The Big E, the largest fair in the Northeast and fifth largest in North America, has just kicked off its 101th year with big talent, phenomenal food, animals, rides, shopping and more! The 17-day event will feature a Mardi Gras Parade and The Big E Circus Spectacular.
Some of the biggest names from the past and present, as well as those on their way to the top, have played before crowds at The Big E. From legendary entertainers, like Bob Hope, Roy Rogers and Liberace, to the musical talents of Johnny Cash, Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child, Reba and Blake Shelton, the Fair has been the venue to introduce these icons. This year top name talent like Grand Funk Railroad, Smashmouth and Night Ranger take the stage! Concertgoers are in for a ton of great shows at the xfinity arena and Court of Honor Stage, sponsored by xfinity®.
Walt Disney World Resort is the place to be this holiday season as theme parks and resort hotels sparkle with jolly decorations that bring the spirit of the season to life. Here’s a sampling of the holiday fun in store for guests:
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Guests can get wrapped up in a Flurry of Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from Nov. 9-Dec. 31, with exciting new holiday happenings around the park and the return of the nighttime projection and fireworks show “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!”
- NEW! Sunset Seasons Greetings – This new holiday experience features spectacular projections of Mickey, Minnie and other beloved Disney characters sharing their favorite Christmas stories as a snowy Sunset Boulevard twinkles with stunning holiday decorations. Holiday magic brings billboards to life and transforms the famous Hollywood Tower Hotel into scenes of the season – a giant pile of Christmas gifts, a gingerbread house and a frozen winter wonderland! A frosty summer-loving snowman might even make an appearance to share his holiday wish! This fantastic and heartwarming experience runs continuously throughout the night.
- NEW! Enhanced holiday décor around Echo Lake – Extra-large ornaments, colorful garlands and a giant Christmas tree centered on the water will make Echo Lake the merriest of places this holiday season. Even Dinosaur Gertie will be dressed for the occasion with a dino-sized Santa hat.
- “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” Returns – The hit holiday show returns Nov. 9 sending beloved Disney animated characters on a spirited yuletide adventure to get Santa back to the North Pole in time for Christmas Eve. “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” combines state-of-the-art projections, fireworks, special effects and Christmas music to create a dazzling, one-of-a-kind holiday experience for guests – capped by a special message from Santa himself.
- “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” Dessert Party – Guests can wrap up their jolly holiday evenings with reserved viewing of the “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” nighttime spectacular. The nightly party includes holiday-inspired snacks, delicious desserts, wine, beer, and specialty alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. A surprise Disney character will also join the fun, posing for pictures and signing autographs. This fun-filled special event is offered Nov. 9-Dec. 30, 2017.
- A new friend joins the cast of ‘For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration’ – Holiday fun continues at the Hyperion Theater as Anna, Elsa and Kristoff welcome Olaf to this popular sing-along celebration. Just for the holidays the show will include all-new songs from Disney’s new animated short “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.”
- Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine – Meet Minnie, Mickey, Daisy, Donald and Goofy for lunch and dinner celebrations centered on seasonal deliciousness. From Nov. 6-Jan. 7, the mouse-with-the-mostest will deck the halls for a banquet filled with holiday cheer and the joy of the season!
- Santa Claus returns to the Once Upon a Time shop Nov. 9-Dec. 24 – The beautiful vintage setting of the Once Upon a Time shop recalls bygone days of Santa’s visits to great department stores across the country. Santa will be at the shop daily to greet guests and listen to holiday wishes. Santa Goofy will step in Dec. 25-Dec. 31 after Old Saint Nick returns to the North Pole.
Holidays Around the World is transforming into the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays from Nov. 9-Dec. 30, surrounding guests once again in the wondrous sights, sounds and flavors of the season.
- NEW! Holiday Kitchens – The number of holiday kitchens doubles in size this year to a total of 15, each bringing the flavors of the season to life. New this year, guests can indulge in cookies and desserts at the holiday kitchen located inside the Odyssey complex. Sweet treats include snowflake sugar cookies and a warm apple fritter with cinnamon ice cream and caramel sauce. Over at the Canada pavilion, dazzling delicacies like the Maple Buche de Noel (maple mousse rolled in gingerbread chiffon cake with cranberry sauce and pecan crumble) celebrate holiday traditions from the Great White North.
- NEW! Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree – Chip and Dale are collecting ornaments for their Christmas tree. Guests can purchase a map and stickers from select merchandise locations and travel around World Showcase looking for the famous chipmunks with their ornaments. Guests can return their completed maps for a festive surprise, courtesy of Chip and Dale.
- NEW! Candlelight Processional Narrators – One of the most popular Epcot traditions returns with new celebrity narrators in 2017. Pat Sajak, Matt Bomer and CCH Pounder will join the lineup of returning favorites like Neil Patrick Harris, Whoopi Goldberg and Jaci Velasquez. The Candlelight Processional is a retelling of the Christmas story as told by a celebrity narrator accompanied by 50-piece orchestra and a mass choir. The show takes place at the America Gardens Theatre each evening at 5:00 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Nov. 24-Dec. 30.
- NEW! Holiday Entertainment – Enjoy the sights and sounds of the nations of World Showcase, as each country’s holiday heritage comes to life amid joyful music and time-honored traditions. Guests will discover an entertaining celebration of Hanukkah in a new location along World Showcase promenade, where a fun and interactive band interweaves the music of Hanukkah with jazz, Latin, rock and even hip-hop influences. Other returning holiday favorites include JOYFUL! A Gospel Celebration of the Season and Canadian Holiday Voyageurs.
- Fireworks Finale – The nightly fireworks display, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, will feature a special holiday ending.
- A Frozen Holiday Wish – Behold an enchanting performance to melt a frozen heart. Royal sisters Anna and Elsa lead a celebration on the Castle Forecourt Stage nightly Nov. 9-Dec. 31. Featuring special appearances by rugged mountain man Kristoff and lovable snowman Olaf, this merry-and-bright seasonal show culminates in Queen Elsa using her incredible powers to present a gift to everyone in the kingdom – transforming Cinderella Castle into a glimmering, shimmering ice palace for the holidays.
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – It’s a Christmas party like no other, with joyous music, a shimmering Cinderella Castle, characters in their festive finery and the Magic Kingdom decked out and made even more magical for merry-making guests of all ages. Each specially ticketed, limited-attendance event features an exclusive performance of Holiday Wishes fireworks and the earliest performances of other spectaculars like Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, the Frozen Holiday Wish castle-lighting ceremony and Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration stage show. The special party – complete with cookies, cocoa and snow flurries – begins at 7 p.m., after regular park hours. Parties will be held on November 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 26 and 28, and December 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21 and 22.
- Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade – This enchanting holiday pageant sings and dances its way through the Magic Kingdom park daily Dec. 23-Dec 31. It also makes a special appearance at each Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Brimming with magic and cheer, the parade features Santa Claus, gingerbread men, elves, reindeer, toy soldiers and other friends from the North Pole. They all join Mickey and friends – including Arendelle favorites Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf – in an over-the-top celebration of the season.
- Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration – From Dec 23-Dec. 31, Mickey and Minnie take to Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage where they host some of their Disney friends for an unforgettable Christmas soiree filled with classic and contemporary holiday songs. Magical holiday projections on Cinderella Castle build to a sensational, snowy finale. Performances are also featured during each Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
It’s a wild holiday time as decorations around the park frame new day-into-nighttime experiences, including Tree of Life transformations, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Kali Rivers Rapids and Expedition Everest. Guests will be greeted by a dramatic, animal-themed holiday tree, and festive garlands will have the park all a-glow with merriment.
Every corner of Disney Springs is wrapped and ready for the season with holiday décor and special entertainment, making it the most wonderful place to shop. From top name-brands to cozy one-of-a kind retailers and, of course, all things Disney, there’s something for everyone. Busy shoppers can also take a break and enjoy a quick snack on the go or an unforgettable meal at one of Disney Springs many talked-about restaurants.
A festival vacation – colorful, energetic, and culturally immersive – is a terrific way to meet locals and enjoy a new experience. In New Braunfels Fall is festival season and the mild temperatures and scenic Texas Hill Country make it a perfect vacation destination. Get away with your BFF or enjoy a romantic holiday with the love of your life. It’s a vacation to remember!
There are art festivals, craft beer pubs and wineries to visit. There’s outdoor recreation like cycling, running, kayaking and stand-up paddling. It’s often still warm enough to float the two fantastic rivers in a tube. Check some of the “festival” fun you can have in the Fall in New Braunfels:
The Comal County Fair – Have a taste of Texas culture! There’s a barbecue contest and a washer pitching contest. There’s a PRCA Rodeo, Bull Riding, a tractor pull, and livestock shows. Enjoy scooting a boot to The Bellamy Brothers and a George Strait Tribute Band. Don’t miss the parade that kicks it all off on Friday, September 29. New Braunfels takes the day off and everyone is either in the parade or gathered to watch it!
Cycling – As the weather cools off, cyclists converge for the Bike MS Valero Ride to the River. The October 7-8 Bike MS: Valero Ride to the River, presented by H-E-B, offers a variety of one-day and two-day ride distances. There’s even a 161-mile option. The ride from San Antonio to New Braunfels includes celebrations overnight and at the finish line. There are fun-interactive themed rest stops along the route. Experience the beauty of South Texas and the Hill Country for a cycling experience like no other.
Bring your bike for the Tour de Gruene November 4, too. Choose recreational tours from ride lengths of 14, 29, 41, 49, and 63 miles. Enjoy the Hill Country scenery along the tree-lined banks of the Guadalupe River. Ride through the heart of Texas and enjoy a post ride lunch and party. Cap off your evening with dining and dancing to Bavarian entertainment at Wurstfest!
Book Now! Find Your Perfect Room in New Braunfels…
Wine and Craft Beer – The Gruene Music & Wine Festival October 5-8, is a four-day celebration of Texas and Americana music. Sample Texas, German and New World wines. Enjoy specialty beers, food and handcrafted items. “Texas Tastings & Tunes” on Saturday includes more than 40 wine and food producers for tastings. There’s ‘Le Cordon Gruene’ food alley, too. Sunday’s “Texas-Style Musicfest” includes a Specialty Beer Tasting event, two entertainment stages and the big game on a big screen TV. There’s a Craft Market on Saturday and Sunday. The “Not From Texas” kickoff event on Thursday features German and New World wines, live music and door prizes! Add a tour of the Texas Hill Country wineries and craft beer breweries. Start with the wineries and breweries in New Braunfels!
New Braunfels Historic Modelers Society Train Show – If you’re into model trains, you don’t want to miss this great show October 28-29. It takes up the entire New Braunfels Civic Center Exhibit Hall – 11,789 square feet! There are additional exhibits throughout the facility, too. Special features include a huge exhibit of Lego Trains and traveling model railroads of various scales. More than 60 vendors have displays on more than 300 tables for buying, selling, or swapping. There are door prizes, a silent auction, a museum store, and a mini food court. Children will enjoy the free ride ticket for the Landa Park Miniature Train. Or, they can be a Junior Engineer at a ‘Kids Run the Trains’ layout!
The Texas Clay Festival – The Gruene Historic District hosts the 25th annual Texas Clay Festival October 28-29. It features the work of more than 60 Texas potters and clay artists. You’ll find a wide variety of pottery, from traditional to sculptural by the top clay artists in Texas. The festival also provides a unique opportunity to watch and learn. There are demonstrations in four tents throughout both days. From the potter’s wheel to hand-building to raku firing, there is something for everyone.
Dia De Los Muertos – This fun packed festival October 29 includes food, arts & crafts, shopping, live music, and entertainment, as well as educational info on the history of the day. Entertainment includes Mariachi Internacional Monarca, Compania de Danza Folklorica and Tejano star Patsy Torres.
Marathons – November 18, runners gather for the Chosen Marathon CHOSEN HALF MARATHON & 5K. It’s the “Prettiest Race in Texas” making it the perfect destination race to add to your calendar. The Half Marathon is a point-to-point course that runs beside the Guadalupe River. The 5K is an out-and-back course that starts and finishes at Rockin R River Outfitters in Gruene. There’s also a Kids Fun Run!
Thanksgiving in New Braunfels includes the opportunity to run off a few pounds on November 23 with the city’s “Turkey Trot.” Enjoy an exhilarating 5k run/walk through the Gruene Historic District to start the day. Children under 12 years old can participate by chasing a Turkey Mascot for ¼ mile through Gruene!
Book Now! Find Your Perfect Room in New Braunfels…
Wurstfest – The food festival to enjoy in Texas according to National Geographic Magazine. Wurstfest is one of the two top “Oktoberfest” celebrations in the nation according to USA Today. You don’t want to miss this November 3-12 unique annual celebration rich in German culture and full of Texas fun! There’s great food including sausage on a stick to sausage tacos. There’s lots of music and dancing, carnival rides and games. Try the German, Texan and domestic beers. Enjoy special events and the finest in Alpine and Bavarian Style Entertainment. It’s the best ten days in sausage history.
It’s time for a festival vacation! Make your reservations in New Braunfels now!
This fall and winter, there is more to see and do in Orlando than any other time of year. With numerous food and wine feasts, unparalleled Halloween thrills and merry holiday theme park events, the excitement in Orlando is warming up even as the weather cools down. For a full schedule of fall happenings, year-round events, insider attraction tips and vacation planning guides, go to VisitOrlando.com.
Orlando’s Food & Wine Feasts
The destination’s growing reputation for superb dining meets a seasonal surge of events for a food-lover’s dream vacation in the fall. From a month-long affordable fine dining program to theme park and resort smorgasbords, there are flavors for all palates through November.
- Guests can dine on haute cuisine without burning through their budget during the 12th year of Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month (Aug. 25 – Oct. 1), when more than 100 of Central Florida’s top restaurants feature three-course, prix fixe dinner menus for $35. Joining the lineup of this year’s participating venues are six restaurants from Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
- At the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (Aug. 31 – Nov. 13), taking place at the Walt Disney World Resort, guests can sip, sample and savor treasures from some of the world’s most famous wineries and celebrated chefs as they circle World Showcase. New this year, guests can enjoy tastings from the Coastal Eats Booth and Cheese Studio, as well as delicacies from India, Thailand and Spain in the Global Marketplace.
- Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek’s Food & Wine Weekends (Sept. 8 – Nov. 12) celebrate fine wine, spirits and the culinary arts. Now in its seventh year, the event takes place on a series of weekends throughout the fall and features a variety of distinct menus and pairings curated by the executive culinary team. Open to resort guests and the public, the program will include a macaron bar, traditional Royal Tea and Bar du Chocolat with Champagne tasting.
- The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic (Oct. 27 – 28) features wines from around the world and a variety of culinary dishes prepared by award-winning chefs. Educational seminars range from wine-blending to pasta-making from scratch. A special Sunday Bubbles Brunch returns this year on Oct. 29, featuring a variety of cured meats, imported cheeses, an array of sushi and of course, Champagne.
Halloween Capital of the World
The Theme Park Capital of the World® transforms into the Halloween Capital of the World during the six weeks leading up to Oct. 31, where the celebrations are mild, wild and wonderfully themed to capture the fun and thrills of the Halloween season.
- At Walt Disney World Resort during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (Aug. 25 – Nov. 1), guests have an extra week to enjoy trick-or-treating throughout the Magic Kingdom, catch the “Boo-to-You” Halloween parade or Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular and stay for the bewitching “Happy HalloWishes” fireworks.
- SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular (Sept. 23 – Oct. 29) at SeaWorld Orlando invites youngsters to trick-or-treat among friendly sea witches, octopuses, mermaids and pumpkin fish in an underwater fantasia. Cookie decorating and candy galore make this a sweet Halloween event for families to splash into.
- Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights (Sept. 15 – Nov. 4) at Universal Studios Florida allows guests to face their deepest fears in themed haunted houses, “scare zones” and mazes inspired by critically-acclaimed movies and television series. This year’s terrors are inspired by the hit television show American Horror Story, horror movie classic, The Shining, and much more.
- Brick or Treat (Oct. 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, 31) at LEGOLAND Florida Resort promises the spookiest and kookiest Halloween event. Celebrate weekends in October with larger-than-life LEGO models, a costume parade, trick-or-treating, a Halloween-themed fireworks show and much more.
Holidays at Orlando’s Theme Parks
Orlando celebrates the most magical time of year with balmy weather, special events and spirited live entertainment, creating an unforgettable and festive setting for a winter getaway that trades snow for sunshine.
- Walt Disney World Resort offers an array of holiday fun (Nov. 9 – Dec. 22), including the transformation of Cinderella Castle into a glistening ice palace at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party; the Candlelight Processional at Epcot features an exciting line-up of new celebrity narrators including Neil Patrick Harris, Pat Sajak, CCH Pounder and Trace Adkins; and a free-entry holiday wonderland at Disney Springs showcases carolers, performances and a meet-and-greet with Santa.
- Universal Orlando Resort invites guests (Nov. 18 – Jan. 6) to the Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Studios, where the streets are filled every evening with the same larger-than-life balloons seen in Macy’s famous Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Meanwhile, at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, families will light up with holiday cheer as Grinchmas comes to life throughout Seuss Landing. New to this year, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be transformed with wondrous, holiday spirit.
- Waves of holiday spirit splash over the park during SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration (Nov. 24 – Dec. 31). In a wintery, watery wonderland, guests of all ages will enjoy stunning live shows inspired by the natural world, a glittering sea of lit Christmas trees and beloved Christmas character Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends.
- LEGOLAND Florida Resort offers families one-of-a-kind photo opportunities with a life-sized LEGO Model Santa Claus and 30-foot-tall LEGO Christmas tree during Christmas Bricktacular, taking place select dates in December.
The Orlando Destination
Home to seven of the world’s top theme parks, Orlando is the No. 1 family vacation destination, Theme Park Capital of the World®, and most visited destination in the United States. An unparalleled mix of unique experiences create cherished memories for visitors, including legendary theme parks from Disney, Universal and SeaWorld, an array of world-class water parks, entertainment venues, an award-winning food scene, shopping, sports and nightlife. And, with 450 hotels, Orlando offers more lodging options than nearly any other destination in the world, from expansive resorts to uniquely themed hotels.
This September, visitors to Florida’s Sarasota County can enjoy deals and specials at area shopping locations during the “Shoptember” promotion. Visit Sarasota County (VSC) is joining with retailers, shopping districts and more throughout the region to promote deals and offerings.
“This is the second annual Shoptember program,” says Virginia J. Haley, CDME, President of Visit Sarasota County. “September is historically a slower period for many of our tourism partners including shopping districts. Similar to our other successful promotions such as Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week and Sarasota Summer Stage that drive business during needed time periods, we aim to bring awareness of shopping districts and their offerings and ultimately drive visitation to these shopping amenities during this need period.”
Shopping districts in the area include St. Armands Circle, Lakewood Ranch, the Mall at University Town Center, Venice Main Street, Historic Palm Avenue and the Shoppes at Sarasota Row in downtown. Shopping for major brands is possible at places like Westfield’s Sarasota Square and the Ellenton Outlet Mall and visitors can peruse local shops along Dearborn Street in Englewood and in the Gulf Gate neighborhood.
Deals range from passport savings to various retailers to Florida resident rates and deals at area hotels. A full list of deals and information can be found at www.SarasotaShoptember.com
Shoptember in Sarasota County lasts the entire month of September 2017.
For more information on Sarasota County visit www.visitsarasota.org.