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December 2023
Ray Sarracino, Jackie Parker, Miriam Dotson 239-338-3500

What’s New from Fort Myers – Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods

LEE COUNTY, Florida (U.S.A.) – The calendar is filled with holiday events, a new
golf course opens in Bonita Springs and Margaritaville Beach Resort welcomes guests
to Fort Myers Beach this month.

Holiday events
Florida Repertory Theatre, downtown Fort Myers
“A Sherlock Carol” at the historic Arcade Theatre
Through Dec. 17

Broadway Palm holiday shows, Fort Myers
Main theatre through Dec. 25: “Elf, the Musical”
Off-Broadway Palm Dec. 23-Dec. 25: “A Doublewide Texas Christmas”

48th annual Historic Holiday Nights Celebration
Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers
Through Dec. 23 and Dec. 26-31

“I’ll be Home for Christmas” Stroll 20 holiday windows in downtown Fort Myers
First Street
Through Jan. 2

Lee County Black History Society 11th annual Holiday in the Park, Fort Myers
Dec. 1 Movie in the Park
Dec. 2 Holiday in the Park
Roberto Clemente Park, 1936 Henderson Ave., Fort Myers

Fort Myers Beach Christmas Boat Parade
6 p.m. Dec. 2
Leaves from Salty Sam’s Marina, Fort Myers Beach

Wine and Wonder Uncorked at Wonder Gardens, Bonita Springs
5:30 p.m. Dec. 2
Stroll and wine tasting in the gardens.

Festival of Trees, downtown Fort Myers
Through Dec. 3
Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center

Deck the Halls, Gulf Coast Symphony, Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall
Fort Myers
7 p.m. Dec. 3

Holiday in the Park, downtown Bonita Springs
4:30-8:30 Dec. 5

Fort Myers Beach Woman’s Club annual Christmas Tree Festival
Fort Myers Beach Library
Dec. 8-9

Bonita Springs Christmas Boat Parade
5:30 p.m. Dec. 9
Beginning at BayWater Boat Club

Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, Holiday Pops with guest artist Andrew Lipke
7 p.m. Dec. 9 at Fort Myers High School; 4 p.m. Dec. 10 at the First Presbyterian Church
of Bonita Springs; 7 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Village Church in Shell Point.                     

Breakfast and photos with Santa at the Shell Factory, North Fort Myers
9-11 a.m. Dec. 10: pancake breakfast with Santa at Tommy’s Eats & Spirits. Reservations: 239-995-2141
10 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 11, 17, 23: photos with Santa in the Christmas House. Bring your camera.

“The Nutcracker,” Gulfshore Ballet, Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, Fort Myers
Presented by Gulfshore Symphony
2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16

Cape Coral Boat-A-Long and holiday fun
4-9 p.m. Dec. 16, at Four Freedoms Park, Cape Coral

Santa’s Dolphin and Wildlife Cruise with Adventures in Paradise
9:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Dec. 24

Celebrate the New Year: Downtown Fort Myers Countdown
6 p.m. until after midnight Dec. 31
Ball drop, fireworks and entertainment

Downtown Cape Coral New Year’s Eve Celebration
6 p.m. until after midnight Dec. 31
Fireworks, entertainment, ball drop

Accommodations news
Margaritaville Beach Resort, Fort Myers Beach opens this month
With swaying palm trees, pristine sandy beaches and a relaxed, island atmosphere,
the 254-room Margaritaville Beach Resort is taking reservations for stays this month.
Guests arriving in time for the holidays will be among the first to explore the beauty
of this beachfront resort.

The resort sits on 7.25 acres along Fort Myers Beach with direct beach access and
views of the Gulf of Mexico. The property includes six restaurants as well as the
43,000-square-foot Sunset Terrace that are open to the public. For reservations and details:

Hampton Inn Fort Myers Downtown is accepting reservations for arrivals beginning
Jan. 11, 2024.

Latest update: 73.3 % of the guest rooms (10,423) in Lee County have opened with
more to come in the weeks and months ahead. 

Golf news
Saltleaf Golf Preserve opens in Bonita Springs
Saltleaf Golf Preserve, the 18-hole renovated course, previously known as Raptor Bay
Golf Club, has opened to golfers. The $25 million renovation is part of London Bay
Development Group’s project near the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa
in Bonita Springs. 

On what was formerly Raptor Bay’s 55-acre back nine, Naples-based London Bay is
building two 22-story condominiums buildings, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Estero
Bay and Saltleaf Marina.  Raymond Floyd, a four-time major winner on the PGA Tour
and golf course designer, came out of retirement to redesign the course he built 22
years ago. The length of the course grew from 6,400 yards to 7,075 and from par 71
to 72. The course has seven tee boxes, creating different lengths for each hole. Saltleaf
took hole No. 10 from Raptor Bay and turned it into a nine-hole short course where the
dress code is casual the course is fun. Both courses are open to the public.

Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) news
New air service at RSW
Lynx Air:
Toronto (YYZ), weekly, starting Dec. 1

Spirit Airlines
Nashville (BNA), weekly, starting Dec. 4
San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU), four flights per week starting Dec. 15

JetBlue Airways:
Worcester (ORH), weekly starting Jan. 4, 2024. For more information, visit

Attractions news
Sun Saver Passport: Dine, Play, Shop, Sip
This popular, digital savings pass provides instant access to a variety of deals and experiences
from area attractions, restaurants and more across four categories – Dine, Play, Shop and Sip.
Sign-up is simple and free. Passports are instantly delivered to phones via text and email. And
there is an option for users to save the pass on their home screen for one-tap access. Sign up
now to start saving.

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, Sanibel Island  
Visitors to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum will soon notice a new name and
logo adorning the longstanding Sanibel Island attraction. In advance of its early 2024
reopening the Museum has announced a renaming to The Bailey-Matthews National Shell
Museum & Aquarium. The change reflects reinstallation of its permanent exhibit spaces
including the Living Gallery of aquariums and marine life and the shell exhibits of The Great
Hall of Shells.

Restaurants/dining news
Fort Myers Brewing Company
plans its annual Winterfest celebration Dec. 14-17. The event
features four days of beer releases, food trucks, live music, a holiday night market featuring local
handcrafted items, and a festive Movie in the Parking Lot screening of “The Grinch.” Its popular
Keg Nog will be on tap along with a holiday-inspired imperial stout. Photos with Santa and the
Grinch for attendees and their furry friends.

Annual festivals and events
Sunrise Shell and Mollusk Stroll, Sanibel Island
Lighthouse Beach
Dec. 14, 2023, Jan. 26, Feb. 8 and March 10, 2024
With a marine biologist from the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum & Aquarium

Clyde Butcher’s America’s Everglades Exhibit
Through Dec. 29
Centers for the Arts of Bonita Springs

Daydreaming: Niki Butcher exhibit
Dec. 21-Feb. 25, 2024
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Refuge Center

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Distinguished Authors
Bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver
Jan. 11, 2024
Community House, Sanibel Island

39th Annual Cape Coral Festival of the Arts, Cape Coral
Jan. 13-14, 2024

Bonita Springs National Art Festival
Jan. 13-14, Feb. 10-11, March 2-3, 2024

Bacon Jam
Jan. 13, 2024
Caloosa Sound Amphitheater, downtown Fort Myers

“Ding” Darling Lecture Series, Sanibel Island
Jan.18 and 25, Feb. 1, March 7, 14 and 21, 2024

Wellness in Nature at “Ding” Darling, Sanibel Island
Jan.18-21, 2024

39th Annual Cape Coral Festival of the Arts, Cape Coral
Jan. 13-14, 2024

ArtFest Fort Myers, Downtown River District
Feb. 2-4, 2024

21st annual Burrowing Owl Festival, Cape Coral
Feb. 24, 2024
Rotary Park

Edison Festival of Light Grand Parade, Fort Myers
Feb. 17, 2024

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Distinguished Authors
Bestselling author, Carl Hiaasen
Feb. 29, 2024
Community House, Sanibel Island

“Ding” Wild Days of Wellness
March 23-24, 2024 

Spring training
Boston Red Sox
Feb. 23-March 26, 2024
JetBlue Park, Fort Myers

Minnesota Twins
Feb. 23-March 26, 2024
Lee Health Sports Complex/Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers

25th Annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival, Fort Myers
March 2, 2024
Fort Myers Regional Library, downtown Fort Myers

87th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival, Sanibel Island
March 7-9, 2024
Community House

Sanibel Shell Show, Fort Myers
March 8-9
Marriott Sanibel Harbour Resort

ECHO Global Food and Farm Festival, North Fort Myers 
March 12-16, 2024

Sounds of the Sand, Bell Tower, Fort Myers
March 23-23, 2024
To support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Refuge education efforts

34th Annual “Ding” Darling Day Conservation Carnival
April 20, 2024

14th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival
May 22-26, 2024

12th Annual “Ding” Darling and Doc Ford’s Tarpon Tournament
May 10, 2024

Fringe Fort Myers
June 6-9, 2024

National Seashell Day
June 21, 2024

July 2024
Pine Island

FITMIX FEST, downtown Fort Myers
Sept. 27-29, 2024

Island Hopper Songwriter Fest
Sept. 20-29, 2024

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge “Art in the Wild”
October 2024

Cape Coral Oktoberfest
October 2024

Sanibel Island Writers Conference
November 2024

Holiday Luminary and kick-off to Sanibel Island 50th anniversary
Dec. 6-7, 2024
Sanibel and Captiva Islands
13-month celebration of Sanibel’s 50th anniversary

EDITOR’S NOTE: Fort Myers – Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods includes: Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Pine Island, Matlacha, Boca Grande & Outer Islands, North Fort Myers, Alva, Buckingham and Lehigh Acres. For more information, go to
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