Today's best bets: Dec. 8

December 8, 2012 

Winter Wonderland: Old Main Street, Bradenton

The Winter Wonderland family-friendly party on Old Main Street is scheduled for 5-9 p.m. Dec. 8 with food, arts and crafts vendors, along with games for kids, hay rides and more. The event's signature attraction, the snow sledding mountains, will be in the parking lot north of Old Main Pub. Around 6 p.m., Santa and Mrs. Claus will be escorted down Old Main Street to the entrance of Westminster Courtyard, 222 Old Main St., where they will meet with visitors until about 8:30 p.m. Information:

Manatee River Holiday Boat Parade: Bradenton Yacht Club, 4307 Snead Island Road, Palmetto

The Bradenton Yacht Club will host a Holiday Boat Parade viewing party beginning at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 8. The parade, featuring boats decorated with holiday lights, will start at DeSoto Point and will end at the Bradenton Yacht Club. A fireworks display will be at the end of the parade. The event is open and free to the public. Information: 941-722-5936 or visit

Village of the Arts "An Olde Fashioned Christmas": Village of the Arts, between Ninth and 14th streets west, Bradenton

The Village of the Arts will host "An Olde Fashioned Village Christmas," 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 8. Stroll through this quaint village festooned with holiday lights to the sounds of Christmas Carolers and the Barber Shop Quartet and enjoy a visit with Santa and special holiday treats and sugar plums and a Christmas Tea Room at restaurants throughout the village. Special displays of antique quilts, toys, dolls and vintage holiday fashions by Retro Rosie and the latest one-of-a-kind creations by local village artists. Information: 941-746-4556 or visit

"Millions of Light, Magical Nights": Sarasota Jungle Gardens, 3701 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota

Sarasota Jungle Gardens will celebrate the holiday season with its 11th annual Holiday Lights "Millions of Lights, Magical Nights," 6-9 p.m. Dec. 8-9 and Dec. 14-24. Visitors can enjoy millions of sparkling holiday lights while meandering along decorated trails and exhibits. Santa's visits for family photo opportunities are at 8 p.m. and the Cory Music Show will perform live holiday songs and sing-alongs inspiring seasonal spirits. Master magician, Nathan Coe Marsh, will take the stage at 7 and 8 p.m. A special holiday dinner and child friendly meals will be available for purchase. Admission: $11 adults, $6 children ages 3-12. Information: 941-355-1112. or visit

Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade: various locations, Sarasota

The 26th Annual Sarasota Christmas Boat Parade of Lights will begin at 6 p.m. Dec. 8. The best areas for viewing are Marina Jack Restaurant, Bayfront Park, City Island and Centennial Park. The parade route has been expanded by an additional turn marker at the southwest side of Bayfront Park. All boats must now pass approximately one third of the Sarasota Bay side of Bayfront Park within a few yards, to be considered for judging. The Bayfront Park spectator viewing area has been expanded to include the entire Northern tip of the island near the fountain. Information:

VIP Holiday Boat Parade Party: Pier 22, 1200 First Ave. W., Bradenton

Pier 22 will host the VIP Holiday Boat Parade Party 6 p.m. Dec. 8 featuring a Champagne toast, holiday buffet dinner and VIP seating to view the Holiday Boat Parade on the Manatee River. Cost: $49.95. Seating is limited and reservations are recommended. Information: 941-748-8087.

Breakfast with Santa: Renaissance on 9th, 1816 Ninth St. W., Bradenton

Treat your children, grandchildren and friends for the holidays and enjoy a full breakfast with special Christmas pancakes for the little ones, caroling and time for each child to meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus, 8:30-10:30 a.m. Dec. 8. Each child will receive a free Christmas book from Santa. Tickets: $15 adults, $10 children. Information: 941-757-2900, ext. 204.

Anna Maria Island Privateers Christmas Parade and Santa Open House: various locations

The Anna Maria Island Privateers will hold its annual Christmas Parade Dec. 8, followed by a Santa Open House at Coquina Beach where Santa will be handing out gifts to the youngsters. The parade, featuring multiple decorated floats, leaves the Bay Front Park in Anna Maria City at 10 a.m. and will proceed through three island cities, ending at Coquina Beach. There will be free hot dogs and sodas for children. Information: 941-752-5973 or visit

Atomic Holiday Bazaar: Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, 801 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

Florida's original indie arts and craft show "Atomic Holiday Bazaar" will be 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 9 featuring vintage apparel, jewelry, housewares, clothing, antique assemblage, vinyl and other items. Tickets: $5 adults; free for children age 12 and younger. Information: 941-366-7761.

Anna Maria Island Art League "Winterfest 2012": Holmes Beach City Hall Field, 5801 Marina Dr., Holmes Beach

Browse and purchase original artwork created by the highly regarded local, regional and national artists selected to participate in Winterfest 2012, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Dec. 8-9. In addition, the festival features live music by the Anna Maria String Band, KoKo Ray, the Gumbo Boogie Band, State Road 64, The Hurricanes, The Anderson Brothers and The Bontrager Sisters. Also featured will be the annual AMIAL's "Young at Art" children's art exhibit and hands-on activity area. A selection of food and beverages will be available for purchase. Information: 941-778-2099.

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