Celebrate the Holidays with “Only-in-Florida” Seasonal Events

Posted by on Dec 10, 2018 in Domestic Releases | Comments Off on Celebrate the Holidays with “Only-in-Florida” Seasonal Events

Unique Experiences Abound in Florida for Families Craving Sunshine with Santa

TALLAHASSEE, Fla (December 2018) – For some, celebrating the holidays means ice skating on a rink in sub-freezing temperatures and sleigh rides in the snow. However, in Florida, the bright, festive holiday season comes alive in subtropical warmth, with annual events that celebrate unique themes and attributes of the Sunshine State. From Key West’s “Weiner Wonderland” event to Punta Gorda’s “Boat Parade,” visitors can find plenty of only-in-Florida celebrations guaranteed to warm the heart of even the coldest Grinch.

Here is a “wish list” of holiday events that are indigenous to Florida:

Southern Florida: The Florida Keys & Key West

Dec. 7, 15, 19, 21 and 22: Conch Tour Train Holiday Lights Tours, Key West. During the annual holiday lights tours of the southernmost island in the continental United States, the Conch Train travels past decorated historic homes, buildings and neighborhoods. Tours are offered at various times departing from Key West High School, 2100 Flagler Ave.

Dec. 31: Annual Key West Dachshund Walk, Key West. Scores of dachshunds, many sporting costumes, participate in the popular “wiener wonderland” stroll, which kicks off at noon. Canines and their people amble through the island’s picturesque downtown during the highly photographed walk. Spectators can “meet” the furry participants on Fleming Street between Whitehead and Duval streets.

Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve “Drops” in the Southernmost City, Key West. Ring in the new year at the 26th annual “Conch Shell Drop” at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, 201 Duval St.; the descent of a super-sized red high-heel shoe carrying world-famous drag queen Sushi at the Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House complex, 724 Duval St.; the lowering of a pirate wench from atop a tall ship’s mast at the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St.; or at the Ocean Key Resort & Spa at 0 Duval St., watch as a huge replica of a Key lime wedge splashes down into a larger-than-life margarita glass.

Central Florida: Adventure Coast

Dec. 8: Kiwanis Christmas Parade, Brooksville. The ‘Island of Misfit Toys!’-themed Christmas parade kicks off at 10 a.m. and is followed by special kid-friendly activities or shopping in historic Brooksville, the perfect time to buy Christmas gifts for friends and family.

Dec.15: Weeki Wachee Christmas Boat Parade. Join the Weeki Wachee community as they celebrate the Holidays on the waterway – boats (and kayaks) of all sizes are decorated and judged by their lights and festive décor. Guests can watch the parade for free, either from Roger’s Park or the Upper Deck Restaurant on Shoal Line Boulevard, as the boats depart the park and head down the Weeki Wachee River. Boat Parade begins at Roger’s Park, 7244 Shoal Line Boulevard, Weeki Wachee.

Dec. 1-31: Holiday in the Gardens. During the month of December, the Nature Coast Botanical Gardens adorns its trees with festive decorations, and constructs  snowman village for guests to enjoy. The garden’s free and open to the public daily. Located at 1489 Parker Avenue, Spring Hill.

Central Florida: Punta Gorda & Englewood Beach

Dec. 3-31: Christmas Light Canal Cruises have been a longstanding tradition in Punta Gorda for over 30 years. The popular hour-long excursions are offered nightly and drift through Punta Gorda canals, decked with spectacular holiday illuminations. 

Dec. 16: Come dressed in the ugliest Christmas sweater and walk, run, or stroll through pathways lit by luminaries during the Ugly Christmas Sweater Run. Afterward, enjoy live music at Punta Gorda’s gazebo in Gilchrist Park overlooking the beautiful Charlotte Harbor. Registration is free and begins at 5:30 p.m. at Foot Landing in Punta Gorda with the event starting at 6:15 p.m. for walkers and 6:30 p.m. for runners. After the awards ceremony runners take a Christmas trolley ride through the quaint town.

Dec. 17: Punta Gorda Boat Parade, touts the most participation than any other Christmas boat parade on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Enthusiastic crowds eagerly await the procession along a 7.5-mile route and enjoy carolers, performers, and cheer on their favorites with noisemakers, tambourines and sleigh bells.

Northern Florida: The Panhandle & Navarre Beach

Select Dates until Dec. 29: Gulf Breeze Zoo Lights, this luminous festival is returning to the Gulf Breeze Zoo for another holiday season! Attendees will enjoy dazzling light displays, ice sculpting demonstrations, glowing balloon creations and special “Santa Nights” for the little ones. Zoo Lights is open from 5-9 p.m. CST, and admission is $10 for adults and children and $5 for Zoo members. Located at

5701 Gulf Breeze Pkwy, Gulf Breeze, FL 32563.

Nov. 29 – Dec. 26: Sowell’s North Pole Christmas Lights. Every year, the Sowell Family presents a glittering display of more than 500,000 Christmas lights, where guests can delight in the spectacle by train Sowell’s North Pole is open 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. CST.Admission is $10/vehicle and train rides are an additional $2/person. Located at 7650 Sowell Road, Milton, FL 32570.



As the Sunshine State’s No. 1 industry, tourism was responsible for welcoming 116.5 million visitors in 2017 who spent $112 billion, supporting 1.4 million Florida jobs. 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.