Krista Tippett, author and host of NPR’s On Being, will headline the 2018 GladdeningLight Symposium, which is dubbed The Spiritual Lens: Evocations on Poetry, Music and Film. Joining Tippett will be (right, top to bottom): A.O. Scott, film critic for The New York Times; Gustavo Santaolalla, Oscar-winning composer; and Billy Collins, former two-time U.S. poet laureate. Photos by Suzannah Gilman (Billy Collins) and International Billboard (Gustavo Santaolalla)

Through a Spiritual Lens

The GladdeningLight Symposium always assembles an eclectic roster of scholars, writers, clerics and creatives to explore the ways in which art and spirituality overlap and intersect.

Weighty? Of course. But the symposium, helmed by GladdeningLight Founding Director Randall B. Robertson, offers some of the most inspiring speakers and innovative programs you’ll see anywhere.

This year’s symposium has a typically expansive theme, which is reflected in its title: The Spiritual Lens: Evocations on Poetry, Music and Film. For the first time, the whole shebang will be held on the campus of Rollins College.

The nondenominational gathering, set for January 25-28, 2018, relocated to the campus in part because it had simply outgrown its previous home base, All Saints Episcopal Church on Lyman Avenue.

The move will provide elbow room — and a vibrant setting — for an expanded slate of activities, including a series of lectures, performances and discussions that will feature four speakers:

  • Krista Tippett, host of the NPR program and podcast On Being and author of Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living. 
  • A.O. Scott, chief film critic of The New York Times, author of Better Living Through Criticism and host of a video podcast called Critics’ Picks.
  • Gustavo Santaolalla, an Argentinian-born musician, composer and producer who won back-to-back Oscars for his scores to Brokeback Mountain and Babel.
  • Billy Collins, former U.S. poet laureate and senior distinguished fellow at Rollins College’s Winter Park Institute, whose most recent volume of poetry is The Rain in Portugal. 

Free Planet Radio, an Asheville, North Carolina-based world-music trio, will provide multi-instrumental musical interludes during the symposium.

“Gladdening light” is a reference to what scholars consider the first Christian hymn. Written in Greek during the third century, it’s an entreaty for spiritual illumination amid the darkness of day-to-day life.

Robertson, a former sports marketing entrepreneur, turned to soul-searching following his retirement. He even briefly studied to be a minister, but started GladdeningLight instead.

The organization’s mission, he says, is to bring together writers, thinkers, musicians and visual artists who “honor the divine spark” and inspire others in a collaborative setting.

Rollins — and filmmaking — first played a key role in the symposium two years ago, when programming was related to Joan of Arc.

During the 2015 event, Knowles Memorial Chapel hosted the screening of a silent film, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc. The film was accompanied by an oratorio, Richard Einhorn’s Voices of Light, which was performed by the Bach Festival Choir.

Attendees at two sold-out performances sat momentarily in stunned silence as the last notes dissipated. Then they leapt to their feet, applauding and cheering. It was the first time many had ever heard of GladdeningLight.

The 2018 symposium, sponsored by the office of Rollins President Grant Cornwell, will include events in Bush Auditorium, SunTrust Auditorium, Warden Arena, Tiedtke Concert Hall and Dave’s Boathouse.

“We’ve sponsored museum exhibits and hosted photographers, painters and sculptors — but never thoroughly examined the evocative nature of film,” says Robertson. “It’ll be a joy to delve into the movies with such a distinguished group.”

He hopes participants will emerge better equipped to experience the spiritual messages that some films seek to impart. There’s no reason, he says, to be surprised by — or to dismiss — an insight simply because it happened to accompany a box of popcorn and a trip to the multiplex.

“When you’re brought to tears or get goosebumps at the movies, that can represent a doorway to greater depths of feeling,” adds Robertson.

When it comes to faith backgrounds, he and Krista Tippett, the symposium’s keynoter, have plenty in common: Both are products of fundamentalist stock who came to question the dogma they’d been taught.

Mississippi-born Robertson was raised in the Church of Christ, where he was warned against dancing or swimming with the opposite sex. Oklahoma-born Tippett’s grandfather was a Southern Baptist preacher whose theology she once described as “all about avoiding death and damnation.”

Early in life, Tippett found herself wondering: “How could every Catholic and Jew, every atheist in China and every Northern Baptist in Chicago — for that matter, every non-Southern Baptist — be damned? Could God be so petty, and heaven so small?”

Seeking the answer to that question, among others, Tippett enrolled at Yale Divinity School, from which she earned a degree. She later began writing about religion issues, eventually creating and hosting an NPR program and podcast called On Being. 

The show is essentially a continuation of the spiritual quest that Tippett began in her youth. It examines what she calls the “animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?”

On Being’s guest list has included the Dalai Lama, Maya Angelou, Roseanne Cash, Yo-Yo Ma and Elie Wiesel. Tippett has an inquisitive, earthy interviewing style: You can still sense the presence of that down-home Oklahoma girl, plainspoken yet penetrating.

In 2014, Tippett received the National Humanities Medal for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence.”

The citation further noted: “On the air and in print, Ms. Tippett avoids easy answers, embracing complexity and inviting people of every background to join her conversation about faith, ethics and moral wisdom.”

A.O. Scott’s central observation in Better Living Through Criticism is that critical thinking is a necessary life skill for anyone wishing to be fully human. Unfortunately, he laments, it’s a life skill that’s been degraded. Ignorance, he contends, is cultivated by default:

“Anti-intellectualism is virtually our civic religion. ‘Critical thinking’ may be a ubiquitous educational slogan — a vaguely defined skill we hope our children pick up on the way to adulthood — but the rewards for not using your intelligence are immediate and abundant.”

Scott, who shares film-reviewing duties at The New York Times with Manohla Dargis, is a distinguished professor of film criticism at Wesleyan University.

In 2006, Scott served as guest critic on Ebert & Roeper when the late Roger Ebert’s illness became debilitating. He’s a firm believer in the power of film to elevate its audience.

“I think art exists in the service of the dignity of human beings,” he has said. “I think the reason that cinema exists, and the thing that gives it its power and charisma, is the human face — and the ways that it can represent the human face on a scale, and with an emotional immediacy, that surpasses any other art.”

Gustavo Santaolalla’s trademark as a musician is innovation. He was front man of the Argentine rock band Arco Iris (Spanish for rainbow). It was perhaps the first rock group to promote the practice of yoga through its music.

Santaolalla also played a key role in melding rock with Argentina’s regional folk music. In a country with a history of repression, he has said that “the power of music to transform people” was particularly profound.

He continued to explore that power after moving to California and writing music for films. Ordinarily, composers wait until movies are made, and then create melodies to suit the action.

But for Brokeback Mountain, Santaolalla worked the other way around. His score captures a sense of both the loneliness of the Wyoming landscape and the dark beauty of a doomed love.

He wrote it on instinct, without the benefit of seeing how director Ang Lee would bring Annie Proulx’s compelling short story to the big screen. Instead of being inspired by actors, he inspired them by playing his music on the set.

“That whole score was done before they shot one frame,” he said in an interview with New York Times music critic Jon Pareles. “We played it for the actors, then it was the genius of [Lee] to put it in the right places.”

Billy Collins, who has become a golfing buddy of Robertson’s — and an informal ambassador for GladdeningLight — will kick off the symposium by interviewing Tippett. Actually, it’ll be more of a conversation — and attendees get to eavesdrop.

Collins, who was inducted into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters last year, has been described by The New York Times as the most popular poet in the country. But more often than not, there’s a deeper undercurrent to his breezy, engaging verses.

He has been interviewed about the spiritual component some find in his work, and was asked to write a preface to The Best Spiritual Writing of 2011.

Once, upon being told than his poems were being read at mealtimes to the Roman Catholic monks at a religious retreat on the mountainous Northern California Big Sur coastline, he visited the hermitage.

And, like the monks, he observed silence for the duration of his stay. If you’ve ever been around Collins, you know that was quite an accomplishment.

The Spiritual Lens is a four-day combination of free and ticketed events, including a keynote address by Tippett. There’ll also be lectures, receptions and panel discussions featuring Tippett, Scott, Santaolalla and Collins. Free Planet Radio, with Santaolalla as a special guest, will stage a concert.

Also on the schedule are tours of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Morse Museum of American Art and the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens in Winter Park.

For a detailed schedule — and to register for the four-day symposium — visit or call 407-647-3963. A $280 pass gets you into just about everything, while some events are free or cost as little as $25.

— Michael McLeod


The Maitland Art Center’s new exhibition, Drawing the Unseen: Artists Explore the Subconscious, features the original surrealist watercolor paintings that were reproduced in Art and the Subconscious, a 1936 book by J. André Smith, the center’s founder. Shown is one of the exhibition’s paintings, And Yet You Cannot Hold Them Down, a particularly eerie work by Smith. Adjoining galleries will highlight similarly themed works by local artists. Drawing the Unseen runs from October 6 through December 17.


Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. This 54-year-old lakeside museum is dedicated to preserving the works of the famed Czech sculptor for whom it was both home and studio for more than a decade. Running through December 3 is Captured in Paint — Central Florida in Art, featuring plein air works on loan from local collectors Hal Stringer and Kevin Miller. In addition, the Polasek offers tours of the restored Capen-Showalter House three times weekly: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 a.m., and Saturdays at 10:15 a.m. The house, built in 1885, was saved from demolition several years ago and floated across Lake Osceola to a new location on the Polasek’s grounds. Regular admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for students and free for children. 633 Osceola Avenue, Winter Park. 407-647-6294.

Art & History Museums — Maitland. The Maitland Art Center, one of five museums anchoring the city’s Cultural Corridor, was founded as an art colony in 1937 by visionary American artist and architect J. André Smith. The center, located at 231 West Packwood Avenue, Maitland, is the Orlando area’s only National Historic Landmark and one of the few surviving examples of Mayan Revival architecture in the Southeast. Its next exhibition, Drawing the Unseen: Artists Explore the Subconscious, opens October 6 and runs through December 17. The exhibition features the original surrealist watercolor paintings that were reproduced in Art and the Subconscious, a 1936 book written by Smith. Adjoining galleries will showcase works on paper by living artists who are investigating aspects of the unseen, including Matt Duke, Ian Jones and Anthony Deal, all from Orlando. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and children 4-18, and free for children 3 and under. The museum’s first “Culture Pop!” of the 2017-18 season, scheduled October 6, features a first look at Drawing the Unseen. The event, which runs from 6-9 p.m., also includes literary readings by local writers, live music, demonstrations by art-school instructors and a chance to meet the 2017-18 “Artists in Action.” Admission is $5. The Cultural Corridor also includes the Maitland Historical Museum, at which the ongoing exhibition Maitland’s Legacies: Creativity & Innovation uses archival photographs, artifacts and documents to trace the history of the city and its residents. The other three venues are the Telephone Museum, included with the historical museum at 221 West Packwood Avenue, Maitland, and the Waterhouse Residence Museum, which with the Carpentry Shop Museum was built in the 1880s and is located at 820 Lake Lily Drive, Maitland. 407-539-2181.

Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. With more than 19,000 square feet of gallery and public space, the Morse houses the world’s most important collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany creations, including jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass and an entire chapel interior originally designed and built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. In marking its diamond anniversary this year, the museum showcases the breadth of its eclectic collection in Celebrating 75 Years — Pathways of American Art at the Morse Museum. The exhibition, which continues through September 23, 2018, includes portraits, landscape paintings, pottery and works on paper assembled by founders Hugh and Jeannette McKean. On display through January 7, 2018: Focus Exhibition: Tiffany Studios’ Daffodil Reading Lamp, and Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Life and Art. Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $1 for students and free for children younger than 12. 445 North Park Avenue, Winter Park. 407-645-5311.

Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Located on the campus of Rollins College, the museum houses one of the oldest and most eclectic collections of fine art in Florida. Free tours take place at 1 p.m. on Saturdays at the campus facility and at 1 p.m. on Sundays at the nearby Alfond Inn, which displays dozens of works from the museum’s Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art. Happy Hour tours of the Alfond Collection are also conducted on the first Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. If you prefer historic works, Throwback Thursday tours are offered at the museum from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of most months. Continuing through December 31 is Time as Landscape -— Inquiries of Art and Science, an exhibition of art that questions, describes or seeks to understand the concept of time. Meanwhile, the museum’s ongoing Conversations exhibition features selected works from the permanent collection along with recent gifts and loans. Admission to the museum is free, courtesy of Dale Montgomery, Rollins Class of 1960. 1000 Holt Avenue, Winter Park. 407-646-2526.

Crealdé School of Art. Established in 1975, this nonprofit arts organization offers year-round visual-arts classes for all ages, taught by more than 40 working artists. Admission to the school’s galleries is free, though there are fees for art classes. Through January 13, 2018, the school’s Jenkins Gallery features The Lake: A Documentary Exploring the Land and People of Lake Apopka, in which 25 photographers, studio artists and plein air painters explore the land and people surrounding Florida’s fifth-largest lake. The Crealdé Photography Guild assembles the project’s photographers to share their experiences on November 3 from 7-9 p.m. 600 Saint Andrews Boulevard, Winter Park. 407-671-1886.

Hannibal Square Heritage Center. Established in 2007 by the Crealdé School of Art in partnership with residents of Hannibal Square and the City of Winter Park, the center celebrates the city’s historically African-American west side with archival photographs, original artwork and oral histories from longtime residents that are together known as the Heritage Collection. Also ongoing is the Hannibal Square Timeline, which documents significant local and national events in African-American history since the Emancipation Proclamation. Admission is free. 642 West New England Avenue, Winter Park. 407-539-2680.


Annie Russell Theatre. “The Annie,” located on the campus of Rollins College, kicks off its 2017-18 season with The Cradle Will Rock, a musical allegory written in the 1930s about political corruption and corporate greed. The show runs September 29 through October 7. Next up: Sense and Sensibility, a new adaptation of the beloved Jane Austen novel. The play, like the book, follows the Dashwood sisters as they cope with the sudden death of their father, which leaves them financially destitute and socially vulnerable. It runs November 17 through December 2. Both productions are slated for eight performances, with most shows at 8 p.m. and several matinees at 2 or 4 p.m. Tickets start at $20. 1000 Holt Avenue, Winter Park. 407-646-2145.

Fred Stone Theatre. The Annie Russell Theatre offers a Second Stage Series of free, student-produced plays in the nearby Fred Stone Theatre, also on the Rollins College campus. The season’s first production, Eleemosynary, is a full-length drama that explores the complex relationships between three generations of extraordinary women. It runs October 25-28, with five performances at 8 p.m. and a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. First-come, first-served seating. 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park. 407-646-2145.

Winter Park Playhouse. Winter Park’s only professional, nonprofit theater continues its 2017-18 mainstage season through October 8 with Life Could Be a Dream, the Florida premiere of a high-energy musical comedy about a group of doo-wop singers preparing to enter a major radio contest. The show’s score features such classic ’60s rock ’n’ roll hits as “Fools Fall in Love,” “Tears on My Pillow,” “Runaround Sue,” “Earth Angel” and “Unchained Melody.” The next production, Daddy Long Legs, is the regional premiere of an off-Broadway musical based on the 1912 novel and 1955 movie of the same name. The story of a witty and winsome young orphan runs November 17-18 — with a November 16 preview — and, after a Thanksgiving break, continues November 30 through December 17. Both musicals run Thursdays through Sundays at 7:30 p.m., with matinees at 2 p.m. Single tickets range from $15 for students to $42 for evening performances. The 2017-18 Spotlight Cabaret Series kicks off with Kelly Morris Rowan on October 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $23 to $28. 711 Orange Avenue, Winter Park. 407-645-0145.


Winter Park Autumn Art Festival. This two-day art show and sale, now in its 44th year, is the only juried fine-art festival in the state to feature Florida artists exclusively. The event, held in Central Park along Park Avenue, runs October 14 and 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition to art, there’s live entertainment. 251 South Park Avenue, Winter Park.

Leadership Winter Park Oktoberfest. This October 25 event, held in the historic freight depot at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market, squeezes plenty of brats and beer into three hours starting at 5:30 p.m. Naturally, there’s an “oompah” band as well as savory German appetizers, beer and wine. Tickets are $20 for Leadership Winter Park members and alumni, and $25 for everyone else. Proceeds benefit the Legacy Fund of Leadership Winter Park, which funds scholarships for adults and youth seeking entry to Leadership Winter Park, a program sponsored by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. 407-644-8281.


Enzian. This cozy, nonprofit alternative cinema kicks off the fall season with a pair of festivals. The 20th annual Manhattan Short Film Festival, which screens 10 films in two hours — with viewers voting on finalists — is set for October 2 at 6:30 p.m. It’s followed October 7 through 9 by the 23rd annual South Asian Film Festival, which screens independent films celebrating the culture of the Indian subcontinent. This year’s festival, dubbed Beyond Bollywood, is a partnership of Enzian and the local Asian Cultural Association. Many of the theater’s other special programs in October adopt appropriately spooky Halloween themes. Midnight Movies, shown each Saturday of the month at 11:59 p.m., include 28 Days Later (October 7), The Exorcist (October 14), Kill, Baby … Kill! (October 21) and Halloween II (October 28). Also in the series is Porco Rosso (December 1), a Japanese film with English subtitles. Tickets are usually $11 for regular admission; $9 for matinees, students, seniors and military (with ID); and $8.50 for Enzian Film Society members. Cult Classics are shown on the second and last Tuesday of each month at 9:30 p.m., with extra October selections for Halloween. Upcoming films include Poltergeist (October 3), Cabin Fever (October 10), High Tension (October 24), Nightmare on Elm Street (October 31), Krull (November 14), Real Genius (November 28), Pan’s Labyrinth (December 12) and Hedwig and the Angry Inch (December 26). Saturday Matinee Classics are shown on the second Saturday of each month at noon. Upcoming films include The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (October 14), Fanny and Alexander (November 11) and It’s a Wonderful Life (December 9). Book to Big Screen showcases films adapted from books, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula (October 21, 11 a.m.). The next FilmSlam, which spotlights Florida-made short films, is slated for October 15. Music Mondays focus on films about or featuring music, including Phantom of the Paradise (October 16) and Sidemen: Long Road to Glory (November 20). Peanut Butter Matinee Family Films include kid-friendly flicks, such as Porco Rosso (November 26) and The Wizard of Oz (December 17). Showtimes are at noon, and tickets are free for children under 12; otherwise they’re $8 each. Other special showings include Loving Vincent (October 6, 3:30 p.m.), Pearl Jam: Let’s Play Two (October 6, 9:30 p.m.), The Florida Project (October 12, 6:30 p.m.), National Theatre Live productions of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (October 29, 11 a.m.) and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (November 25, 11 a.m.). For youngsters, there’s a Halloween Party featuring Hotel Transylvania 2 (October 22, 11:30 a.m.) and a Letters to Santa party featuring The Polar Express (December 10, 11 a.m.). For grownups, there’s the Eden Bar’s 10th Anniversary Halloween Party (October 28, 9 p.m., with a midnight showing of Halloween II), and a James Bond New Year’s Eve Party with live music and costume contests (December 31, 8 p.m.). 1300 South Orlando Avenue, Maitland. 407-629-0054 (information line), 407-629-1088 (theater offices).

Popcorn Flicks in the Park. The City of Winter Park and Enzian collaborate to offer classic, family friendly films free in Central Park on Park Avenue. These outdoor screenings are usually on the second Thursday of each month and start whenever it gets dark — figure 7 or 8 p.m. Upcoming films include The Blob (October 12, 8 p.m.), Batman: The Movie (November 9, 7 p.m.) and The Nightmare Before Christmas (December 1, 7 p.m.). Bring a blanket or chairs and a snack. 407-629-1088.

Screen on the Green. The City of Maitland offers free outdoor movies each fall and spring on the field at Maitland Middle School. Bring a blanket or chairs. The program’s summer break ends October 1 with a showing of Sing at 7:30 p.m. Next is a November 4 showing of Ghostbusters (2016 version) at 7 p.m., followed by a December 16 showing of Beauty and the Beast (2017 live-action version) at 6 p.m. 1902 Choctaw Trail, Maitland. 407-539-0042.

University Club of Winter Park Film Nights. This organization, dedicated to the enjoyment of intellectual activities and socializing, will screen director Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet on October 19 at 6:30 p.m., followed by the feature-length documentary Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall on October 30 at 6:30 p.m. Non-members are welcome, and the shows are free — although donations are appreciated. University Club of Winter Park, 841 North Park Avenue, Winter Park. 407-644-6149.


Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum. This stunningly restored Spanish farmhouse-style home, designed by acclaimed architect James Gamble Rogers II, is now a community center and museum. Free open houses are hosted by trained docents on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Also, live music is featured in the large downstairs parlor on Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. (see Music). New this year is the Casa Feliz Parlor Series: Culture by Design, which features four lectures. The third, “A Design History of Winter Park,” is presented by Rollins College professor Bruce Stephenson on October 17. The fourth, “Underpinnings of Good Design,” is presented by architect Brooks Weiss and Orange County Budget Director David Hardison on November 14. Both programs start at 7 p.m. following 6:30 p.m. receptions. 656 North Park Avenue (adjacent to the Winter Park Golf Course), Winter Park. 407-628-8200.

Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida. The center is dedicated to combating anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice, with the goal of developing a moral and just community through educational and cultural programs. It houses permanent and temporary exhibitions, archives and a research library. A new exhibition, The Profound Effect, is the result of a promise made by St. Petersburg-based artist Judith Dazzio when she was 12 years old. A Holocaust survivor had spoken to her sixth-grade class, showing faded photographs of her children who had been killed. Over the course of a decade, Dazzio sought to honor the woman by producing a series of haunting paintings based upon her terrifying testimony. The Profound Effect runs through December 31. The museum’s ongoing exhibition, Tribute to the Holocaust, presents artifacts, videos, text, photographs and other artwork. Admission is free. 851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland. 407-628-0555.

Winter Park History Museum. Ongoing displays include artifacts dating from the city’s beginnings as a New England-style resort in the 1880s. Its current exhibition, Winter Park: The War Years, 1941-1945 — Home Front Life in an American Small Town, explores the ways in which World War II affected Winter Parkers. Admission is free. 200 West New England Avenue, Winter Park. 407-644-2330.

Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts. Eatonville is strongly associated with Harlem Renaissance writer and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, who lived there as a girl and recorded her childhood memories in her classic autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road. The museum that bears her name provides information about the city, which was formed by African-Americans; it also sponsors exhibits featuring the works of African-American artists and is an integral part of the annual, weeklong Zora! Festival each January. Admission is free, though group tours require a reservation and must pay a fee. 227 East Kennedy Boulevard, Eatonville. 407-647-3188.,


7th Annual Pumpkins & Munchkins. Kids of all ages are invited to a city-sponsored Halloween gathering at Shady Park, located in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square neighborhood. The free event, which runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on October 31, includes games, bounce houses, a costume contest and a Trick-or-Treat Trail. Corner of New England and Pennsylvania avenues, Winter Park. 407-599-3334.

Handel’s Messiah. The Messiah Choral Society is a Winter Park-based nonprofit organization that performs George Frideric Handel’s most famous composition every Thanksgiving-to-Christmas season using volunteer singers. The main event this year — the 45th annual performance — is November 26 at 3 p.m. at the Bob Carr Theater, 401 West Livingston Street in downtown Orlando. Admission is free.

Winter on the Avenue. The annual holiday street party, slated this year for December 1, encompasses a flurry of activities from 5 to 10 p.m. along Park Avenue and in Central Park. Beginning at 3 p.m., the shopping district is closed to vehicular traffic, transforming it into a giant pedestrian plaza. You won’t want to miss the annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony, visits with Santa Claus, an outdoor movie and other live entertainment. Also enjoy a Merchant Open House and Window Contest before testing your skills at the Winter in the Park Holiday Ice-Skating Rink. The Morse Museum of American Art offers free admission from 4 to 8 p.m. 407-644-8281.

65th Annual “Ye Olde Hometown” Christmas Parade. This venerable holiday tradition, slated this year for December 2 beginning at 9 a.m., has delighted locals since the early 1950s. More than 100 parade units are expected to make their way south along Park Avenue beginning at Cole Avenue and ending at Lyman Avenue. Groups participating in the two-hour event include marching bands, local dance troupes, police and fire departments, scout units, local dignitaries and, of course, Santa Claus. 407-599-3203.

Leadership Winter Park Pancake Breakfast. Just before the “Ye Olde Hometown” Christmas Parade on December 2, you can help turn pancake batter into dough — the spending kind — for civic-leadership scholarships at the 18th Annual Leadership Winter Park Pancake Breakfast. Prior to the parade, at 7 p.m., a traditional pancake breakfast is served in Central Park near the outdoor stage. Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for children. Proceeds benefit the Winter Park Improvement Foundation, which funds scholarships for adults and youth seeking entry to Leadership Winter Park, a program sponsored by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. 407-644-8281.

39th Annual Christmas in the Park. It’s a hallowed Winter Park tradition: On the first Thursday of each December, in Central Park’s West Meadow, the Morse Museum of American Art rings in the season by lighting up some of its priceless Tiffany windows and presenting the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra in an outdoor concert of holiday music. This year — its 39th — the free evening event is on December 7 starting at 6:15 p.m. 407-645-5311.

A Classic Christmas. Take part in yet another cherished Winter Park holiday tradition — this one purely musical. The program, part of the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park’s Choral Masterpiece Series, features beloved Christmas works performed by the society’s choir, youth choir and orchestra. Knowles Memorial Chapel on the campus of Rollins College is the venue for the performances, which are slated for December 16 and 17 at 2 and 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $75. 407-646-2182.

Winter in the Park Holiday Ice-Skating Rink. What? There’s still another not-to-be-missed local holiday tradition? Indeed there is. The big tented ice rink — erected downtown in Central Park’s West Meadow — stays busy from before Thanksgiving well into the new year. A $13 admission fee includes skates, available in both children’s and adult sizes. This season, the rink is open daily from November 18 through January 7, 2018. 407-599-3203.


Winter Park Institute at Rollins College. Each year the institute presents lectures, readings and seminars by thought leaders in an array of disciplines. The second lecture of its 2017-18 season, on October 10, features Lauren Bush Lauren, founder and chief executive of FEED Projects, a socially conscious business that donates money to food-oriented charities with every carry bag and fashion accessory it sells. Her topic: “How to FEED the World, One Bag at a Time,” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. in Tiedtke Concert Hall on the Rollins College campus. The third lecture, on November 8, features local resident Billy Collins, a former two-time U.S. poet laureate who last year was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Collins is scheduled to read a collection of poetry titled Beyond the Birdbath: Poems from Several Time Zones, at 7:30 p.m. in Bush Auditorium, also on the campus. Tickets for both lectures range from $10 to $25. 1000 Holt Avenue, Winter Park. 407-646-2145.


Maitland Farmers’ Market. This year-round, open-air market — held each Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. — features fresh produce, seafood, breads and cheeses as well as plants, all-natural skin-care products and live music by Performing Arts of Maitland. The setting on Lake Lily boasts a boardwalk, jogging trails, a playground and picnic areas. 701 Lake Lily Drive, Maitland.

Winter Park Farmers’ Market. The region’s busiest and arguably most popular farmers’ market is held every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the old railroad depot that also houses the Winter Park History Museum. The open-air market offers baked goods, produce, plants, honey, cheese, meat, flowers, crafts and other specialty items for sale. After shopping, make a morning of it with a stroll along nearby Park Avenue. Dogs are welcome to bring their people. 200 West New England Avenue, Winter Park.


The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park. The society has the distinction of staging the third-oldest continuously operating Bach Festival in the U.S. It’s also Central Florida’s oldest performing-arts organization. In addition to its annual festival, held in February, the society organizes several music series and participates in larger community events. This season’s Visiting Artists Series begins with the Russian String Orchestra (known until last year as Chamber Orchestra Kremlin), which returns to Winter Park on October 15 for a 3 p.m. program in Tiedtke Concert Hall on the Rollins College campus. The series continues November 12 with pianist Alon Goldstein, who’ll also perform in Tiedtke Concert Hall, from 3 to 5 p.m. Tickets for both programs range from $40 to $65. The society’s Choral Masterworks Series runs October 21-22 with Verdi’s Requiem. Performances are Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. in the campus’ Knowles Memorial Chapel. Tickets range from $25 to $65. This year, the society introduces a new series, “Insights & Sounds,” staging concerts that focus on individual composers or a single genre. First up, on November 2, is Mozart, Young and Old. It features works spanning the composer’s lifetime, including Symphony No. 1, Grabmusik (K. 42) and Sanctus Spiritus (K. 47). Tickets for the 7 p.m. program, held in Tiedtke Concert Hall, range from $20 to $45. 1000 Holt Avenue, Winter Park. 407-646-2182.

Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts. This eclectic venue on the far-west side of Winter Park is part performance hall, part recording studio and part art gallery. It offers live performances most evenings, with an emphasis on jazz, classical and world music — although theater, dance and spoken-word presentations are also on the schedule. Upcoming musical events include the Shady Street Show Band (October 3, 8 p.m., $15); the Bobby Koelble Trio (October 4, 8 p.m., $15); Strange Angels (October 6, 8 p.m., $15); the Kelly-Scott Sextet, with trombone legend Dave Steinmeyer (October 7, 7:30 p.m., $20); the Central Florida Jazz Society (October 8, 3 p.m., free); Marbin (October 14, 8 p.m., $15); Carol Stein and Friends (October 18, 8 p.m., $15); the Jeff Rupert Quartet (October 25, 8 p.m., $15); jazz guitar duo Cortez and Koelble (October 26, 8 p.m., $10); the Bobby Koelble Trio (November 1, 8 p.m., $15); Strange Angels (November 3, 8 p.m., $15); Smokin’ Torpedoes (November 11, 8 p.m., $15); the Central Florida Jazz Society, (November 12, 3 p.m., free); the Orlando Jazz Orchestra (November 14, 7:30 p.m., $20); Carol Stein and Friends, with Michelle Amato (November 15, 8 p.m., $15); Grant Stewart with the Jeff Rupert Quartet (November 16, 8 p.m., $20); the Jeff Rupert Quartet (November 22, 8 p.m., $15); jazz guitar duo Cortez and Koelble (November 29, 8 p.m., $10); the Fred Hughes Trio (December 2, 8 p.m., $20); the Bobby Koelble Trio (December 6, 8 p.m., $15); the Maitland Symphony Orchestra presents national hammered dulcimer champion Joshua Messick (December 9, 8 p.m., $20); the Central Florida Jazz Society (December 10, 3 p.m., free); Smokin’ Torpedoes (December 16, 8 p.m., $15); Carol Stein and Friends, with Billy Flanigan (December 20, 8 p.m., $15); Southern Winds Theatre presents a one-actor version of A Christmas Carol (December 22-24, 7:30 p.m., $20); the Jeff Rupert Quartet (December 27, 8 p.m.,$15); and jazz guitar duo Cortez and Koelble (December 28, 8 p.m., $10). 1905 Kentucky Avenue, Winter Park. 407-636-9951.

Music at the Casa. The Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum regularly presents free acoustic-instrument performances on Sunday afternoons from noon to 3 p.m. in the home’s cozy main parlor. Upcoming performers include USA Dance with John Davis (October 1), flamenco guitarist Jorge Mendoza (October 8), flamenco guitarist Luis Garcia (October 15), Alexandra Vargas and Eladio (October 22), the Classern Quartet (October 29), saxophonist Matt Festa (November 5), Beautiful Music featuring Shannon Caine (November 12), George Weremchuk and the Hippocrene Saxophone Quartet (November 19), harpist Catherine Way (November 26), vocalist Holly Sahmel and Friends (December 3), the Classern Quartet (December 10) and Alborea Dances Flamenco (December 17). 656 North Park Avenue (adjacent to the Winter Park Golf Course), Winter Park. 407-628-8200.

Central Florida Folk. This Winter Park-based nonprofit is dedicated to promoting and preserving live folk music, primarily through concerts on the last Sunday of each month (except May, when the Florida Folk Festival takes center stage). The group’s primary venue is the Winter Park Public Library, 460 East New England Avenue, Winter Park. The next three library concerts include Chasing Lovely (October 29), Larry Mangum (November 12) and Nikki Talley (December 10). All start at 2 p.m. A donation of $12 for non-members is suggested. 407-679-6426.

Dexter’s of Winter Park. This well-known restaurant in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square neighborhood occasionally has live musical acts, with no cover charge. Upcoming events include Dave Schweizer (October 4), Franchise Players (October 5 and 13), The Cast (October 6), Nasty Habits (October 7), Eden Lane (October 13), Marcus Gullen (October 18) and Running with Scissors (October 21). 558 West New England Avenue, Winter Park. 407-629-1150.

Woodstock Winter Park. An evening of peace, love and groovy ’60s sounds on October 7 from 6 to 11 p.m. Music is by Central Florida Community Arts. Tickets are $125, with proceeds benefiting Mead Botanical Garden, site of the concert. 1300 South Denning Drive, Winter Park. 407-599-3397.

Winter Park Playhouse. This local home for musical theater presents a special, one-night fundraising concert on October 21 at 7:30 p.m. Solitary Man: A Neil Diamond Tribute stars David Jericko and The Crew, and includes many of Diamond’s greatest hits, such as “Sweet Caroline,” “Solitary Man,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Love on The Rocks,” “Brooklyn Roads” and more. Net proceeds benefit the nonprofit theater. Tickets are $65. 711 Orange Avenue, Winter Park. 407-645-0145.

Masterpiece Moments at Mead. The Maitland Symphony Orchestra and the Winter Park Chamber Music Academy share the outdoor stage at Mead Botanical Garden on October 28 for a program of music celebrating myths, legends and heroes. The 6:30 p.m. concert is free. 1500 South Denning Drive, Winter Park. 321-303-1404.

Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Holiday Pops Concert. Celebrate the season with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in Central Park’s West Meadow. The Philharmonic’s 4 p.m. program, slated for November 26, will include holiday favorites. Bring a blanket and a picnic to this free event, made possible by the Charlotte Julia Hollander Trust. 407-599-3399.


Fun with Flowers Workshop. This Winter Park Garden Club program, slated for October 5 at 10 a.m., demonstrates how to create interesting autumnal flower arrangements using succulents — drought-resistant plants with water-storing tissue, such as Burro’s Tail or Crown of Thorns. Tickets are $25, with reservations due by October 1. Bring garden clippers. Winter Park Garden Club, Mead Botanical Garden, 1300 South Denning Drive, Winter Park. 407-644-5770.

Guided Tour of Mead Botanical Garden. The tour, which focuses on native plants and animals as well as the garden’s future, follows the Winter Park Garden Club’s 10 a.m. general meeting on October 11. Non-members are welcome, however. Winter Park Garden Club, Mead Botanical Garden, 1300 South Denning Drive, Winter Park. 407-644-5770.

Wednesday Open Words. One of the area’s longest-running open-mic poetry nights takes place every Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Austin’s Coffee, 929 West Fairbanks Avenue, Winter Park. The free poetry readings are hosted by Curtis Meyer. 407-975-3364.

Florida Writers Association. The Orlando/Winter Park-Area Chapter meets on the first Wednesday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for guest speakers and discussions organized by author and “book coach” Rik Feeney. Upcoming dates are October 4, November 1 and December 6. University Club of Winter Park, 841 North Park Avenue, Winter Park. The chapter known as the Maitland Writers Group meets the second Thursday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for speakers and discussions organized by Nylda Dieppa-Aldarondo. Upcoming dates are October 12, November 9 and December 14. Maitland Public Library, 501 Maitland Avenue South, Maitland.

Nerd Nite Orlando. This monthly gathering is based on a simple premise: Learning is more fun when you’re drinking with friends and colleagues. Introduced to the Orlando area in 2013, Nerd Nite is an evening of entertaining yet thought-provoking presentations in a casual setting. The local version takes place on the second Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. Upcoming dates include October 12, November 9 and December 14. The Geek Easy, 114 South Semoran Boulevard, No. 6, Winter Park. 407- 332-9636.

Playwrights Round Table. This play-reading workshop, held on the second Sunday of each month on the Rollins College campus, invites area writers to bring any piece they’re working on for review and discussion. Upcoming dates include October 8, November 12 and December 10 at 1 p.m. If you plan on reading something aloud, you must email to schedule a time slot. It’s free, though memberships with added benefits are available. Fred Stone Theater, 1000 Holt Avenue, Winter Park. 407-761-2683.

Work in Progress: A Group for Writers. This monthly discussion group is for writers in any genre who offer and receive feedback from other writers. Guest speakers are often invited. Upcoming dates include October 14, November 4 and December 2, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Those planning to read their work should register with organizer and host Gerald Schiffhorst, a University of Central Florida professor emeritus of English, by emailing Conference Room, Winter Park Library, 460 East New England Avenue, Winter Park.

Writers of Central Florida or Thereabouts. This writers’ group has various free open-mic programs that appeal to different writers specializing in different kinds of writing. “Short Attention Span Storytelling Hour ... or Thereabouts” meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. at Stardust Video & Coffee, 1842 Winter Park Road, Winter Park. It’s for authors, poets, filmmakers, comedians, musicians, bloggers and others. Upcoming meetings include October 11, November 8 and December 13. “Storytelling as Bungee Jumping,” held the third Monday of each month, gives writers of any genre the chance to risk trying out new material. It’s held at the Copper Rocket Pub, 106 Lake Avenue, Maitland. Upcoming meetings include October 16, November 20 and December 18. “So You Think You Can Funny?” is for comics, writers, poets, bloggers or storytellers who think they have written something hilarious — or at least amusing. It’s held on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m., back at Stardust Video. Upcoming meetings include October 25, November 22 and December 27.,

Parcels: MFAs in Progress. Masters of Fine Arts students and faculty from the University of Central Florida read their newest works in this monthly series, held on the first or second Sunday of each month at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, but a $10 donation is suggested. Upcoming events include October 8, November 12 and December 10. Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts, 1905 Kentucky Avenue, Winter Park.,

GrowVember Fall Plant Sale. With cooler weather and fewer bugs, autumn is a fabulous time for planting. That’s why, on November 3 from noon to 5 p.m. and November 4 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mead Botanical Garden hosts a variety of plant and nursery vendors offering a large selection of plants, home-and-garden accessories and specialty items. 407-599-3397.

Sip, Shop & Stroll. The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and the Park Avenue Merchants Association invite you to experience the charm of Park Avenue while enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres offered at participating locations throughout the region’s premier shopping district. It’s slated for November 16 from 5 to 8 p.m. Check out the latest fashions, gift ideas and seasonal menus during this lead-up to Small Business Saturday, which this year is November 25. Tickets are $25; check in at the corner of Park Avenue and Morse Boulevard between 5 and 7 p.m. to receive your wine glass and “passport.” 407-644-8281.,


Good Morning Winter Park. Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, these monthly gatherings attract business- and civic-minded locals who enjoy coffee and conversation about community issues. Typically scheduled for the second Friday of each month, upcoming dates include October 13, November 10 and December 8. Networking begins at 8 a.m., followed by a 45-minute program at 8:30 a.m. Admission, which includes a complimentary continental breakfast, is free. Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 West Lyman Avenue, Winter Park. 407-644-8281.

The Hot Seat. Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, this quarterly business-oriented series puts local executives in the spotlight as they offer advice and discuss entrepreneurism, leadership and sales-and-marketing techniques. The next event is October 19 from noon to 1:15 p.m. Tickets are $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Reservations are required. Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 West Lyman Avenue, Winter Park. 407-644-8281.

Winter Park Executive Women. Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, these gatherings — held the first Monday of most months — feature guest speakers and provide networking opportunities for women business owners. Topics revolve around leadership development, business growth and local initiatives of special interest to women. The final two meetings of 2017 are October 2 (mental-health awareness with Rosemary Steinbach, president of the National Alliance for Mental Illness’ Greater Orlando chapter) and November 6 (mind-body balance with Dr. Crystal Nix, chiropractor-owner of Clear Route Health Partners). Both run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets, which include lunch, are $25 for members, $50 for non-members. Reservations are required. Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 West Lyman Avenue, Winter Park. 407-644-8281.


Au-Some Awards Ceremony. This October 4 event — which features refreshments, music, a silent auction, a raffle and an art exhibit — is set inside the Mercedes-Benz of Orlando dealership in Maitland, and benefits the Autism Society of Greater Orlando. It runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 810 North Orlando Avenue, Maitland. 407-855-0235.

Lakes Rose and Midget Watershed Cleanup. Volunteers who help the City of Winter Park collect litter from around Lake Rose (better known as the Winter Park sinkhole) and nearby Lake Midget (an older sinkhole-lake at Denning Drive and Kentucky Avenue) receive breakfast, a T-shirt, a snack and a water bottle. Kayakers and paddle boarders are welcome to participate. The 8 a.m. gathering spot for the October 7 cleanup crusade is the south end of Martin Luther King Jr. Park; parking is available on Denning or just west of Lake Rose on Comstock Avenue by the softball stadium. Supplies will be provided. 407-599-3364.

Curtains Up! 2017. Winter Park Playhouse’s annual fundraising gala, slated for November 4 from 6-10 p.m., includes more than 15 musical performers in a one-of-a-kind show plus food, drinks, and both silent and live auctions. Proceeds benefit Winter Park’s only professional, nonprofit theater. Tickets are $150 each; seating is limited to 123 persons. 711 Orange Avenue, Winter Park. 407-645-0145.

11th Annual Peacock Ball. The Winter Park History Museum’s annual fundraiser takes place this year on November 10 at the Alfond Inn. This year’s event will honor Rita Bornstein, retired president of Rollins College. Tickets are $200 per person, or $1,500 for a non-sponsor table of eight. 300 East New England Avenue, Winter Park.

Cows ’n’ Cabs. It’s a celebration of food and wine with some of the area’s best chefs and restaurants at the helm — and 100 percent of the proceeds go to Elevate Orlando and After-School All-Stars, two local nonprofit programs that help underserved middle and high school students. The November 11 event, which includes live music, begins at 7 p.m. in Central Park’s West Meadow. Tickets range from $110 to $500 a person.

DogFest Walk n Roll. This November 18 fundraising walk, which is open to friendly, social dogs as well as able-bodied people and those using wheelchairs, benefits Canine Companions for Independence. The walk starts at 10 a.m. at Lake Lily Park, 701 Lake Lily Drive, Maitland. 407-522-3300.


CoffeeTalk. These free gatherings, sponsored by the City of Winter Park and held on the second Thursday of each month, offer residents an opportunity to discuss issues with top city officials. Coffee is supplied by Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen. Upcoming guests include City Commissioner Carolyn Cooper (October 12), Vice Mayor Pete Weldon (October 26) and Mayor Steve Leary (November 9). Each session starts at 8 a.m. at the Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 West Lyman Avenue, Winter Park. 407-644-8281.