Downtown Holiday Events–What’s New & What’s Changing!

Downtown Lakeland’s November/December event line-up is changing this year, particularly the Holiday Walkabout as the public has known it. With so many great events added in Downtown in the last decade or so – First Fridays, the Saturday Farmers Curb Market, Small Business Saturday, SnowFest, Food Truck Rallies, etc. the Downtown businesses decided to assess the events we currently produce and make changes to allow for new traditions.

“Fifteen years ago, visitors to Downtown didn’t have as many opportunities to shop late or reasons to visit Downtown in the evenings. The Holiday Walkabout was really the only after-hours shopping opportunity all year. Now with LDDA sponsored events like First Fridays, Girls Night Out, and Date Nights, customers have more access to merchants year round,” said Julie Townsend, Executive Director of the LDDA. “The Holiday Walkabout became less about shopping over the years.”

The LDDA met with merchants and together decided to replace the previously Christmas-oriented Holiday Walkabout with a Holiday Open House on Thursday, November 15, 2018 and create two Holiday Walkabout opportunities on the Friday nights in December – December 14th and December 21st – after officially kicking off the Christmas season with Burnetti P.A.’s “Hometown Holiday” First Friday event on December 7th.

Downtown’s November/December Event Line-Up:

Holiday Open House on Thursday, November 15, 2018 will be 5:00pm to 8:30pm. It will be a kick off to the holiday season in general and holiday shopping–rather than a specifically Christmas-oriented event. So, don’t expect Santa or Christmas lights in the park! Also, streets will be open to traffic in order to encourage visitors to travel around Downtown to shop, eat, and play. Merchants will be offering special deals and discounts, and there will be live music on the street corners. Visitors can also take a carriage ride pulled by Clydesdale horses. The carriage rides will start on the north side of Pine Street and travel one block north to Bay Street.

Saturday, November 24, 2018 is Small Business Saturday, which was started by American Express in 2010 in an effort to help small businesses recover from the recession. It has happily become a major shopping day for our 43 retail and service businesses in Downtown and our 40 restaurants and bars. Shoppers can also visit the Downtown Farmers Curb Market between 8am and 2pm that Saturday to find homegrown and homemade treasures.

The theme for First Friday, December 7, 2018 from 6pm-9pm will once again be “Hometown Holiday,” sponsored by Burnetti, P.A. Visitors can take a picture with Santa and enjoy fun activities for the kids in Munn Park.

For the first time, however, Friday, December 14, 2018 and Friday, December 21, 2018 will be our “Holiday Walkabouts”—emphasis on the plural—from 6pm to 9pm. Stores and shops will be open late serving up yummy goodies (like cider and cookies) and special deals, and there will be live music on the street corners—but the streets will not be closed. There will be the traditional holiday lights decorating Munn Park and costumed characters patrolling around for spontaneous selfies.

On December 14, visitors can take pictures with Santa at Just Dance Academy on 124 S. Kentucky Ave. and participate in a Gingerbread Contest at My Office & More on 122 E. Main St. for a chance to win prizes.

On December 21, visitors can take pictures with Santa at Focus Realty on 218 E. Pine Street. They can also participate in a “Whoville Hair” and “Ugly Sweater Selfie” contest.

Due to all of the fun events happening Downtown this season–many of which include a live music component—the biannual Music Munnday events, traditionally held in October and March, will be on hiatus.

The Lakeland Downtown Development Authority (LDDA) is a special taxing district whose mission is to improve and stimulate the environment for economic development in a people-oriented Downtown community. We do not regulate, but exist to help Downtown business owners, residents and visitors have the best experience possible in the heart of Lakeland. Downtown Lakeland is home to over 65 retail and restaurant establishments.

For additional information about Downtown Lakeland, visit downtownlkld.com. You can also follow us on Facebook (@DowntownLakelandFL), Instagram (@DowntownLKLD), and Twitter (@DowntownLakelandFL).