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Top 10 Things to Do in Lakeland + Polk County in January

Things to Do in January

January feels like a great month to try something new! The Christmas holidays are over and we are getting back into the swing of things and back into a routine at my house.

We are excited to help you find family-friendly events and activities to add to your calendar in 2024. Starting in January and ramping up through February, March & April, our calendar is filled with all the fun things to do in Lakeland, so this is our Top 10 list to help you make sure the “can’t miss” events are on your calendar. If you enjoy one of these events, be sure to let the venue know that you heard about it from Lakeland Mom.

Pick Strawberries

How great is it that we live right next door to the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World – Plant City! That means we have an abundance of U-Pick Strawberry farms within an hour’s drive. Strawberry picking is a GREAT family activity to do with kids. The berries grow in raised beds on the ground (unless they are hydroponic) so they are easy for kids to reach.

About 1/2 of the farms on our U Pick Strawberry List are open for the season. Others will not open until commercial picking ends, typically in late February or early March. Click here to find Strawberry Picking near you in Lakeland, Plant City, & Across Central Florida.

Sign up for FREE Preschool Passes to Theme Parks

January is a great time to sign up for the Free Preschool Passes offered by Busch Gardens in Tampa and SeaWorld in Orlando. Click the links below to get more details on these offers for ages 5 & under.

Busch Gardens Preschool Pass {includes Adventure Island Water Park}

SeaWorld Preschool Pass {includes Aquatica Water Park}

(These posts also include details on ticket prices for the rest of your family and links straight to the Florida Resident deals)

Busch Gardens Tampa Preschool Pass

Continue the holiday celebrations with Three Kings Day or Epiphany

Three Kings Day is a holiday celebrated in many Latin American and Caribbean countries to celebrate the 12th day after Christmas (January 6) representing when the Three Wise Men, or Three Kings, visit baby Jesus after his birth.

Three Kings Celebration First Friday in Downtown Lakeland on January 5 sponsored by Just Cares, Inc. Enjoy live music as well as family-friendly activities like pictures with the Three Kings.

Celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

During January, we celebrate the dream of Martin Luther King Jr.  Click the links below for details on local MLK events including the Swan City Jazz Festival in Lakeland, Day of Caring at the Florida Children’s Museum, and MLK Parades in Lakeland and Winter Haven.

Experience living history at the Alafia River Rendezvous

Step back in time at the Alafia River Rendezvous! Described as the Southeast’s largest pre-1840 Living History Encampment, each year approximately 1400 participants come from all over Florida and the US to Homeland, Florida (6 miles south of Bartow) to reenact a primitive lifestyle of the time period of their choice (pre-1840).

Participants dress in clothing appropriate to their time period, from animal skin caps to beaded moccasin shoes. Many people camp on site in tents and shelters that would have been seen in pre-1840 America. The public is welcome to visit on two specific days each year to experience the encampment and enjoy educational and learning opportunities. You can wander at your leisure down the rows of booths, watch musical performances, enjoy a program, talk to the participants, and more. Be sure to stop and see artisans demonstrating crafts, such as flint knapping, broom making, blacksmithing, soap making, and more. Learn more and see our video at the link below. January 26-27, 2024.

Pig out on BBQ at Lakeland PigFest

January kicks off the BBQ Festival season in Polk County! From January – April there are 5 different local barbeque competitions, including Lakeland’s favorite – PIGFEST!

Lakeland Pigfest includes over 150 competition barbecue teams for a weekend of good eatin’, good friends, and good tunes to benefit Lakeland-area charities for the Annual Lakeland Pigfest. Located at the SUN n’ FUN Campus January 26-27, 2024.

The public is welcome at Pigfest. Admission is just $5 and kids 12 years and younger can enter for free. Parking is free. The good eatin’ won’t cost you much and is well worth the value. Stop by a Pig Bucks booth (located near the entrance and various locations throughout) and exchange your cash for Pig Bucks, the official currency of the Lakeland Pigfest. By purchasing food from competition teams, you are supporting their efforts and local charities.

Click here for more details on Lakeland Pigfest 2024 and see a list of all of Polk County’s BBQ Events.

See a live performance

Join the Lakeland Symphony Orchestra for Lakeland Opera‘s fully staged opera production of Madama Butterfly. Reserved seating. Saturday, January 20, 2024.

The Lakeland Concert Band will have a free performance on Sunday, January 21. Concerts begin at 2:30 p.m. at Branscomb Auditorium at Florida Southern College. Before each concert, they showcase local talent with a pre-show at 1:45 p.m. Concerts are free and no tickets are needed.

Learn more about School Choice + Apply during Open Enrollment

This isn’t necessarily fun, but it is a necessity if you’re interested in attending a school other than your zoned school! Polk County Schools Open Enrollment dates are January 8 – February 16, 2024.

Parents/guardians are strongly urged to submit applications by 4:00 pm on Feb. 16, 2024, for priority consideration. New as of this school year, you will be able to apply for available open seats until the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year {but our advice is to apply during the first open window for your best chance}. Read our article to learn more about K-12 school options available in Polk County. Editor’s Note – this article is in need of a major update – the information is accurate but all links to PCPS website are broken.

Plan your Spring Calendar

Here in Lakeland and across Polk County we have fantastic annual events that happen every spring! Get out your calendar and mark down the dates for these local favorites including art festivals, SUN ‘n FUN, Swan Derby, Mayfaire, & more. Click here to see the dates for Lakeland’s Favorite Spring Events.

Try Something New!

If you’re looking to try something new in 2024, we’ve got a list of great articles to help you out.

♥ Step outside your comfort zone and meet new friends – 10 Great Ways to Meet Mom Friends in the Lakeland Area

♥ Visit the Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market

♥ Go Back to School {yes, you mama!} – College Bound: Lakeland Style – Colleges & Technical Schools in Lakeland

♥ Find a new place for sweets – The Best Ice Cream, Cookies, Yogurt & Cupcakes in Lakeland & beyond

♥ Try a new restaurant and save some moolah – Lakeland area Kids Eat Free Guide

♥ Find a new favorite game – Our Top 10 Favorite Family Board Games

♥ Treat yourself to a solo “date” or time with girlfriends – Mom’s Night (or Day) Out – Lakeland Style

♥ Visit a local coffee shop – A Lakeland Coffee Tour

♥ Find a gym or fitness plan that works for you! Use our Directory to see a list of local fitness centers.

♥ Find a new playground – The Best Shaded Playgrounds In and Around Lakeland

♥ Try a new activity with your toddler or preschooler {and probably meet some new friends while you’re at it!} – Preschooler & Toddler Activity Guide

♥ Donate items to be reused for other families in our community – Where to Donate Gently Used Toys, Clothing, Household Items, and more

Happy January!

Be sure you’re signed up for our weekly fun-letter to get all of our Spring & Easter info delivered straight to your inbox so you don’t miss anything {including our popular Summer Camp Guide coming out in March}.

100+ Things to Do with Kids

Check out our Ultimate List of Things to Do with Kids in Lakeland + Polk County to find indoor fun, outdoor fun, free things to do, seasonal activities, and more.