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Holiday Calendar for Manatee & Sarasota

Hooray! It’s time for holiday events in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Email events for this calendar, which will be published throughout December, to


Holidays at the Ca d’Zan: Ringling Museum of Arts, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota

Come see all that glimmers at the Ca d’Zan mansion, including its grand holiday decorations, at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Arts 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays-Wednesdays and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursdays now through Jan. 14, featuring the interior and exterior of the mansion decorated with period-appropriate holiday decorations with multiple Christmas trees decorated in hand-blown ornaments. Admission: $25 adults, $20 seniors ages 65 and older, $5 children ages 6-17, discounted admission on Thursdays 5-8 p.m.: $10 adults, $5 children ages 6-17. Information: 941-359-5700.

The Crosley Estate 15th annual Holidays at the Crosley, Festival of Trees: 8374 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

The 15th Annual Holidays at the Crosley and the Festival of Trees will be 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 30-Dec. 7. The event will feature afternoon teas with seating at 1:30-3:30 p.m. daily and a 11:30 a.m. seating Dec. 2-3, wine tastings 5 p.m. daily, Sarasota Bay Boat Rides departing at noon and 2 p.m. daily from the Crosley boat basin, and “A Crosley Christmas” performed by the Manatee Players with performances at 1 and 7 p.m. Dec. 3-4 and 7 p.m. Dec. 5-7. The Festival of Trees, featuring holiday inspired decorated rooms, trees, and dining tables, will be showcased in the historic Carriage House that will be open to the public for the fist time at the Festival. For a full schedule and tickets to all events, please call 941-722-3244 or visit

“Claus and Paws” Pet Photos with Santa: DeSoto Square, 303 U.S. 301 Blvd., Bradenton

Pet lovers can have their companion animal’s photo taken with Santa at the DeSoto Square Santa set at Center Court 6-8 p.m. Mondays through Dec. 19 during the Claus and Paws Pet Photos event. All pets will receive a special treat from the Humane Society of Manatee County after each visit with Santa. The Humane Society also will be accepting donations. Cost of photo varies depending on selection. Information: 941-747-5869.

Sugar Plum Gift Shoppes Market: Renaissance on 9th, 1816 Ninth St. W., Bradenton

The Sugar Plum Gift Shoppes Market at Renaissance on 9th will be 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 1 featuring a gift market extravaganza where local vendors offer holiday gifts, home decor, jewelry and fashion accessories. Proceeds will benefit the programs of Meals on Wheels PLUS and the Food Bank. The event is free and open to the public. Information: 941-749-0100.

Holiday Splendor U.S. Marine Toys for Tots Drive: Ringling Museum of Arts, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota

The Museum of Art Courtyard and The Bolger Campiello by the Ca d’Zan mansion will transform during “Holiday Splendor” 5:30-9 p.m. Dec. 1 benefitting the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots of Sarasota and Manatee Counties drive. Admission is free with a donation, per person, of an unwrapped toy and to children ages 5 and younger, and includes entry to the Ca d’Zan, Museum of Art, the Tibbals Learning Center and Circus Museum. Without a toy, admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-17. Information: 941-359-5700.

Holiday Ceramics Show and Sale: SCF Student Center, Building 14, Rooms 147-148, 5840 26th St. W., Bradenton

The State College of Florida will hold their annual Holiday Ceramics Show and Sale 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 1-2 featuring one-of-a-kind decorative, utilitarian and designer artworks by students and faculty for purchase. Admission if free. Information: 941-752-5000.

“White Christmas”: Manatee Players, Riverfront Theatre, 102 Old Main St., Bradenton

“White Christmas” performed at Manatee Players Dec. 1-23. Based on the beloved film, this musical adaptation features 17 Irving Berlin songs. All tickets are $25 adults, $11 students with valid ID Information: 941-748-5875.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens 10th annual Holiday Lights Celebration: 3701 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota

The Sarasota Jungle Gardens will kick off its 10th annual Holiday Lights Celebration 6 p.m. Dec. 2 and continues through Dec. 4. Also Dec. 9-11 and Dec. 16-24. The gardens’ trails and exhibits will be adorned with holiday lights and exciting family-friendly events and spectacles. Master magician Nick Locapo will perform 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. daily and the popular Cory Music Show will perform an array of traditional seasonal songs and sing-a-longs. Santa will visit for photo opportunities with children and guests are encouraged to bring a wrapped toy as a donation to Toys for Tots. Special dinner menus are offered for purchase. Admission: $11 adults, $6 children ages 6-12, children ages 2 and younger are admitted free. For a complete schedule of events call 941-355-111, ext. 306.

Palmetto’s Christmas in the Park: Palmetto Historical Park, 515 10th Ave. W., Palmetto

Start the holiday festivities with an old-fashioned Christmas at Palmetto Historical Park and Manatee County Agricultural Museum 5-9 p.m. Dec. 2-3. This free event will feature beautifully decorated buildings, entertainment and Santa. Children can enjoy activities in the Children’s Holiday Craft Corner, including Letters to Santa, contests for prizes, birdfeeders and petting animals. Crafts for children are $1-$2. Bring a camera for a photo op with Santa. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Information: 941-721-2034.

An Old Fashioned Village Christmas: Village of the Arts, 12th Street West and Ninth Avenue, Bradenton

Stroll the quaint streets of the Village of the Arts during this magical holiday artwalk 6-9:30 p.m. Dec. 2 and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 3, featuring strolling musicians, vintage holiday decorations, quilts and toys on display, sweet treats in the Village cafes, a holiday tea room, storytelling, Santa, and the annual lighting of the Village at 6 p.m. Dec. 2. The event is free and open to the public. Information: 941-747-8056 or visit

“Alice’s Wonderland Ballet”: Manatee School For the Arts, 700 Haben Blvd., Palmetto

“Alice’s Wonderland Ballet,” a full length fanciful musical ballet featuring more than 150 middle and high school students in the MSA Ballet program is 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 and 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 3. Produced by Dr. Bill Jones and directed and choreographed by Cheryl Carty, a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette, this production is fun for all ages. Tickets are $5 and are available at the door. Information: (941) 721-6800 ext 1130.

Holiday Bazaar: Golf Lakes Estates, 5050 Fifth St. E., Bradenton

Golf Lakes Estates will have its annual Christmas Bazaar noon-4 p.m. Dec. 3 featuring jewelry, cards, quilting items, ceramics, specialty clothing and crafts for sale. Lunch will be served noon-3 p.m. Information: 758-0729.

Annual Christmas Fine Arts and Craft Sale: Horseshoe Cove, 5100 60th St. E., Bradenton

Horseshoe Cove will host its annual Christmas Fine Arts and Craft Sale 9 a.m.-noon Dec. 3 featuring fine hand paintings, Christmas wreaths, knitted and crocheted items, jewelry, Afghans, candy, wind chimes and much more. Coffee and home made coffee cake will be available. Information:

Christmas Craft Show: Piney Point Mobile Home Park, 8624 29th Ave. E., Palmetto

Piney Point Mobile Home Park will host a Christmas Craft Show 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 3 featuring multiple crafters and artists. Lunch is available for purchase. Information: 941-729-0456.

Family Night: South Florida Museum: 201 10th St. W.

A holiday performance by Florida Studio Theatre actors in Bishop Planetarium Theater, 4-8 p.m. Dec. 3. Holiday crafts and activities. Planetarium shows throughout the evening. Half-priced admission after 4 p.m. ($8 for adults, $6 for children ages 4-12. Children ages 3 and younger are free); Museum Friends Members receive free admission. Information: 941-746-4131.

Sarasota Holiday Parade: Downtown Sarasota, Main Street from U.S. 301 to Gulfstream

A true Sarasota holiday tradition is 7-9 p.m. Dec. 3. Join the fun as 4,000 participants and 10,000-plus spectators from Sarasota and Manatee counties usher in the holiday season. This year’s entries include five marching bands, countless children’s performing groups, area nonprofits and local businesses -- along with lions, tigers and … horsepower. This year’s theme is “Tropical Holiday” and many participants will demonstrate how to celebrate, Floribbean style. The event finale is the annual arrival of Santa Claus to Sarasota.

“Santa Jaws and Penguin Elf”: Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota

This is the season to meet Santa Jaws, Mote mascot Gilly the shark in his holiday finest noon-2 p.m. Saturdays Dec. 3, 10 and 17. Visitors can get their photos taken with Gilly and his helper Percy the Penguin Elf. Photo ops with Sata Jaws are free with admission. Admission: $17 adults, $16 seniors ages 65 and older, $12 children ages 4-12, children ages 3 and younger are admitted free. Information: 941-388-4441 or visit

Living Christmas Tree: First Church of the Nazarene, 1616 59th St. W., Bradenton

The 2011 Living Christmas Tree is titled “Just Believe,” 3 and 7 p.m. Dec. 3-4 and 10; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 and 9; and 3 p.m. Dec. 11. Tickets are $8 each and may be purchased at, before and after Sunday morning church services in the foyer, or in the church office 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday thru Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Braden River High School Auditorium: 6545 S.R. 70 E., Bradenton

School of Russian Ballet “The Nutcracker,” 1 and 5 p.m., Dec. 3. Tickets: $15-$25 adults, $12, children ages 3-11. Information: 941-962-6607.

Christmas Craft Show: Piney Point Mobile Home Park, 8624 29th Ave. E., Palmetto

Piney Point Mobile Home Park will host a Christmas Craft Show 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 3 featuring multiple crafters and artists. Lunch is available for purchase. Information: 941-729-0456.

“A Night Before Christmas”: G.T. Bray park, 5502 33rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton

Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department will host “A Night Before Christmas” 4-7:30 p.m. Dec. 3 featuring cookie crafts, face painting, bounce houses, inflatable slide, hay rides, quad power jump, snow flurries and 10 tons of snow. Santa will arrive at 4 p.m. by helicopter on the baseball field. There is a $7.50 wristband charge for children’s activities. Information: 941-742-5923.

“Holly Faire” Arts, Crafts and Gift Show: Heritage Village West, 4100 66th St. Circle W., Bradenton

Heritage Village West will host “Holly Faire” 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 3-4. A unique arts, crafts and gift show featuring multiple local artists offering stained glass, wood art, photography, soaps, watercolors, purses, candles, cross-stitch, homemade chocolates, Pandora bracelets, Christmas decorations, ornaments, stocking stuffers, baked goods, gift baskets and more. Information: 941-795-1006.

Entre Nous Holiday Tour of Homes: various locations

The Holiday Tour of Homes is 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 3-4. All parking for River Forest homes will be at the King Family Farms, 4630 60th St. E. (Caruso Road), Bradenton, where there will also be the Entre Nous Elf Alley 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 3 with local vendors. This year’s Sweet Shoppe is at the Reichle home, 416 First St. W., Bradenton. Tickets are $12 in advance/$15 at door and are available at local stores including Crowder Brothers, 5409 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton. Information: 941-748-8587 or

“A Magical Journey on Ice:” Ellenton Ice & Sports Complex, 5309 29th St. E., Ellenton

The Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club & Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex present their annual ice show featuring Olympians Amanda Evora and Mark Lawdig and 100 other skaters, 1:30 and 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3 and 1:30 p.m. Dec. 4. Tickets: $15 for adults, $13 for children (younger than 10) and seniors (older than age 60). Tickets are on sale at Ellenton Ice & Sports Complex and online at Information: 941-723-3663.

Florida Rail Road Museum “Santa Claus Special”: 12210 83st St. E., Parrish

Take a train trip with Santa Claus 2 p.m. Dec. 3-4, Dec. 10-11, and Dec. 17-18. During this 90-minute excursion, Santa will be walking through the train greeting every child and presenting them with a small gift. Tickets; $12-$20. Information: 941-776-0906.

Alternative Christmas Market: Kirkwood Presbyterian Church, 6101 Cortez Road, Bradenton

The 16th annual Alternative Christmas Market is 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 4. Twenty-two non-profit local, national, and international organizations will have booths where you can purchase a variety of gifts for family and friends -- such as a flock of chicks for an impoverished family in Mexico. Significant and compassionate gifts can be purchased beginning at only $5. In addition, beautiful handmade gifts from SERRV will be available for purchase. The Cookie Room will provide the chance to purchase treats and multiple door prize drawings will take place. For more information about the market, call Carolyn Roskamp at 941-792-1191.

Sarasota Orchestra “Holiday on Parade” Concert: Holley Hall, 709 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

Maestro Dirk Meyer and the Sarasaota Orchestra will perform a selection of Christmas and Hanukkah favorites including Caribbean Sleigh Ride, The Feast of Lights, and Canadian Brass Christmas in “Holiday on Parade” as part of their Great Escape Series 5:30 p.m. Dec. 7 and 9, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and 8 p.m. Dec. 10. The culmination of the evening will be the seasonal favorite Waltz of the Flowers form Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Tickets; $25 and up. Information: 941-953-3434.

ArtFul Holiday Party: ArtCenter Manatee: 209 Ninth St. W., Bradenton

The center’s ArtFul Holiday party, sale and the opening reception for “Best of the Best” will be 5-7 p.m. Dec. 8. Enjoy great art, live holiday music and a special 10 percent discount in the Artists’ Market Gift Shop, featuring handcrafted jewelry, pottery and wearable art. The exhibit “Best of the Best,” will run Dec. 6-Jan. 13. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday and Friday, and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday. Information: 941-746-2862 or

Carols in the Courtyard: Manatee County Courthouse, 1115 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton

Listen to carols being sung while enjoying food, beverages, crafts and more, noon-4 p.m. Dec. 9. All proceeds benefit the United Way of Manatee County.

Winter Wonderland: Old Main Street, Bradenton

A family-friendly street festival featuring kid’s crafts, entertainment, food and craft vendors, and a snow mountain with sledding, 5-9 p.m. Dec. 10. Don’t miss Santa and Mrs. Claus! Information: 941-932-9449.

Holiday Boat Parade: Manatee River, downtown Bradenton

Starts at Bradenton Yacht Club with viewing in downtown Bradenton at approximately 7 p.m. Dec. 10. Bring the whole family and delight at the decorated power and sail boats cruising the Manatee River. Information: 941-722-5936.

VIP Holiday Boat Parade Party: Pier 22, 1200 First Ave. W., Bradenton

View the Holiday Boat Parade at Pier 22’s VIP Holiday Boat Parade Party 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10 and enjoy dinner buffet, cash bar, silent auction and a Champagne toast for $49.95. Seating is limited and reservations are recommended. Information: 941-748-8087.

Anna Maria Island Privateers Christmas Parade: Bayfront Park, Anna Maria

The Anna Maria Island Privateers Christmas Parade will start at Bayfront Park 10 a.m. Dec. 10. The parade will travel along Gulf Drive and end on Coquina Beach where there will be an Open House with Santa. The parade includes the Anna Maria Island Privateers pirates aboard “Skullywag,” and many other entries, including the guest of honor Santa Claus in his reindeer drawn sleigh. Information: 941-752-5973 or visit

“A 1911 Florida Cracker Christmas”: Manatee Village Historical Park, 1404 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton

“A 1911 Florida Cracker Christmas” will be held 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 10 featuring artisans, craft and food vendors, musical entertainment, model railroad layout, Victorian decor throughout the park, historical interpretation by costumed docents, holiday shopping at the Whistle Stop Gift Shop, hands-on craft stations for adults and youth, and early 1900s holiday silent movies. Admission: $5 adults, children ages 12 and younger are admitted free. Information: 941-741-4075.

Christmas Boat Parade of Lights: Bayfront Park, Sarasota

The 25th annual Sarasota Christmas Boat Parade of Lights begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 10. The best areas for viewing are Marina Jack Restaurant, Bayfront Park, City Island and Centennial Park. Information: http://sarasotachristmas

Winterfest Fine Arts and Crafts Festival: Holmes Beach City Hall Field Park, 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach

Anna Maria Island Art League’s 24th annual Winterfest will be 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 10-11 featuring juried works of art from more than 100 local and national artists in almost every medium, from oils and acrylics to the finest glass art and a broad range of hand crafted jewelry. Information: 727-726-6943.

“Plantation Christmas”: Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, 3708 Patten Ave., Ellenton

The United Daughters of the Confederacy, Florida Division, the Gamble Plantation Preservation Alliance and the Florida Park Service will host a Plantation Christmas Open House 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 11. The public will get a chance to travel back in time to the Old South during the day through the many lifestyle demonstration of that time period and Gamble Mansion and Patten House will be decorated in the Christmas spirit. There will be music, crafts and fun. Admission is free. Information: 941-723-4536.

New York City Ballet presents George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” LIVE: Hollywood Stadium 20, 1993 Main St., Sarasota

NCM Fathom will broadcast the holiday classic The Nutcracker live 6 p.m. Dec. 13 in “New York City Ballet presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker Live” with special guest host Kelly Ripa. Information:

“The Star of Bethlehem?” Think + Drink: South Florida Museum

Howard Hochhalter will host an exploration of the question “What was the Star of Bethlehem?” 7-9 p.m. Dec. 14. Using the planetarium’s ability to travel through time, you’ll be transported to Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago to look at the skies the magi saw. Free (reservations appreciated). 941-746-4131, ext. 11.

Holiday Get Down Downtown: Old Main Street

Billy Rice Band performing with food, libations, and vendors, 5-10 p.m. Dec. 15. 941-705-2320.

Reels at McKechnie Field: 1611 Ninth St. W.

Enjoy “White Christmas,” a free outdoor movie, with a prefilm performance by Manatee Players. Gates open at 5 p.m. Dec. 16. Food and beverages are available for purchase. Bring your blankets and chairs for cozy seating on the grass.

“Lights in Bloom 2011”: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota

Enhance your holidays by visiting Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ “Lights in Bloom,” 6-9 p.m. Dec. 16-23 and Dec. 26-27 featuring magical gardens with sparkling lights, live holiday music, children’s activities and Santa workshop with Santa and his reindeer. There will be live music and dance performances nightly, Hanukkah happenings, Kwanzaa activities, a miniature village display and Florida Garden Railway Society train tours. Tickets: $14 adults, $12 members, children ages 11 and younger are admitted free. No passes, coupons, discounts or reciprocals are accepted as this is a fundraising event. Information: 366-5731 or visit


DEC. 1: Organ Concert with Carol Hawkinson, 4 p.m. Dec. 1, Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, 4408 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-1638.

DEC. 3: The Magic of Sweet Adelines Chorus will perform its annual Christmas Show 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at Bradenton Christian High School, 3304 43rd St. W., Bradenton. Tickets: $10. Information: 941-722-9665 or 941-756-3047.

DEC. 4: Bay Chorale “Sounds of the Season,” 3 p.m., Neel Performing Arts Center; $10 at the door.

DEC. 4: Organ Concert with Carol Hawkinson, 4 p.m., Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, 4408 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach; Free will donation. Information: 941-778-1638.

DEC. 4: Barbershop Holiday Harmonies, 2 p.m., Glenridge Performing Arts Center; $10-$15.

DEC. 6: Holiday Concert, 8 p.m., Neel Performing Arts Center; $4-$8.

DEC. 7-10: Sarasota Orchestra’s “Great Escapes: Holiday on Parade,” various times at Holley Hall; $25 and up.

DEC. 11: Sundays at Neel Series: The New Christy Minstrels, 2 p.m., Neel Performing Arts Center; $30.

DEC. 11: Christmas with Brass, 10:30 a.m., First United Methodist Church; freewill donation.

DEC. 11: St. Joseph Music Makers and Friends “20th Anniversary Advent Concert,” 6 p.m., St. Joseph Catholic Church, 3100 26th St. W., Bradenton; No charge.

DEC. 14: The Ditchfield Family Singers’ Christmas Show, Manatee Players; $25 adults, $11 students.

DEC. 16: Christmas Concert, 7:30 p.m., First Presbyterian Church, 2050 Oak St., Sarasota; $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Information: 941-955-8119.

DEC. 17: The Kenny G Holiday Concert, 8 p.m., Van Wezel; $30-$70.

DEC. 18: Irish Tenors, 7 p.m., Van Wezel; $30-$65.

DEC. 18: Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra “A Classical Holiday,” 2 p.m., CrossPointe Fellowship Church; $20.

DEC. 22: Straight No Chaser, 8 p.m., Van Wezel; $10-$45.

JAN. 1: Salute to Vienna, 8 p.m., Van Wezel; $32.10 and up.


Dance Theatre of Bradenton “The Nutcracker”: 7 p.m. Dec. 9 and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 10 at Neel Auditorium at State College of Florida, 5840 26th St. W., Bradenton. Tickets: $20 adults, $15 children. Information: 345-7495.

“A Victorian Christmas at the Crosley”: Powel Crosley Mansion, 8374 N. Tamiami Trail, Bradenton. Evening performance at 7:30, matinees at 2 p.m., Dec. 13-17, and Dec. 20-24; $10-15. Information: 941-722-3244.

West Coast Civic Ballet “Cinderella”: 7 p.m. Dec. 17 at Booker High School, 3201 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota. Tickets: $15 adults, $10 seniors, $5 students. Information: 941-0400-6277.

“Miracle on 34th Street”: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $10-$50. Information: 941-359-0099, ext. 101.

“Amahl and the Night Visitors and a Christmas Variety Show”: Dec. 13-22 at Golden Apple Dinner Theatre, 25 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. Tickets: $40 adults, $25 children, full buffet. Also, “Liberace’s Christmas Special,” Dec. 19; $43, full buffet available. Information: 941-366-5454 or

“Walking in a Winter “Blunder”-land”: 8:30 p.m. Dec. 6, Dec. 13 and Dec. 27 at Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota; $12. Information: 941-366-9000.

“A Christmas Story”: Dec. 6-11 at David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa. Tickets: $38.50 and up. Also, Next Generation Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” Dec. 16-18; $22.50 and up. Information 813-229-7827.

The Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker”: 4 and 8 p.m. Dec. 28 at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $28.50-$88.50.