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Philadelphia named 1st world heritage city in US

Love park

The City of Philadelphia has become the first World Heritage City in the United States. It received the designation through a vote taken by the XIII World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities in Arequipa, Peru. The designation comes as the result of a two-year campaign and is expected to enhance the City’s international stature and provide a new growth engine to drive tourism and commerce in the region.

As a World Heritage City, Philadelphia is being officially recognized on the global stage for its wealth of contributions to the world as the epicenter of American democracy and for its enduring commitment to preserving the unique historical and cultural assets in its diverse community.

From its Colonial history to the present day, Philadelphia has rightfully earned its place as one of greatest cities in the world.  Becoming a World Heritage City is a reflection of all that it has accomplished and a confirmation of the fact that the best is yet to come as Philadelphia continues to evolve and transform itself. This opens new doors of opportunity for Philadelphia while raising awareness of the City’s importance in today’s highly competitive global arena.

Philadelphia’s strong case to become the first World Heritage City in the U.S. began with a revolutionary foundation – the fact that the City is the home of Independence Hall, where America’s Founding Fathers forged democratic ideals into the Declaration of Independence and changed the course of history to give birth to a nation in 1776.  It is also where the United States Constitution was written and signed.  Independence Hall became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.  In 2013, Philadelphia was approved as an Observer Member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities. Earlier this year, the World Heritage Philadelphia Executive Committee submitted an application to become a Full Member.  Philadelphia, the fifth-largest U.S. city, joins 266 other World Heritage Cities in the Organization of World Heritage Cities.

At a symposium in Philadelphia last month, the Global Philadelphia Association and the City of Philadelphia invited more than one hundred leaders in the public and private sectors to discuss ideas and strategies that could be implemented following the World Heritage City designation. Now, these partners will develop and coordinate a plan of action in the months to come. As the birthplace of America, with its rich heritage of history, arts and culture and an ideal location on the Northeast coast of the United States, Philadelphia has so much to offer the world. The World Heritage City designation is a great honor for the City. It further enhances the value of our global brand and will help to attract even more tourists and conventions to Philadelphia.

 

 

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KING KONG ROARS TO LIFE AT UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT

Skull Island Reign Of Kong Main Image_LRKing Kong will rule at Universal Orlando Resort next year in the groundbreaking attraction, “Skull Island: Reign of Kong.” The new attraction will open in the summer of 2016 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure – and will be an intense, all-new adventure brought to life in a dramatically themed environment.  Skull Island: Reign of Kong will pull guests into a powerfully told story where they become part of the next generation of the Kong legend.

It begins as guests are transported deep into a wild and mysterious world, where their mission is to discover creatures of unknown origin – but where they are soon fighting for their own survival. Their journey will take them through an ancient temple inhabited by hostile natives, a perilous jungle ruled by prehistoric creatures, a foreboding underworld of caves concealing unspeakable terrors – and face-to-face with the colossal Kong himself.

Skull Island Reign of Kong key art_LRUniversal Creative is working closely with Peter Jackson, famed director of 2005’s blockbuster movie, “King Kong,” to immerse guests in this incredible adventure.

“King Kong is a Hollywood movie legend and a huge part of both our history and our future,” said Mike West, Executive Producer, Universal Creative. “He gives us the opportunity to tap into everything that makes our film history so special and everything that makes our theme park attractions so spectacular.  We can’t wait to bring him to life in such an epic way.”

Skull Island Reign of Kong Entrance_LRKnown as “the eighth wonder of the world,” Kong has been called “the experience for which movies were invented.”  Since first appearing on screen in 1933, “King Kong” has been re-made twice – each time on a tremendous scale – earning seven Oscar and three Golden Globe nominations.

And now – in even grander and more realistic form – the Kong story continues to grow.  “Skull Island: Reign of Kong” will open in the summer of 2016.

Universal Orlando’s fourth on-site hotel, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is now open! The retro-inspired hotel features incredible amenities for endless family fun including a 10,000 sq. ft. zero-entry pool with iconic dive tower waterslide, 10-lane bowling alley, the Jack LaLanne Physical Fitness Studio, family suites that sleep up to six and much more. This summer, guests will be able to enjoy even more family fun, including a second 8,000-square-foot zero entry pool, Universal Orlando’s first lazy river at an on-site hotel, The Hideaway Bar & Grill, and additional moderately-priced family suites and value-priced standard guest rooms. © Universal Orlando Resort. All Rights Reserved.
Universal Orlando’s fourth on-site hotel, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is now open! The retro-inspired hotel features incredible amenities for endless family fun including a 10,000 sq. ft. zero-entry pool with iconic dive tower waterslide, 10-lane bowling alley, the Jack LaLanne Physical Fitness Studio, family suites that sleep up to six and much more. This summer, guests will be able to enjoy even more family fun, including a second 8,000-square-foot zero entry pool, Universal Orlando’s first lazy river at an on-site hotel, The Hideaway Bar & Grill, and additional moderately-priced family suites and value-priced standard guest rooms. © Universal Orlando Resort. All Rights Reserved.

Universal Orlando Resort is home to two incredible theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure; four magnificently themed on-site hotels:  Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort and the newest addition, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort; and Universal CityWalk, the one place that is the intersection of dining and entertainment for every member of the family. And located just minutes from Universal Orlando Resort is Wet n’ Wild, Orlando’s premier waterpark.

Vacation like you mean it at Universal Orlando Resort – where every heart pounding, jaw-dropping, goose-bumping second counts.  It is the only place where you can turn spending time with your family into spending time as a family.  Together, you can soar above Hogwarts with Harry Potter, swing above the streets with Spider-Man, become a Minion in the hilarious and heartwarming Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride, and join Optimus Prime in the fight to save mankind on TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D.  And now, you can step into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

Out & About in Miami

Planning to go to Miami very soon! Well here are few things, you can look out for in Florida in coming days:

IMG_0334WET, WACKY 7 WILD AT JUNGLE ISLAND – South Florida’s favorite landmark attraction just opened its much-anticipated beach oasis and Rainforest Riptide, an unfathomable fun floating obstacle course and water park at Parrot Cove. After a salt-water plunge, guests can have fun with the energetic and wacky hosts of three marvelous animal shows including the popular Winged Wonders, Wild Encounters, and Wild Adventures. Then explore the park and its numerous wildlife from twin orangutans, Australian red kangaroos, Aldabra turtles to big cats, reptiles, colorful parrots, and much more. The totally Wet, Wacky and Wild adventure is available every Saturday and Sunday priced at $34.95 per adult; $26.95 per child. Nominal fee for the Rainforest Riptide. Park hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Rainforest Riptide opens at 11 a.m.

michys_restaurantMICHY’S RESTAURANT IS REBORN  – After closing almost ten months and undergoing a complete renovation, Michy’s, the landmark restaurant from James Beard Award-winning Chef Michelle Bernstein and husband/partner David Martinez, reopened as CENA by Michy in early-May 2015 with a completely new look, new menu concept and new spirit.  The acclaimed husband-and-wife culinary power couple closed the restaurant in July 2014, just short of its ten year anniversary.  The address is the same but fans will find a new restaurant in CENA by Michy. The menu at CENA (loosely translated from Spanish as “the main meal of the day”) will be approachable yet adventurous, boasting just the right amount of soul-pleasing favorites as well as an array of dishes inspired by Bernstein’s current culinary obsessions. The new menu reflects that neighborhood vibe, but in keeping with Bernstein’s reputation and creativity, often travels into unexpected and exciting directions.  Gone are the eclectic, cottage chic décor, and bright colors Michy’s was known for. The restaurant’s design, like the food, is stripped down, rustic yet sophisticated.  The restaurant will seat 62 both indoors as well as on the intimate back patio.  Joining Bernstein in the kitchen will be chef de cuisine Mikey Mayta, a Michy’s alumnus and Johnson & Wales graduate.

PAAMPAMM GROWS COLLECTION OF AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTISTS – Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) has announced the acquisition of three new works by African American artists Terry Adkins, Ed Clark, and Leslie Hewitt at the second annual reception for the PAMM Fund for African American Art. The PAMM Fund was initiated with a $1 million grant funded equally by Jorge M. Perez and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to support the growth of the collection of Miami’s flagship museum with works by African American and African Diaspora artists.

Miami_Beach_CafeTHE CAFÉ AT BOOKS & BOOKS GAINING POPULARITY– Housed at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami in the historic Carnival Tower, The Café at Books & Books is booming with patrons and with flavor. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily the café has quickly become a neighborhood fixture, satiating patrons’ hunger for great food, perfectly-crafted cocktails, good reads and an incomparable cultural experience. The café is the brainchild of Mitchell Kaplan and his culinary partner, James Beard Award-winning Chef Allen Susser. Now with four South Florida locations, the café has become more than just a book store. The menu offers fresh, flavorful, and locally-sourced cuisine. Plates include everything from Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes to Artisanal Tartines, Grilled Cauliflower Steak, or Mahi-Mahi Ceviche to name a few.

ThompsonMiamiBeachNEW EXPERIENCES AT THOMPSON MIAMI BEACH – Thompson Miami Beach is now offering an eclectic collection of stellar dining and imbibing experiences. Among its offerings is the 1930s House, an inviting cocktail hideaway that has been quietly wowing locals and visitors alike since opening. Ready to position itself as a premiere destination for creative hand-crafted cocktails and celebrated cuisine, the historic Spanish-inspired lounge has officially launched its full culinary, beverage and entertainment line-up. Thompson Miami Beach has partnered with James Beard Award winning chef Michelle Bernstein to introduce a pop-up of her beloved Spanish tapas restaurant, Sra. Martinez, inside 1930s House. The venue will also offer weekly entertainment featuring guest DJs and live Cuban music.   At the pop-up, aficionados can enjoy a delectable menu of small plates inspired by Sra.’s successful run that made the restaurant onto Esquire magazine’s list of “Best Restaurants in America” in 2008. A selection of crudoscarpaccios and ceviches as well as flavor-packed Spinach & Feta Croquetas and Lardo-Wrapped Figs stuffed with goat cheese will be available.

soho-bayMODERN JAPANESE-INSPIRED RESTAURANT DEBUTS – More than fifteen years of sushi and sashimi making traditions were imported to Miami’s sandy shores when internationally-renowned SOHO Bay recently opened its doors. The long-awaited concept hailing from Brazil features waterfront dining for 200, located on West Avenue in Miami Beach. Executive Chef Ricky Sauri, who brings more than 20 years of experience to the SOHO Bay team, executes the modern Japanese menu. Sauri has worked in a number of the country’s most esteemed restaurants including a decade at the renowned Nobu empires’ locations in Miami Beach, West Hollywood, and the Bahamas, followed by stints at some of Miami’s hot spots including Touch, Bloom, and Khong River House. At SOHO Bay, Sauri’s menu reflects a sophisticated creative take on traditional Japanese cuisine served up in a hip yet unpretentious setting. Designed to be shared, the menu features Small Hot Plates, Soho Specialties, and Soho Rolls. Designed by architects José Gomes and Marlon Gama, the 12,000 square-foot indoor-outdoor waterfront restaurant features sleek modern décor, with stunning design elements throughout.  Guests can sip libations at the striking 12-seat back-lit cocktail bar or enjoy an interactive dining experience, complete with omakase and à la carte offerings, at the adjacent sushi bar, both made entirely of white onyx. No matter where guests are seated, one thing is guaranteed – an unobstructed view of the bay and Miami skyline through floor-to-ceiling windows that define the space. For those traveling by sea, a private boating dock is available at SOHO Bay, one of few restaurants in the city to have one. SOHO Bay also hosts DJs spinning sultry beats to welcome the weekend.

MAY IS NATIONAL BURGER MONTH – May marks National Burger Month in the culinary world and many of Miami’s hottest restaurants are offering a unique lineup of expertly crafted specialty burgers to tempt your taste buds. Several of the restaurants offering delicious options include Devon Seafood + Steak at Town & Country, BLT Prime at the iconic Trump National Doral, Meat Market on Lincoln Road and many more. A few options you might find on these menus include a bison patty loaded with roasted hatch Anaheim chilies, a grilled salmon burger with avocado, apple and pickled red onions or a classic Black Angus burger with melted sharp cheddar cheese. And to share more burger love, the Magic City Casino hosted a Burger Brawl on May 15th with 20 competitors providing juicy burger samples as well as desserts and drinks.

ORLANDO becomes first destination to surpass 60 million visitors

More than 62 million people visited Orlando in 2014. It marks a new all-time record for the U.S. travel industry, solidifying Orlando’s position as the most visited destination in the US. Visitation grew five percent from 2013 as visitors from around the world came to experiencOrlando Eyee all that is new across the ever-expanding destination. A record 32 million room nights were sold in Orlando in 2014, resulting in bed tax collections topping $200 million for the first time in Orange County, Fla., home to the Central Florida tourism district.

“This historic milestone is the latest testament to Orlando’s leadership in tourism,” said Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel. “It’s a tribute to the steadfast commitment and continued investment by our tourism community, the special brand of service that greets our visitors and the global marketing and sales efforts of our Visit Orlando team and member companies.”

“The impact of tourism is remarkable, and in fact, the travel and tourism industry is the largest generator of jobs and economic impact for the region,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. “In addition to delighting visitors and families from aroBob's Balloon Flights, in Orlandound the world, travel and hospitality industry helps to support a great quality of life for Orlando’s residents, including amazing new performing arts center and outstanding sports venues.”  To meet the needs of a growing number of visitors, Orange County has made investments in infrastructure, including investing in an important expansion and renovation of the nationally recognized Orange County Convention Center.

“Passing the 60 million annual visitors mark is a significant achievement for Orlando and the U.S. travel industry that generates $2.1 trillion for the U.S. economy each year,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “Thanks to the close partnership among members of Orlando’s tourism community and strong leadership by public officials and Visit Orlando, this popular destination known around the world is well positioned to continue setting records in tourism.”

Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios, FloridaIn 2014, Walt Disney World Resort completed New Fantasyland, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort opened. Visitors to Orlando in 2015 will experience the first full year of these exciting expansions that opened in 2014 and be the first to see several new attractions, including I-Drive 360, featuring a trio of new attractions from Merlin Entertainments, as well as a multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs.

SeaWorlds CelebrationIn recent years, the Orlando experience has also become more diverse, attracting an increasingly wide range of visitors. Foodies find a surprisingly sophisticated culinary destination, recognized with more “Best of the South” chef nominations by the prestigious James Beard Foundation than any city in Florida for three straight years. Luxury travelers are drawn to the five-star service at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando that opened six months ago, as well as the Ritz-Carlton Orlando and Waldorf Astoria Orlando. Visitors are also discovering exciting new venues in which to enjoy the arts and professional sports, like the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts and the Major League Soccer stadium coming to Downtown Orlando in 2016.

Keep an ‘Eye’ on Orlando this year

Orlando EyeAccording to Priceline.com, Orlando is the No. 1 “hot spot” for travelers in 2015. After a multi-year surge of blockbuster expansions at Orlando’s world-class theme parks, Orlando’s retail, dining and entertainment scene is following suit in 2015. Visit Orlando, the destination’s official tourism association, uncovered 15 new openings 2015 travelers will be among the first to experience:

INTERNATIONAL DRIVE 

Sea Life, OrlandoIn the heart of Orlando’s tourism corridor, International Drive will see significant development in 2015 with the addition of several retail, dining and entertainment venues.

  1. I-Drive 360, a new entertainment complex from Merlin Entertainments, will open a trio of new attractions. At the heart of the complex, The Orlando Eye is a 400-foot-tall (12.92-meter) observation wheel providing breathtaking views of Central Florida in all directions within fully enclosed, air-conditioned glass capsules. Madame Tussauds, the world’s most famous celebrity wax attraction, offers visitors the ultimate fame experience with its signature red carpet treatment. SEA LIFE Orlando delivers a new wave of underwater adventures with beautiful displays of colorful fish, sharks, jellyfish, sea horses and more, that turn the traditional aquarium observation on its head. The Yardhouse, Tin Roof and more retail, restaurants and entertainment yet to be announced, will add to the experience.
  1. Tropical Mango CafeOrlando welcomes one of South Beach’s hottest dance clubs with the addition of Mangos Tropical Café. With 55,000 square feet (5,109 square meters) of entertainment space, the Orlando location is a massive restaurant and nightlife destination offering high-energy entertainment for a wide variety of tastes. Guests will enjoy Salsa, Bachatta, Reggae and Pop performances with Floribbean Cuisine and tropical cocktails.
  1. Escapology Orlando brings a new kind of entertainment to Orlando with its first U.S. location. The attraction challenges guests to be their own heroes in a thrilling game of adventure and mystery. Teams of up to six players are locked in a themed room with just 60 minutes to combine clues, solve puzzles and discover the key to escape.
  1. crayola-experienceNearby International Drive, The Florida Mall takes coloring to a new level with the opening of Crayola Experience. The 70,000-square-foot (6,503-square-meter) attraction will offer 25 hands-on activities.
  1. The list of dining and entertainment options unique to Orlando continues to grow with the addition of The Whiskey on Sand Lake Road, welcoming lovers of gourmet burgers, craft cocktails and rock ‘n roll fun. With over 100 brands of whiskey for the thirsty connoisseur, the venue will also host live entertainment, from musical guests to head-to-head “food fights,” where local chefs will pit recipe against recipe.

THEME PARKS

  1. Walt Disney World Resort is transforming Downtown Disney into Disney Springs doubling the number of shops, restaurants and other venues. The new area will open in phases starting in 2015 and include, Morimoto Asia, a one-of-a-kind dining experience created by Chef Masaharu Morimoto, of Iron Chef America fame. For the master chef’s first pan-Asian dining experience, Morimoto Asia’s extraordinary, 36-foot (11-meter) tall, two-story layout includes a vast range of areas to explore including open terraces, a grand hall, private rooms, long bar, cocktail lounge, waterside seating and more.
  1. The Boathouse exteriorThe BOATHOUSE is an upscale, waterfront dining restaurant at Disney Springs that will immerse guests with experiences beyond the cuisine. Guests can listen to live music or take a romantic Captain’s guided tour aboard The Venezia, a beautifully crafted 40-foot (12-meter) wooden Italian Water Taxi featuring champagne toasts and chocolate-covered strawberries. The BOATHOUSE will be showcased in an expansive restaurant with three distinctive bars, one built over the water. Guests will enjoy a gourmet menu served daily until 2 a.m. featuring steaks, chops, fresh seafood and a raw bar.
  1. STK Orlando blends two concepts into one—the modern steakhouse and a chic lounge. Unique features include a live DJ, high-energy atmosphere and a sleek environment designed to encourage guests to interact and mingle. STK Orlando boasts the only rooftop dining venue in Disney Springs.
  1. Heartlake-CityLEGOLAND Florida Resort will open a new land called Heartlake City, set to welcome guests this summer. The expansion will include a horse-themed disc coaster called Mia’s Riding Adventure, an interactive show titled ‘Friends to the Rescue’ and new shops inside the Heartlake Mall.
  1. SeaWorld Orlandowill debut an all-new show, Clyde & Seamore’s Sea Lion High, a hilarious tale, filled with amazing animal behaviors and splashy audience fun. The comedic sea lion duo will be joined by mischievous otters, a 2,300 lb. (1043 kg) walrus and a cast of goofy human characters.

DOWNTOWN ORLANDO 

  1. The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts delivers a stellar lineup of 2015 entertainment for its inaugural season: Broadway productions including Disney’s Newsies, Motown the Musical, Pippin and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast; big-name musicians John Mellancamp, Jason Mraz and Idina Menzel; and comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and Bill Maher will complement an ongoing Jazz Roots series and Orlando Ballet season.
  1. Photo:ESPN
    Photo:ESPN

    Orlando City Soccer Club is Major League Soccer’s newest expansion team set to debut in 2015 with global soccer icon, Kaká. The Orlando City Soccer Club will kick-off their first MLS season at the newly rebuilt Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium. After a $207 million reconstruction, sports fans will enjoy an all-new lower bowl with more legroom, improved broadband and Wi-Fi coverage and expanded concession with healthy and gluten-free options.

  1. An influx of restaurants will join new downtown Orlando venues in 2015, including: Two Chefs Seafood, featuring comfort food and seafood from former chefs of Emeril’s Orlando and The Palm Restaurant; and North Quarter Tavern, a chef-driven neighborhood tavern by the team behind downtown Orlando’s power-lunch staple, Citrus Restaurant.

AREA HOTELS

  1. Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will feature 20 Bungalows on Seven Seas Lagoon and 360 Deluxe Studios. The Bungalows will be the first of this type of accommodation at Disney, sleep up to eight guests, and feature a plunge pool with views of fireworks over Magic Kingdom Park. The first phase is scheduled to open in 2015. The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel is getting a $125 million, multi-phased, multi-story upgrade.
  1. The JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes will welcome new restaurant concept based on the resort’s 13,000-square-foot (1,208-square-meter) farm. Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen, will serve up farm-fresh food and signature craft beer

 

Amelia Island Cooks Up 7th Annual Restaurant Week

Family_on_floating_dockNortheast Florida’s Amelia Island will host its seventh annual Restaurant Week from January 16 through 25. The ten-day, culinary showcase of the small barrier island’s top restaurants will offer visitors and residents the opportunity to try new restaurants and enjoy old favorites. In 2015, 30 of the island’s popular dining hotspots are participating in Restaurant Week. This year, guests can enjoy restaurant week dining for lunch and dinner, with different restaurants participating in each. Both lunch and dinner will offer a special fixed menu.

DowntownNortheast Florida’s coastal treasure, Amelia Island is a barrier island rich in colorful history and breath-taking natural beauty.  Amelia Island offers long, beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife, and pristine waters.  Upscale resorts with world-class spas, championship golf and exclusive dining blend effortlessly with a captivating collection of bed and breakfast inns and historic districts.  The island is home to Fernandina Beach, once a vibrant Victorian seaport village, and now a charming downtown district of eclectic shops, attractions and eateries.  Forget the everyday getaway; come make memories on Amelia Island.

dining1-12849_1_largeDuring the 2015 Amelia Island Restaurant Week, two Amelia Island resorts are offering special events to celebrate the destination’s dining attributes. On Thursday, January 15, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island will kick-off the week with “A Tribute to Modern Southern Cuisine” event. Starting at 6 p.m., the event will feature a wine tasting and passed hors d’oeuvres, followed by a seated dinner featuring cuisine from several of Amelia Island’s phenomenal chefs. The dinner will feature a course from chefs from The Salty Pelican, Espana, 29 South, and two chefs at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. On January 24, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation will close Restaurant Week with an exciting four-course dinner paired with wine. The event will start at 7 p.m. in the Sunrise Café.

_MG_0026-2_largeIn conjunction with Restaurant Week, several of Amelia Island accommodators are offering special accommodation packages.

Parade at Florida this Christmas

Orlando- Christmas Parade at Walt Disney World ResortTrade in the cold, slushy snow for white powdery sand this holiday season! With an abundance of sunshine and more than 800 miles of beautiful beaches, it is no wonder travelers from around the country flock to Florida for a sunny December. With all the activities happening around the state, there is a multitude of ways to experience the holidays like never before.

Pensacola Christmas Parade                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Downtown Pensacola comes alive when more than 50,000 people flock to Palafox Place to enjoy the annual Christmas parade. Come out to this family-friendly parade On December 13 to experience local bands, the famous Blue Angels flight team and area Mardi Gras krewes. Stuff your stockings as floats toss down beads and other goodies to spectators.

Jacksonville Gingerbread House Extravaganza                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For the 11th consecutive year, the Jacksonville Historical Society is hosting the Gingerbread House Extravaganza fundraiser to raise money for children’s programs, but this is no ordinary bake sale. From Dec. 3-23, you can witness the artistry and detail of the edible creations, providing enough awe to keep your sweet tooth in check. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can submit your own masterpiece to be part of the fun.

gall600-1322064126St. Augustine St. Augustine Christmas Parade                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Kick off the Nights of Lights celebration with the annual Christmas parade!  On Dec. 6, head downtown to the historic streets of St. Augustine to witness one of the biggest parades in North Florida. Enjoy floats, cars, marching bands and horses, and even the arrival of Santa Claus himself. Don’t forget to stick around to pose with him, as picture opportunities will be available following the parade in the Plaza de la Constitucion.

St. Augustine Ballet presents The Nutcracker                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             On Dec. 20 and 21, the St. Augustine Ballet will present one of the most timeless holiday traditions, The Nutcracker. This classic features a multigenerational cast, including local celebrities, professional guest artists, and the best of the area’s ballet dancers. Be transported to a winter wonderland as you join Clara and the Nutcracker Prince through an unforgettable journey..

New Year’s Eve on Main Street Celebration                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Ring in 2015 the right way at the biggest bash on Main Street! Be a part of the exciting atmosphere with multiple stages of entertainment, street performers, festival food, attractions for kids, fireworks over the ocean, and even a live ball drop ceremony at midnight. Main Street is the place to be for New Year’s Eve!

The Ocala Christmas Parade                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Experience a parade like never before at the 59th annual Ocala Christmas Parade! On December 13th, more than 60,000 spectators will line up at the two-mile route to witness this Christmas themed extravaganza. Some spectators have been known to line up the night before so they can “mark their spot” on the parade route. Don’t miss out on the largest nighttime parade in the state of Florida!

Universal Orlando Resort’s Holiday Celebration                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Beginning Dec. 6 and running daily through Jan. 3, the Holidays at Universal Orlando features one-of-a-kind traditions for guests from one to 92 throughout the destination. At Universal’s Islands of Adventure, guests will smile from ear-to-ear during the heartwarming live show “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular” featuring the Grinch and the Whos from Who-ville. At Universal Studios Florida, the Macy’s Holiday Parade will fill the streets every evening with the same larger-than-life balloons seen in Macy’s famous Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Plus, enjoy incredible live performances by the award-winning Mannheim Steamroller on select nights. This  is a holiday celebration you won’t want to miss!

mcogp_christmas_phototour12ICE! Featuring The Nutcracker                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Experience a truly unique winter experience in Florida with ICE!, the award winning display of millions of pounds of ice, hand-carved into amazing sculptures by artisans from China. Experience The Nutcracker like never before, and join in on the icy experience by soaring down one of the two-story-tall ice slides. With the entire exhibit kept at 9 degrees, it is a true holiday event you won’t want to miss   

A Night Before Christmas                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Although Florida may be a long way from the North Pole, Santa Claus will still be making an appearance. But this time, he’s trading in his sleigh for a helicopter, as he’ll be flying into G.T. Bray Park for the annual “A Night Before Christmas” celebration in Bradenton on Dec. 6. Visitors missing the colder weather and flurries will enjoy the 10 tons of snow brought in for his arrival and all will enjoy the family activities in this winter wonderland.

Kingfisher fleetPunta Gorda Christmas Light Canal Cruises                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   King Fisher Fleet, headquartered at Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda, is now accepting reservations for Christmas Light Canal Cruises. These popular, family-oriented cruises tour residential canals to view the town lit up by Christmas lights, displays, and decorations on homes, boats, seawalls and docks. Christmas Light Canal Cruises run every evening from Dec. 4 to Dec. 31, or for those seeking a more intimate Christmas experience, private boat Christmas Light Canal Cruises are available aboard our 35-foot cabin cruiser, which accommodates up to six passengers.

Fort Lauderdale Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade                                                                                                                                                                                                              Experience a one-of-a-kind holiday boat parade at the 43rd Annual Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade! On Dec. 13, hundreds of beautifully illuminated boats are set to sail 12 miles, starting at the Riverside Hotel and traveling east to the Intracoastal Waterway, and north to Lake Santa Barbara. Continuing the tradition stemmed from the non-profit WINTERFEST, Inc., the festival is entirely dependent on sponsorship from local and national corporate sponsors, who bring Christmas to life through the magical boating display

Key West Schooner Warf Bar & Galley Lighted Boat Parade                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     BigboatThe 24th Annual Schooner Wharf Bar and Galley Lighted Boat Parade is an island tradition that will help you get the holidays started with some tropical festivities that are uniquely Key West. On Dec. 15, this family event combines creativity, beauty, and nautical flair to bring out crowds ready to usher in the Key West Christmas season. Spectators can watch as a wide variety of watercraft, ranging from kayaks to sailboats to Coast Guard cutters pass by in a display of amazing lighting and décor. The parade is not all fun and games, however. There is serious competition among the owners and crews of the many vessels entered in the parade. At stake are more than $20,500 in prizes, and a free raffle valued at over $4,000.

Light Up Key Largo                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               What better way to spend the holidays than with eggnog, caroling, and an appearance from Santa and Mrs. Claus? Embrace the holiday spirit at Light Up Key Largo! The annual tree lighting is to be held at the Murray E. Nelson Government Center and Key Largo Cultural Center, along with live music, decorations, and seasonal food and drinks. With a celebration like this, virtually everyone is guaranteed to be put in a festive mood