Here's a look at some of the fun Christmas stuff that's coming up in the weeks ahead. To add an event to the list, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"A Victorian Christmas" at The Crosley: Powel Crosley Estate, 8374 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
Enjoy an evening of festive holiday carols and tales at the Crosley's "A Victorian Christmas," featuring interactive theater including "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens in the Great Room, "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry in the Bayfront room, "The Little Matchstick Girl" by Hans Christian Anderson and other holiday stories in the library and a children's story "The Tailor of Gloucester" by Beatrix Potter and other holiday delights in Gwendolyn's room. Performances will be on select dates through Dec. 21. Tickets: $15-$25. Information: 941-722-3244.
Christmas on Main Street: Main Street, Lakewood Ranch
Celebrate the Christmas season with the sights and sounds of the season 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 18 featuring carriage rides, carolers, lighting displays and Santa strolling the street. The event is free and open to the public. Information: lakewoodranch.com/mainstreet.
"Star of Bethlehem": South Florida Museum, 201 10th St. W., Palmetto
The "Star of Bethlehem" planetarium presentation will be 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18. The presentation allows the public to explore the question "What was the Star of Bethlehem?" Was the star a comet, a supernova or something entirely else? Howard Hochhalter, one of South Florida Museum's staff astronomers, will lead attendees on a journey to Jerusalem of some 2,000 years ago using the Planetarium's ability to travel through time and space. Tickets: $5 members, $8 nonmembers. Information: 941-746-4131 or southfloridamuseum.org.
Ho! Ho! Ho! North Pole Express: Florida Railroad Museum, 12210 83rd St. E., Parrish
Sing along with carolers on the North Pole Express on your way to the North Pole where you can pay a visit to Santa and enjoy a toy activity tent, a model railroad display, listen to storytelling, make reindeer food, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies around a cozy bonfire with a multitude of lighted displays. North Pole departure times are 5:30 and 7 p.m. Dec. 18-22. Tickets: $24-$59 adults, $20-$52 children ages 1-11, children younger than 1 are admitted free. Private caboose is available for up to 16 travelers. Information: 941-776-0906 or frrm.org.
2014 Christmas Tour of Lights: various locations, Manatee County
The Ted Nowosad 2014 Christmas Tour of Lights will depart at 6:45 p.m. Dec. 19-20 from the State College of Florida, 5860 26th St. W., building 29, Bradenton. The 90-minute bus ride through local neighborhoods in west Bradenton is free and open to the public; riders need only bring a non-perishable food item or unwrapped toy for admission. The food will be donated to local social service networks and the toys will be given to the Toys for Tots program. Between 1,500 and 2,000 people take part in the tour each year. Seating is limited and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Passengers should arrive no later than 6:30 p.m. Buses will be provided by MCAT and the School District of Manatee County. Information: 941-747-8621, ext. 8114.
"Greet the Light," a Winter Solstice Celebration: John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota
Enjoy live entertainment and dance the night away in the Museum of Art Courtyard 7 p.m. Dec. 20. Joseph's Coat Skyspace will be open for viewing. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Tickets: 941-359-5700 or ringling.org.
Winter Luminary Walk: De Soto National Memorial, 8300 De Soto Memorial Highway, Bradenton
De Soto National Memorial's annual tradition the Winter Luminary Walk, will be 6-8 p.m. Dec. 20. Park visitors are treated to an outdoor winter luminary festival featuring music and historic characters as hundreds of luminaries light up the park's nature trails. The event is free and open to the public. Information: 941-792-0458.
"Miracle in the Maze": Dakin Dairy, 30771 Betts Road, Myakka City
Follow the star and let the shepherds help you find the new born Jesus and a special message from Joseph and Mary to the "Miracle in the Maze" 5-9 p.m. Dec. 20. Visitors can experience a taste of Bethlehem at the Inn serving a biblical dinner for $8 or order from the Farm Market Café, or shop for unique gifts in the Bethlehem market. The market and nativity scene can also be visited 5-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays through Dec. 20. Admission: $15, free to children ages 1 and younger. A part of the proceeds will benefit Harvest House Centers. Information: 941-322-2802 or dakindairyfarms.com.
Breakfast with Santa: Polo Grill, 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch
Join Santa for breakfast 8:30-10:30 a.m. Dec. 20 featuring a hearty breakfast buffet, music, face painting and photos with the jolly old elf himself. Cost: $17.50 adults, $12 children ages 3-12, $20 at the door. Information: 941-782-0899 or pologrillandbar.com.
"A Taste of Chanukah": Sarasota Fairgrounds, 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota
A Taste of Chanukah will be 1-5 p.m. Dec. 21 featuring motorcycle daredevils, petting zoo, stilt walkers, jugglers, snake and bird show, pony rides, snow slide, bounce house, a balloon menorah, an ice menorah, a flaming menorah, an 8-foot dreidel, live music by "the fab four of Jewish music" Yom Hadash, and plenty of kosher food for purchase. Admission and parking are free. Information: 941-925-0770 or atasteofchanukah.com.
16th annual Horseshoe Cove Christmas Golf Cart Parade: at Cortez Road and State Route 70, Bradenton
Bring a chair and enjoy the 16th annual Horseshoe Cove Christmas Golf Cart Parade 6 p.m. Dec. 22. The 55 golf cart parade will leave Horseshoe Cove RV Resort on Caruso Road and travel west down State Road 70. Some of the highlights are Santa on his sled drawn by Rudolph and a twinkling 15-foot Christmas tree traveling all by itself down the road as spectators may guess where the golf cart carrying the tree is hiding. There will be treats for the children and pets too. Information: 941-751-3450.
Main Street Live New Year's Eve: along Old Main Street, Bradenton
Ring in the new year at downtown's most popular street party "Main Street Live," beginning at 4 p.m.-midnight Dec. 31 featuring live music, street vendors and more. Street closes to traffic at 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Food and beverages will be available for sale. Information: realizebradenton.com.
Annual Shamrock Shiver Charity Plunge: Gulf Drive and 12th Street South, Bradenton Beach
Clancy's Irish Pub will host the seventh annual Shamrock Shiver Charity Plunge at noon Jan. 1 followed by a Post Plunge Party at Clancy's Irish Pub, 6218 Cortez Road, Bradenton. There will be door prizes and live music by the Jack Tamburin Band. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Proceeds will benefit Caring for Children Charities. Information: (41-952-1109 or 941-794-2489.
Holiday Nights at Ca'd'Zan: John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota
Explore Ca'd'Zan during Holiday Nights at Ca'd'Zan 5-8 p.m. Dec. 18. Dressed for the holidays, the Ca'd'Zan will feature festooning fireplace mantels, balconies, doors and a 10-foot tall Christmas tree in the Grand Court. The event is included with Art After 5 admission, free to museum members. Information: 941-359-5700 or ringling.org.
Fourth annual "Snow Fest Sarasota": Phillippi Estate Park, 5500 Tamiami Trail S., Sarasota
"Snow Fest Sarasota" will be noon-10 p.m. Dec. 19-23 featuring giant snow slides, reindeer rides, skating rink, pictures with Santa, snowman building, giant snow globe, Live Santa's extravaganza shows, caroling, carnival, petting zoo, bounce house, pony rides, snow mountain with 100 tons of snow falling at the "Winter Wonderland" and music by DJ Grinch. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Admission is free. Parking: $5.
Jungle Gardens Holiday Lights Spectacular Celebration: Sarasota Jungle Gardens, 3701 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota
Get into the spirit of the season 6-9 p.m. Dec. 19-24, 26-28 for fun family friendly holiday activities, a visit by Santa Claus, a "Candy Cane Lane," and one million lights decorating the pathways and surroundings of the gardens. Enjoy music and live entertainment, roast marshmallows, s'mores and hot dogs. Live entertainment takes place at 7 and 8 p.m. nightly and include magician-comedian Nathan Coe Marsh other others. A special holiday menu is available for $7.95 a person, child size meals are $5.95. Admission: $11 adults, $6 children ages 3-12, free for children ages 2 and younger. Information: 941-355-1112 or sarasotajunglegardens.com.
"Lights in Bloom": Marie Selby Gardens, 811 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota
Sip on hot chocolate while enjoying life-size garden-themed holiday light displays, transforming Marie Selby Gardens into a tropical wonderland 6-9 p.m. nightly Dec. 19-23 and continues Dec. 26-29. Kids and kids-at-heart can harken back simpler times with the vintage-style wooden toys and games and other festive family-friendly activities. Admission: $17 adults, $6 children ages 6-11, free to members. Information: 941-366-5731 or selby.org.
Santa Jaws at Mote Aquarium: 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy., Sarasota
Bring your camera and take photos with Santa's helper shark "Santa Jaws" noon-2 p.m. Dec. 20, featuring Mote Mascot Gilly the shark dressed up for the holidays. Visiting Santa Jaws is included with admission. Tickets: $19.75 adults, $18.75 seniors ages 65 and older, $14.75 children ages 4-12, free to children ages 0-3, free to Mote members. Information: 941-388-4441 or mote.org.
"Greet the Light Winter Solstice Celebration:" The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota
Enjoy live entertainment and dancing during "Greet the Light Winter Solstice Celebration" in the fabulous courtyard at the Ringling Art Museum 7-11 p.m. Dec. 20. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Tickets: $10 members, $15 nonmembers. Information: 941-359-5700 or ringling.org.
Variety show "Tis The Magic Season": Sarasota Classic Car Museum, 5500 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
Gypsy Allure, the Mistress of Magic, will present a unique Vegas style show "Tis The Magic Season" 8 p.m. Dec. 20, sprinkled with laughter, audience participation, illusions that will blow you away, and rare variety acts just in time for the Holidays. There will be a special vocal performance by Miss Mayven and a carnival executed by the most dangerous man in show business, Will Rotten. Tickets: $15-$25. Information: 941-351-2548 or gypsyallure.com.
Live Nativity Scene at Big Cat Habitat: 7107 Palmer Blvd., Sarasota
Enjoy the spirit of Christmas at the Big Cat Habitat hosting a full live nativity scene 12:30-4 p.m. Dec. 20-21. See animals in a close encounter of the exotic kind and browse the facility to learn about our exotic and endangered Siberian tigers, Royal Bengal tigers, African lions and rare white tigers. Admission: $15 adults, $7 children ages 3-12. Information: 941-371-6377 or bigcathabitat.org.
Sailor Circus Holiday Spectacular: Sailor Circus, 2075 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota
Be transported as the world's longest running youth circus unleashes the power of The Enchanted Wand and leads a spectacular journey of circus arts entertainment guaranteed to captivate the entire family 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 27-28 and 30 and 7 p.m. Dec. 29. Travel through mystical lands and encounter magical creatures as the talented Sailor Circus Academy students perform amazing aerial acts, skilled unicycle stunts, incredible juggling feats, and so much more. The one-of-a-kind performance weaves an inspiring holiday story overflowing with all the magic of the season. Tickets: $18 adults, $12 children ages 12 and younger. Information: 941-366-0156 or circusarts.org.
St. Petersburg Holidays of the Arts: South Straub Park, 198 Bayshore Dr. NE., St. Petersburg
Enjoy purchasing art at The St. Petersburg Holiday of the Arts 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 20-21 featuring exquisite handmade and original artwork from local, regional and national artisans offering a variety of mediums including painting, photography, sculpture, metalwork, digital art, jewelry, glass, ceramics, woodworking and more. Admission is free. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Information: paragonartevents.com/stpete.
First Night St. Petersburg: various locations downtown, St. Petersburg
First Night is a family oriented New Year's Eve Celebration of the Arts bringing music, art and entertainment 4 p.m.-midnight Dec. 31. Participants can walk from venue to venue along St. Petersburg's busy, charming sidewalks, shops and over a hundred restaurants and bars for patrons to enjoy throughout the evening. Festivities include a FirstKids 4-7 p.m. with hat and mask making, the Second Time Arounders Musical Petting Zoo and Chihuly Noisemakers with the Morean Arts Center, the St. Pete Makers will host a LED light making station, puppet shows, fire and ice shows, science fun station, street performers and live music by various bands, a dragon procession at 11 p.m. and fireworks at midnight and much more. Admission buttons are available online at various sites of the event. Admission buttons are $10-$15 adults, $5-$10 children ages 6-12, admission for children ages 5 and younger is free. Information: 727-823-8906 or firstnightstpete.com.
Busch Gardens "Christmas Town": Christmas Town, the ultimate Christmastime experience for families will be open through Dec. 31 featuring special entertainment, live music, festive treats, holiday shopping and over a million twinkling lights. Guest can experience the event throughout the day, and park closing times will range from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. throughout the event. Christmas Town is included with any annual pass, Fun Card or daily admission. For dates, times and special events information, call 888-800-5447 or visit buschgardens.com. The park is at 10165 N. Malcolm McKinley Drive, Tampa.
Lowry Park Zoo "Wild Wonderland": Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo will transform into a world of wintry wonder for Wild Wonderland, Dec. 18-23 and 26-30 as for 15 delightful nights, the forecast calls for 100 percent chance of snowfall with "Florida flurries" and more than a million twinkling lights. Guests can enjoy animated displays, enchanting light shows choreographed to joyful tunes, and dazzling decorations and radiant lights throughout the Zoo's pathways. Santa and his merry real reindeer will join their best-dressed friends, a charismatic colony of African penguins, and will stay up late along with spectacular African animals like elephants and giraffes under the starry night sky. There will be family favorites like free Zoo rides, reindeer games, fun inflatables, tasty holiday treats, festive music and wild gifts at the holiday shop. Other activities are "drop and shop" offered on Dec. 20 and 21 as parent can enroll their children ages 3-12 in this fun day program 9:30-3 p.m. Camp is $30 for one child and $10 for each additional child, per date. The Zoo School offers holiday camps for students in grades K-8 Dec. 22-23 and Dec. 29-31. Special birthday parties are available for those born in December on select event nights and include a private birthday party room. Admission: $15 adults, $13 children ages 3-11, admission is free for children ages 2 and younger. For more details and information: 813-935-8552 or lowryparkzoo.com. The park is at 1101 W. Sligh Ave, Tampa.
"Holiday Movie Classics": Tampa Theatre, 711 N. Franklin St., Tampa
Come with family and friends and enjoy beloved holiday favorites on the big screen, including "It's a Wonderful Life" 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20-21, and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" Dec. 28. Unless otherwise noted, all movie times are 3 p.m. Tickets: $10 adults, $8 children and members. Information: 813-274-8981 or tampatheatre.org.
"ICE!" Christmas at Gaylord Palms: The magic of the Christmas season "ICE!" will be at Gaylord Palms Resort through Jan. 4 where guests can indulge in holiday merriment where the Dreams of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Mouse King will come to life in a full-on frozen wonderland and scenes from everyone's favorite ballet, The Nutcracker, will be reimagined in nearly two million pounds of hand-carved vibrant ice sculptures. The event will feature four slippery ice slides and live carving stations inside the Artisans in Action Frostbite Factory and Alpine Rush Snow Tubing on a giant snow hill created with 1.5 million pounds of real Florida snow. For ticket prices, opening hours and information visit christmasatgaylordpalms.com. The park is at 6000 W. Osceola Pkwy., Kissimmee.
"Tis Is The Season" at Universal Orlando: Families can create lifelong memories during Universal Orlando's Holiday celebrations through Jan. 3 featuring the Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Studios with larger-than-life balloons, holiday characters, fantasy-filled floats, followed by a musical performances of acclaimed musical group Mannheim Steamroller Dec. 20-21. At Universal's Islands of Adventure, guests will smile during the heartwarming live show "Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular," and on select dates a special breakfast with the characters. All theme park holiday entertainment, including Mannheim Steamroller concerts, is included as part of park-to-park or multi-day admission to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. A separate ticketed event is "EVE 2014," the New Year's Eve at Universal City Walk Dec. 31, featuring Orlando's largest dance floor, six unique party zones, access to CityWalk's high-energy nightclubs, live music, and more. For detailed information, location, opening hours and ticket prices visit UniversalOrlando.com/holidays.