MIAMI ART WEEK – Sure, Art Basel is the centerpiece for what has to be the most amazing, eclectic week for great art anywhere. Leading galleries from all over the world will show historical work from masters of modern and contemporary art. Painting, sculptures, drawings, photographs and films also will be on display. But, don’t miss the ever-growing and eclectic satellite art fairs that take place before, during and after Art Basel.
Where: Various locations in Miami Beach and Miami
Web: artbasel.com and miamiandbeaches.com/art-basel
LET THERE BE LIGHTS! – Millions and millions of them will light up the South Florida holiday skies and here’s where to see some of the best and the brightest: Santa’s Enchanted Forest at Tropical Park in Miami; Holiday Nights at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers; Festival of Lights at Fisherman’s Village in Punta Gorda, and Symphony of Lights at the Village of Gulfstream Park in Hallandale.
Web: santasenchantedforest.com, .edisonfordwinterestates.org, fishville.com and thevillageatgulfstreampark.com
HOLIDAY CHEER, FORT LAUDERDALE STYLE – Two of the city’s biggest attractions are its waterways and Las Olas Boulevard. Both are used to full advantage during the holidays. Christmas on Las Olas is a great, all-ages kick-off to the holiday season, featuring more than 60 food and beverage booths, sledding down the two-story ice-covered Snow Mountain, ice skating, street performers, strolling carolers and multiple stages with choirs and other performances. And, of course, there’s the annual Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade. It’s the gold standard of holiday boat parades with the well-deserved nickname of “The Greatest Show on H20.”
Web: lasolasboulevard.com/events, www.sunny.org, and winterfestparade.com
AND SPEAKING OF BOAT PARADES --You can’t swing a string of holiday lights in SoFla without hitting a boat parade in December. Some of the other cities to have one are, just to name a few: Fort Myers, Key West, Naples, West Palm Beach, Pompano Beach, Punta Gorda and Boca Raton. Use Google for dates and times.
KEY WEST NEW YEAR’S EVE – Ball drop, schmall drop. Anybody can drop a glitter ball and call it a year. Not Key West – no way, no how. Nobody does New Year’s Eve like Key West. This year’s highlights: Pirate Wench Drop, Giant Shoe Drop and the Conch Shell Drop. It’s all topped with a giant fireworks display.
Where: Key West
HOLLYWOOD BEACH CANDY CANE PARADE -- Join the fun on the famous Hollywood Broadwalk. The annual event that is some 60 years old features marching bands, floats and much more.
Where: Hollywood Beach, Hollywood
ISLAMORADA HOLIDAY FESTIVAL – The centerpiece is a 35-foot Christmas tree with “magical snow” blowing from its branches. Also: a 20-ton snow mountain, Santa Paws Pet Parade (prizes for best costume and best trick) and contests to choose the Best Baked Goodie, Little Miss Sugar Plum Fairy and Mr. Gingerbread Man.
Where: Founders Park in Islamorada, Mile Marker 87
SWAY: A DANCE TRILOGY – Audiences will be whisked through the timeless elegance of ballroom’s golden era to the modern dance fusion of today’s urban youth, climaxing with the heart-pounding rhythms of the Latin night club scene.
Where: The Olympia Theater at Gusman Center, Miami
PALM BEACH FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL – This gastronomic gala offers an unprecedented collection of talent for this four-day foodie fest, including specialty Chef Talk panels, volleyball games where losers wash the dishes, gourmet five-course dinners with premium wine pairings, and evening karaoke cocktail gatherings.
Where: Four Seasons Resort and other locations on the island city of Palm Beach.
SNOW FEST SARASOTA – Daily “snowfall” covers the park in soft, white snow while families play on giant slides, build snowmen and take photos on Santa’s lap. The three-day event also offers pony rides, hula hoopers, jugglers, DJs and other holiday entertainment.
Where: Payne Park, downtown Sarasota
KING MANGO STRUT – The Strut parade always brings offbeat, off-the-wall mango mania to a new generation of Mango Heads. Warning: No one and nothing is safe from parody and satire. Nutty characters welcome! After the parade, the King Mango Music Massacre begins with many top local bands participating.
Where: Downtown Coconut Grove
CRAFTY DOUBLE DIP – There are two excellent craft shows in SoFla in December, both featuring exceptional works in ceramics, decorative fiber, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, paper wearable art, wood, painting, photography and sculpture. First up is the Sarasota Craft Show early in the month, followed by the Downtown Delray Beach New Year’s Weekend Craft Festival.
Web: Respectively – sarasotacraftshow.com and artfestival.com
MICCOSUKEE INDIAN ARTS FESTIVAL – Experience the color and pageantry of costumed Native Americans from all over the country. Featured: nonstop entertainment, arts, crafts, music, native goods and more.
Where: Miccosukee Indian Village, Miami
BONNET HOUSE ORCHID, GARDEN & GOURMET FOOD FESTIVAL – If you haven’t been to this beautiful historic house, this is the time. In addition to the unique collection of exotic orchids and plants sold by more than 40 local vendors, also featured will be gourmet food trucks, libations, orchard care lectures, live music and cooking and gardening demonstrations.
Where: Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale
ATOMIC HOLIDAY BAZAAR – Continuing its decade-long tradition of bringing weird, wild and uniquely local goods and gifts together in one place, this bazaar market returns with an array of jangly handmade jewelry, unconventionally shaped cookie cutters, cheeky postcards and paper goods, pop art handbags and T-shirts, one-of-a-kind stuffed animals, skull-themed scarves and more.
Where: Municipal Auditorium, Sarasota