FL – (December 2020) – Though the holidays may look a little different this year, Florida continues to offer lots of unique and festive celebrations, for both the young and young-at-heart, across the State.
PENSACOLA: The city’s popular Winterfest is back – a month-long celebration that this year features two themed tours: The Polar Express Trolley Tour and the Cajun Christmas Experience. Social distancing will be enforced during the celebrations around Christmas Plaza, and guests and staff are required to wear masks. Over at the world-famous Flora-Bama Lounge, the holidays will be kicked off with the bar’s annual Santa Drop, when the big man in red skydives onto the beach, and the annual Polar Bear Dip is also back on New Year’s Day, when groups and families gather in costumes and/or swimsuits and run headlong into the brisk waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
FORT MYERS: On Nov. 27, Edison and Ford Winter Estates will kick off the 45th Holiday Nights Celebration with the annual tree lighting ceremony. The event will offer visitors and impressive light show with several new displays. This year’s theme is ‘Sounds of the Season’ and will incorporate musical elements, with the tree lighting taking place at the base of the historic Mysore Fig, on the Henry Ford property. The tree will be lit with thousands of animated lights choreographed to holiday music. This year, the event will also be open on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and will run through Jan. 3, 2021. Also in December, visitors can partake in guided, inside-the-homes tours offering a special up-close look at the homes’ interiors.
BRADENTON AREA: Comprised of Bradenton, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, this area is ready for the holidays, hosting a wide array of activities and events. There’s the North Pole Express, which will be departing from the Florida Railroad Museum on select dates in December. While for the annual Night Before Christmas celebration, Santa will fly into G.T. Bray Park by helicopter. Visitors missing the colder weather and flurries will enjoy the 10 tons of snow that will be brought in for his arrival.
CENTRAL FLORIDA: Holiday festivities return to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort with a new Santa’s Village themed area. This socially-distant yet festive photo opportunity sees Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elf, Kandy Kane – all decked out in their favourite Florida vacation attire – return for their annual vacation. Available to meet guests on select nights, late November through December, the event is filled with Florida flair, complete with reindeer, palm trees, flamingos and holiday cheer.
Orlando-based Gatorland has announced it will hold its first annual Holiday Ho-Ho-Ho-Down Christmas event starting at the end of November and running through select weekends in December. The Gatorland Holiday Experience, which is included in the regular price of admission, features holiday displays, interactive characters, and holiday singers throughout the park, as well as a Very Merry Train ride.
Over at LEGOLAND, there’s an all-new stage show – The Very Merry Mix-Up – along with lots of holly jolly fun this season, running on select dates through to the end of December. The theme park will be transformed into a wonderland with live, seasonal entertainment, unique LEGO activities, twinkling lights and specialty treats – all included in the price of general admission. Photo available here.
SEBRING: Step back in time in Sebring this holiday season with a visit to the Hotel Jacaranda. This historic, 1920s hotel nestled in the centre of the State has played host to Babe Ruth, Clark Gable, Al Capone and others. The drive there, through open pastureland and orange groves, will set the mood and take you to a simpler time. Upon arrival, marvel at the traditional and festive holiday décor, the 15-foot Christmas tree in the Grand Lobby, the nutcrackers, fireplace and ornate holiday splendor, and then get comfortable in one of the newly decorated hotel rooms and suites, each with its own theme.
MARTIN COUNTY: It wouldn’t be a 2020 celebration without a virtual event and the 12th Annual Holiday Home Tour in Stuart delivers, with the local tradition continuing this year in a virtual format. Enjoy an in-depth tour of six beautiful homes decked out for the holidays via HGTV-quality video. Tickets for the tour cost US$20 and can be purchased online, with proceeds benefitting the Woman’s Club scholarship fund to assist exemplary young women and helping underprivileged residents within the community. The virtual tour will take place on Dec. 6th.
DELRAY BEACH: Cast your eyes up, way up, 100 feet up, as you take in the sight of Delray Beach’s famous Christmas tree. In 2016, Travel & Leisure named it the best tree in the State of Florida, right up there with the trees at Rockefeller Center and the White House. This year the tree interior will be closed due to COVID-19, however you can still visit and marvel at the light and joy this massive tree brings to the season! Photo available here.
AMELIA ISLAND: Although 2020 has dampened spirits around the world, Amelia Island is looking to make the holidays merry and bright with a schedule of festive activities throughout the month of December. Taking place in downtown Fernandina Beach and around the island, the traditional Dickens on Centre event have been transformed to meet COVID-19 guidelines, allowing friends and family to safely enjoy a Victorian-themed celebration of food, fun and entertainment, under a canopy of twinkling lights. This year’s celebration will feature a new Dickens Dining Week, and the return of horse-drawn carriage rides through the island’s historic district.
For more information on the many holiday-themed events and activities happening throughout the State, click here.
About VISIT FLORIDA
As the Sunshine State’s No. 1 industry, tourism was responsible for welcoming 124.7 million visitors in 2018. Based on the latest economic impact study, Florida visitors contributed $85.9 billion to Florida's economy and supported 1.5 million Florida jobs in 2017. According to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, for every $1 the state invests in VISIT FLORIDA, the official tourism marketing corporation for the State of Florida, $2.15 in tax revenue is generated. VISIT FLORIDA promotes tourism to Florida through sales, advertising, promotions, public relations and visitor services programs. As a public/private partnership, VISIT FLORIDA serves more than 13,000 tourism industry businesses, including major strategic alliance partnerships with Busch Gardens Tampa, Disney Destinations, The Hertz Corporation, Hilton, LEGOLAND Florida Resort, SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando, Simon Shopping Destinations and Universal Orlando Resort. To learn more about VISIT FLORIDA, follow us on our industry social media channels: Facebook and Twitter @FloridaTourism
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