Throughout most of the country, the weather outside is frightful. In Manatee County, it's darn-near perfect.
So while your friends in Wisconsin may have to celebrate the season by sitting at home and watching re-runs of "Frosty the Snowman," you can get out and enjoy the splendid temperatures and the holiday celebrations that are going on all around the area.
Whether you're looking for theater, music, fairs, festivals or parades, there's something coming up nearby to help keep you and your family in the Christmas spirit.
"Dickens at the Crosley": Powel Crosley Estate, 8374 N. Tamiami Trail, Bradenton
The adaptation of the Dickens classic is just one of four pieces in an evening billed as "Dickens at the Crosley." The others are adaptations of "The Gentle Giant" by Oscar Wilde, "The Night Before Christmas" by Clement C. Moore, and "The True History of the Hare and the Tortoise" by Lord Dunsany. The Crosley production has actors playing Powel and Gwendolyn Crosley, who in turn portray characters in the classic stories. Show times: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11-13, 18 and 20 and 7:30 p.m. only Dec. 15-17. Tickets: $15-$25 plus service charge. Information: 941-722-3244, bradentongulfislands.com/crosley-theater.
Magic of Manatee Chorus holiday show: Bayshore High School Auditorium, 5401 34th St, W., Bradenton
Enjoy the beautiful harmonies of the Magic of Manatee Chorus, the Bradenton chapter of Sweet Adelines International, with special guest appearance by the Bayshore High Music Department, 7 p.m. Dec. 11. Admission: $10. Tickets: 941-722-9665 or magicofmanatee.com
Annual Holidays Around the Ranch: Lakewood Ranch Main Street
The ninth annual "Holidays Around the Ranch" will be 6-9 p.m. Dec. 11 featuring community activities including outdoor skating, sugar cookie decorating, Choo Choo Express, Santa ornament craft for children, caroling and the arrival of Santa. The event is free and open to the public. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Information: facebook.com/LWRCommunityActivities.
United Way Annual Holiday Gift Fair: County Administration Building Lobby and Courtyard, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton
Manatee County will host the annual United Way Holiday Gift Fair 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 11 featuring handcrafted wood creations, hand-painted clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, stoneware, pottery, scarves, tools, stained glass, photography, prints, essential oils, gourmet Italian olive oils, handmade soaps, cards, crafts, gifts, pastries, and more. The public can enjoy crafts, Christmas plants, pulled pork lunch at $5, coffee, cookies and more. Information: 941-748-4501.
"Holiday Reflections on the Lake": Lake Manatee State Park, 20007 SR 64, Bradenton
Lake Manatee State Park will host its inaugural "Holiday Reflections on the Lake," 6:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 12 and 19. The goal of the event is to collect items for the Myakka City Foundation and Nate's Honor Animal Rescue. Activities include a self-guided night walk along a trail decorated with reflective holiday-themed decorations, a children's craft station and a Night Geocache. Night caching uses reflective trail markers to lead you to a cache. In lieu of an entrance fee, donations are accepted. Donations for Myakka City Foundation are one new unwrapped toy per car load or one canned food item per person. Donations for Nate's Honor Animal Rescue are: wet puppy food Science Diet or Pedigree brand, and Fancy Fest for kittens and cats, one can per person. Equivalent cash donation will be accepted in addition or in lieu of requested items. Information: 941-741-3028.
Annual Holiday Boat Parade: Manatee River, Bradenton
The annual Holiday Boat Parade will begin 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12 with viewing areas at Pier 22, Twin Dolphins Marina, Bradenton Yacht Club, Riverhouse Reef and Grill, and Regatta Pointe Marina. The event is free and open to the public. Information: 941-748-8087.
Annual Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade of Lights: along Sarasota Bay at Bayfront Park, Sarasota
The 30th annual Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade of Lights will be 6 p.m. Dec. 12 with the best areas for viewing at Marina Jack Restaurant, Bayfront Park, City Island and Centennial Park. Information: sarasota-christmasboatparade.com.
"Sounds of the Season": Main Street, Bradenton
Celebrate the Christmas spirit at the Del Couch Music Education Foundation's family event "Sounds of the Season," 5-10 p.m. Dec. 12 featuring live music and movies. The event is free and open to the public. Food and beverages are available for purchase. Information: 941-545-4379.
"My Favorite Things" Skating Spectacular: Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, 5309 29th St. E., Ellenton
The Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club will present "My Favorite Things," a skating spectacular 1:30 p.m. Dec. 12-13, and 5:30 p.m. Dec. 13. The event will feature world and Olympic skaters alongside stars of tomorrow. Tickets: $20 adults, $15 seniors ages 60 and over, $10 children ages 10 and younger. Information: 866-967-8167 or swffsc.org.
"Plantation Christmas": Gamble Plantation, 3708 Patten Ave., Sarasota
The United Daughters of the Confederacy, Florida Division, and the Florida Park Service will host a Plantation Christmas Open House 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 13. There will be music, crafts, fun, period costumed volunteers, re-enactments of a Confederate encampment, and free tours of the decorated Gamble Mansion. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Information: 941-723-4536.
A 1915 Florida Cracker Christmas: Manatee Village Historical Park, 1404 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton
Experience sights and sounds of the traditional, old-fashioned, Florida Cracker Christmas 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 13 featuring family-friendly entertainment, heritage artisans, "make and take" seasonal crafts for adults and youths, and visiting vendors and vintage silent holiday films. All buildings in the village will be decorated inside and out to reflect Christmas styles and celebrations of long ago. There will be choral, instrumental and dance performances by students and bands from various local high schools and others. Admission: $5 adults, children ages 12 and younger are admitted free. Parking is free. Information: 941-741-4075 or manateevillage.org.
Annual Snow Fest Sarasota: Ringling Shopping Center, across Payne Park at 170 Shopping Ave., Sarasota
The annual Snow Fest Sarasota will be noon-10 p.m. Dec. 18-20 featuring 200 tons of real snow, snow slides, snow play area, giant snow pictures with Santa, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, Santa Reindeer rides, face painting, games, and performances from local artist. All day snowslide wristbands are $10. Admission: $7 adults, children ages 12 and younger are admitted free. Information: snowfestsarasota.com.
Annual Christmas on Bridge Street: along Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach
Celebrate the season at The Bridge Street Merchants' annual "Christmas on Bridge Street" 4:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 19 featuring live music by Russ and Brandi and the Dickens Carolers, various elementary school-aged singing groups, the chorus from Rowlett Academy and the Joyful Noise Choir from Roser Church in Anna Maria. Visitors can also view the Cortez Yacht Club's Boat Parade at dusk. There will be a kids craft and cookie bazaar, arts and crafts, and a silent auction. Information: 941-536-4257.
Annual Winter Luminary Walk: De Soto National Memorial, 8300 De Soto Memorial Hwy., Bradenton
De Soto National Memorial will light its trails with thousands of luminaries 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 19. The evening will feature live music by the Manatee High School Orchestra. Food and refreshments will be available for purchase. Shuttle from King Middle School, 600 75th St. NW., start at 6 p.m. and run until 9 p.m. Information: 941-792-0458 or nps.gov/deso.
St. Petersburg Holiday of Arts: South Straub Park, 250 Bay Shore Dr. NE., St. Petersburg
The St. Petersburg Art Alliance and the City of St. Petersburg will host its second annual Holiday of the Arts 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 19-20 featuring local, regional and national artists and artisans offering handmade original fine art including paintings, jewelry, glass, ceramics, metalwork, fiber art and woodworking. The event is free and open to the public. Information: 941-487-8061 or stpeteartsalliance.org/localevents.
New Year's Eve Main Street Live: along Main Street, Bradenton
The Old Main Street Merchants will host a New Year's Eve party 5-10 p.m. Dec. 31 featuring food vendors, shopping, and live music by the classic rock band Big Daddy. The event is free and open to the public. Information: facebook.com/OldMainStreet-MerchantsAssociation.