Shop ’till you drop for friends and loved ones this holiday season, but also take time to experience some of the area’s special events:
n Manatee County’s tour of lights is open to all ages. The bus tours begin at 6:45 p.m. today and Sunday. There are two pick-up points: State College of Florida, 5840 26th St. W., Building 29, Bradenton, and the Manatee Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto.
Residents are asked to be there between 6 and 6:30 p.m. so the tour can start promptly. Though the tour is free, guests are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy or nonperishable food item. For more information, call 747-8621.
n The seventh annual Cortez Yacht Club lighted boat parade is set for dusk today.
Boats will assemble in parade formation 6 p.m. Saturday in the basin near Moore’s Stone Crab and Mar Vista restaurants on the north end of Longboat Key. A radio command for lighting of the fleet will start the procession shortly after 6, escorted by a Bradenton Beach Police boat to finish at the Seafood Shack Marina on the Intracoastal Waterway near the Cortez Bridge.
The favored public venue for viewing is the Bradenton Beach City Pier at the east end of Bridge Street.
n “Mainly Art” arts and craft show: Main Street, Bradenton 9 a.m.-2 p.m. today and every third Saturday of the month. This free event features art, craft and antiques vendors, live music and food and beverages are available for purchase. Dogs on leashes are welcome. Information: 704-4366 or visit www.realizebradenton.com.
n Winter Festival and Luminary Walk: DeSoto National Memorial Park, 8300 DeSoto National Memorial Hwy., Bradenton, is set for 6:30-8:30 p.m. today, featuring authentic 16th-century music in a historic luminary walk along the park’s natural trails. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Admission to the park is free. For a full schedule of activities, call 792-0458 or visit www.nps.gov/deso.
n The residents of Horseshoe Cove, 5100 60th St. E., are decorating 50 golf carts for the 12th annual Christmas Golf Cart Parade at 6 p.m. today . At 6 p.m. Monday, the parade moves to neighboring Pleasant Lakes Mobile Home Park. Then at 6 p.m. Wednesday the parade moves to Windmill Manor and Westwinds Mobile Home Park.
n The Polo Grill, 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch, will hold a Breakfast with Santa, 8:30-10:30 a.m. today. Enjoy a delicious Fête breakfast buffet. Kids will have the opportunity to participate in holiday activities and visit with Santa about their Christmas wish list. Cost: $15 adults, $10 children ages 12-5. For reservations and more info, call Melissa at (941) 782-0899, ext. 235.
n Holiday Music Magic will be ongoing 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, and noon-5 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 24 at Bishop Planetarium Theater at the South Florida Museum, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton. Visitors of all ages can enjoy holiday music hits from the past and present with this music entertainment show featuring favorite holiday songs, visually choreographed with 3-D artistic animation and all-dome scenery. Admission: $15.95 adults, $13.95 seniors 65 and older, $11.95 for children ages 4-12. Children ages 3 and younger are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult.
n “Holiday Harmonies” barbershop concert, 1 p.m. Sundayat Glenridge Performing Arts Center, 7333 Scotland Way, Sarasota. Cost: $12.50. Information: 552-5325.
n The Manatee-Sarasota Sierra Club will hold its annual holiday paddle and lunch at 9 a.m. Sunday at Linger Lodge on the Braden River in Manatee County. Donation $5. Info: Don Kirkley, 941-493-3085.
n The Anna Maria Island Concert and Orchestra will present its “Festival of Holiday Music” 2 p.m. Sunday at CrossPointe Fellowship Church, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. The program features a collection of holiday music for voices and instruments, including the performance of John Rutter’s Brother Heinrich’s Christmas.
n 3rd Annual Polo Grill and Bar Cup Season Opener begins at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Sarasota Polo Club in Lakewood Ranch. An “After Polo Party” is 4-7 p.m. at the Polo Grill & Bar on Lakewood Ranch Main Street. Bring an unwrapped toy to support the Marines Toys 4 Tots Holiday Toy drive and receive a complimentary general admission ticket to a future game.
n Fundraiser for Gregory Estates Christmas party on Dec. 22. Touch of Class, 5131 14th St. W., Bradenton. Admission: $10 and a new toy. Buffet dinner, door prizes, dancing and more. Henry Lawrence Band performs. Call Tyrone Smith, 356-2666. 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
n Allegro Music Academy offers a Holiday Art Camp 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 1-4 p.m. Dec. 27-29. Students will design and build Santa’s house and make holiday decorations and other artwork. For cost and full class schedules, call 358-8511.
n Dreammaker Limousines will host its first Christmas Pub Crawl beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday featuring stops at multiple locations and giveaways throughout the night. Seats are limited to 39. Reservations required at dreammakerlimousines $20. Information: 713-8360.