Floral City lights 2019 advance

Gary Moe drives a horse-drawn wagon full of riders on East Orange Avenue to enjoy the Christmas lights and decorated homes during a past Floral City Heritage Days event.

From luminaries to ice slides to snow, those looking to get into a festive mood this year have plenty of choices.

• Step back in time to the simpler days and enjoy the glow of Floral City during Candles ‘n Carols from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, on Orange Avenue. The historic Avenue of the Oaks will be closed off to traffic and lit with hundreds of luminarias, highlighting the decorated, historic homes that have lined the street for hundreds of years. All are invited to get into the spirit and take a horse-drawn wagon ride, sip on a cup of cocoa, hear holiday music from carolers and stroll along the historic avenue. The event will also feature an all-you-can-eat fish fry. Parking will be available on Marvin Street and at the Town Center parking lot behind the Floral City Heritage Museum and Floral City Public Library. Bring a flashlight to walk safely. The fun continues on Saturday during Floral City Heritage Days. For more information, visit www.floralcityhc.org/heritage-days.html.

Grinchmas 2019 advance

Three-year-old Wolf Giangaria is all smiles while sitting with Charlotte Maidhof, aka Mrs. Claus, at Crystal River's 2018 Grinchmas and the Christmas Tree Lighting Festival. 

• Take a minute to be silly and show off your spirit as downtown Crystal River transforms into Whoville from the Christmas classic movie “The Grinch.” Grinchmas at the Tree Lighting Festival returns from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, on the east side of Citrus Avenue. Catch Who characters, shop arts and crafts vendors and local shops, enjoy games, inflatables, an ice slide (daylight hours only), Jim Carrey’s “The Grinch” on the big screen and the Whobilation pageant. The beloved event will even feature snow on Citrus Avenue. Free entry, with some activities at a cost. For more information, visit www.crystalriverfl.org.

• Help those who are hungry while having holiday fun at the 22nd annual Father Christmas Benefit Ball from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, at the Chet Cole Life Enrichment Center on the Key Center Campus. The annual soiree features dinner, entertainment, dancing and more to benefit the Serving Our Savior (SOS) Food Pantry. Tickets are $50. For tickets and information, call the Shepherd of the Hills Episocpal Church office at 352-527-0052.

• Put on your best “ugly sweater” and get ready to race at the sixth annual Ugly Sweater 5K Run and 1 Mile Walk beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at 19680 E. Pennsylvania Ave., Dunnellon. Run or walk down the scenic trail, enter the ugly sweater contest and take a bite out of some doughnuts. Run for your school or club, or just go for a good time. Awards are in 5-year age groups; registration includes a T-shirt. Register at https://tinyurl.com/yj8tdgbl.

• Christmas is going to the dogs during the fourth annual Greenerside Haven Spirit of Christmas Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Plantation on Crystal River, 9301 W. Fort Island Trail. The event will feature a holiday shopping market, craft vendors, homemade baked goods, raffles, food and more. Free admission. All proceeds go towards the purchase of a new animal sanctuary. For information, call 765-430-0342.

• Get cozy in downtown Inverness at the city’s annual Old-Fashioned Christmas from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, on Courthouse Square. The heartwarming family celebration will feature an abundance of lights, decorations, carolers, food trucks, snow and more. Mickey and Minnie Mouse will meet and greet visitors to the festivities. Snow will fall around 6 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit and take pictures with children on the second floor of the Historic Courthouse Heritage Museum. Two train rides will be available downtown, and the Valerie will host a free showing of “Elf” starring Will Ferrell (tickets limited). And don’t forget to grab a picture under the 22-foot Christmas tree on the Valerie Plaza. Free event. For information, visit www.VisitInvernessFL.com or ValerieTheatre.org.

Fort Cooper Park's Night of Lights 3

Fort Cooper State Park hosts Shelley and Mike Watson decorate for Nights of Lights.

• Watch in awe as Fort Cooper State Park transforms into a “Winter Woodsy Wonderland” during the Night of Lights from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, Saturday, Dec. 14, and Sunday, Dec. 15, at 3100 S. Old Floral City Road, Inverness. Check out thousands of lights while strolling through the walkways and buildings of the park complete with music and an abundance of decorations. Enjoy free refreshments and make s’mores over a bonfire. Admission is a nonperishable food donation or a new toy for the Citrus United Basket, or a donation of pet food for Citrus County Animal Services. For information, contact Penny at 352-726-0315.

Celebration of Lights 2019 advance

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park comes alive with lights during the annual Christmas Celebration of Lights.

• Have your mind blown at the Celebration of Lights, a spectacular synchronized light and sound show, at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Dec. 19 to Dec. 24 and again Dec. 26. The park’s Garden of the Springs turns into a visual wonderland after dark with the help of light master Sebastian Hawes. There will be new entertainment nightly. Nils Anderson and Sue Buchheister will emcee, with special guest appearances. The lights, decorations and music of the celebration is not to be missed. Cost is a $7 donation for adults and $3 for children age three to 12. Transportation will be provided from the Visitor Center parking lot on U.S. 19. For information, call 352-628-5343.

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