Local holiday traditions may look different this year, but communities across Florida are still providing twinkly, yuletide cheer in their own special ways. Cities, counties, towns and villages are going to great effort, in all parts of the Sunshine State, to host both virtual and in-person festivities that celebrate their communities.

In this edition of Keep It Local, Florida, we’re highlighting several safe and socially-distanced celebrations across the state. How is your community celebrating this year?

Email us at [email protected] and we’ll feature other local celebrations on our website.

Clermont to host virtual Christmas tree lighting amid COVID-19 pandemic
When: Every Friday in December at 6 p.m.

CLERMONT, Fla. – Despite the coronavirus’ best efforts, Clermont’s favorite holiday tradition will go on this year — but with a few changes.

Instead of residents gathering in-person to watch the lighting of the tree, the city of Clermont is kicking off the holiday season with a virtual tree lighting this year, according to a news release.

“The City of Clermont’s tree lighting is a special tradition,” Mayor Tim Murry said. “Although we wish we could all be together, we’re happy to provide a safe alternative to kick off the holiday season during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Read more.

Giving tree up for shelter pets
When: Through December 21

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Lee County Domestic Animal Services is celebrating the upcoming holiday season with a Gift Giving Tree.

The tree is available now in the adoption lobby at Animal Services, 5600 Banner Drive, Fort Myers. It is decorated with ornaments with a wish list of gifts for the shelter pets. Visitors can pick an ornament, fulfill a wish and return it to Animal Services by Monday, Dec. 21, to help make the animals’ holiday a little brighter. The ornament is yours to keep for your tree. Read more.

'Dazzling Nights' takes over Leu Gardens
When: Nightly throughout December; closed on Christmas Day

ORLANDO, Fla. – Dazzling Nights will be open soon to guests at Leu Gardens, and this year, the holiday cheer will be overflowing.

Dazzling Nights is a holiday event created by the team who brings the Immerse Festival to Downtown Orlando. The event is presented by AdventHealth. Read more.

Create Your Own Tour and Enjoy Jupiter’s Holiday Lights
When: December 4th- 21st

JUPITER, Fla – This season, Jupiter will come to light with Lights of Jupiter, a safe and fun way to enjoy the season.  Light up your home or business and enter online to become part of the community light tour.  Or, simply enjoy the decorations around the community and create your own special tour of holiday light displays. Read more.

Holiday events across North Central Florida
When: Through December 16

MARION COUNTY, Fla. – Santa will be available for pet portraits at Citizens’ Circle, 110 SE Watula Ave. Ocala, 5 to 8 p.m. A $10 donation benefiting the Marion County Humane Society is required; vendors and adoptable dogs will be available. No registration required. Read more.

Edison Ford Winter Estates kicks off Holiday Nights
When: November 27 – January 3 (except for Christmas Day)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Edison Ford Winter Estates kicked off its annual Holiday Nights event Friday evening.

Despite the pandemic having a major impact on the non profit, turnout at the Holiday Nights kick off event saw a couple hundred people attend.

All were socially distanced and everyone was wearing a mask at the outdoor event on the banks of the Caloosahatchee. Read more.

Christmas drive-thru Holiday Fantasy of Lights is back to brighten your dreary 2020
When: November 25 – January 2, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. – The year 2020 might feel like a dumpster fire as directed by Quentin Tarantino, but at least it’s ending on a brighter note.

The yuletide show known as Holiday Fantasy of Lights is back to salvage our dreary year with its twinkling drive-thru at Tradewinds Park in Coconut Creek, Nov. 13 through Jan. 2, 2021. Read more.

Shining with joy: Deck the Chairs opens for holidays, pandemic-style
When: November 21 – January 1

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – In a pandemic-challenged year, organizers of Jax Beach Deck the Chairs (JBDTC) were determined to provide a lift to residents and visitors. The secret ingredient to bringing joy into the community came once again from holiday lights and creatively decorated lifeguard chairs.

Based on a very successful opening weekend and a Thanksgiving weekend that continues to grow in popularity, the organizers achieved their objectives. Read more.

Bright Nights Of Drive Thru Lights At Sykes Family Farm
When: Thursdays through Sundays, November 28 – January 2

ELKTON, Fla. – Sykes Family Farm offers a drive thru light display with thousands of gorgeous lights and farm equipment decorated for the holidays. The light show is approximately 3/4 of a mile long with two tunnels and thousands of lights. Ticket purchases include unlimited laps around per night.

From November 28, 2020 through January 2, 2021 from Thursday-Sunday, experience the lights from 6-9:30 p.m. every Thursday and Sunday; and from 6-10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Read more.

Sheriff’s Office announces 4th annual Holiday Toy Drive featuring drive-by Santa event
When: Through December 15

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. – The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is hosting its fourth annual holiday toy drive benefitting the 12th Judicial Circuit of Florida’s Guardian ad Litem program.

The toy drive benefits the more than 1,500 children from throughout Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect and as such, appointed a Guardian ad Litem.

The children range in age from newborn to 18 years old with varying needs. The initiative is focused solely on toys and gift cards and does not include clothing or stuffed animals. All donations must be new and unwrapped. Read more.

Santa says 2020 Pensacola Winterfest will bring Christmas joy this year
When: November 27-28; December 5, 12, 18-24

PENSACOLA, Fla. — The Christmas holiday is something we all look forward to every year and Winterfest is one of the biggest Christmas festivals in Northwest Florida.

While many festivals around the Gulf Coast have had to cancel their events, Winterfest says they are making sure this year’s event happens and taking every Covid-19 precaution necessary.

President of the Pensacola Winterfest Board Denise Daughtry says, “We want social distancing to prevail. We don’t want anyone to get into any kind of trouble or cause any problems. But we want to go forward with an event that’s fun and beautiful at the same time.” Read more.

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