Florida Events & Festival Roundup

November 2-13, Pensacola

Foo Foo Festival
Culinary, musical, theatrical and creative events are produced and executed by the artists and culture lovers of the area.
www.foofoofest.com

 

November 4, Panama City Beach

Ironman Florida
What began as a challenge between groups of Navy SEALS has become one of the most recognized endurance events, with a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.
www.ironmanflorida.com

 

November 4, Milton

Sasquatch Trail Run at Bear Lake
Run or walk the 4-mile Bear Lake Trail, but be careful! There have been reports of Sasquatch in the area. Find out if you can make the loop without being spooked by Big Foot. A pancake breakfast follows the race. Proceeds help improve the lives of the community’s foster kids.
www.myfathersarrows.org; (850) 675-4403

 

November 4, Bradenton

A Taste of Mixon’s
Get a passport stamp at each station offering samples from Mixon Fruit Farms’ store and café from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and be entered in a prize drawing. The day also features the Southeast High School culinary department’s annual cooking competition. Sample more than 12 cupcake entries and vote for a winner. Admission is free. Donations benefit the culinary department.
www.mixon.com; (941) 748-5829

 

November 4, Sebring

51st annual Highlands Fine Arts Festival
More than 80 original artists and artwork from 10 mediums are featured, along with live music, performances and strolling street theater.
www.highlandsartleague.org; (863) 365-6682

 

November 7, Key West

Autism Society of the Keys
Learn about resources available to your child from other families dealing with autism at 6:30 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 2713 Flagler Ave.
autismsocietyofthekeys@gmail.com; (305) 942-5172

 

November 8-11, Panama City Beach

Emerald Coast Cruizin’
Classic cars, hot rods, custom cars and trucks converge on Aaron Bessant Park during the event that also features live music.
www.emeraldcoastcruizin.com

 

November 10, Islamorada

Night at the Museum
Indians, pirates, Henry Flagler and other historical figures from exhibits at the Keys History and Discovery Center come to life at the fun-filled evening that features a cocktail reception, surf-and-turf dinner, live and silent auctions and dessert.
www.keysdiscovery.com; (305) 922-2237

 

November 10, Bradenton

Health and Business Fair
More than 50 vendors offer health screenings, door prizes and information from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the biannual event at Mixon Fruit Farms. Admission is free.
www.mixon.com; (941) 748-5829

 

November 10-12, Bowling Green

SW Florida Tiny House Expo
Learn how to live large by building small from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Hardee Lakes Park. Tour model tiny homes, and learn about building and zoning restrictions, sustainable living, debt reduction, minimalism and more. Camping and RV hook-ups are available.
www.livelargebybuildingsmall.com; (863) 832-6255

 

November 11, Sebring

Crazy Pepper Chili Cook Off
Teams from throughout central Florida compete for honors in a fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Highlands County. All chili is cooked on site. Teams have three hours to turn in their chili for judging, and give out samples to the public from noon to 3 p.m. Chili-sampling tickets are $5 for 10 tickets. A chili dog eating contest is at 1:30 p.m. Other food is available for purchase.
www.rotarychili.com; (863) 381-2689

 

November 11, Sebring

32nd annual CCC Festival
Learn about the men of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the work they did for national and state parks with a re-enactment and demonstrations of blacksmithing, beekeeping, hide tanning and antler carving at Highlands Hammock State Park. Live bluegrass and folk bands, heritage crafts, a model railway display, antique cars, pony rides and storytelling also are planned.
www.floridastateparks.org; (863) 386-6094

 

November 12, Marathon

20th annual Taste of the Islands
Buy taste tickets to sample culinary treats from area restaurants and enjoy music and art at Marathon Community Park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The fundraiser benefits local scholarships.
www.facebook.com/BPWMarathonTaste

 

November 14, Marathon

Autism Society of the Keys
Learn about resources available to your child from other families dealing with autism at 6:30 p.m. at Courtyard Marriott Hotel, 2146 Overseas Highway.
autismsocietyofthekeys@gmail.com; (305) 942-5172

 

November 15, Islamorada

Immerse Yourself!
Ed Uditis of the historical Diving Society will talk about Squalus Submarine Recovery at a free presentation at 7 p.m. at the History of Diving Museum, MM 83. Museum exhibits are open late.
www.divingmuseum.org; (305) 664-9737

 

November 15, Islamorada

“Florida is a Land Remembered”
The Keys History and Discovery Center, MM 82, hosts a lecture by Rick Smith Jr. at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m. The cost is $25 for non-museum members (free for members), and includes museum admission, light appetizers and a cash bar. Reservations are recommended.
www.keysdiscovery.com; (305) 922-2237

 

November 16-November 19

Battle of Bowlegs Creek History Festival
Celebrate what is known as the Cow Battle of 1864 with a variety of activities Thursday, November 16, through Sunday, November 19, at the Fort Meade Recreation Area on US 98 East. Highlights include a museum trolley history ride at 1 Tecumseh Ave. on Thursday, with tram tours beginning at 5:30 p.m. and continuing every 45 minutes. The cost is $5. Friday is free school day, with exhibits, displays and learning experiences from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Schools need to register by November 4. Saturday and Sunday a living history camp opens at 9 a.m., with period settlers and modern vendors, food, a tea, entertainment and a battle re-enactment at 2 p.m each day. Parking is $10 per car. A Blue and Gray Contra-Ball is at 6 p.m. Saturday in the large pavilion. Admission to the dance is free. For more information, call (863) 285-8253.

 

November 18, Lake Placid

4th annual Highway Park Founders Day
Free health screenings, live bands, cultural dancing, an art exhibit, kids’ zone and food highlight the free event from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Community Park, 106 Washington St.
www.visitsebring.com; (863) 840-2995

 

November 18, Bradenton

Harvest Festival Arts and Crafts Fair
Visit Mixon Fruit Farms from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for local entertainment, more than 60 vendors and the TK Grill food truck. Grab a passport to visit all three sections of the event, get them stamped and win prizes. Admission is free.
www.mixon.com; (941) 748-5829

 

November 18, Lake Placid

Highlands County Audubon Society
Dr. Paul Gray guides a visit to grasshopper sparrow habitat at Kissimmee Prairie State Park. Leave Lake Placid Tower at 7:45 a.m. or meet at Country Store on Highway 98 at 8:30 a.m.
(863) 599-0124

 

November 24-25, Panama City Beach

Beach Home for the Holidays
Kick off the holidays with concerts at Aaron Bessant Park, a Christmas tree lighting, a meeting with Santa and more seasonal-themed events.
www.visitpanamacitybeach.com/holidays

 

November 25, Lake Placid

Highlands County Audubon Society
Check parks and lakes for birds at Lake June in Winter Scrub Preserve State Park and Placid Lakes. Leave Lake Placid Tower at 8 a.m., with lunch at Jaxon’s.
(863) 599-0124

 

November 25, Marathon

Holiday Bazaar and Rummage Sale
Marathon Garden Club hosts its annual event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with gently used Christmas decorations, holiday items, a raffle, gourmet goodies, and bake and plant sales.
www.marathongardenclub.org; (305) 743-4971

 

November 25-December 28, Sebring

31st annual Carousel of Lights
Historic Circle Park is illuminated with festive holiday lights from 6 to 9 p.m., with an appearance by Santa Claus every night, a singing puppet show, kids’ games and miniature golf.
www.DowntownSebring.org

 

November 27, Avon Park

Downtown Christmas Parade
Start the holiday season with a parade down Main Street at 7 p.m. The parade route closes the eastbound lanes of Main Street from N. Florida Avenue to N. Verona Avenue.
www.facebook.com/apchristmasparade

 

November 29, Islamorada

“History of Biscayne Bay”
The Keys History and Discovery Center, MM 82, hosts a lecture and book signing by Jim Kushlan and Kirsten Hines at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m. The cost is $25 for non-museum members (free for members), and includes light appetizers and a cash bar. Reservations are recommended.
www.keysdiscovery.com; (305) 922-2237

 

November 29, Lake Placid

Highlands County Audubon Society
See wading birds, raptors, migratory birds and ducks at Myakka River State Park. Leave Lake Placid Tower at 7:30 a.m.
(863) 465-0038

 

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker

Photo courtesy of Moscow Ballet

December 1, Panama City
Mayor Stahlbaun’s Christmas party is in full swing as larger-than-life puppets and nesting dolls—and gloriously handcrafted costumes—help bring the Christmas spirit to life in this unique presentation at 7 p.m. Friday, December 1, at the Marina Civic Center in Panama City. Tickets start at $28. For more information, visit www.nutcracker.com or call (800) 320-1733.

December 1, Chipley

Chipley Christmas Fest
A parade lights up Main Street at 5:30 p.m. and little ones can get a free photo with Santa. “Polar Express” will show continuously on an inflatable movie screen. The holiday event includes live entertainment, arts and crafts, shopping, free carriage rides and children’s activities.
www.visitwcfl.com; (850) 703-3656

 

December 1, Sebring

Downtown Christmas Parade
Start the holiday season with a parade at 7 p.m.
www.visitsebring.com

 

December 1-2, Pensacola

Winterfest Reindeer Games
See a show, then visit Santa Claus and play reindeer games beginning at 5 p.m. Throw snowballs at the Grinch; dance with Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Blitzen; enjoy a cup of cocoa; or visit a hot dog stand. Activities are free.
www.downtownpensacola.com;
(850) 435-0914

 

December 1-3, Sebring

20th annual Highlands Bike Fest
Enjoy one, two or three days of cycling in the gently rolling hills of Highlands County. Riders will appreciate low traffic roads, friendly motorists, citrus groves, cattle ranches and small towns typical of rural central Florida. The entire family is invited to participate.
www.highlandsbikefest.com;
(863) 655-4144

 

December 2, Panama City

A Whoville Holiday
The Panama City Jaycees present the 70th annual Christmas parade down Harrison Avenue at 7 p.m.
www.pcfljaycees.com

 

December 2, Key Largo

Light Up Key Largo
Join the annual holiday lighting event from 5 to 9 pm. at the Murray Nelson Government and Cultural Center, MM 102.
www.keylargochamber.org

 

December 2, Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach Marathon
Run 26.2 miles along the beach in this Boston qualifying race, or compete in a half marathon, 5K or kids’ fun run. The full marathon starts at 7 a.m. from Pier Park, with the other races following. Registration is required before race day.
www.pcbmarathon.com

 

December 5, Key West

Autism Society of the Keys
Learn about resources available to your child from other families dealing with autism at 6:30 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 2713 Flagler Ave.
autismsocietyofthekeys@gmail.com; (305) 942-5172

 

December 5, Sebring

The Nutcracker
The South Carolina Ballet presents the holiday classic that is perfect for ages 5 and older. Dancing toys, mischievous mice and frolicking snowflakes dance to Tchaikovsky’s memorable score that tells the story of a toy nutcracker that takes Clara into a world of fantasy and fun with the Sugar Plum Fairy, Mouse King and Mother Ginger. The show is at 7 p.m. at the Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets start at $29.
www.sfscarts.org; (863) 784-7178

 

December 6, 9 and 10, The Keys

Lighted Bike Ride
Help gather toys for local struggling, working families for the holidays by decorating your bike with lights and riding through the streets. The family-friendly event is December 6 in Key West, December 9 in Key Largo and December 10 in Marathon. Registration is one unwrapped toy.
www.wesleyhouse.org; (305) 809-5000

 

December 7, Key Largo

36th annual Cook Off
Professional, amateur and aspiring cooks and chefs compete for honors in soups and chowders, appetizers, main dishes, sides and salads, and desserts. The event is at the Holiday Inn, MM 100, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., with sampling at about 7 p.m. Sampling tickets are sold at the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce.
www.keylargochamber.org;
(305) 451-4747

 

December 7-10, Key Largo

REEF Fest
Join the celebration of marine conservation with kayaking, snorkeling, diving, free seminars from experts, food, drinks and fun. All events are open to the public, but pre-registration is requested.
www.reef.org; (305) 852-0030

 

December 8-10, Panama City Beach

An Emerald Coast Christmas
A live Nativity scene, Christmas programs, performances by school and dance groups, a petting zoo, children’s activities, arts and crafts, a Christmas gift shopping area and food vendors are featured at the free event at Aaron Bessant Park.
www.facebook.com/ECChristmas

 

December 8-10, Key West

Inaugural Key West Grand Prix of the Sea
Experience nonstop action as personal watercraft racers average 75 mph race in the overall championship for the PRO Enduro and International Amateur Championship. Jetcross Jet Ski stand-up races also will be a part of the free family friendly event.
www.p1aquax.com; (407) 985-1938

 

December 9, Panama City Beach

Optimist Club Christmas Parade
The annual event begins at 5 p.m. at Walmart, heads to Front Beach Road into Pier Park and back.
www.visitpanamacitybeach.com

 

Photo courtesy of Highlands Art League

December 9, Sebring

CookieFest
The Highlands Art League in Sebring invites you to find your inner artist by dropping by the Highlands Museum of the Arts on Saturday, December 9, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Decorate holiday cookies with Chef Mac Gentleman, participate in holiday arts and crafts projects, and write letters to Santa.
The event is free. For more information, call (863) 385-6682
or visit www.highlandsartleague.org.

December 9, Pensacola

Pensacola Christmas Parade
Among nearly 90 entries are eight bands and the nationally renowned Blue Angels flight team. Preceding the parade at Spring and Garden streets is a 1.2-mile dash at 5:15 p.m.
www.coxpensacolachristmasparade.org; (850) 434-1234

 

December 9, Lake Placid

Downtown Christmas Parade
Start the holiday season with a parade at 7 p.m.
www.visitsebring.com

 

December 12, Tavernier

Autism Society of the Keys
Learn about resources available to your child from other families dealing with autism at 6:30 p.m. at 156 Pueblo St.
autismsocietyofthekeys@gmail.com; (305) 942-5172

 

December 13, Islamorada

“Oh Florida: How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country”
The Keys History and Discovery Center, MM 82, hosts a lecture and book signing by Craig Pittman at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m. The cost is $25 for non-museum members (free for members), and includes museum admission, light appetizers and a cash bar. Reservations are recommended.
www.keysdiscovery.com;
(305) 922-2237

 

December 14, Port St. Joe

Jingle in the Joe
Church choirs and groups, local musicians and Santa are featured at the community holiday musical gathering at the Port Theater Art & Cultural Center. Doors open at 6 p.m. Seating is $5 to $10, with children under age 12 admitted free.
www.gulfchamber.org; (850) 227-1223

 

December 15-16, Sebring

Hammock North Pole
Take a sleigh tram ride around the loop at Highlands Hammock State Park between 5:30 and 9 p.m., with a stop at the “North Pole” to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Hear storytellers, participate in games and crafts, or buy cookies, hot chocolate and water. The last tram leaves the picnic area at 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person.
www.visitsebring.com

 

December 20, Islamorada

Immerse Yourself
Jon Hazelbaker of Hammerhead Marine will speak on “Searching for Batista Gold” at a free presentation at 7 p.m. at the History of Diving Museum, MM 83. Museum exhibits are open late.
www.divingmuseum.org;
(305) 664-9737

 

December 31, Panama City Beach

10th annual Beach Ball Drop
Celebrate New Year’s with a kid-friendly countdown at 8 p.m., culminating with fireworks and the release of 10,000 beach balls. At midnight, an 800-pound glowing beach ball descends from the sky, signaling another round of fireworks.
www.visitpanamacitybeach.com; (850) 233-5070

 

December 31, Gulf County

New Year’s Eve Celebrate Twice
Enjoy fireworks in the Eastern Time Zone in Port St. Joe and St. Joe Beach, then travel 5 minutes west to Mexico Beach and celebrate again an hour later in the Central Time Zone. Free shuttle buses run continuously.
www.celebratetwice.com;
(850) 229-7800