Holiday Happenings in South Florida

There’s no place like home for the holidays, right?
For one reason or another, going home during winter break is not an option for some residential NSU students. Luckily, the main campus is only a short distance away from much of South Florida’s thriving culture, which comes alive during the holiday season. Students stuck at school for winter break need not worry about finding inventive ways to enjoy their free time. The following events are only a small sample of the unique celebrations taking place nearby this winter.

Skate Las Olas: Nov. 23 to Jan. 6, Riverside Hotel, Fort Lauderdale
The Las Olas Boulevard Association has celebrated the holiday season for decades, and in 2011, they created another tradition: Skate Las Olas. The artificial skating rink, made of high-tech plastic that simulates the feel of actual ice, allows Floridians to experience a wintertime staple amid twinkling lights, festive music, and subtropical temperatures.
The event will be held on the lawn of the Riverside Hotel. A fee of $10 per person includes the ice skate rental and an hour of skating time. Hours are 4 to 9 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 9 p.m. on weekends until Dec. 22, when hours are noon to 9 p.m. every day. For more information, visit  www.lasolasboulevard.com/skate-las-olas.

Fort Lauderdale Christmas Pageant: Nov. 30 to Dec. 16, First Baptist Church, Fort Lauderdale
With its annual pageant, the First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale puts on one of the largest Christmas performances in the nation and features the talents of over 1,000 members of the church community in its spirited retelling of Christmas. The 2-hour show includes traditional Christmas caroling and dancing in the first act, and the story of Jesus in the second act, with live animals and music throughout. Shows are presented in the afternoon and at night; ticket prices range from $15 to $55. Tickets for the holiday feast before the performances are $23. For more information on show times and to purchase tickets, visit christmastickets.com.

Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade: Dec. 15, New River, Fort Lauderdale
Winterfest is a community celebration with several events, like the “Shoreline Decorating Contest” and Family Day, which culminates with its biggest event, the annual Boat Parade. For this event, large-scale creative light displays depict the splendor of the season on boats that sail the New River. Dozens of large boats light up the shoreline as they float for 12 miles from Fort Lauderdale to Pompano Beach. Each parade has a theme, and this year’s is “Musical Memories.” The event runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale to view the parade from a grandstand; prices are $22 for adults and $18 for children. To buy tickets or to watch the parade from home, visit winterfestparade.com.

Santa’s Enchanted Forest, November 1- January 6, Tropical Park, Miami, Fla.
Miami celebrates the holidays in a big way and, each year, puts a festive spin on the traditional carnival experience. Santa’s Enchanted Forest is the largest Christmas themed park in the nation, and includes carnival rides, holiday light displays, midway games, food vendors, and live entertainment. The park is easily accessible from major highways and has attractions for all ages. The park is open daily from 5pm to midnight. Adult tickets are $27 and are for sale online and at the park; child and senior discounts are available. For additional information on directions and tickets, visit http://santasenchantedforest.com/.

Chanukah Festival: Dec. 13, Gulfstream Park, Hallendale Beach
The Friendship Circle of Chabad of South Broward will be holding its 33rd annual Chanukah festival — a lively celebration of Judaism and Chabad’s 33 years in Broward County. Around 10,000 people attend the festival each year, and Chabad promises a larger turnout for 2012. The event features live entertainment from internationally known Jewish musicians, the lighting of Florida’s largest menorah, Chanukah gelt (chocolate coins), raffles for prizes, and a dinner. The festival begins at 7 p.m.; a decorated motor parade precedes the event. Admission for the event is free, as are raffle entries; the dinner is available for purchase. For more information, visit www.chabadsouthbroward.com.

Kwanzaa Celebration, Dec. 26, African American Research Library and Cultural Center, Fort Lauderdale
Kwanzaa lasts from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 each winter and is a week-long celebration of African-American culture and observance of the holiday’s seven founding principles, like unity and self-determination. Broward County’s African American Research Library and Cultural Center honors the diverse African American heritage in South Florida with an annual community festival. The event that starts the week will run from noon to 7 p.m.; admission is free for the entire community. This year’s celebration includes children’s arts and crafts, traditional storytelling sessions, cultural music and performances, and hand-crafted gift vendors. For more information, visit www.sfltimes.com.

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