25+ things to do in SWFL for the 2018 holiday season

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Credit: WINK News

While you probably won’t see snow in Southwest Florida, there’s no shortage of holiday events to get you in the spirit. Whether you want to take your kids for a snapshot with Santa or see lights along the water, we’ve picked out the best Southwest Florida has to offer this year!

See the Lights

Holiday Lights at Edison Ford Winter Estates

“Thousands of lights and hundreds of historic decorations,” at this Southwest Florida favorite in downtown Fort Myers. You can get tickets to for the event which runs 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. until December 23 and then picks up again December 26-30.  There is live music, food and beverages, Santa visits, crafts, “Inside the Homes” tours, and more. 2350 McGregor Blvd, Fort Myers, Fla. 33901. Ticket info HERE.

Holiday Nights at the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium

Dec. 7-9 and Dec. 14-16, you can visit the Calusa Nature Center for a decorated nature trail, adorned with twinkling holiday lights, photos with Santa from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., winter crafts, refreshments, and s’mores around a toasty campfire. Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium 3450 Ortiz Avenue, Fort Myers, Fla. 33905. Ticket info HERE. 

Night Lights in the Garden at the Naples Botanical Garden

The Naples Botanical Garden is decked out in lights for the holidays. On select nights, your stroll will include making a wish on a ‘Wishing Tree’ and special holiday performances by Opera Naples and Naples Ballet. Dec.7 -23, Dec. 26-30, & Jan. 1-3, 2019
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. 4820 Bayshore Drive Naples, Fla. 34112. Ticket info HERE. 

Festival of Lights at Fisherman’s Village

Take a walk through holiday-themed Christmas decorations and lights throughout Fishermen’s Village mall, resort and marina  Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays until Dec. 30. Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda, FL. More info HERE.

Naples Christmas Parade – 5th Avenue South 

The parade runs from 6:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. Dec. 11. The Naples Christmas Parade will line up on Broad Ave. The floats will turn right onto Third St. South, then right on 5th Ave. South, and end on 8th St. South, Naples. More info HERE.

Holiday on the Bay at the Venetian Village

Head on down to the Venetian Village for artificial snow, lots of lights and photos with Santa. 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 22, and 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Dec. 23 and 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Dec. 24. The Village on Venetian Bay, 4200 Gulfshore Blvd. N., Naples. More info HERE. 

Visit Santa!

Seashells and Santa at Delnor-Wiggins Pass 

Seashells and Santa is a fun and free ticketed event for kids to bring a new unwrapped toy, game, or book for kids in Southwest Florida. Kids can participate in crafts, snacks, and pictures with Santa on the beach. Gifts will be donated to a local charity to be delivered as Christmas presents. Bring your own camera for photos. Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park 11135 Gulfshore Dr. Naples Fla. 34108. More info HERE. 

Winter Fest at the Naples Zoo

Zoo guests can meet Santa and one of his elves on Dec. 16 and 17. Meet and greet times will be 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Guests will see animals enjoying holiday-related delicacies with a wild twist. 1590 Goodlette-Frank Rd, Naples, Fla., 34102. More info HERE. 

Santa’s Wonderland in Fort Myers 

This free Christmas event is held at Bass Pro Shops and Fort Myers area families are invited to enjoy their Christmas village with free 4×6 studio-quality photos with Santa and free family holiday activities including fun crafts and games. 10040 Gulf Center Dr. , Fort Myers, Fla. 33913. More info HERE.

Santa at the Shell Factory Holiday House

The Holiday House is open Dec. 11 and 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Dec. 19, 20 and 23 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. The Shell Factory & Nature Park, 2787 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers. More info HERE.

Photos with Santa at the Miromar Outlets

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available for photos through Dec. 23. 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Saturday, 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sunday. Miromar Outlets, Suite 182, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. More info HERE.

‘Santa Paws’

Get your pup ready for pictures with Santa. You might even find a friend to bring home with adoptable pets from the Humane Society of Naples. 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The Village Shops on Venetian Bay, 4200 Gulf Shore Blvd. N., Naples. More info HERE. 

Santa at Zoomers

Santa is making a stop at Zoomers in Fort Myers Dec. 15 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., kids of all ages can get their picture taken with Santa for free. A digital version of the photo will be supplied for attendees to enjoy. 2450 Estero Blvd. Fort Myers Beach 33931, Fla. More info HERE. 

Winter Wonderland at Cape Assembly 

Get in the Christmas Spirit! Come experience a Winter Wonderland and go sledding, play in real snow, take a pic at the family photo booth, meet Santa, Olaf & Elsa! Dec. 16 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Cape Assembly 717 Skyline Blvd Cape Coral, Fla. 33991. More info HERE. 

Santa in the Swamp

Santa and one of his elves are making a special stop at the Babcock Ranch Preserve to visit with our guests and pose for photos! Tours will also be running every half hour between 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and the Gator Shack will be open as well. Make a day of it!! Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15 and 16, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm each day. Babcock Ranch Eco Tours, 8000 S.R. 31, Punta Gorda, Fla. More info HERE. 

Shows and Concerts

Tuba Christmas

More than 70 musicians ranging in age from 11 to 80 ring in the season on tubas, euphoniums at this annual concert. Dec. 14 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. bring a chair, and your best singing voice and come down to the Sugden Plaza. 701 Fifth Avenue South Naples, Fla. 34102. More info HERE. 

Jane Lynch A Swingin’ Little Christmas
See stars Jane Lynch, Kate Flannery, Tim Davis and The Tony Guerrero Quintet sing from their holiday album, A Swingin’ Little Christmas. Dec. 13, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Southwest Florida Event Center 11515 Bonita Beach Road SE, Bonita Springs, Fla. 34135. Ticket info HERE. 

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)

It’s the holidays! Time for the classics Rudolph, Frosty, Ebenezer Scrooge, the Nutcracker and many more! But maybe not the way we’re accustomed to hearing them. In what can best be called a holiday mash-up, actors with the Laboratory Theater in Fort Myers take beloved stories and traditions from around the world and turn them upside-down and sideways! 1634 Woodford Ave, Fort Myers, Fla. 33901. Ticket info HERE. 

Kenny G., Chris Isaac and more at the Barbara B. Mann 

Kenny G., Chris Issac and Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker all have holiday performances scheduled for December at the Barbara B. Mann Peforming Arts Center. Ticket information HERE. 

Philharmonic Holiday Pops

The Naples Philharmonic are bringing their holiday show to the Artis-Naples Dec. 13-16. 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd., Naples. Ticket information HERE.

Charlotte Symphony Orchestra “Sounds of the Season”

The Symphony will be performing holiday favorites Dec. 16 at the Charlotte Performing Arts Center 701 Carmalita Street, Punta Gorda, Fla.  33950. Ticket information HERE.

On the Water

Cape Coral Holiday Boat Parade

Dec. 15 from 4:00 to 10:00 p.m. at Four Freedoms Park on Cape Coral Pkwy. Bring your own chair and swing by for food, Christmas music, and a visit from Santa Claus along with the boat parade. More info HERE. 

Punta Gorda Boat Parade

The Punta Gorda lighted boat parade is Dec. 22 starting at 6:00 p.m. See parade route map for viewing locations. More info HERE. 

Adventure in Paradise Santa Cruise

Cruise through Pine Island Sound and San Carlos Bay and discover Santa’s secret island hideout! Spend some time with Santa on his island outpost where there will be opportunities for photos. The cruise departs from Port Sanibel Marina. Dec. 24, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. More info HERE.

Holiday Lights Cape Coral Cruises

See lights along Cape Coral’s canals Dec. 13, 14 and 20 starting at 6:30 p.m. Yacht Club Community Park, 5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral. More info HERE. 

King Fisher Fleet Lighted Canal Cruises Fishermen’s Village

King Fisher Fleet Lighted Canal Cruises offer a waterfront tour of beautifully decorated homes in Punta Gorda Isles. Dec. 1 through Dec. 31 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda, Fla. More info HERE.

Matlacha Holiday Boat Parade

Watch the Matlacha Holiday Boat Parade Dec. 15, at Hooked Island Grill. Limited seating is available and seats are first come first serve. Parade starts just after dusk.  4200 Pine Island Road NW, Matlacha, Florida 33993. More info HERE. 

Christmas Eve Service at Lighthouse Beach

Bring a beach chair and find your spot in the sand to attend this annual island tradition. Held every year since 1979, the service is a Lesson in Carols that can be enjoyed by all ages. The service is led by Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ Pastor John Danner. Dec. 24 at dusk. Sanibel Island. More info HERE. 

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