Music and the Arts

There is a lot to do in Orlando when it comes to arts and music. There are several art galleries downtown and all over town. The local art movement is growing which is great to see. The Slice: Downtown Arts District is an online community that brings artists together and informs about art happenings around town. There is also an art gallery hop downtown every third Thursday of the month. I hope to check it out sometime soon.

A few of the art galleries downtown are CityArts Factory, Neon Forest, Gallery at Avalon Island, and the Grand Bohemian Gallery. There is also the Orlando Museum of Art.

Orlando Museum of Art

As far as music, we have so many venues both large (Amway Center, UCF Arena, Hard Rock Live, House of Blues) and small (The Social, Backbooth) that allow Orlando to host amazing concerts featuring every artist from Lady Gaga to Bob Dylan.

Check out if your favorite artist is coming to town here.

Holidaze

Orlando is a wonderful place to be for the holidays. There are many fun events to enjoy with family and friends. I am going to mention a few of my favorites.

1. Ice! at the Gaylord Palms:

ICE! 2009

I have been to this event the past several years and it just gets better every year. Basically you get to wear a parka and walk through a 9 degree ice wonderland. There are also ice slides at the end! Here is a little more about the event:

November 20, 2010 – January 2, 2011
Open daily, including holidays. Hours vary.

Click here to purchase tickets.

ICE! is Florida’s favorite frigid Christmas tradition, with over 18,000-square-feet of frosty 9-degree bliss played out in a winter wonderland of exciting hand-carved sculptures. And this year it’s really all that it’s cracked up to be, featuring duel 30-foot slides and an all-new, awe inspiring tribute to the unforgettable classic ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. This beloved story of childhood imagination, whimsy, and hope comes to life right before your family’s eyes! And while you’re thawing out from this coolest of attractions, you can all bask in the dazzling lights of the magnificent Christmas Tree Lighting and spirited Luminescence Christmas show. You may feel a chill in the air, but you’ll feel warmth in your heart as you create wonderful Christmas memories that last a lifetime.

The award-winning attraction is carved by a team of 40 artisans from Harbin, China. The talented artisans spend more than a month in Kissimmee creating this one-of-a-kind attraction. Harbin is best known for its annual International Ice and Snow Festival, where more than 2,000 sculptors annually carve a 100-acre walk-through ice park, using ice from the nearby Songhua River.

2. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party:

I went to this for the first time last year and it was a lot of fun! There is snow falling on main street, complimentary hot cocoa and cookies, and a holiday parade and fireworks spectacular. It runs select dates in November and December.

Cinderella's Castle

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party features are below:

Click here for dates and ticket information.

*The enchanted Castle Dream Lights on Cinderella Castle
*Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, complete with a special appearance by Santa Claus himself
*An exclusive holiday fireworks extravaganza — Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season
*Live entertainment featuring Disney Characters
*Meet and greet opportunities with Disney Characters
*Complimentary cookies and hot cocoa
*A magical snow fall on Main Street, U.S.A.
*Many of the most popular Magic Kingdom attractions

3. Now Snowing in Celebration

I went to this the year before last and it is a great little event. The main street in Celebration has a snow fall and there is various holiday entertainment around the Town Center.

Here is some additional information:

Nightly Snow Falls at 6, 7, 8 and 9 PM. Photos with Santa, Strolling Holiday Carolers, an Ice Rink,  Entertainment and more!!!

A Celebration tradition! Join Celebration Town Center as they kick off 12th  Annual Now Snowing event with a Tree Lighting Ceremony on November 27th from 5:30-9 PM.  This special tree lighting event will feature live music, a special entrance by Santa Claus himself, and family fun for everyone.

Now Snowing, Central Florida’s original and premier “Snowing” event, offers an all new ice rink  and a schedule filled with surprises. Now Snowing is a month long Winter Wonderland Spectacular featuring strolling Charles Dickens Carolers, photos with Santa, horse drawn carriage rides, the Celebration Express train, and nightly snowfall at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 PM.

4. Festival of Trees at the Orlando Museum of Art:

I have not been to this event yet but heard great things about it, especially the Gingerbread Village. I hope to attend this year. This event runs November 13-21.

Below are some of the festival areas:

Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

Trees & Vignettes /  Deck The Halls
Browse our beautifully decorated designer trees and vignettes available for sale or visit our Deck The Halls area to purchase a smaller tree or wreath.
Gingerbread Village
Enjoy the delicious aroma of beautifully crafted gingerbread houses which are available for sale.
Toyland Town & Shop
A fun place for children to play games, do crafts and visit wtih Santa at scheduled times or come and purchase some items in our gift shop, priced especially for small pockets.
Entertaining By Design, Sponsored by Winter Park Magazine
Win a spectacularly designed tabletop, jewelry, gift certificates and other exciting items in our drawings.
Holiday Boutique & Holiday Garden
Shop for everyone on your gift list in our one of a kind boutique or our garden for all of your holiday outdoor decor needs.
Special Displays
View our beautiful private collections of holiday items and our Department 56 Christmas Village.
Festival Cafe
Take a break and enjoy some delicious food and beverages.

Hope everyone’s holidays are very happy!

Buy Local

I buy mostly organic produce and love the idea of buying local. I am trying to buy more of my produce from the great farmer’s markets in town. I will let you know when and where a few of them are:

1. Orlando Farmer’s Market at Lake Eola Park: Every Sunday from 10 am-4 pm at Lake Eola
2. Winter Park Farmer’s Market: Every Saturday from 7 am-1 pm at the old train depot, located at 200 West New England Avenue
3. College Park Farmer’s Market: Every Thursday from 5 pm to 8 pm at the parking lot of Infusion Tea on 1600 Edgewater Drive in College Park

College Park Farmer's Market

There is also a Homegrowncoop that is working on bringing more local produce to town and encouraging the movement to buy local. You can even get your organic produce delivered to you.

Another interesting thing I wanted to share is which foods you should buy organic. Not all produce actually needs to be organic.

Here are the dirty dozen (You want to buy these organic because they are the dirtiest when it comes to pesticides):
1. Peaches (the dirtiest)
2. Apples
3. Sweet Bell Peppers
4. Celery
5. Nectarines
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Lettuce
9. Grapes
10. Pears
11. Spinach
12. Potatoes

Here are the 12 cleanest and lowest in pesticides:
1. Onions (the cleanest)
2. Avocado
3. Sweet Corn
4. Pineapples
5. Mango
6. Sweet Peas
7. Asparagus
8. Kiwi
9. Bananas
10. Cabbage
11. Broccoli
12. Eggplant

It is also important to purchase organic milk and butter and lean, organic, and grass-fed meats when possible.

Hope you learned something new and remember to buy local!

Discounts Galore

I wanted to share several websites where you can get discounts for Orlando businesses.

The first one is Groupon. If you sign up for the Groupon e-mails, then you will get an e-mail daily letting you know what the deal is that day. You can purchase the coupons from 50% to 90% off the regular price.

Two other websites are Living Social and Half Off Depot. They offer similar type deals, all for different businesses. An example of a coupon you can purchase from Half Off Depot is $25 worth of food and drinks at Mojo Cajun Bar and Grill for $12.50. I recommend signing up for all three so that you can pick and choose which deals you like best.

Orlando Food

One other website that offers deals to restaurants is Restaurant.com. Here you can purchase $25 gift certificates for $10, $50 gift certificates for $20, etc. If you sign-up for their e-mails, the prices go down at certain times with a discount code. The $25 gift certificates go down to $2 with the 80% discount code. These certificates do have some restrictions such as a gratuity being automatically added and sometimes they cannot be used for drinks. It just depends on the restaurant. It is a great way to try a new restaurant at a lower price that you may not have tried otherwise. I also often find new restaurants I did not know about on here.

Finally, I wanted to share that Orlando Weekly offers contests each week to win prizes for free movie tickets, theme park tickets, etc. You can sign-up here each week to be entered in them. You never know what you could win! I have won free movie tickets several times.

Hope that helps you save a little money and try somewhere new!

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