Annual Winter Festival set for Saturday

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As the holiday season arrives, Leon County residents are preparing to celebrate the 37th annual Winter Festival, a celebration of lights, music and the arts.

Visitors can expect more than 40 food vendors, an art show, holiday displays, a jingle bell run, and a nighttime parade. The festival is set to take place Saturday in downtown Tallahassee from 3 to 10 p.m.

To kick off the city’s celebration, the Council on Culture and Arts (COCA) will host the Winter Festival Youth Art Exhibition from 6–8 p.m. on Friday.

According to, the exhibition is a K-12 art show with work from Leon County’s public, private and charter schools.

“This year, thanks to a partnership grant with the Florida Division of Arts and Culture and the National Endowment for the Arts, COCA is hosting a student showcase at the opening reception, with multiple student musical performances throughout the evening,” according to the Tallahassee Arts website.

The celebration will get underway on Saturday with children’s activities and family friendly movies. Visitors will have the option to view live performances by local artists, actors and dancers downtown.

Jeanette Grice, a Tallahassee resident, eagerly looks forward to celebrating Winter Festival with her children.

“I’m excited about the event and looking forward to it,” she said. “I think it will be a good turnout.”

Candy Cane Lane in McCarty Park will return with popular themes on display, such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, candy canes, presents, and Florida snow.

The Jingle Bell Run, a delightful 2-mile family friendly race generously supported by Capital Health Plan, is set to kick off at 6:15 p.m. Each year, it attracts the spirited participation of more than 1,000 enthusiastic runners.

Directly following the Jingle Bell Run, the Christmas parade is scheduled for 7:15 p.m., poised to captivate an anticipated audience of more than 100,000.

Expect a breathtaking showcase of creative floats, enchanting marching bands, lively dance teams, and the vibrant participation of neighborhood businesses. All of this and additional surprises are set to guarantee a genuinely remarkable celebration.

Lalique Washington, a Tallahassee native, has not attended a parade in a few years but is thrilled to join this year’s celebration.

“I’m really excited about attending the festival,” she said. “It feels like a wonderful way to embrace the Christmas spirit.”

St. John’s Episcopal Church will be open for reserved parking, and a comfort station will be available from 4–10 p.m. Visitors can reserve parking spots for $15 before noon on Saturday.