10 Must-Do Holiday Activities in Sarasota, Florida

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Whether you’re a Suncoast native or out-of-town guest, the following community events will deliver warmth, cheer and carefree fun sure to brighten your entire family’s holiday season!

Your SarasotaFoodies welcome guest blogger, Scott Whitaker, and thank him for sending us these great ideas!  For tickets and further information on any of these events, click on the link underlined in blue, which will take you to the event’s website/ticket sales.

John Ringling’s Circus Nutcracker

Nutcracker Hero

John Ringling’s Circus Nutcracker

On December 18, at 7:30 p.m., and December 19, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., the Sarasota Ballet will reinvent this time-honored holiday institution, presented by the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center. A hybrid twist on the classic Nutcracker narrative, this rendition combines the history of John & Mable Ringling Circus with those traditional “sugar plum” moments the audience expects. Additionally, the Sarasota Orchestra will bring Tchaikovsky’s original score to life.

2015 Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade

A paddle boat all decorated up for Christmas.

A paddle boat all decorated up for Christmas.

On December 12, starting at 6 p.m., the 30th anniversary of this annual mainstay will set the waterfront aglow with numerous yachts decorated in seasonal splendor. For the most scenic vantage points throughout Sarasota, viewers should head over to Marina Jack Restaurant, Bayfront Park, City Island or Centennial Park. Watching these boats adorned with festive lights and trimmings will get even the “Scroogiest” of spectators into the Christmas spirit.

Downtown Sarasota Holiday Parade

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On December 5, starting at 7 p.m., the downtown Main Street will transform into a joyful celebration, based on the theme “All I Want for Christmas.” The parade float that most whimsically and creatively represents this motif will be awarded the Mayor’s Trophy. Other winning categories include Best Commercial Business, Best School, Best Non-Profit, Best Church, Best Walking and Best Performing. The whole family will delight in the fanfare of this community favorite.

A Motown Christmas” Musical

Photo by Don Daly Photography

Photo by Don Daly Photography

On December 2–31, at 2 p.m. (matinee shows) and 8 p.m. (evening shows), the West Coast Black Theatre Troupe will present a stage spectacle, headlining holiday tunes set to soulful beats. Hits from the Motown Era’s most legendary musicians — including Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder and The Supremes — will also be featured. This world premier performance reminds audiences why Christmas truly is the “most wonderful time of the year.”

Christmas Craft Fair & Food Truck Rally

On December 5, from 10 a.m.–6 p.m., the inaugural craft fair at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church will host local artisans and food truck vendors for an afternoon of unique Christmas shopping. Browse over 30 booths, showcasing hand-crafted candles, jewelry, scarves, artwork and other items — ideal for gifts or stocking stuffers. Then, enjoy the various on-site snack and beverage offerings. Gather together a group of friends and check out this one-stop holiday wishlist shop.

Indie-Craft Atomic Holiday Bazaar

Photo courtesy of The Atomic Bazaar

Photo courtesy of The Atomic Bazaar

On December 12–13, from 12–5 p.m., the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium will host the 10th season of this fantastically quirky extravaganza. This marketplace exhibits a diverse array of specialty items from vintage accessories and upcycled creations to gourmet nibbles, local artwork, beauty products and mystic novelties. In addition, food trucks and live entertainment will add to the festive ambiance. Admission is $5 for the main auditorium and free for the street fair.

Snow Fest Sarasota Extravaganza

Funny little toddler girl in a red knitted Nordic hat and warm c

On December 18–20, from 12–10 p.m., the Sunshine State will get a “winter wonderland” makeover at Sarasota’s snowiest attraction, taking place in Payne Park. Family friendly thrills like sledding, snowman building, giant snow globes, holiday-themed shows and photo sessions with Santa make this event enjoyable for kids and parents alike. So, beat that year-round Florida heat and experience an invigorating shift in the seasons — even if it’s just for one afternoon.

37th Annual Holiday Night of Lights

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On December 4, from 5:30–9 p.m., the quintessential holiday cheer will come alive throughout St. Armand’s Circle with an evening of revelry, culminating in a tree lighting ceremony. The merrymaking will begin with a performance from the Cuban Ballet School, followed by a Christmas carol sing-a-long. Later, St. Nick will arrive in his sleigh to preside over the much anticipated tree lighting. This jolly occasion is sure to kick-off the season in high spirits.

Village Christmas Art Walk Weekend

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On December 4, from 6–9:30 p.m., and December 5, from 11 a.m.–4 p.m., the Village of the Arts in Bradenton’s cultural district will invite visitors to amble along its illuminated streets. Peruse charming galleries, savor hot cocoa and other heavenly Christmas treats, purchase standout gifts and interact with strolling entertainers. This al fresco weekend outing will create lasting holiday memories for friends, family members and neighbors to partake of side-by-side.

18th Annual Jingle & Jog Race

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On December 5, at 8 a.m. (registration opens at 7 a.m.), the popular 5K run — or 1-mile walk for those who prefer a leisurely pace — will support Community Haven, a charity benefitting disabled children. The $20 registration fee includes a t-shirt, goodie bag and raffle entry. Additionally, the Fry Family Foundation will donate an extra $20 for all participants who cross the finish line. So, pound the pavement for an altruistic cause and shed holiday weight in the process.

Do you plan to visit these attractions during the holidays? Do you know any other festivities taking place around Sarasota this time of year? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

****** Guest Blogger, Scott Whitaker, is the Owner & Operator of Arctic Air Services in the Sarasota/Bradenton area offering fast and affordable A/C repair and free replacement estimates. In his spare time, Scott enjoys blogging about life in Southwest Florida and spending time with his family.

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