Monday, December 01, 2008

Holiday Festivals Bring Fun and Cheer to Orlando

With all the fun holiday festivities that the Orlando theme parks have to offer, you may not want to stray outside the parks for seasonal fun this winter. However, you and your family would definitely be missing out if you didn’t, as Orlando is home to several exciting and unique holiday festivals. From a holiday festival that takes you back in time to a cultural holiday celebration, be sure to check out some of these fun events happening soon in the Orlando metropolitan area.

On December 6th, one of Orlando’s largest holiday celebrations will attract over 8,000 people when the Navidad Jibara festival comes to town. Located on the TG Lee Boulevard Grounds near Orlando International Airport, the 7th annual festival is Central Florida’s largest Hispanic-focused holiday celebration. The highly anticipated Navidad Jibara festival celebrates the holiday season traditions of Puerto Rico and the rest of the Hispanic community. However, that’s not to say that this is a Hispanics-only event; anyone can come and enjoy the music, exhibits, and traditional Latin food.

And what place is more appropriate for a holiday festival than Fort Christmas? Located twenty miles east of Orlando, this fort replica was modeled after a fort and stockade created by a force of 2,000 US Army volunteers and Alabama volunteers on December 25th, 1837. One of over 200 forts built during the Second Seminole Indian War, the fort was abandoned in March 1838 and reproduced by Orange County Parks Department in 1977. Today, the replica of the fort houses historical exhibits and presentations, as well as ten restored historical homes and structures built in the “Cracker” architecture of East Orange County.

During the Cracker Christmas Weekend on December 6th and 7th, the fort celebrates its namesake holiday with an annual festival of arts and crafts. Visitors can enjoy a large craft fair, special exhibits, and lots of great food. There’ll also be Florida Cracker demonstrations of arts from pioneer times, including broom making, spinning and weaving, blacksmithing, wood carving, Dutch oven cooking, and more.

Finally, on December 13th, the city of Kissimmee in Orlando-neighboring Osceola County will host a scaled-down version of its annual Holiday Extravaganza. From 4 to 6 pm at Toho Square, families can enjoy Santa’s Social at Toho Square, where kids can visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. And at night, the downtown streets of Kissimmee will illuminate with the Festival of Lights Parade at 6 pm, featuring Santa Claus and Scott & Erica from the Morning show on Mix 105.1. Food vendors will also be present offering tasty holiday treats during this seasonal spectacle.

So this winter, take a break from the parks to enjoy some of the sights and sounds of the season around Orlando and its neighboring cities. Be sure to also check out Celebration Town Center’s “Now Snowing” event, which features carolers, Santa, carriage rides, and nightly snowfall. And on December 4th and 5th, stop by Winter Park to see the Holiday Stroll & Tree Lighting Ceremony, along with the annual lighting of a special Tiffany’s window holiday display in Central Park. With all the fun and magic of these seasonal events, there’s no place like Orlando Florida for the holidays.


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