Events & Festivals - Sarasota County Blog

2014 Winter Holiday Activities in Sarasota County

Sarasota County lights up this holiday season with displays, parades, parties and performances all over the area. Check out our list of some of the great things to see and do during the holidays.

On the Gulf Coast of Florida, Sarasota County enjoys a subtle winter holiday season of mild weather, but plenty of things to do. Get out in the area and explore holiday light displays, parades, holiday parties and performances.

Let there be lights!
Area attractions such as Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and Sarasota Jungle Gardens light up with a spectacle of dazzling colors flickering throughout the holiday season.

Holiday Lights Spectacular at Sarasota Jungle Gardens begins Dec. 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. with family-friendly holiday festivities including Santa, live music and entertainment, s’mores and more. Tickets are $11 for adults, $6 for children ages 3 to 12, children 2 and under are free. See the Holiday Lights Spectacular Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 through 24, and 26 through 28.

Stroll around Marie Selby Botanical Gardens during Lights in Bloom and enjoy a botanical-themed tropical holiday wonderland. This event, 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 19 to 29, is perfect for kids and kids-at-heart with vintage-style wooden toys and games, as well as family-friendly activities. Tickets are $17 for guests, $14 for members, children 11 & under are free.

Head out to St. Armands Circle for the 36th annual Holiday Night of Lights. Watch St. Armands Circle come to life in winter holiday light display with performances by the Cuban Ballet school 5:30 p.m. Dec. 5. Then, join in a Christmas Carol Sing-a-long beginning at 6 p.m., followed by the "Santa Parade." Photos with Santa will be available throughout the evening.

Parade down the waterways
Enjoy not one, but two festivities combining Sarasota County's greatest attraction, the water, and the holiday season.

The Venice Christmas Boat Parade floats down the Venetian Waterway Trail 6 p.m., Dec. 6. Cheer a parade of decorated boats as they make there way from Casey Key (just north of Albee Road Bridge) to down near the Venice Municipal Airport

The Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade is held the following Saturday, Dec. 13, on Sarasota Bay off of Island Park. Local power and sailboat owners will decorate their boats with holiday lights and compete for prizes in several categories.

Party with Santa
This time of year, Santa seems to be hanging around just about every corner. Enjoy some of the best locations to view Santa before his big night.

Meet Santa's seafaring helper, Santa Jaws at Mote Aquarium. Mascot Gilly the the Shark dress for the holiday SEAson, and children can take photos with him through Dec. 20. Visiting Santa Jaws is included in regular admission to Mote Aquarium, which is $19.75 for adults, $18.75 seniors 65 & older, $14.75 youth 4 to 12, and free for children younger than three, and Mote Members.

Nov. 18, through Dec. 24, enjoy a Frozen Ice Palace experience at The Mall at University Town Center. The palace will feature characters from the Disney Movie, Frozen, and art of Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven. Interactive globes will showcase scenes from the film, and pictures with Santa will also be available.

Have you been naughty or nice? Stop by the Westfield Sarasota Square Mall for Santa Photos Nov. 14 through Dec. 14 at Macy's Court.

Now showing: holiday performances
One of the best times of the year to catch a performance, there are plenty of wintery shows you won't want to miss.

Start out with the classic "A Christmas Story" performing at The Players Theatre Dec. 3 through 6. Based on the cult classic movie set in a small Indiana town in the 1940s, this full-scale broadway musical will pluck strings of nostalgia — a perfect antidote for the holiday blues!

Celebrate the holidays with gospel, blues, spiritual and Christmas music with the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe's performance of Langston Hughes' Black Nativity Dec. 3 through 21. Children and adults of all races and backgrounds will be enthralled by this high-energy, theatrical wonderment.

Jingle all the way down to Holley Hall at the Symphony Center for "Great Escapes: Jingle All the Way" by the Sarasota Orchestra. This show includes Rossini's Fantastic Toyshop, The Christmas Song, White Christmas and Jingle Bells Forever.

Celebrate the sights and sounds of the holiday season and support the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots at The Ringling&'s Holiday Splendor. Enjoy holiday music and performances by local schools at The Ringling Estate during extended evening hours.

Venice Theatre has not one, not two, but three Christmas shows to see. Visit Starke, Florida for "The Great American Trailer Park: Christmas Musical," running Dec. 5 through 21, and join a cast of characters as the ring in the holidays at their beloved trailer park, Armadillo Acres. Then enjoy the Venice Theatre's rendition of "A Christmas Carol," Dec. 18 to 21. This musical version of Dickens' classic tale is a festive annual tradition at Venice Theatre. Finally join local singers for "Sounds of Christmas," Dec. 21 and 22. This show is a cozy evening of holiday tunes and renditions of wintertime favorites.

The School of Russian Ballet dancers will take the stage at the Sarasota Opera Dec. 7 for one performance of "The Nutcracker," but if you happen to miss this event, another version of "The Nutcracker" will be performed by The Partington Studio of Classical Ballet Dec, 21 and 22. Should you happen to miss both of these, or you simply haven't had your fill of this classic show, check out the Moscow Ballet's performance at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall Dec. 27.