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The enchantment of the holiday season is upon us and if you’re not yet fully embracing it…then we need to go ahead and not be friends anymore! My tree is up and don’t tell anyone, but I actually am drinking hot chocolate every night – despite the fact that it’s a blaring 87 degrees out. This is Florida, guys. We’ve got to just pretend!
Think of this as Christmas in SWFL’s Season Opener. Because it blends holiday traditions such as extravagant tree decorations and visits from Santa with an opportunity to support an organization that infuses life-changing programming, the Festival of Trees manifests the true magic and meaning of Christmas. The 21 trees showcased have been creatively decorated by companies including Home Depot, Budweiser and Chicos FAS, Inc. Worried about falling in love with a tree? No worries. You can enter a raffle to actually win one of these beauties! The festival lasts through December 3rd and includes a block party with Santa, a Holiday Stroll downtown and a Children’s Holiday Workshop. Proceeds benefit the programming of Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, which provides opportunities of independence for locals with disabilities and other disadvantages. Pricing varies per event. Nov. 28th – December 3rd. Fort Myers River District (Downtown Fort Myers) .
Take the parade…to the beach! For 29 years, Fort Myers Beach’s Christmas Boat Parade has taken the holiday spirit to the water. It is so beautiful. The parade will pass through Matanzas Harbor and the first two canals of Siesta Isles. Take a couple blankets, a lawn chair, some snacks and your drinks (Pack those first. Priorities, you know?) and enjoy this intersection of Christmas magic and SWFL paradise. Catch the parade while dining! It begins at Salty Sam’s Marina and will pass by Parrot Key Caribbean Grill, Matanzas on the Bay, Nervous Nellies, Dixie Fish Co., Shrimp Dock and Bonita Bills. If you’re looking for the best viewing locations, the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce recommends the roundabouts of the canals where the boats will turn. They also recommend the fountain next to Nervous Nellies. Free (unless you choose to dine, of course!). Saturday, Dec. 2nd. 6 p.m. Fort Myers Beach.
Okay. I know many of you may be like our boss, Eli, who is in complete denial that the holiday season is here. No worries. I get it I don’t, but I love you guys!). So here’s something for you, my “no holiday stuff yet” friends! It is my truest belief that food and alcohol are all you need in this life of sin. So, here’s a special thank you to The Rotary Club of Naples for making the 2017 Food, Wine & Beer Festival a thing this weekend. With over 80 premium wines, craft beers and ten restaurants, this is the place to unwind, enjoy time with a loved one, hang out with your friends and reject the holidays together (jk, jk). Get your hands on quality wines like Ferrari and Carrano and local brews from Naples Beach Brewery this Saturday. The best part? Proceeds benefit The Rotary Club of Naples who support impactful, community efforts including the Wheelchair Foundation, Meals of Hope, and many more. Ticket prices vary. Saturday, Dec. 2nd. 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Bayfront of Naples.
I’m not one for just giving a donation. I like to be in the trenches and actively doing a good thing for my community. If you haven’t participated in a Holidays Without Hunger packing event, I highly suggest making this your inaugural year. This is another staple SWFL event where people from all walks of life and communities come together to pack dry foods for families in need. The organization behind this event, Meals of Hope, is seeking to pack 1,000,000 meals in 2 hours. While this may sound insane, I can tell you that it is completely possible because so many people participate in this event. You can go by yourself, go with your friends, a significant other and even make it a family affair, but I’m telling you a week before the event so that you can register in time. So many people come to this event that I’ve seen them have to turn away volunteers before! Luckily, they’ve divided it up so that there are three opportunities for you to participate – two in Naples and one in Fort Myers. Saturday. Dec 16th & Dec 23rd. Times vary.