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Focus on Manatee: Bradenton area set to unwrap several events for the holiday season

The holiday season is just about upon us, which means the upcoming weeks will be filled with some of the year’s best and most-anticipated celebrations.

Here at the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, we are always proud to see the return of our signature holiday events and the start of new traditions, all providing opportunities to get out and explore all that our destination has to offer.

The North Pole Express will depart from the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish on select dates from Dec. 3-22. Onboard, guests can join along in song with carolers on the way to meet Santa.

On Nov. 30, Orban’s Nursery will open its doors — for the 29th year — for visitors to drive through and take in over 100,000 blooming poinsettias (and purchase some of the holiday plants) before they are shipped to garden centers for the holidays.

The annual Manatee River Holiday Boat Parade on Dec. 14 provides the perfect opportunity for spectators on either side of the river to get in the spirit while watching boats, kayaks and more all lit up for the occasion.

Also on Dec. 14, Santa Claus will fly into G.T. Bray Park by helicopter for the annual “A Night Before Christmas” celebration. Visitors missing the colder weather and flurries can also enjoy the 10 tons of snow brought in for his arrival.

Elliott Falcione mug.jpg
Elliott Falcione is the executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

On Dec. 15, Manatee Village Historical Park will again celebrate old-fashioned holiday traditions during “An Old Florida Christmas” with beautifully decorated buildings, live music, make-and-take crafts, vintage silent films, food vendors and more.

Last, but certainly not least, the Powel Crosley Estate will present “A Classic Crosley Christmas,” including a retelling of “A Christmas Carol,” classic Christmas songs performed by the Mistletones and a trip onboard the Polar Express, on select dates from Dec. 12-22. For tickets, visit

Not to be forgotten are the many celebrations for New Year’s Eve, capping off another great year in the Bradenton area.

Top options for fireworks include waterfront shows on the Manatee River and on Bradenton Beach at the Beach House. Main Street Live! will return to downtown Bradenton offering free food, fun and music. And, the Powel Crosley Estate will again host a speak-easy soiree to ring in the New Year.

With plenty more events as well, the upcoming holiday season should be one to remember. So, please head out to enjoy and explore the Bradenton area with your family and friends during one of the best times of the year.

I know I will.

Elliott Falcione is the executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and can be reached at or 941-729-9177, ext. 3940.

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