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What to Do in Southwest Florida in November & December 2019

Nov 01, 2019 05:13PM ● By Patricia Letakis
Holiday Nights at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Nov. 29-Dec. 30 

Events You Don't Want to Miss in November & December 2019

Nov. 1-30 Celebrate the Arts, Naples
For the entire month of November, Naples celebrates the arts with concerts, festivals, dance performances and more at various venues. Highlights include an art exhibition by Southwest Florida artist Muffy Clark Gill, who blends photography with the ancient art of batik to produce paintings on fabrics. The show at the United Arts Council Gallery opens Nov. 4. Visit the website for more events.

Nov. 1-16 Hobie 16 World Championship, Captiva
Don’t miss the action when top sailors from around the world come to Captiva Island to compete in the 22nd Hobie 16 World Championship. To ensure a level playing field, the Hobie Cat Company provides all competitors with brand-new identical Hobie signature 16-foot catamaran sailboats. Spectators can watch the race from South Seas Island Resort’s Sunset Beach. Tickets to special events and general admission are available through the website.

Nov. 7-10 Coconut Festival, Cape Coral
Considered Cape Coral’s biggest event, the Coconut Festival promises four days of fun at the Sun Splash Festival Grounds. A main stage plays host to country musicians on Friday, Nov. 8, and rock bands on Saturday, Nov. 9, followed by fireworks. In the midway, Polynesian dancers and daring acrobats perform on stage, and carnival rides entertain the kids. A giant tent serves as a craft beer garden and football central, with college and NFL games on an LED screen.

Nov. 10 Taste of the Islands, Sanibel
Get ready to sample the culinary offerings of Sanibel and Captiva restaurants. Food tents at the Sanibel Community Park offer bites of seafood dishes, tropical sweets and more. The event features music by Private Stock, and ambassadors from the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) are on hand to answer questions about the islands’ animals.

Nov. 13-Feb. 5 Clyde Butcher Photography 75th Anniversary Exhibition, Sanibel
Be awed by the magnificent work of nature photographer Clyde Butcher at this special exhibition held at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel. For decades Butcher has waded deep into the Everglades to capture the swamp’s beauty in black-and-white photos. He’s known for mounting his large-format camera on a tripod and waiting for hours, even days, in an effort to create stunning images of the wilderness and the rare ghost orchid. A lecture by Butcher is scheduled for Jan. 24.

Nov. 15 Rocket Man, the Ultimate Elton John Tribute Show, Fort Myers
The first show of the Vinyl Vibes retro record series at Fort Myers’ Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center pays homage to Elton John. As a young superstar, he not only rocked the stage with his piano playing and song, the English entertainer loved to shock the audience with his flamboyant style, defined by outrageous eyewear, glitter-and-feather costumes and metallic platform shoes. Hear the tribute band perform “Crocodile Rock,” “Candle in the Wind” and “Rocket Man.”

Nov. 22-Dec. 1 American Sandsculpting Championship, Fort Myers Beach
Fort Myers Beach’s sands are transformed into an open-air art studio during the American Sandsculpting Championship. The event is considered one of the largest in the world for the art form. Some 30 sculptors craft elaborate sand castles, curvy mermaids, scaly dragons and more. Watch and marvel as they shape the sands, then shop the event’s vendors and enjoy live music, food and drinks. New this year is Sand Under the Stars, an illuminated display of the sculptures under the night sky, on Nov. 30, 6-9 p.m.

Nov. 23 BonitaFest, Bonita Springs
Cooler fall temperatures make it the ideal time to kick back at an outdoor concert. The Foundation of Bonita Naples Rotary presents BonitaFest at Riverside Park in Bonita Springs. The free music festival features the classic rock band Iconic, followed by The Caribbean Chillers who put a tropical spin on the evening with Jimmy Buffett-style music. Grab a margarita and mingle with the crowd. Bring lawn chairs and blankets.

Nov. 25-Dec. 1 Gulf Coast Showcase, Estero
The Hertz Arena is basketball central for a series of college basketball tournaments. See men’s teams from Drake, Miami (Ohio), Northeastern, South Alabama, Weber State and Wright State compete on the court Nov. 25-27 and Nov. 29-Dec. 1. Women’s basketball teams from Auburn, Dayton, Middle Tennessee State and Gongaza University take over Nov. 29-Dec. 1. Check the website for schedules.

Nov. 29-Dec. 30  Holiday Nights at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers
Festivities kick off with the annual tree lighting ceremony on Nov. 29. The very large historic Mysore Fig is draped with lights choreographed to holiday music. The gardens and houses are aglow with lights, welcoming visitors. Tours of the illuminated grounds (nightly at 6 and 7 p.m.) and the interiors of the homes (Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.) are offered. Bring the children to see Santa and Mrs. Claus on select evenings.

Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 Handel’s Messiah, Naples
Always a powerful production, Handel’s Messiah is performed by the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and the 80 voice-strong Philharmonic Chorus at Artis—Naples on Nov. 30 and the First Presbyterian Church of Naples on Dec. 3. A commentary on the life of Jesus Christ, Messiah is Georg Frideric Handel’s best-known work, with performances particularly popular during the Advent season.

Dec. 6-7 Luminary Holiday Stroll, Sanibel and Captiva
Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island’s main thoroughfare, is all dressed up for the season, as is Captiva Island’s Andy Ross Lane and Captiva Drive. You’ll find lights galore as you meander these streets, poking into boutiques radiating with holiday cheer. Florida-style pink plastic flamingos wearing Santa hats and illuminated crèches are tucked in lush gardens. Let the festive merriment put you in the holiday mood—then open your pocketbook and start shopping! The Luminary Holiday Stroll takes place on Sanibel Dec. 6 and on Captiva Dec. 7, 5:30-9 p.m. 

Dec. 10 & 16 BIG ARTS Holiday Shows, Sanibel
An annual tradition on Sanibel Island, the BIG ARTS Chorus Holiday Concert, Dec. 10, ushers in the joyful season with classic songs we love. Then on Dec. 16 the BIG ARTS Band Holiday Concert once again fills Performance Hall with music that celebrates the season. Both the chorus and band are composed of singers and musicians from the area, many of them seasonal residents and some professionals. Always sell-out events, the festive shows won’t disappoint.

Dec. 14 Christmas in Paradise, Fort Myers
The Southwest Florida Symphony presents Holiday Pops, featuring conductor Nir Kabaretti and vocalist Tony DeSare. Fort Myers’ Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall will be filled with the Christmas spirit when Lee County’s professional orchestra plays the music of the season and DeSare sings your favorite holiday songs.

Dec. 21 Holiday Boat-A-Long, Cape Coral
Living near the water has its advantages during the holiday season and that means lots of boat parades. Cape Coral’s Holiday Boat-A-Long makes its way across the Bimini Basin at Four Freedoms Park. See watercraft decked out in holiday lights then meet Santa Claus at the park. The event also features musical performances, food, drinks, and crafts for the youngsters. The fun continues with a free movie, Christmas Vacation, in the park.

Jan. 4-5, 2020 Estero Fine Art Show, Fort Myers
Looking for that perfect piece of art to showcase in your home or garden? The Estero Fine Art Show, held at Jetblue Park in Fort Myers, is a juried show featuring an exclusive collection of high-quality artwork. Paintings, sculptures, photography, jewelry, glass art and more are on display. There’s also a youth competition that showcases art from local students.