McRae Studios' annual Holiday Open House and Sale is a highlight of the season.
Dickens’ ghostly ‘Christmas Carol’
The Charles Dickens’ holiday classic “A Christmas Carol” comes to life onstage at the Garden Theatre in Winter Garden Dec. 3-19. Produced by Beth Marshall and directed by Central Florida’s most inventive director John DiDonna, this unique adaptation of the classic Dickens tale is one of the largest productions in Garden Theatre history, with a cast and crew of more than 50 people. The Holiday classic ushers in the season and the spirit (or in this case, three spirits) of Christmas featuring film and television personality Dennis Neal as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve and awakens the next day a changed man. Neal, whose credits include appearances on ABC’s “The Practice” and NBC’s “The West Wing”, will make his Garden Theatre premiere with this performance. The Garden Theatre is at 160 W. Plant St. in Winter Garden. Call 407-877-4736 or visit gardentheatre.org
America’s piano showman
The renowned Christian pianist/entertainer Dino Kartsonakis begins a limited run of his “Christmas Extravaganza” on Friday, Dec. 3 in Winter Park. This spectacular show is a cross between the high-kicks of “Radio City Music Hall”, the family fun of “The Nutcracker” ballet and the rhinestone-studded glitz of a Liberace concert — complete with crystal-studded piano. Add dynamic lighting and dancer/singers who come together with Dino and his wife, Cheryl, to perform every holiday-inspired carol you can think of. This inspiring holiday show is one highlight after another with Dino and company always retaining reverence for the true meaning of the spirit of Christmas. Performances take place at Calvary Assembly Church at 1199 Clay St. in Winter Park. Visit www.calvaryorlando.org or call 407-644-1199.
Ice and snow may be in short supply everywhere in Central Florida except at Gaylord Palms Resort, where two million pounds of ice has been carved into amazing holiday sculptures. This year, the displays bring the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to life. It’s naturally freezing in there, so the hotel supplies comfy down parkas with each ticket, allowing guests to play in 40 tons of real snow with games, real snowballs and seasonal treats such as snowberries, snow cones and roasted chestnuts. While visiting Ice!, save time to walk around the resort, which is decked out in its holiday finest with a 54-foot tree and visits from Santa. The Gaylord Palms “Best of Florida Christmas Celebration” is offered through Jan. 2. Call 407-586-4ICE or 407-586-2000.
A ‘Wonderland of Lights’
From the comfort of your car, your little ones will be wide-eyed as they marvel at the millions of twinkling lights creating more than 100 larger-than-life holiday scenes as you drive through the new “Wonderland of Lights” at Osceola Heritage Park. This holiday attraction, unique to Kissimmee, offers lighted palm trees, a cowboy, the “12 Days of Christmas”, Rudolph, Santa, a Western saloon and much more. Tickets are $20 per carload (so you can pile in the neighborhood kids) and include a 20-minute drive through the 120-acre OHP complex, listening to holiday music. Visitors may visit Santa’s Village, have their picture taken, try skating on real ice (extra fee) and enjoy hot chocolate. “Wonderland of Lights” is available from dusk to 10 p.m. through Jan. 9. Call 321-697-3333.
Fine art as a Christmas gift
Each year, the artists who make up that beehive of artistic activity known as McRae Studios open their studios for their annual Holiday Open House and Sale. The event is a highlight of the season and a great chance to see inside a working art studio complex. It is also a time when the artists bring out all of their work — much of it at bargain prices making an original piece of art affordable to own … or to give as a very special holiday gift. The Studios will be open on Saturday, Dec. 4 from 4-9 p.m. McRae Art Studios is at 904 Railroad Ave. in Winter Park. Call 407-599-9956 or visit www.mcraeartstudios.com