Sunday, December 1, 2019

Orlando's Festival of Trees 2019

It's officially December and time to talk TREES, my tinsel-loving friends! John and I made our yearly trek to Orlando's own Festival of Trees, and I brought back alllll the pictures of my favorites. So let's dive in!

First a quick look at one of the lobby displays:

I really like the combo of evergreen trees with stick trees - and the fake snow skirts with lights under them! If I didn't have cats to worry about I would so be trying that.

Ok, let's start in the main foyer with the big BIG trees, where this sparkly blue monster was on a rotating base. So fancy.

(Shout-out to the OMA for doing a great job this year of matching the wall art to the trees!)

This tree is a LOT to look at, but my favorite parts were the branches sticking out the sides:

I'm all about dangly branches sticking out of trees. Very fun.

Here's a close-up. Look how the blue poinsettias positively GLOW:

I tried to take close-ups like this for a bunch of the trees; it was fun finding just the right section of ornaments to get the prettiest shot.

Across the foyer from Super Grover was this lovely Victorian style vignette:

Serious Grand Floridian vibes here - you Disney fans know what I'm talking about!

The tree is erupting with branches, bird cages, and butterflies:

With more of the same on the swoon-worthy mantle:

Here's a tree close-up:

Such a pretty color scheme with the wine, lime green, and gold.

Remember when mannequin tree skirts were all the rage? Well, we still have one hold-out:

With colors like these, I'm not complaining. They managed to make tree branches and trim look like peacock feathers! So pretty!

Let's move into the other galleries with this red-and-rustic number:

Confession: Most of my favorite photos this year are the close-ups.

See what I mean? I want to make Christmas cards out of all these ornament shots!

Every year I'm so excited to see what new thing designers are doing with their tree toppers. Will it be giant bows & birdcages? Stars & sprigs? Maybe disembodied elf legs will make a come-back? 

And yet, sadly this year was something of a disappointment, because nearly every single tree topper was the standard, perfectly lovely, spriggy explosion:

I think the designers all got together and agreed the spriggy explosion was the safest bet. Which it is, but it's also a little boring?

This tree had some weirdly bendy birch branches stuck around it, so at first I thought they were hula-hoops:

There was also so much tiny chain garland it almost felt like a spider's cocoon in there - which, come to think of it, would be a pretty cool theme. Hmmm.

Here comes the first of my two favorite trees this year:

The theme seems to be lions and owls? The letters around the base spell out lion, but then most of the metal cut-outs on the tree are owls:

Photos really don't do this justice; the cut-outs are partially glittered, and then the tree's blue lights in all those cobalt blue branches looked super dramatic.

This inspired me to make an owl cut-out for our Labyrinth tree.  Stay tuned to see if THAT works.

 Speaking of tree toppers, you guys know I love risk-takers, and I'm always on the hunt for new ideas. That said...

I'm totally seeing an ear of corn here. :D

The rest of the tree is gorgeous, though:

Happily I found a few other trees with more successful alternatives to the spriggy explosion topper. This one used a crown on top, which was sweet - though hard to see against the white walls:

Then this one used a giant wind turbine?!

I love it. If you're going with a theme, GO ALL IN.

Random nutcrackers for color:

And now more trees where the best parts are the close-ups:

Though I do like the giant bow on top of this one, reminds me of Minnie Mouse:

For folks who love horses:

These little plush ornaments were so cute!

In this next room I actually found the tree to be the least interesting part:

But check out that mantle:

And the fireplace:

And the side table!

Ok, you get the tree, too:

Don't get me wrong, this is a gorgeous tree. It's just a bit... bland. I wish it had an accent color, or something unusual in the garland - something to give it a little personality.

Now THIS, on the other hand:

Is ALL personality.

They decorated the whole tree around this center art piece of the three wise men:

And then the topper is a mosaic tile "JOY" with a riot of fun colors:

I love that bright pink flower with all the blue tulle.

This is a good reminder that you can use your tree like a picture frame: find one big center element you love, then decorate the rest to match!

Technically this next tree was an advertisement, but I like the idea of a dinosaur tree too much to skip it:

The fake ferns around the base! Yes!

There's a room at the Festival with lots of pretty table settings (you'll see more in my next post), and John kept asking what these weird black rings were:

I laughed because I thought he was joking, but then it turned out John really didn't know what they were. So tell me, gang: can you tell those are supposed to be snowmen?

And finally, my other favorite tree:


With a big plush llama and shiny pillow ornaments, no less:

"Came to Sleigh" - I see what you did there. ;)

 Here's the wreath in the background:

Hand painted ornaments for the 12 days of Christmas and felted pom-poms. So cheerful!

I'll end with a cropped photo I think I'm going to use for my cellphone background:

Feel free to download it - or any of my photos here - to use on your phone, too!

I'll end here for now, but watch for the second half of my Festival photos later this week. Not only do I have more full-size trees to show you, I also have all my favorite wreaths and mini trees from the Festival! Those often have more theming and personality than the big trees, so I can't wait to show you.  (There's a science-themed mini-tree with test tubes and molecules. AMAZEBALLS.)

I also have another Labyrinth Party update coming soon, so you can laugh at more of our ridiculous projects. Stay tuned!


You know I had to look, and I think I found the same rainbow tree on Amazon!

Rainbow Christmas Tree

Plus I spotted the big pom-pom garland at Michael's tonight. Consider yourself... ENABLED. ;)


  1. I love the two bright trees too! My daughter will add well, she's 7 and obsessed with

  2. I love your recap of the FOT every year! I miss it since moving away from Orlando. I stole a few of the close-ups for phone backgrounds. :)

    1. Yay! Steal away, I love it when my photos get used. :)

  3. Thanks, so festive! Have you considered the photo option I see in some of your other footage, with the black background? It might look great with these trees

    1. Ohhh, you mean black-out flash? That's a fascinating idea. The only issue is black-out flash cancels out any extra lights, and adds a LOT of harsh contrast. With Christmas trees I almost have to edit like an HDR photo, where I boost shadows super high and take the highlights down low so you can see everything. That's a cool thought, though, and I'm gonna let it percolate it a bit. Hmmm.

  4. I agree with you on the spriggy toppings - they just don't draw much interest. But that rainbow tree is super fun!

    And yes, I could tell they were snowmen. But I can't figure out why they put two tube tires on top of a smaller white barrel for the base - the balance of them is very odd.

    Thanks for all the beautiful pics. Time for me to finally get my tree up!

  5. Dino tree! :D And yes, sorry John, I could immediately tell those were supposed to be snowmen.

  6. So many interesting trees! The lion-and-owl tree is particularly eye catching, as well as amusingly bizarre. I also for some reason quite like the windmill tree. And the rainbow trees are so cheerful! =-)

    I really like your closeup photos. It's nice to see the little details. I particularly the ornament with the three trees inside.

    As for the centerpieces, I'm actually with John - that's not a snowman, it's an 8 wearing a hat. Snowmen have heads that are smaller than their bodies. These would be a clever number/theme mashup for a winter birthday or anniversary, though.

    I really like the ornament wreath at the end. =-)

  7. I love your annual tree photos. We go for the "load the tree with every ornament we've collected and souvenirs of trips" look but I do enjoy planned and themed trees.

  8. I shared your thoughts on wondering why the smaller white snow basket was used as a base.

    I also thought that, without the base, it looks like someone used Quiddich goals to make a snowman!-Cowgirl68

  9. I was replying to Heath in my comment above, but Google put it at the bottom. *sigh*

    Anyway, I SO look forward to your pics of the Festival of Trees every year. Thanks SO much for sharing them!!

    "Spriggy explosion" is my new favorite phrase! I also love the crown topper. It looks as though its spriggy explosion gave birth to the crown (or at least spewed it forth!).

  10. Would you consider selling prints of your gorgeous close-ups of the various trees? I see several on this post that I would frame and hang up at Christmas -- or maybe year-round!

    1. Oh you are too sweet! I'll be posting all my Festival photos over on Flickr soon, and you're more than welcome to download & print any you like. If there's one in particular you'd like the full size of - and without the watermark - feel free to e-mail me.

    2. Oh my! Thank you so much! Just emailed you. :-D

  11. Thank you so much for posting these. I had planned to go on the last day it was open but instead I had to be at my house all day waiting for an emergency plumber and emergency electrician. I was disappointed that I didn't get to see the trees but at least I knew I could see pictures on your blog. Thank you

    1. Oh no, that's a terrible way to spend the day! Hope everything is repaired and back to normal now. <3

  12. I'm with John on the "snowmen" thing. Maybe if they were white it would be easier to tell.

  13. That Owl and lion tree and then the rainbow has me thinking House Tree! I could see doing layers of color, swirling up the tree with each house. Lion at the base so you could still have those giant lion plush guarding the bottom, with the eagle from Ravenclaw at the top. I love your tree posts, can't wait to see more!

  14. Definitely couldn't tell that was a snowman. I thought it was an 8, and wondered why that number was significant.

  15. If you get those pom pom garlands, ask the cashier to bag them individually or carry them out very carefully. I work at Michaels and have noticed those garlands tend to tangle very easily.

  16. I'm always amazed at these kind of trees --where I'm from the most 'planning' you'll see is that people will pick a colour theme, and then decorate the tree with traditional bulb ornaments in that colour (very sparsely compared to these, you'll always see more tree than decoration). The one time my grandmother went out on a limb and used dried flowers, the family lost their collective mind because it wasn't 'Chrismassy' enough!

  17. I could tell the rings were suppose to be snowmen. But only cause of the hat. They should have painted the rings white.
    Always love this post! The trees are amazing! But yes to more fun, imaginative tree toppers next year!

  18. Yes to spiders in trees :D

  19. The rainbow tree! Why did you have to post the link? I'm sitting here arguing with myself now because it's perfect, but $100 over my base tree price because the cat murders every tree we buy so badly they can't be used again...Maybe if it's rainbow she won't realize it's a Christmas tree?

  20. Jen, you should DEFINITELY use the close-up photos as Christmas cards! They will look amazing!

  21. I paint little stuff, and never thought of painted ornaments! I'm so glad you shared that little tidbit!


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