-October is for the beach lover. The fall season kicks off with The 2012 Florida Surfing Championships in Jacksonville Beach. From October 4-7, amateur and professional surfers will gather for over $30,000 in cash and prizes. In addition to the surfing taking place over the weekend, reggae legends The Wailers, will be celebrating their 20th Anniversary on Saturday, October 6th at the event's Sea Walk Celebration. Later in the month, the Jacksonville Sea & Sky Spectacular Air Show will be taking place at Jacksonville Beach on October 19-21. Hometown heroes, the world-famous Blue Angels, will be in town to give the hundreds of thousands in attendance the show of a lifetime. All events are FREE and open to the public. Then it is time for one of the biggest rivalries in college football to meet in Jacksonville.
-Florida and Georgia fans will descend upon our city on October 27 for the Georgia vs. Florida Football Classic. The game will be a big event in Jacksonville, with two days of pep rallies at the Jacksonville Landing leading up to the game and even a Food Truck Friday as part of the Second Annual BBQ Block Party outside the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. After the Block Party, thousands will head inside the Veteran Memorial Arena to see the Zac Brown Band in concert. Book your hotels now for both special events because they are selling out fast!
-Major preparations are underway for Halloween. Have a Spooktacular time at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and enjoy Northeast Florida’s premiere zoo at night, then face your fears with Haunt Nights at Adventure Landing, with not one, but two, terrifying haunted houses including an all new 3-D scare. Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary is opening the doors to its Haunted Forest filled with Lions, Tigers and other wild creatures, visitors to the Haunted Forest can also participate in nightly feedings to the resident big cats, a once in a lifetime opportunity.
-Jacksonville was the Hollywood of the South, in the 20’s more than 20 movie studios moved operations here during the winter months making this “the Winter Film Capital of the World”. Nowadays our movie industry continues to thrive. From November 1-4, The Jacksonville Film Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary with filmmakers, film critics, actors, actresses and film and documentary premiers in town.
-As part of Military appreciation Week in November, Jacksonville will host the nationally televised inaugural Navy-Marines Corps Classic, a basketball game like no other. On November 9, the Florida Gators will play the Georgetown Hoyas on an aircraft carrier inside Naval Station Mayport. Tickets are available at a sponsorship level.
-Thinking ahead to winter already? Then how about spending Winter on the Water? It’s never too cold to hit the beach in Jacksonville! Book one of our Never-Ending Seaside Deals and enjoy Jacksonville’s signature Holiday events, like the 26th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Jacksonville Landing or WinterFEST at Adventure Landing in Jacksonville Beach, featuring an outdoor ice skating rink and nightly snow falls (even when temperatures reach 80 degrees in December!). A new addition to the holiday lineup this winter is ZOOlights at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, thousands of lights will line-up animal enclosures and there will be live entertainment every night at the Zoo in December.
More details on all upcoming events available on www.visitjacksonville.com/events
New in Town
With a young population, blooming economy and several fortune 500 companies in town, Jacksonville is an attractive destination for hundreds of business each year. This fall dozens of new stores and restaurants announced plans to open branches across Jacksonville and the beaches.
-The Lingerie Football League is coming to Jacksonville! The league will move the Tampa Breeze franchise to Jacksonville and rename it the Jacksonville Breeze. The first home game will be played in March, 2013.
-Nordstrom is opening a store at the St. Johns Town Center. The 124,000 square-foot store will be two levels and is expected to open in the fall of 2014.
-H&M opened its first Northeast Florida store at the Avenues Mall in September, 2012.
-Black Sheep Restaurant, in the historic 5 Points neighborhood, will open its doors October 1, 2012. The restaurant is the new project of the same group behind the popular “Chew” and “Orsay” restaurants in Jacksonville. Black Sheep will feature a rooftop terrace bar and a full menu (the terrace will open at a later date).
-Pho A Noodle Bar, is now open on Adams Street in Downtown Jacksonville, it is a new venture from the same owners of the very popular “Indochine” in Downtown.
-The Salty Fig Gastropub will be a new addition to the King Street Food and Beer District in the Riverside Neighborhood. The Salty Fig began as a food truck and is making the transition now to its first restaurant.
-The Beaches favorite Mexican restaurant is relocating to a new and bigger destination. Taco Lu will take the place of the old Homestead restaurant on Beach Blvd.
-The new Ocean Grille restaurant will open its doors in October in Jacksonville Beach. It will take the spot of “Sakana” that closed suddenly in September.
-The Jacksonville Landing is at maximum capacity for the first time in years and its food court has a new resident, Pierre’s.
-The World of Beer is coming to the Tinseltown shopping center on the Southside. Their website shows the beer bar should open in November 2012.
-Tijuana Flats opened its 6th Jacksonville Restaurant in late September in the Riverside neighborhood.
-A new Panera Bread Company and a new Urban Flats Restaurant are coming to the San Marco neighborhood. Urban Flats recently opened another new location at Jacksonville Beach.
-Nature’s Table is a new breakfast and lunch option inside the EverBank Tower in Downtown Jacksonville.
-A new McDonalds is coming to Downtown Jacksonville in 2013. Other fast food options Downtown include Subway, Quiznos and Burger King.
New Accommodations & Renovations
With over 18,000 hotel rooms that vary from elegant beachfront oasis, to upscale riverfront destinations and popular chain hotels, Jacksonville has the right type of accommodation to match any traveler’s desire and budget. In order to keep up with demand, here are the new hotels coming to the area and the ones completing renovations:
-The Clarion Airport Hotel will become a Doubletree Hotel. During the transition period it will be known as The Jacksonville Airport Hotel and despite intense renovations the hotel will not close its doors. The new Double Tree hotel will open its doors in May 2013 on the grounds of the Jacksonville International Airport.
-In the fall of 2012, the Omni Jacksonville Hotel will begin renovations on its lobby and restaurant. The new lobby will allow staff to be able to get out from behind the front desk and actually interact with visitors. In 2014 the Hotel expects to renovate all guest rooms.
-Baywood Hotels Inc. plans to open the TownePlace Suites by Marriott Jacksonville Airport. The 107-room hotel will be at the River City Marketplace in North Jacksonville.
-The Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront is upgrading all guest rooms with new Flat screen TV’s.
-The Days Inn Jacksonville South is under new ownership and has been completely renovated. The hotel has 78 rooms.
New Medical Centers
Few cities in the nation have such recognized medical community as Jacksonville. With 11 medical partners, among them Baptist Health, Brooks Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic, Memorial Hospital, Nemours Children’s Clinic, St. Luke’s Hospital, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Shands Jacksonville, University of Florida’s Proton Therapy Institute and Wolfson Children’s Hospital. The patient care industry is a main one in Jacksonville, one that grows every day. Visit Jacksonville America’s Health Center for more information.
-Construction plans have been approved for a new Mayo Primary Care Center in Jacksonville’s Southside neighborhood. The two-story, 40,424-square-foot center will offer X-ray, mammography, ultrasound and laboratory services. It is expected to open in the summer of 2013. This will be Mayo’s third freestanding Primary Care Center in Northeast Florida.
New Meeting Venues and Services
Jacksonville was selected as one of the Top 50 Meeting Destinations in the United States by Cvent, leader in cloud-based event management solutions. It is a qualification we take to heart, as we help over 400 groups a year successfully bring their meeting, convention, reunion and event to our city.
-Active Escapes is now offering new team building itineraries, including SmartHunts and Crime TEAM Investigations. Their options are fun, active and interesting for groups of many sizes.
-Jax Water Tours will be offering team building themed cruises this fall on board their eco-cruise boat.
-927 Events is already offering a Holiday Corporate Catering Special. It is posted on their site online.
-The River Club is now offering complimentary shuttle service for groups. Dine and meet and let them take care of the driving.
-The recently renovated Museum and Gardens provides groups the perfect combination of form and function. Once Jacksonville’s Museum of Modern Art, this new event venue has beautifully manicured outdoors gardens as well as 5 different flexible meeting areas.
Hotels and meeting venues are taking reservations now for Holiday parties. To find the one that is right for you go to www.visitjacksonville.com/meetings-facilities
New Attractions and Events
-Adventure Landing has two new haunted houses this fall, Apocalyptia 3D haunt and Dark Fables. Starting in November, the park will host WinterFEST with nightly snowfalls.
-The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra’s kicks off its 2012-2013 season the last weekend of September and has an event schedule that includes a Pops series with the music of Neil Sedaka and John Denver, also a family series presenting the Symphonic Spooktacular, the Music of Disney, the Polar Express and even a Cowboy Jamboree. Tickets are now on sale.
-On October 6, and every first Saturday of the month after that, Downtown Jacksonville will become the place to be as the Community First Saturdays kick off in the city’s core. The festival will be held along the Riverwalk behind the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every first Saturday of the month, there will be live music, food vendors, eco-tour and fitness classes.
-After a successful summer with the exhibit a T-Rex Named Sue, the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History is going green. Their new exhibit called “Green Revolution” will open October 13 through January 2013. The exhibit will feature all recyclable materials and will be built by the Museum staff in Jacksonville. In November, the Museum will open another new exhibit called “100 Years of Architecture.”
-Coming off a successful 2011, The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is expected to set a new attendance record this 2012. Just this summer alone, they had the most visitors ever during its nearly 100 years. For this fall, Spooktacular is the Zoo’s Halloween themed celebration fit for all ages, then in December a new tradition will be born when the Zoo presents ZOOLights. In 2014, the Zoo will celebrate its 100th Birthday and plans are underway for a new wing of the Zoo featuring Asian Tigers.
-From October 15-21, the 3rd Annual Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open at TPC Sawgrass welcomes the future stars of the PGA TOUR. 100% of all ticket sales go directly to local Jacksonville charities.
-Best Bet Poker, Simulcast and Gaming just remodeled their St. Johns location. They offer Vegas style wagering with hot tables, fast greyhounds and big jackpots all with a bit of southern hospitality. Best Bet of Jacksonville will host the World Poker Tour with a Jacksonville Fall Poker Scramble from November 9 thru the 13. The prize is $500,000!
-The City of Jacksonville will host the Veterans Day Parade on November 12 in Downtown Jacksonville. The patriotic parade features more than 4,000 participants from all over the city.
-Dogster.com named Dog Wood Park of Jacksonville one of the “10 Amazing Dog Parks to See in Your Lifetime.” For the fall, the Park is offering puppy massages. Dog Wood now has fall hours as well as a new website to better serve furry visitors. www.jaxdogs.com
-Jax Water Tours is now offering a Wine-Tasting Cruise of the Intracoastal Waterway. A personal wine consultant is onboard to guide passengers on the flavors and tastes of the different wines. A relaxing tour just minutes from Jacksonville Beach.
-River Cruises Inc. is already booking holiday cruises, the Lady St. Johns and the Annabelle Lee paddle boats take passengers on scenic tours of the St. Johns River in Downtown Jacksonville.
-The Artist Series released its 2012-2013 schedules with major Broadway shows coming to Jacksonville.
*West Side Story, Dec 4-9. Tickets go on sale Friday, September 28
*Mary Poppins, January 22-27
*Billy Elliott, February 26-March 3
*Rock of Ages, April 2-7
For more unique events in Jacksonville visit our Events Calendar.
Visit Jacksonville 2011-2012 Highlights
Here at Visit Jacksonville we are starting a new fiscal year October 1, while bragging about the previous one. We had so many highlights, here’s a few:
Marketing and Communications:
-We created three new destination videos, Biggest Weekend Ever, The Jacksonville City Guide and the CBS Atlanta Better Destinations feature on Jacksonville.
-Created “French Week” in May to celebrate Jean Ribault’s landing in Jacksonville 450 years ago and had over 20 different restaurants participating.
-Built a new “Jacksonville: America’s Health Center” website: www.jaxhealthcenter.com
-Working on a brand new website “Only in Jax” featuring the unique qualities that make Jacksonville so special. Stay tuned for an update…
-Visitjacksonville.com had over 683,000 visitors over the last year. That was a 61% increase over the previous year. We had online visitors from all 50 states and over 190 different countries. Our website www.visitjacksonville.com won a Gold Adrian Award for our 2011 redesign.
-Our online Blog Section is now active, with blogs on local attractions, restaurants and unique Jacksonville experiences.
-Our social media is exploding! We ran three successful online contests which grew our Facebook fan base from 1,200 to 31,000 in 9 months. Our Twitter followers grew to over 7,000 and we created Pinterest pages showing off our beautiful region. Check them all out!
Sales & Conventions
-The Sales team met their yearly booking goal in July, 3 months ahead of schedule.
-A new position was created within the Sales Team specifically to capture new Business. The Business Development Manager will focus on bringing new groups to Jacksonville that have not been here previously.
-The Florida Theatre’s website won two 2012 Silver W³ Awards, one in the Entertainment category and one in the Performing Arts category. The Florida Theatre welcomes over 200,000 visitors a year.
-Dogster.com named Dog Wood Park of Jacksonville one of the “10 Amazing Dog Parks To See In Your Lifetime”.
-Adventure Landing’s Slide-A-Thon broke the World Record in September with Almost 34 Hours of continuous sliding.
-The City of Jacksonville’s Information Technologies Division (ITD) is receiving an Honorable Mention from Government Computer News (GCN) for “Outstanding Information Technology Achievement in Government.” The award recognizes the city’s JaxReady mobile application.
For information on any of these events, news and highlights, please contact Patty Jimenez at firstname.lastname@example.org
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