In Lake and Sumter counties, it’s beginning to light up a lot like Christmas.
The holidays are here, and we know what that means.
People in jolly moods can drive around neighborhoods and see roofs lined with winking bulbs, large inflatable Santas in the front yard and warm, glowing lights shining on nativity scenes.
Of course, it’s not just homeowners who honor the true spirit of Christmas. City officials and event organizers do a pretty good job, too.
And that will be evident in late November when towns across Lake and Sumter counties will start glowing. From the beautifully manicured Venetian Gardens in Leesburg to the mix of historic landmarks and waterfront properties in Eustis and Mount Dora, these cities will serve up enchanting Christmas experiences that seem right out of a postcard.
In addition to light-up ceremonies, parades will attract crowds to watch brightly decorated floats and a cast of colorful Christmas characters.
Light Up Eustis
Held downtown at Ferran Park, this event features amusement rides, live bands, an artists’ row and festival food and drinks. In addition, children can have their photograph taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will make a special appearance via firetruck.
Light Up Leesburg
Real snow in Florida? Yep, that’s one of the attractions at this year’s Leesburg Main Street Christmas Stroll. Attendees will also enjoy jugglers, a brass jazz band, live musical performances in Towne Square and photographs with Santa. Be sure to see the lighting of a 24-foot tall musical Christmas tree with dancing lights.
Light Up Mount Dora
There are a million reasons to attend Light Up Mount Dora. Actually, there’s 2 million. Yes, 2 million sparkling lights will beautifully illuminate Donnelly Park and downtown Mount Dora. Among the buildings to be lit up are City Hall, the Mount Dora Boating Center and Marina and the Mount Dora Lighthouse. Live dancing and music also will entertain the crowd.
Light Up Clermont
Those who travel to Clermont, also known as the “Choice of Champions,” will be treated to a tree-lighting ceremony and an old-fashioned Christmas parade through downtown. In addition, the Clermont Arts and Recreation Center will host a carols ceremony.
Winterfest in the Courtyard
Wildwood celebrates the holiday season with this fun event held at City Hall. Enjoy a tree lighting, inflatables, photographs with Santa and food trucks. A Winter Village will be set up for artists and crafters to display and sell their wares.
Mount Dora Christmas Walk
Spotting a native-born Floridian is as rare as spotting snow in Florida. At this event, you might spot both. For Floridians who have never enjoyed a white Christmas, this event offers them an opportunity to go snow sledding. Other highlights include live music, an appearance by Santa and shopping in Mount Dora’s quaint stores.
Christmas on the Florida Frontier
Held at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Bushnell, this event allows visitors to relive a bygone era while making crafts, visiting period reenactors, singing carols and sampling holiday frontier treats.
Leesburg Christmas Parade
During this three-hour parade, spectators line the streets of downtown Leesburg to watch marching bands, twirlers, dance groups and illuminated floats.
Umatilla Cracker Christmas Parade and Celebration
Umatilla may be small, but it goes big for this event, which is in its 42nd year. Held at Cadwell Park, this festival kicks off with a dog jog and parade. Other activities throughout the day include a Christmas parade, live entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, and children’s activities.
Howey Christmas Festival
Visitors can enjoy the small-town charm of Howey-in-the-Hills while reveling in the Christmas spirit. The two-day event, which is staged on Lakeshore Drive, features a parade, quilt displays and a puppy adoption.
Wildwood Christmas Parade
The town’s popular Christmas parade begins on Huey Street and features festive floats and marching bands.
Akers Media Group's James Combs has been a staff writer for several local publications since August 2000. He has had the privilege of interviewing some of Lake County's many fascinating residents—from innovative business owners to heroic war veterans—and bringing their stories to life. A resident of Lake County since 1986, James recently embarked on a journey to lead a healthier lifestyle. He has lost 60 pounds and walks nearly five miles a day. In his spare time, he enjoys target shooting, skeet shooting and watching his beloved Kentucky Wildcats!
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