Weekend full of festivals, events - A group of people posing for a picture - Wedding reception
Dancers stand in front of the Christmas tree during Holiday Fest at Founders Park last year. CONTRIBUTED

What a weekend it’s going to be up and down the Keys. From a snow mountain to ice skating, crafts and Santa, be sure to check out these events.



Friday, Dec. 6

The forecast calls for mountains of snow, as the beach will transform into a winter wonderland during the 15th Annual Islamorada Chamber of Commerce Holiday Festival at Founders Park. From 4-10 p.m., the event’s star attraction, the Holiday Fest Snow Mountain, will once again be made out of 30 tons of the cold white stuff – more than enough to delight mitten-clad children and some of their more playful parents, too. Meanwhile, throughout the evening, Islamorada’s 35-foot high official holiday tree will be blowing magical snow through its branches.

Snow is far from the only thing promised at Holiday Festival. At 7:30 p.m., the Holiday Parade will kick off, this year boasting the theme, “Caring and Sharing Around the World.” Long-time Islamorada resident Pastor Tony Hammon will be this year’s Grand Marshal and will lead the parade.

The festival also offers the unique Holiday Gift Bazaar, perfect for finding creative, artisanal gifts for the loved ones in your life. A popular feature of the bazaar is the silent auction of handcrafted ornaments. In preparation, 50 local artists are already creating original holiday treasures starting from a blank ceramic mold. The finished pieces will be on display throughout the evening. The silent auction is scheduled to end at 9 p.m.

Returning to the Holiday Festival this year is Santa’s Sweet Shoppe, featuring a delectable selection of gourmet desserts and coffee sure to satisfy your holiday sweet tooth. Cuisine for every craving will also be available to indulge in throughout the evening.

Saturday, Dec. 7

Culminating with the lighting of the 35-foot tree, the 10th annual Light Up Key Largo is set for Dec. 7 at the Murray Nelson Government & Cultural Center. From 5-9 p.m., families and children will be immersed into the scenes of the holidays.

Families will have opportunity to get their children’s wish lists to Santa and Mrs. Claus throughout the evening, as well as some pictures. Kids can also get in a little bit of story time as volunteers read holiday favorites.

An ice-skating rink returns to the annual event for kids and adults to enjoy, while crafts and cookie decorating will give children the chance to create their own little masterpiece.

New to the event this year is a wreath-decorating contest. Viewing and voting will take place throughout the event. After judging, the wreaths can be donated to a worthy center needing some holiday cheer. There’s no entry fee for the contest, and awards will be presented to first, second and third place based on people’s choice voting. The winner will be featured in the Upper Keys Weekly’s Dec. 19 edition.

More than 20 vendors will be on hand, of which a majority will include local businesses, to help kick off the holiday shopping. Nonprofits will also be situated to provide information about their groups.

Hot dogs and hamburgers will be available, and as always, every child will get a free hot dog and drink. Beer, wine and food will be available for purchase.

Handicap parking will be available at the Murray Nelson Center. General parking will be at Rowell’s Waterfront Park. Transportation will be provided to the event via trolley thanks to Hershoff, Lupino & Yagel and County Mayor Sylvia Murphy.


Friday, Dec. 6

The Marathon Lighted Bike Parade at 5 p.m. is a benefit for Wesley House Family Services. The event starts in front of Marathon airport terminal with cookies and Santa. The ride starts at 7 p.m. Parade-goers are encouraged to wear festive gear and be-deck the bikes with battery lights and more.

Sunday, Dec. 8

Organizers are recruiting captains, boats and crews for the annual Key Colony Beach DeGraw Memorial Boat Parade. It’s set for Sunday, Dec. 8 at dusk, and best viewing is along Sadowski Causeway.

There will be a $500 cash prize for the best overall boat, plus prizes for boats in two classes (under 30 feet, and over 30 feet) for best in class, best theme and best spirit.

A complimentary awards dinner will be held for captains and crew immediately following at Key Colony Inn with a cash bar.

The event is sponsored by the Key Colony Beach Fishing and Boating Club and the Key Colony Beach Community Association. Prizes are donated by the Marathon Power Squadron, Coldwell Banker Schmitt Realty and Key Colony Beach Realty. It’s free to enter.


Friday, Dec. 6

Pet pictures with Santa, 6 p.m. at the ”Nautical Christmas Tree” on William Street, Key West. $20 cash donation benefits Boys and Girls Club.

Friday, Dec. 6

Self-guided Holiday Historic Inn Tour includes five properties.

Friday, Dec. 6

The Holiday-themed “1st Friday on Fleming” at 6 p.m. in the 500 block of Fleming Street, Key West. It’s a buy-local block party hosted by more than a dozen locally owned galleries, shops, bars and eateries.

Saturday, Dec. 7

Key West Hometown Holiday Parade, 7 p.m. at Bayview Park, heads down Truman Avenue to Duval Street.


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