You may not build a carrot-nosed snowman or roast chestnuts on an open fire, but there’s plenty else to keep you enthralled in Florida during the Yule holidays. Theme parks, cities, parks and hotels all are gearing up with special holiday events.
For the first time, Busch Gardens this year will stage holiday events in the evening. More than 70 lighted boat parades are scheduled on waterways all over the state. Special concerts are in the works, along with Christmas markets, home tours and culinary treats like gingerbread creations. Santa Claus will make dozens of visits.
The fun starts in late November. Here are details of a sampling of special events:
THEME PARK & ATTRACTIONSBusch Gardens Tampa Bay:
Sections of the park will be renamed for the evening. In Ice Wonder Way, guests can see a new ice-skating show. Elmo and his friends will greet kids in the Sesame Street Season of Fun. Children will board a pint-sized train at Jingle Bell Junction, and they and their parents can sing carols as the Christmas Express train circles the park. Jimmy Osmond and his family will sing each night, and in the Stanleyville Theater the Grammy-award-winning Jars of Clay will perform a closing concert every night.
Christmas Town will require a separate admission (daytime admission not included or needed) of $34.99 for ages 10 and up, $9.99 for children 3-9. It will be open 6-11 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Nov. 30 to Dec. 23. 813-987-5523, www.buschgardens.com.Walt Disney World:
At Epcot, a Candlelight Processional celebrates the holiday, along with a celebrity narrator, mass choir and 50-piece orchestra three times daily Nov. 23-Dec. 30. Neil Patrick Harris and Gary Sinise will appear on select nights at the America Gardens Theater. Disney’s Hollywood Studios will have the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, with millions of lights, animated displays and 3-D effects, Nov. 9 to Jan. 6. Disney information: 407-824-4321, www.disneyworld.com.Universal Orlando:
Many hotels will mount Yule displays and stage holiday-oriented events. Here are three with unusual exhibits.Gaylord Palms, Orlando: ICE! Merry Madagascar ICE! Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island: Swan and Dolphin Hotels, Disney World:
More than 70 lighted boat parades will be staged on Florida waterways this year. The biggest is Fort Lauderdale’s Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, which motors off on its 12-mile journey from downtown Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. An estimated million spectators will be on hand, some in grandstands. 954-767-0686, www.winterfestparade.com.
Elsewhere in southeast Florida, boat parades are scheduled in Boca Raton Dec. 8; Boynton Beach Dec. 7; Fort Pierce Dec. 8; Jupiter Dec. 1; Key Largo Dec. 8; Key West Dec. 15; Lower Florida Keys Dec.15; Marathon Dec. 8; Key Colony Beach Dec. 9; Miami Dec. 15; Palm Beach Dec. 1; and Pompano Beach Dec. 9. For a complete list and details of all Florida boat parades, go to http://floridabywater.com/component/content/article/1647-boat-parades.
Cities small and large stage various Yule displays and other events. Here are a few:St. Augustine: Tampa: Orlando: Nutcracker
COLLEGE BOWL GAMES
All bowl games have other events associated with them, among them parades, photo ops and other sports events.Orlando: Tampa: Jacksonville: Miami: