A lot of people are confused by Celebration, Florida. Is it part of Walt Disney World? How did the town come about? Truth be told, Celebration isn’t really a town. It is officially a “census-designated place”. Technically Celebration is part of Kissimmee, and has a Kissimmee zip code. Celebration has a small town feel, and for all intents and purposes it is a town, and will be referred to as such here.
Celebration is not part of Walt Disney World. The confusion comes because it was designed by the Disney Development Company. A lottery system was used to decide who could purchase the first homes, and the first residents moved to Celebration in 1996. The town is a little under 11 square miles in size, and you’ll feel as if you’re hours away from the most popular theme parks on the planet. Here are eight things that you’ll want to know about Celebration, Florida.
8. Market Street
One of the main commercial streets in Celebration is called Market Street. Some people wonder why it is not called Main Street, since it is one of the main streets. The answer is simple, there is already a Main Street in Kissimmee, so the name was taken. On Market Street you’ll find shops and restaurants. You will truly feel as if you stepped back in time.
7. Lake Rianhard
Walk down Market Street and you can’t help but notice Lake Rianhard. This is a great place to relax for a little while. There are rocking chairs, and a walking trail surrounds the lake. There is an interactive fountain not far away from the rocking chairs. Lake Rianhard is beautiful during the day, but it’s spectacular at sunset. There are alligators in Lake Rianhard and the other waterways that are found in Celebration, so swimming and wading are not allowed.
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6. Walking Trails
The walking trail around Lake Rianhard is not the only one in Celebration. The town is perfect for pedestrians and fitness enthusiasts. There are miles of walking, jogging, and biking trails that weave in and out of the center of town. Keep your eyes open for wildlife, because there is plenty to be seen. In the wooded areas there is a good chance that you’ll see deer, and there are other animals that might cross your path. Some of the trails follow the water, where there is more wildlife to be found. The paths are paved and easy to walk. There are some wooden bridges along the way as well. Pay attention to where you are walking, because the trails can be a bit confusing if you have never been before.
5. Farmers Market
If you are visiting Celebration on a Sunday, you will want to stop by the Farmers Market. It’s held 9:00am through 3:00pm. Market Street is closed to traffic (which isn’t a big deal, it’s easy to get around it if you’re driving) and booths are set up on both sides of the street. You could find fresh produce, local honey, fresh baked goods, items from local craftsmen, souvenirs, and more. The selection could change weekly, so if you’ll be in town for a while you might want to stop by more than once.
4. Free Concerts
Several times a year there are free concerts in Celebration. A stage will be setup at the end of Market Street in front of Lake Rianhard. The concerts have a block party feel. There will be vendors selling food and drinks, and there could be activities for the children. There is free street parking, but give yourself extra time. The concerts are popular, and Celebration Avenue (the street that runs through the middle of the town) will get backed up. You might end up parking several streets away and having to walk.
Although it is not an official Celebration event, the town is one of the most popular places in the area on Halloween. It’s a whole new level of trick or treating. Many of the residents will have spectacular decorations, and they might dress up as well. They are happy to give out candy. The streets are packed each year with kids in costume. If you’re visiting on Halloween and not sure where to take your kids, Celebration is a great choice.
Halloween isn’t the only day in October when things are a bit different in Celebration. One weekend each October, Oktoberfest is also celebrated. There is live music and street vendors on Market Street. There is also fall foliage. During the party, paper leaves are shot out of boxes on the streetlights along Market Street. The leaves are different colors, and they “fall” on the hour. Kids can get paper bags and pick up as many leaves as possible. It’s a strange tradition, but it’s also a lot of fun.
1. Now Snowing
If you think that paper leaves are strange, wait until you hear about the Christmas season! Now Snowing starts the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and it runs through the end of the year. Market Street is blocked off the entire time, and a skating rink is set up at one end. (The rink is made of plastic.) Each night, it will snow on the hour. Of course it’s really snoap (snow made out of soap). A short story about snow in Florida will play over the loudspeakers, and then the snoap will fall. There are also a couple of concerts during the Christmas season, and there is a giant tree at the end of Market Street. There are hay, train, and carriage rides, carolers, and possibly even Santa. It’s a festive atmosphere, and can really help put you into the Christmas Spirit. Seeing snow that does not need to be shoveled when you’re wearing shorts and flip flops is something that you need to experience at least once.