Too early for Christmas? Not at the Orlando Museum of Art’s Festival of Trees.

The Festival of Trees is an early way of getting into the Christmas spirit. (Photo by Brek Dalrymple).

ORLANDO – It’s mid-November, Thanksgiving Day hasn’t even arrived yet, and neither has the busy Black Friday shopping day. Isn’t it too early to start thinking about Christmas?
Tell that to the folks at the Orlando Museum of Art. Every November, before Thanksgiving, the museum at Loch Haven Park hosts an event that attracts huge crowds eager to do one thing: get swept up into that holiday mood.
It’s called Festival of Trees.
“This is a 10 day festival,” said Linda Cegelis, the public relations and marketing director for the museum at 2416 N. Mills Ave. “I think it’s a tradition for Central Florida families. I know we’re the largest family event in Central Florida, and because we’re early in the schedule of events, people come here to start to get into the holiday mood. It’s just that first round of really fun holiday parties.”
Festival of Trees, which started on Friday, Nov. 11 with a Mad Mod Gala, continues through Sunday. It’s a celebration of the holiday season where the museum hosts designer decorated trees, special entertainment, and unique events.
This year, the festival is themed “Hip Holidays!” because the museum asked the folks decorating the trees to do it with a special concept in mind: nostalgia.
“This year it’s all about Hip Holidays, which is kind of our salute to the 1950s and 1960s, Frank Sinatra and the ‘Mad Men’ era and all of that, and everything in the museum is stylized to reflect that,” Cegelis said. “The theming of the entire show covers everything from the food to the entertainment.”
That became the challenge for those decorating the trees: to come up with a creative way of reflecting the 1950s and evoking images of that era.
“We don’t directly control the trees,” Cegelis said. “Those are donated by the community, so they kind of become aware of our vintage theming and take it from there. Every year, we try to think of a theme that will inspire the community, and every year we do something completely different.”
The results this year, Cegelis said, thrilled the organizers of Festival of Trees and the museum’s staff.
“I think that was a really fun theme that was right on target,” she said, adding that 1950s nostalgia appears to be on the upswing, as reflected by the popularity of the television show “Mad Men” and the renewed interest in 1950s styles of clothing.
“ ’Mad Men’ is such a popular show, and that entire era has become really resurgent,” she said. “We were kind of amazed to see people doing similar things in other industries. This very season, Banana Republic came out with a line of ‘50s and ‘60s fashion attire. We try to cue in on what the community is interested in.”
And the people who donated the trees, she said, really took up the challenge and demonstrated delightful creativity.

The Orlando Museum of Art is hosting its 25th annual Festival of Trees through Sunday. (Photo by Brek Dalrymple).

“They’re amazing,” she said of the festival’s trees this year. “They’re all very different. It’s just a reflection of all the people in community.”
The Festival of Trees is presented by the Council of 101, benefiting the Orlando Museum of Art. General admission to this event is $10 for adults and $6 for children ages 3-11. But in addition to having the opportunity to go inside the museum and see all those trees, there are three upcoming special events, the first one starting today with Festival Salutes Seniors, held now through 5 p.m.
“We have the seniors day today and we will be packed,” Cegelis said. “It’s just a very popular day when seniors can come and see their friends, and of course they get discounted admission.”
Seniors are given $1 off regular admission today.
On Wednesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m., the museum hosts Reindeer Romp! For $12, it’s a special party – and a very popular one, Cegelis said.
“The line just goes way down the sidewalk,” she said. “A lot of people pre-purchase their tickets. It’s so popular. The line practically goes around the building. It’s an action-packed evening. Santa will be attending. There is Toyland Town, a gift shop just for kids with lower priced items so kids can purchase things for their families with their own money.”
On Friday from 7-10 p.m., the museum is hosting Rock’n’ Roll Holiday Stroll. Tickets for this event cost $40.
“That is a more casual party,” she said. “The last weekend of Festival of Trees is kicked off by the holiday stroll, and it’s kind of a club-like atmosphere. There will be lots of extra seating, libations and food.”
And, of course, there will be the opportunity to see those trees through Sunday.
“This is our 25th year of presenting Festival of Trees,” Cegelis said, adding that if people want to get into the holiday mood early, this event has a proven track record of doing just that.
To learn more, log on to www.omart.org, email councilof101@aol.com or call 407-896-4231, Ext. 254.

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