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Wekiva Island Paint Out – Annual Festival

11th Annual Wekiva Island Paint Out

Wekiva Island Paint Out

Artist paints ‘plein air’ during festival. Photo by Brion Price.

The 11th Annual Wekiva Paint Out is Central Florida’s most popular “plein air” arts festival. During the festival 30 world-renowned artists will create works inspired by Wekiwa Springs’ natural beauty. The event will be located at Wekiva Island at 1014 Miami Springs Drive in Longwood. The town of Longwood is just a short drive from the Kissimmee/Orlando tourist attractions.

There will be an open art gallery and live music beginning on February 27th from 5 until 9 pm and occurring nightly with additional events beginning on Wednesday, March 1st. During the week-long event, guests can participate in a live auction, enjoy complimentary beer and wine tastings, and participate in a “quick draw” workshop, led by artist Hai-Ou Hou. All of this in addition to enjoying the beautiful natural scenery and talented artists.

Most of the week’s events are free unless otherwise noted. Come out and support local non-profits while helping to preserve Orlando nature. All proceeds from art sales will benefit Keep Seminole Beautiful and the Wekiva Wilderness Trust.

Wekiva Paint Out artist

Beautiful scenery is painted during event. Photo by Brion Price.

Wekiva Island Paint Out Schedule of Events

February 26 – March 4

  • Sunday – February 26th
    Artists arrive & get settled for their week long stay at Wekiwa Springs State Park
    Artist Welcome Dinner with Artists, Patrons and Sponsors
  • Monday – February 27th
    All Day: Artists painting all day around the Island
    5-9P: Open gallery & live music
  • Tuesday – February 28th
    All Day: Artists painting all day around the Island
    5-9P: Open gallery & live music
  • Wednesday – March 1st
    All Day: Artists painting all day around the Island
    12-10p: Open gallery & live music
    6-7p: Preview event with complimentary beer and wine + craft beer tasting
    7-8P: Live Auction
    To register for Live Auction, simply email Wekiva Island with your name and number of guests. The first 25 people to register will receive a free beer or wine ticket to be used anytime.
  • Thursday – March 2nd
    All Day: Artists “paint in” around the bar
    12-10p: Open gallery & live music
    10-3p: How to Finish a Quick Draw Workshop with Hai-Ou Hou
  • Friday – March 3rd
    All Day: Artists painting all day around the Island
    12-11p: Open gallery & live music
    10-3p: How to Finish a Quick Draw Workshop with Hai-Ou Hou
    Evening Nocturne Painting at the Bar
    5-9p: Pasta Bar, $10.95/person
  • Saturday – March 4th
    10a-4p: Open gallery of work created throughout the week
    12-2p: Quick Draw open event
    6-7p: Private patron reception at Wekiva Island Wet Room/Gallery
    7-11p: All inclusive GALA dinner with live music, beer/wine and wine tasting event.
    Register to participate in Quick Draw, $25/person
    Purchase your Gala tickets, $40/person or $70/couple
Art festival at Wekiva Island

Art can be purchased during the festival. Photo by Brion Price.

If you are a collector or interested buyer, do not miss this opportunity to get a fantastic piece of art and support local non-profits. Art will continue to be sold on Sunday, March 5th, so stop by and get it before it’s gone!

Orlando Tourist Tip: The 11th Annual Wekiva Island Paint Out Gala is the main event of the weeklong festival held on Saturday, March 4th from 7 until 11 pm. During the gala, you can view and purchase works of art done throughout the week while enjoying live local music. For $40 a person, or $70 per couple guests can enjoy a special meal and carving station from Without a Paddle Cafe, as well as wine, beer, and a bonfire on the window. You will not want to miss this event! Purchase your tickets here.

History of the Wekiva Island Paint Out

A philanthropist and nature lover, William “Big Bill” Tippi started the Wekiva Invitational Plein Air Paint Out. Big Bill had an idea to produce this art event to increase awareness of one of our area’s greatest natural resources, the Wekiva River and Wekiwa Springs. Big Bill approached The Friends of Wekiva River (FOWR) and together they hosted the very first Wekiva Paint Out in March 2007 as part of the FOWR’s Riverfest celebration. Bill transferred the event over to the FOWR the following year. While no longer the host, Bill Tippit continues to be a big supporter of the event. He regularly socializes at the events.

In 2009, FOWR decided to cancel the Paint Out portion of their Riverfest event. Fortunately, William Weinaug Jr. stepped in and agreed to sponsor and host the Paint Out at Wekiva Island that year! Like Big Bill Tippit, Bill Weinaug believed the event would be important to increase awareness of the Wekiva River and Wekiwa Springs State Park’s preservation. Seven years later, he continues to host the event annually and support Florida wildlife conservation year-round!

Come be a part of one of Florida’s most renowned art festivals and experience the great outdoors at Wekiva Island.


Where to See Wild Alligators in Orlando – Natural Attractions

A post earlier this year sparked many inquiries on where to see wild alligators in Orlando. Many people traveling to this area are curious about our natural attractions, and no other animal peaks the interest of tourists as does the gator. With fewer and fewer natural places in Orlando, we thought it a good topic to cover. So here are a few sight-seeing adventures you may want to consider if you want to see wild alligators in Orlando.

See Wild Alligators in Orlando – Guaranteed!

Of course the best place to see alligators in Orlando is Gatorland. It is guaranteed to see an alligator there – many, many gators. It isn’t exactly an Orlando natural attraction and neither is it free. There are several places to see alligators in Orlando which are not free. Many airboat tours lure tourists into spending money to see these ancient creatures. Unless they have a cage near the dock with an alligator in it, there is no guarantee of seeing a wild alligator just because you are on an airboat. Other paid attractions featuring alligators include Fun Spot Orlando, Wild Florida, Central Florida Zoo and Gatorama Alligator Farm (several hours south of Orlando). There are several Florida nature sight seeing tours as well. Many provide an opportunity to see wild alligators.

So where should you go to see wild alligators in Orlando? Look out the window! Well, maybe not exactly. Alligators are not everywhere, but you might be surprised to see them in some places. After all, it is believed that there are approximately 1.3 million wild alligators in Florida!

Wild alligators in Orlando

Gator Sightings

My alligator sightings include:

  • On the tram ride from the airport terminal, I’ve seen an alligator sunning on a bank of a pond.
  • Friends staying at several of the resorts have photographed alligators in the man-made water bodies they are located next to.
  • On the way to the Space Center, I’ve seen several alligators in the water-filled ditch outside the theme park’s entrance.
  • Traveling over Toll Road 417, I’ve seen gator noses dotting Lake Jesup. Speaking of this area, check out Black Hammock. While they do offer airboat tours hoping to see these creatures, I’ve seen alligators in the water within yards of dining outdoors there.

My most memorable sighting of an alligator happened at Lake Baldwin in Winter Park. Back when the Navy base there, I saw an alligator snatch some lunch while on the golf course just yards away from me. Feathers from a duck, one instance were floating on the water (intact), burst upon the water flying everywhere. A little thrashing and the event was quickly over with, and the water was still again. The memory still remains.

Vacation homes that back up to bodies of water may offer a great place to see wild gators in Orlando. If you will be staying a few days, relax in a chair outdoors and watch the water for their heads. On cooler days, alligators often sun themselves on the banks. Retention ponds and man made canals through neighborhoods are often home to alligators. Many resorts feature these types of water bodies. Watch and listen. Alligators make a very distinct sound (almost like a frog’s croaking only longer and deeper), often heard at dusk. Some resorts, such as the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake Resort often bring in an expert from Gatorland to exhibit an alligator for their guests (there is a fee).

What Type of Water Do Alligators Live In

Alligators can live near almost any body type of water, so it goes without saying, BEWARE! These are not pets! They are to be feared and not taken lightly. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: During mating season (summer) alligators tend to be a little more aggressive. Do not go near a body of water that is known to contain alligators, especially in the evening. Do not take your dog near these bodies of water that have gators. That is like inviting an alligator to dinner (which you are supplying). Another TIP: There is no basis to the myth that you should run in zig-zag patterns to avoid a charging alligator. If you do find yourself in the extremely unlikely position of avoiding a lunging alligator, you should run in a straight line away from the alligator and its habitat. Gator attacks in Florida are very rare. You are much more likely to be bitten by a shark in the ocean (more on that some other time).

Planning a day at the springs? These are great natural resources and fun places to visit, but keep your eyes open. Alligators do live in the springs. With all of the beauty to take in, it might be easy to miss a gator-sighting. Even the folks at Silver Springs admit, gators are unusual and not the main reason for tourist to enjoy their natural attraction. Still, there is no swimming here, only in their sectioned off water park. Hum…

Most alligators fear humans and will flee when sighted. Most. Some gators may lose their natural fear of humans, especially if fed by humans. Under no circumstance should you feed a wild alligator. It is against the law. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If you come across an aggressive alligator (and live to talk about it), report it to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by calling 1-866-FWC-GATOR. If the gator is less than 4 feet in length, don’t bother. They are not considered a threat…still, do not try to handle them!

Hunting Alligators

Locating (notice I didn’t say hunting) alligators is a natural thing to want to do in Orlando, and can be very exciting when you see them. Most alligators are smaller than tourists think. While there are some monsters out there, most gators are less than 6 feet long, but 8 – 10 foot long gators are not uncommon. Males are usually larger than females. Hunting alligators is a different matter. You must be a licensed trapper with a permit and tags. Most hunters are only allowed a few tags per season, but do offer tourists to hire them as a guide service. It is not cheap, nor does it guarantee seeing or harvesting a wild gator. It does make for an interesting story about your vacation though!

Seeing Wild Alligators in Orlando

With Orlando’s many natural attractions and manmade features appealing to alligators, your chances of seeing a wild alligator when visiting are fairly good – IF you are trying to. Entire theme parks are set up for wildlife encounters in a safe environment. These theme parks are your best bets if you really want to see an alligator during your Florida visit. Regardless, keep your eyes open near our waters and don’t become ‘gator bait.’

Natural Attractions Directory Added!

The Orlando Area Boasts Plenty of Natural Attractions

We have added a new directory to our attractions listings. In this directory you will find a partial list of many of the natural attractions Central Florida has to offer visitors and residents alike. Located close to all the man-made attractions in Central Florida is a fantastic variety of natural beauty for you and your family to enjoy. Skip a day at the theme parks and embrace a day at one of these great parks and gardens. Some are even free!

Visit our new directory.

If you manage, own or know of a Natural Attraction in the Central Florida area and would like to have it added to our directory, please fill out the following form:
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