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. 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.
Hunsader Farms Country Christmas, 6-10 p.m. Dec. 15-16, 20-23
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The family-friendly holiday event includes hayrides, kiddie train rides, more than 250,000 holiday lights, petting zoo, live music and Christmas movies on an outdoor screen. There will be food vendors, pony rides, a 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.
Holiday Classic Movie on the Riverwalk, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 15
A free waterfront screening of the holiday movie “Elf” will be shown on the Bradenton Riverwalk, 452 Third Ave. W. There will be food vendors, face painting, photo ops and musical entertainment prior to the movie. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets. realizebradenton.com.
“Elf” 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 and 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 on Bridge Street, noon-8 p.m. Dec. 16
This yearly gala celebrates the Christmas season and will include free live entertainment with Christmas songs, Santa Claus, the Privateers Christmas sleigh, face painting and sand art, and a wide variety of beer, wine and food will be available The Bridge Street Merchants Association will be raising money for the Turning Points charity, which provides a variety of services to assist individuals and families on their path to financial stability and independence. Musical entertainment will be provided by Stone Crab Steve, Rebecca The Song Bird, Brigid’s Cross, Barry and The Boomers featuring Washboard Betty and many other notable musicians. This is a free event, open to the public. The event at 117 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach.
Holiday show, 7 p.m. Dec. 18
Join the FSU/Asolo Conservatory class of 2018 for a heart-warming evening of Christmas carols and comedy. Dustin Babin is determined to singlehandedly self-produce the theatrical adaption of 1994’s holiday comedy “The Santa Clause.” Bring the whole family to Asolo Repertory Theatre for this free holiday revue, including live performances of “Let it Snow,” “Deck the Halls,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “O Holy Night” and more. No reservations needed. The Mertz Theatre is at 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.
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 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 hometown 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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