ORLANDO – If it’s mid-November and Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday are coming up fast, there’s a holiday tradition going on that’s guaranteed to make even the biggest Scrooges among us glide into that warm and fuzzy Christmas spirit.
Festival of Trees has found a happy home at the Orlando Museum of Art for years now, and this annual favorite is back, offering two more days of stunningly decorated Christmas trees, imaginative wreaths, gingerbread houses, holiday gift shops, and more for the entire family to enjoy.
Every November, just before Thanksgiving, the museum at Loch Haven Park near downtown Orlando hosts this popular and traditional event, one that attracts huge crowds ready to get swept up into that holiday mood.
Festival of Trees, a unique event at the museum at 2416 N. Mills Ave., is a tradition for Central Florida families, and one of the largest family event in this region. Sponsored by The Council of 101, a volunteer group founded in 1965 to promote the cultural development and appreciation of the visual arts, Festival of Trees continues through Sunday as a celebration of the holiday season where the museum hosts eye-popping designer decorated trees.
This year, the festival’s theme is “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and as Susan Harmon Harris, the president of Council of 101 noted in the program book, “We have been kicking off the holiday season for 32 years, and the Festival of Trees has grown to be an annual holiday tradition for visitors throughout Central Florida.”
This 9-day event is also the Council’s biggest fundraiser of the year, and all proceeds go to OMA.
What Can You Expect at The Festival of Trees 2018?
The museum has its own Christmas tree in the main lobby, as well as holiday items in their gift shop. Once you enter the main gallery, you’ve got quite a few options for what to explore. Some of the rooms are devoted to immaculately decorated Christmas trees, all with different themes, from The Nightmare Before Christmas to the holidays at the North Pole.
These gorgeous trees are also for sale for anyone who wants to make one of them the centerpiece of their own living room holiday decorations.
Nostalgia plays a key role in the designs of each tree, evoking images of holidays of a bygone era.
The Festival also has a room devoted to gingerbread houses, likewise creatively designed to look like everything from a small village on a snowy day to Santa’s home.
Then there’s the long hallway that sports all kinds of artistically creative Christmas wreaths, made with wine corks, nutcrackers, sea shells, and so much more.
There are glass cases with historic German nutcrackers of all shapes and sizes, and two gift shops with just about every conceivable holiday gift item you could want — and for all ages as well.
“There is so much to experience at the Festival of Trees,” Harris noted. “From the glittering array of beautiful holiday trees, wreaths and gingerbread houses to the many wonderful special events and entertainment throughout the week, you’ll find there is something for everyone.”
How Long Does Festival of Trees 2018 Continue?
Festival of Trees is open today and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Today, special events will include:
* Breakfast with Santa (8:30-10 a.m.)
* Face painting in the Toyland area;
* Performances by the Orlando Gay Chorus (11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.)
* Roaming performances by the Caroling Company (1-3 p.m.)
* Singing by the Orlando Children’s Choir (1:15-1:45 p.m.)
* Performances by the Orlando Ballet School (2-3:15 p.m.)
* Singing by the Orlando Youth Opera (3:45-4:30 p.m.)
On Sunday, special events will include appearances by Santa in the Toyland area, and performances by the Citrus Singers Girl Scouts Chorus (12:30-1:30 p.m.), Church on the Drive Celebration Ringers (2-2:30 p.m.) and the Colby Center for Dance (3-3:30 p.m.)
In addition, the Festival of Trees Café, with food by Pearson’s Catering, will be open both days.
It’s also a great opportunity to check out the artwork now being exhibited at OMA.
As the program book notes, this truly is “the most wonderful time of the year,” particularly when the Greater Orlando area hosts special events like Festival of Trees 2018. For children, it’s going to be a Christmas wonderland of fantastic holiday goodies to check out.
And for the adults, it’s the kind of nostalgia that seems certain to getting them excited about the season.
So head over to the Orlando Museum of Art this weekend to check out the trees, Gingerbread Village, Toyland Town & Shop, Festival of Trees Café, and so much more.
This event is a cherished holiday tradition in Orlando for a very good reason.
To learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 407-896-4231, Ext. 254.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Of Cats And Wolves.” Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.