The season of celebration is upon us. Leap into the festivities with your loved ones at annual Turkey Day 5k races, a Día de los Muertos celebration in the garden and fall festivals where fresh food, outdoor games and family time is the focus.
Thanksgiving Day 5k Races
44th Annual Turkey Trot 5k at Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers
Last year, this race attracted people from more than 40 states to join in the Turkey Day fun. This race encourages holiday attire and all ages, with the race starting and finishing at the historic grounds. The 3.1-mile race takes runners through the quaint Edison Park neighborhood and back to the estates, where participants enjoy snacks such as bagels and fruit. Be first of 2,400 runners and get a free T-shirt with your registration. After the 5k, your tiny runners can join in the fun by participating in the 1-mile fun run or 100-meter Tot Trot for ages 6 and under.
Thanksgiving Day 5k Run and Walk at Hertz Arena, Estero
Kick off the day of giving by receiving a slew of free perks and swag at this race, including dri-fit tech shirts, finisher medals, snacks (including fruit, peanut butter crackers and granola bars for proper pre- or post-race fuel), photos and live reports of the race. Inflatable turkeys set the theme and the music will be pumping with live tunes throughout the race at the start and finish lines for motivation.
Mid-Cape Gobble Wobble 5k at Mercola Market, Cape Coral
Health-conscious families are encouraged to register as a team for this race that begins at the health market. Don’t forget to bring non-perishables and pet products for donation for an extra chance per item to win raffle prizes from the market. The race takes you and your little runners past Eagle Skate Park and through residential neighborhoods before finishing at the market to enjoy organic hot apple cider and pumpkin spice lattes at the onsite cafe.
Día de los Muertos Celebration at Naples Botanical Gardens
Celebrate the Day of the Dead and view large-scale skeleton sculptures as part of the La Calavera Catrina exhibit. Live entertainment includes Havy Rodriguez & the Miami Splash Band and attendees can nosh on traditional Mexican foods from various food trucks offering tacos, street corn and paletas (Mexican popsicles), along with seasonal twists on classics like pumpkin empanadas with marshmallow dipping sauce. On Saturday evening, complimentary bites are available while families toast to their departed loved ones amid the sunset and live music. All weekend long, families are encouraged to play themed activities on the lawn, learn about Mexican spices and honor loved ones by adding their names to the butterfly memorial wall.
Florida Panther Festival at Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens
Take in one-on-one chats with wildlife experts the first Saturday of the month at the zoo, which invites families to check out the resident Florida panther and black bear and learn about invasive species like Burmese pythons. Hosted from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., it’s Collier County Day at the zoo so residents of all ages gain free admission.
Macaroni KID Fall Festival! at Alliance for the Arts, Fort Myers
This fall fair is a quintessential fall family outing with a 20-foot bounce house, family lawn games, face painting and glitter tattoos. The food truck brigade is a picky eaters’ paradise with options from Disha’s Shaved Ice and Treats, Joe’s Jumbo Wieners and Tia’s Kitchen. Additional vendors offer freeze-dried goods, cold-pressed juices and breakfast choices available for purchase.
Fall Community Day at Artis–Naples
This afternoon festival kicks off along with two new exhibits, The Art of Food and The Face of Immokalee. The festivities are inspired by the art shows with food trucks dotting the grounds and Heidi’s Place, located in the Norris Garden, offering kid food items while bilingual guides give tours of The Baker Museum. Your little pumpkins can enjoy making food art, going on a scavenger hunt and live musical performances in the museum from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Introduction to Lego Mechanics camp at Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers
This reoccuring immersive day camp has two remaining sessions for grades one to three on November 8 and for grades four to six on the November 15. While there, students dive into how the six simple mechanisms—wheel and axle, wedge, lever, screw, inclined plane and pulley—function with physics. After the lecture, little engineers are encouraged to build bridges, balloon-powered cars all with LEGOs.
A Magical Cirque Christmas at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, Fort Myers
The nationally touring show kicks off its 30-city tour in Southwest Florida, performing two shows to start off the holiday season right. This extreme stunt show features fantastical costumes and talents with America’s Got Talent contortionist and creator of aerial archery Aryn Shelander pushing the boundaries of flexibility while accurately shooting a bow at targets with her feet. Jonathan Ronny, a fourth-generation Rolla Bolla artist, juggles swords while balancing on a precariously stacked board and rolling cylinder. These world-class entertainers and others perform a show set to a holiday score for all ages.
Nov. 18 — Dec. 31
Festival of the Lights at Fishermen’s Village, Punta Gorda
The Lighting of the Village ceremony begins on the 18th at 5 p.m. with live, beachside music at Sunset Beach Club. Shane Duncan Band gets the party started before the arrival of Santa and The Grinch as they make a grand fire truck entrance. Encourage your children to help collect non-perishables to donate to local food pantries and outreach programs. To cap the holiday festivities, the village’s one million-plus lights flicker to life during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Nov. 24 — Dec. 31
Holiday Nights at Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers
Walk the historic property while each house and tree is aglow for the holiday season. Capture a moment and a photo with Santa on Sundays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and December 21 to 22. Register for a cookie decorating activity under the decked-out river pavilion while holiday music adds to the jolly atmosphere. Wash down Christmas-themed treats by Sweet Reel with hot cocoa.
Nov. 28 — Dec. 24
Madagascar a Musical Adventure Jr. at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, Fort Myers
Enjoy a buffet-style lunch and a musical performance by a professional troupe of actors sharing the tale of a group of unlikely animal friends escaping New York City’s Central Park Zoo and getting thrown into the wild throngs of the island of Madagascar.
Celebrations Around the World 2023 at Shoppes at Vanderbilt Plaza, Naples
This family-friendly cultural wonderland hosts vendor booths celebrating a variety of holidays and traditions. Irish step dancers, hula dancers and other live entertainers perform for the crowds while Santa hosts meet-and-greets amid bubble snow flurries. Adults can try their hand at axe throwing while mini lumberjacks attempt an inflatable version of the activity. Food vendors have tasty bites for the kids, including cotton candy and fresh lemonade. There will also be a cookie decorating station by Jess’s Sweet Treats. For the grownups, The Cave Bistro & Wine Bar hosts a full bar while Good Thyme Grazing lays out charcuterie boards.
Giving Thanks Family Campfire Circle at Camp Caloosa, North Fort Myers
At least once a month, prospective Girl Scouts grades K-12 and their crews ages 5 and up are invited to camp for an evening to share traditions, songs and stories around the campfire. This month, day campers participate in themed Thanksgiving games and activities including a sack race and crafting turkeys from handprints. What’s a campfire without toasty treats? Popcorn and s’mores are cooked onsite by the campers—just bring water, chairs and your besties.
Exceptional Night at C’MON, Naples
The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples hosts these special nights once a month for children with sensory integration disorders. The interactive museum offers an educational space for safe exploration and learning. This month, themed activities including pumpkin scratch art, Thanksgiving obstacle course and a holiday-themed storytime provide a creative space for each child to participate. Each Exceptional Night has lower lighting and sounds, capped attendance to keep the group small and cool-down spaces along with weighted blankets and headphones to ensure comfort throughout the event.