Here’s a roundup of some of the area’s best and most popular holiday events.
Holidays on the Green at University Town Center, through Jan. 15
The highlight of this new event is an outdoor skating rink with real ice. It’s under a tent at University Town Center, 192 N. Cattlemen Road, and unless the temperature gets above 78 degrees, the tent’s flaps will be open, so you can actually skate sort-of-outdoors. Hours are 4-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and noon-8 p.m. Sunday. $10 gets you skates and 90 minutes of ice time, but the festival itself is free and full of activities, including a holiday movie screening at 7 p.m. every Saturday. mallatutc.com/holidayvillage.
Holiday Gift Fair & Carols in the Courtyard, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 7
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There will be a Holiday Gift Fair & Carols in the Courtyard event at the County Administration Building, 1111 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton. Gift items include gourmet italian olive oils, handcrafted wood creations, jewelry, cosmetics, stoneware, pottery, scarves, holiday wreaths, ornaments, essential oils, handmade soaps, cards, crafts, gifts, food and more. There will be holiday music and a pulled pork lunch for $7.
Holidays Around the Ranch, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 8
Santa Claus (what a busy guy!) makes a spectacular entrance on Main Street in a horse-drawn carriage. Local dance and music studios perform. For the kids, there’s outdoor “ice” skating, cookie decorating, ornament making, holiday street vendors and more. Free. 941-757-1530, lwrcac.com.
Holiday Pottery Sale, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 8-9
The ArtCenter Manatee, 209 Ninth St. W., Bradenton, offers hundreds of unique ceramic art objects created by dozens of local artists. Free admission and free parking.
Hunsader Farms Country Christmas, 6-10 p.m. Dec. 5-9, 15-16, 20-23
The family friendly holiday event includes hayrides, kiddie train rides, more than 250,000 holiday lights, petting zoo, live music, Christmas movies on outdoor screen. There will be food vendors, pony rides, produce market, antique store and more. $10 admission, kids age 5 and younger free. Free parking. 5500 C.R. 675, Bradenton. 941-322-2168, www.hunsaderfarms.com.
Anna Maria Island Privateers Christmas Parade, 10 a.m. Dec. 9
Nothing says Christmas like pirates! The Anna Maria Island Privateers sail their pirate ship down Gulf Drive in their annual Christmas Parade. It starts at Bayfront Park, 316 N. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria, and travels south to Coquina Beach, 2650 Gulf Drive S. Santa will have gifts for children. Free. amiprivateers.memberlodge.org.
Holiday Edition Shabby Chic Vintage Market & Artisan Day, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 9
A Holiday Gift Market with 130 vendors featuring country Christmas items, artisans, upcycled home wares, original art, painted furniture, antiques, vintage, cottage glam, industrial and nautical decor. Free admission and parking. Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto. simplyeventsfl.com,
Sounds of the Season, 6-10 p.m. Dec. 9
Live music, an outdoor movie, snow and more highlight the popular event on Old Main Street in downtown Bradenton. Free. realizebradenton.com.
Clyde Butcher Holiday Meet and Greet at St. Armands, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 9
A meet-and-greet holiday reception/open house will be held at Clyde Butcher’s St. Armands Gallery, 55 S. Boulevard of the Presidents. Free and open to the public, guests will have the opportunity to meet Butcher, who will give talks throughout the day and autograph and personalize books, calendars and photographs for holiday gifts. 941-702-8818.
Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, 6 p.m. Dec. 9
Lots of spectacularly decorated boats sail by. For the landlubber, there’s great viewing from downtown Sarasota’s Bayfront Park, City Island or Centennial Park. Free. sarasotachristmasboatparade.com.
Manatee River Holiday Boat Parade, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 9
The Green Bridge Fishing Pier in Palmetto, and Pier 22 and the Riverwalk in Bradenton are among the ideal places to watch this boat parade. Free. realizebradenton.com.
Atomic Holiday Bazaar Season 12, noon-5 p.m. Dec. 9-10
This holiday “indie” craft show is held at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, the Bay Front Room and street fair located on Plaza De Santo Domingo, the street between the Municipal Auditorium and the Sarasota Art Center. The Atomic Holiday Bazaar is $5 for adults to enter the Main Auditorium; the Bay Front room and Street Fair are free to enter. The holiday tote bag tradition continues with screen printed totes filled with Atomic swag that are handed out at each show to the first 100 adults who enter the main auditorium. Food trucks and the auditorium cantina will be open for hungry shoppers.
Gamble Mansion Christmas, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 10
It’s a Confederate-style Christmas at the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, 3708 Patten Ave., Ellenton. The mansion will be decorated in the style of a 19th-century Christmas, and members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy will wear period costumes. The 4th Florida Volunteer Infantry will be dressed in military uniforms re-enacting a Confederate encampment. 941-723-4536.
A Florida Cracker Christmas Festival, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 10
Experience an old-fashioned Florida holiday celebration with family-friendly entertainment, heritage artisans, “make and take” seasonal crafts for adults and youth, food vendors, and vintage silent holiday films — something to delight every age. Every corner of Manatee Village will be dressed with splendid Victorian décor. The annual festival is at Manatee Village Historical Park, 1404 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton. Special event admission: Adults $5; youth 12 years and younger free. Parking is free and is available at Manatee Village, or at Manatee Elementary (1609 Sixth Ave. E., Bradenton).
Holiday Classic Movie on the Riverwalk, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 15
A free waterfront screening of the holiday movie “Elf” will be screened on the Bradenton Riverwalk, 452 Third Ave. W. There will be food vendors, face painting, photo ops, and music entertainment prior to movie. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets. realizebradenton.com.
Holiday Movie Night at Ringling, 5:30-9 p.m. Dec. 15
The holiday classic “Elf” will be screened in the Ringling Museum of Art Courtyard featuring live music by Josh Walther and the Phase5 Band, family friendly activities, holiday lights, photo ops with Buddy and Jovie. Hot chocolate, “the world’s best cup of coffee” and candy canes are included with your ticket. There is also a cash bar with holiday cocktails. Holiday attire encouraged. Tickets are $15 adults, $10 children ages 6-17 at https://www.ringling.org/events/type/events or 941-358-3180. The Ringling Museum is at 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota.
Ted Nowosad Tour of Lights, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 15-16
A 90-minute bus ride through local neighborhoods in west Bradenton leaves from Building 29 at State College of Florida, 5840 26th St. W. It’s free, but you’re asked to bring a non-perishable food item or unwrapped toys for admission. The food will be donated to local social service networks and the toys will be provided to the Toys-for-Tots program. Up to 2,000 people take the tour every year, and seating is limited, so get there by 6:15 p.m. 941-747-8621.
Christmas with Santa, 11 a.m. Dec. 17-23
Come join Santa and his Christmas Fairy at the Crosley Mansion in Sarasota. Start at the hot cocoa bar with all the Christmas trimmings while the children decorate Christmas cookies and play reindeer games with the elves. Santa makes a special visit to read Christmas fables to kids and adults alike. Then join the Christmas Fairy for a delicious holiday lunch set inside Santa’s palace. Each child will receive a special gift from the Fairies. Doors open at 11 a.m., lunch starts at 12:30 p.m. Santa arrives at 11:45 a.m. All-inclusive events and lunch included in ticket price. $32 adults, $17 for children ages 3-12. Pre-paid reservations required. Seating is limited. Tickets at www.crosleysupperclub.com; or call 941-312-0000.
Downtown Sarasota Pineapple Drop, 1:30 p.m. Dec. 31
Perhaps the longest event of the holiday season hereabouts gets going in the early afternoon, with a a family-friendly festival of live music, vendors, rides and children’s entertainment, and keeps going until the pineapple drops at midnight to herald the beginning of 2018. Free. sarasotanewyearsparty.com.
Main Street Live, 5 p.m. Dec. 31
Have Gun, Will Travel is a Bradenton folk-rock band that has ardent followers around the country. They’ll entertain the home-town crowd at the New Year’s Eve street party along Old Main Street. They’ll play late in the evening, and a band called the Beat Down will start at 6 p.m., and the bars and restaurants along Old Main Street will be opens for business. Free. facebook.com/independentjones.
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