April in Central Florida

Easter is upon us and with it there’s lots of great things to do in Central Florida and in the Orlando area. Here’s some of the highlights:

April 1-4: The Ultimate National Cheerleading Championship, Kissimmee. Cheerleaders compete for the Ultimate National Championship. At Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center.

April 3: Smucker’s Stars on Ice, Orlando. Enjoy performances by Olympic Silver Medalist Sasha Cohen, World Champion Evan Iysacek, Olymic Silver Medalist Tanith Belbin, Olympic medal hopefuls from the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and more. At Amway Arena. Admission. 407-849-3002. www.starsonice.com/figure-skating/?content=tour

April 3: Easter Eggstravaganza, Kissimmee. Bring your Easter basket and get ready to join in on an egg-cellent Easter egg hunt. The festivities include an egg hunt, bounce house, entertainment, games, food and more. At Berlinsky Community House. Admission. 407-518-2599. www.visitkissimmee.com/leisure/festivals_events_calendar

April 4: Easter Sunrise Service at Bok Sanctuary, Lake Wales. Easter morning worshipers are invited to greet the dawn of this special day atop peninsular Florida’s highest point, as the sunrise is heralded with music from the sanctuary’s 60-bell Singing Tower carillon and the Lake Wales Chorale. Free admission 6 to 8 a.m; regular admission rest of the day. Easter buffet offered in the Blue Palmetto Café for an additional fee. Carillon selections also played at 1 and 3 p.m. 863-676-1408. www.boksanctuary.org

April 9-18: Sarasota Film Festival, Sarasota. Featuring more than 200 films, public events, panels, parties, filmmaker discussions and musical performances. At Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20. 941-366-6200. www.sarasotafilmfestival.com

April 9-11: Tampa Bay Blues Festival, St. Petersburg. Each year since 1995 Tampa Bay Blues Festival has been staged at Vinoy Waterfront Park on the shores of Tampa Bay, with popular St. Petersburg Pier serving as a brilliant backdrop. The festival established itself as one of the world’s preeminent blues music events, having presented more than 195 of the world’s greatest blues performers. In addition to world class music, you can enjoy arts and crafts, taste treats from seafood and barbecue to Cuban cuisine, plus premium beer and wine. Admission. 727-502-5000. www.tampabaybluesfest.com

April 10: Yuri’s Night 2010 Space Coast Party, Titusville. Yuri’s Night is an international celebration held on April 12 every year to commemorate the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961, and the first space shuttle launch on April 12, 1981. This year festivities will also celebate the 40th anniversary of Apollo 13. Event features space simulators, science demonstrations, performance artists, DJ, prize drawings and special guest speakers toasting humanity’s achievements in space. Former NASA astronauts will be among featured speakers. Tickets include full admission into the Astronaut Hall of Fame. At Astronaut Hall of Fame. Admission. 386-589-5559. www.yurisnightspacecoast.com

April 11: Underwater Egg Hunt, Crystal River. Underwater egg hunt at Bicentennial Park Pool. For more advanced swimmers there will be different levels of difficulty based on swimming ability. Also a land-based egg hunt for non-swimmers and little ones, plus kids can paint an egg bigger than themselves. First 100 kids admitted free. Admission $1 after cutoff. 352-795-1478. www.tampabay360.com/event/17154

April 16-17: Central Florida Dragon Boat Festival, Tavares. Dragon boat racing was born out of myth and legend more than 2,000 years ago in southern China, commemorating the life and death of a great patriot who threw himself into the Mi Lo River. When news of his death spread, local fishermen raced out onto the water and splashed their paddles to prevent fish from eating his body. Today, worldwide, some two million people participate in dragon races. Activities kick off with the Awakening of the Dragon Ceremony, traditional Dragon/Lion dance and banquet. Event also features Chinese acrobatics, Egg roll eating contest, Bollywood dance and belly dancing and team beer challenge. Action-packed contests begin with a crew of 20 paddlers led by the loud, steady beat of the drummer. As the long and colorful boats compete, an ancient rite is revisited, all in the spirit of charity and fun. At Wooten Park. 352-343-2531. www.cfdragonboat.org

April 16-17: Celebration Exotic Car Festival, Kissimmee and Celebration. Town Center at Celebration will exhibit some of the world’s most exotic and rare automobiles. This year’s event includes new activities such as the Jetport Food and Wine Festival, a world-class culinary extravaganza with unlimited champagne, fine wines and spirits for $100; located at Kissimmee Airport. More than 100 exotic cars, business jets and personal aircraft will be on display. Also on display, famous television and motion picture cars in history including the original Batmobile and DeLorean. Seventh annual. Benefits Special Olympics of Florida. Free admission and parking. 407-566-2200. www.celebrationexoticcars.com/2010/

April 19-20: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Daytona Beach. The touring production of Disney’s movie-turned-broadway classic lands in Daytona Beach for a two-night engagement. The musical that has become an international sensation features the animated film’s Academy Award-winning score by Alan Menken. Beauty and the Beast is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a small town, and the Beast, who is a young prince spelled by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end. If he does not, he and his household will be doomed forever. Admission. Performances at 7:30 p.m. both nights. 386.671.3462. www.peabodyauditorium.org

April 24-25: The Great American Pie Festival, Celebration. Includes never-ending pie buffet, National Pie Championships, culinary demonstrations, pie-eating contest, children’s pie-making, cooking demonstrations, and children’s games and crafts. Also entertainment both days. Ninth annual. At Lakeside Park. Admission. 847-371-0170. www.piecouncil.org/pie_events/gapf/index.php

April 27: Moonlight Carillon Concert at Bok Sanctuary, Lake Wales. Hear the famous 60-bell Singing Tower in a moonlight concert that will be the last in a once per month over two months series. At Historic Bok Sanctuary. Admission. 863-676-1408. www.boksanctuary.org

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