It’s nearly Thanksgiving Day, which means it’s time to deck the halls, palm trees and downtown streets with holidays lights.
Get in the holiday spirit or spread some joyful cheer with others with these free to low-cost public holiday events happening across Polk County. The list, compiled by date and town, runs from Nov. 25 to New Year’s Eve.
Bartow — Get into the holiday spirit at Merry and Bright, a shopping event in downtown Bartow to mark Small Businesses Saturday. Festivities will include a specially curated tour of the Festival of Wreaths at the Polk County History Center, 100 E. Main St. in Bartow, at 10 a.m. and noon. Attendees can snag a cookie and a seat to listen to carols performed by the Frostproof High School Chorus at 11:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. For more information, contact the Polk County History Center at 863-534-4386.
Winter Haven — Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce will hold a Christmas Tree lighting in downtown Winter Haven’s Central Park, 469 Central Ave., on Nov. 30, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. There will be hot cocoa, cookies and live musical performances followed by an official tree lighting countdown at 7 p.m. There will be a holiday sing-along following the tree lighting. Attendees are strongly encouraged to use the free parking garage with the entrance on Avenue A.
Frostproof — Mark the start of the holiday season as the Frostproof Area Chamber of Commerce holds its second Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 1, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Wall Street Park, 100 W. Wall St. There will be music, food trucks and an opportunity for a photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Fort Meade — Fort Meade Main Street hosts the Merry Main Street Christmas on Dec. 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. The event will feature music, food, retail vendors and Main Street shopping with an opportunity to take photos with Santa.
Lakeland — Lakeland Downtown Development Authority’s First Friday for December will be a Holiday Spectacular Dec. 1, from 6 to 9 p.m. Local arts students will sing and perform on a stage near Munn Park. Take a photo with Santa near Crews Bank on Main Street. Many downtown restaurants and shops will be open late for some holiday shopping.
Lake Wales — Test your gingerbread house skills at the Jolly Jamboree on Dec 1., from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Mary Norma Campbell Resource Center, 249 Church Ave. in Lake Wales. It’s a competitive gingerbread house-making competition with games, crafts and other holiday-themed activities. Space in the competition is limited, but admission to watch is free. For more information, call 863-679-4335.
Mulberry — Mulberry will celebrate its annual Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 1, from 6 to 8 p.m., at GEM Theater, 104 NW 1st Ave. It will be followed by a stroll for holiday cookies at downtown businesses.
Bartow — Take your Selfies with Santa on Dec. 2. from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Polk County History Center, 100 E. Main St. in Bartow. Reservations are required, so call 863-534-4386 or email email@example.com.
Haines City – Join Haines City after its parade for Glitter, Glisten and Snow to light up the city’s Christmas tree and holiday display Dec. 2, from 7:30 to 10 p.m., at Lake Eva Park, 555 Ledwith Ave. There will be the chance to play in snow falling from the sky. Shop local vendors and enjoy a visit with Santa Claus.
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Lakeland — Let music put you in the spirit at ‘Tis the Season: Holiday Concert hosted by Lakeside Village on Dec. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m., on the lawn. Attendees are encouraged to wear festive sweaters, bring chairs and blankets to enjoy storytime with Santa and Mrs. Claus, live musical performances by the Vocalitas, and watch for snow around the Christmas tree at the start of the hour from 6 to 9 p.m.
Winter Haven – Main Street Winter Haven will hold the city’s 34th annual Carols in the Park on Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., presented by Citizens Bank at Central Park, 469 W. Central Ave. in Winter Haven. Local school choirs will perform holiday carols with a new attraction, an artificial ice skating rink. Photos with Santa will run from noon to 2 p.m.
Lake Wales — Main Street Lake Wales will ring in the season with the 12th annual Make It Magical holiday celebration in historic downtown Lake Wales on Dec. 8, from 5 to 8 p.m. Shop downtown with arts and craft vendors and live music performances among holiday decor. There will be crafts, activities, a chance to visit with Santa Claus and snow.
Lakeland — Lakeland Downtown Development Authority will host Festive Flix featuring “Polar Express” on Dec. 8 from 7 to 9 p.m. sponsored by Crews Bank at the Lake Mirror Amphitheatre on Frances Langford Promenade, 121 S. Lake Ave. Bring blankets and lawn chairs to sit on, complimentary popcorn will be provided. Admission is free.
Homeland — Celebrate the holiday season with Christmas Notes on Dec. 9, from 5 to 8 p.m. on the grounds of Homeland Heritage Park, 249 Church Ave. in Homeland. The park will be decked with lights as visitors can participate in a scavenger hunt, ride a train and test their skills in the annual gift-wrapping competition. Children can decorate sugar cookies or meet Santa Claus himself. The event includes vendors and demonstrations. Davenport — Davenport will host its annual WinterFest on Dec. 9, from 4 to 9 p.m., at the Tom Fellows Community Center, 207 North Blvd. W. The event features a snow slide, vendors, fireworks and even a chance to meet Santa Claus.
Haines City — Have Breakfast with Santa Claus on Dec. 9 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Lake Eva Event Center, 799 Johns Ave. General admission is $15 with tickets available on Eventbrite. Bring a camera for pictures.
Lakeland — Take a walk in the snow along Lakeland’s Francis Langford Promenade on Lake Mirror on Dec. 9 from 5 to 9 p.m., for Snowfest. Admission is free with donations being collected for Polk Senior Orphans. The event features arts and crafts vendors, food trucks and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus in a snow globe.
Lakeland — The Lakeland Downtown Development Authority will host a Holiday Night Market on Dec. 9 from 5 to 10 p.m. with a holiday blowout featuring four market experiences curated by LDDA, Buena Market, Lakeland Punk Flea and Art Crawl. It will have more than 150 vendors with live musical performances. Downtown retail shops will be open for extended hours for holiday shopping.
Lakeland — Swan Brewing will host the Lakeland’s Santa Con Dec. 9 from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. It’s an annual Santa-themed pub crawl through downtown Lakeland that features food and drink specials, a costume contest plus prizes for participating. All proceeds benefit KidsPack, a local nonprofit that provides food to ensure children don’t go hungry.
Lake Wales — Rotary on the Ridge will host Lake Wales’s annual Christmas Parade with the theme “Toys on Parade” in honor of the late David Waller, Polk County Toys for Tots coordinator, on Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. Festivities will begin 2 p.m. at Lake Wailes Park, 33 N. Lake Shore Blvd., with activities and food trucks. A Christmas movie will be shown after the parade.
Mulberry — Take part in a whimsical shopping event at Mulberry’s Christmas Village Dec. 9, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Spence Park, 1100 1st St. NE. Shop for holiday gifts with local vendors, enjoy a bonfire or meet Santa Claus.
Lakeland — Allen & Company sponsors “All Is Bright,” the opening night of Bonnet Springs Park’s holiday lights Dec. 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The event features a live DJ, strolling performers, face painting and photos with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.
Bartow — Take your Selfies with Santa on Dec. 16 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Polk County History Center, 100 E. Main St. in Bartow. Reservations are required. Contact the museum by calling 863-534-4386 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dundee — Celebrate the season with a Christmas movie night with Santa Claus at the Margaret Kampsen Historic Train Depot, 103 Main St., on Dec. 16, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Lakeland — Lace up your running shows for Lakeland’s Holly Jolly Jingle Bell Jog 5K and Reindeer Dash Kids’ Fun Run Dec. 16, from 7:30 to 9 a.m., at Cleveland Heights Golf Course. Not a runner? Sign up online to get a shirt or visit Santa’s Village for festive holiday fun. Registration closes Dec. 13. All proceeds benefit the 3 Parks Perpetual Care Fund.
Lakeland — Join the Snowflake Soiree at Bonnet Springs Park on Dec. 16 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., featuring holiday music performed by the Lakeland Symphony Orchestra, meet-and-greets with holiday characters, snow and a snowglobe. There will be a mini market put together by Catapult, a nonprofit that supports the city’s startups and local entrepreneurs.
Lakeland — Get your cowboy boots out for Bonnet Springs Park’s Holiday Honky Tonk Dec. 17, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. There will be country line dancing, appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus and horse and wagon rides. Bonnet Springs Park is located at 400 Bonnet Springs Blvd. in Lakeland.
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Lakeland — Step back in time for Bonnet Springs Park’s Timeless Tidings featuring the sounds of the swing era and mid-century merriment from the trio Vocalitas Dec. 22, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. There will be pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, strolling performers and more. Bonnet Springs Park is located at 400 Bonnet Springs Park Blvd. in Lakeland.
Lakeland — Lakeland Regional Health sponsors a Jingle Ball Rock at Bonnet Springs Park, 400 Bonnet Springs Park Blvd., on Dec. 23, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. There will be live musical performances by We Three Strings covering holiday hits, photos with Santa Claus and other beloved holiday characters. The Coca-Cola Holiday Caravan will be in the park’s Heritage Gardens from 4 to 6 p.m.
Lakeland — Christmas Day has passed, so it’s Elves Night Off on Dec. 29 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Bonnet Springs Park, 400 Bonnet Springs Park Blvd. in Lakeland. It’s a tropical party on the lawn, including a surfing Santa Claus, performances by the steel drum band, Caladesi Street Band Quartet, and organized games.
Lakeland — Take a stroll through a Winter Wonderland at Bonnet Springs Park, Dec. 30 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Meet the snow queen and other favorite wintery characters, play inside an inflatable snow globe and stargaze with the Sidewalk Science Center. Donations of hygiene and toiletry items will be collected for the Peace River Center, a Lakeland-based nonprofit behavioral health organization.
Lakeland — Ring in the New Year with Bonnet Springs Park’s family-friendly Glow in the Park on Dec. 31, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The event will feature glow-in-the-dark activities, party favors, activities, a live DJ and some unique LED performers.
Bartow — Polk County History Center heralds the holiday season with its annual Festival of Wreaths, which started Nov. 11 and runs through Dec. 14. A silent auction will be conducted with bids placed on the wreaths, later taken to decorate homes. The center is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Winter Haven — Main Street Winter Haven will light up the city’s downtown on Starlight Nights with holiday cheer on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from Dec. 1 to Jan. 6, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. There will be over 22,000 lights and decorations in Winter Haven’s Historic District, spanning from US 17 to Lake Silver, Central Avenue to 6th Street. Downtown businesses create special window displays as part of a decorating contest and there will be selfie stations in the park.
Fort Meade — The Florida Flywheelers Antique Engine Club for Christmas in the Village from 6 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 8-9 and Dec. 15-16. Drive through the Old Fashion Village covered in holiday lights from the comfort of your own vehicle. Admission is a donation of canned goods, or a monetary donation. The club is at 7000 Avon Park Cut Off Road in Fort Meade. Call 863-285-9121 for more inforamation.
Lakeland — Starting Dec. 18, holiday lights will Light Up BSP at Bonnet Springs Park, 400 Bonnet Springs Park Blvd. in Lakeland, on Mondays to Thursdays, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Enjoy various holiday photo opportunities, a snow machine, festive music and seasonal food and beverage offerings.
Is your free, public holiday event not on our list? Let us help spread holiday cheer by emailing the details to email@example.com.