[ Culture in Polk County ]

Besides the many tourism-related attractions available in and around Polk County, there are a wide variety of diversions for area residents and visitors, and plenty of fine dining.

The Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, and the Lake Wales Art Center, offer changing exhibits of graphic arts, as well as dance and musical events. The Lakeland Center is a regional convention center which is home of the Imperial Symphony Orchestra, as well as a wide variety of musical and theatrical entertainment from Bach to rock. Theatre Winter Haven offers a wide variety of high-quality stage performances of popular shows produced by a semi-professional company. Other civic theatres operate in Lakeland, Lake Wales, and Haines City.

The Depot Museum in Lake Wales offers, at no charge, a wide variety of changing cultural exhibits, and also includes a railroad museum, antique railroad rolling stock, and a very large model railroad exhibit. Real railroad buffs will also want to visit the live steam railroad at nearby Dundee.

Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, is the home of the International Carillon Festival, as well as many moonlight recitals and an annual concert by the Imperial Symphony Orchestra, scheduled for May 2.

The Black Hills Passion Play presents a two-month run each spring of the world-famous story of the last days of the life of Christ, brought to the US from Germany just before the Second World War. The play is presented on a dramatic block-long stage at the Lake Wales Amphitheater. The Amphitheater also hosts "A Passion for Jazz," an annual jazz festival. Lake Wales is also the site of Florida's oldest and largest community Mardi Gras celebration. Beginning each January, the week-long festival features masked balls, parades, music festivals, art exhibits, and a creative explosion by thousands of area participants.

For those seeking the more placid recreations, there are nearly a dozen libraries, and numerous cinemas to choose from, including more than twenty screens in Lakeland, and fourteen each in Lake Wales and Winter Haven. The restored Polk Theatre in Lakeland offers a regular series of art and foreign films. Lake Kissimmee State Park offers a historically-accurate re-creation of an 1870's Florida frontier cow camp.


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