Thanksgiving is over and that means that holiday decorations are already up in store windows, twinkling lights are brightening up neighborhoods everywhere, and Christmas music is playing in full-force in every retail store. It also means that holiday events are popping up all over the local area! SWFL is the place to be for you and your family during the month of December. If you’re looking to get in on the holiday cheer, here are six local events that promise fun for the whole family.
1. Edison & Ford Holiday Nights | November 25th – January 1st
Add a little local history to your holiday celebrations at the winter homes and gardens of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford! The Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, FL are celebrating their 41st annual Holiday Nights event. Visitors can enjoy nightly entertainment from 5:30pm to 9:00pm with holiday tradition tours, food, and evening river cruises! Keep an eye out for special events to see when Santa pays the estates a visit. For more information and a schedule of events, go to www.edisonfordwinterestates.org.
2. Holiday Village at Bell Tower Shops | November 25th – December 24th
Get the full North Pole experience at the Holiday Village at Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers, FL. Enjoy a variety of exhibits and activities throughout the shopping center, including a Christmas tree farm, a station to write letters to Santa, inflatable devices, a craft area, an oversized snow globe for holiday photos, and more. Watch out for familiar holiday characters strolling the mall and the 15-minute snowfall that occurs every hour!
3. Naples Christmas Parade | December 6th
Gather around Downtown Naples at 6:00pm to see The City of Naples 2016 Christmas Parade. This year’s theme is “A Naples Family Christmas” to celebrate the tradition of the parade to bring family members of all ages together in the spirit of community. The parade floats and participants will begin on Broad Avenue before turning right on Third Street South, right on Fifth Avenue South, and end on Eighth Street South. Arrive early to grab your perfect spot to view the festivities!
4. Holiday in the Park | December 6th
Enjoy all the fun of a blizzard without the frostbite! Riverside Park in Bonita Springs, FL is hosting their annual Holiday in the Park from 4:30pm to 8:30pm. Grab lawn chairs and blankets and bring the kids to enjoy a giant snow slide, a snow pile, train rides, free cookies and cider, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Pets and coolers are now allowed at the event.
5. Bonita Springs Boat Parade / Naples Boat Parade | December 10th
Whether you’re a Bonita Springs or Naples resident, there’s a boat parade in your future! These two annual parades feature decorated, illuminated boats of all shapes and sizes traveling along the water for your viewing pleasure. The Bonita Springs Christmas Boat Parade will start at 5:00pm and take place along the Imperial River while the Annual Naples Christmas Boat Parade begins at 6:30pm and travels north along Naples Bay. For more information, go to www.bonitaboatparade.com for Bonita Springs and www.miacc.org for Naples.
6. Nightmare Before Christmas Event | December 11th
Looking for a cool alternative to the usual celebrations? The Read Headed Witches in Cape Coral, FL will spook and delight with their Nightmare Before Christmas event. Mingle with Jack Skellington and other characters from the popular movie while enjoying free treats. All donated canned goods and non-perishable food items go towards the Cape Coral Caring Center. Go to www.redheadedwitches.com to learn more.
For a more complete list of local holiday events happening in Southwest Florida, check out The News-Press’s holiday event roundup.