Things to Do

What to Do in Sarasota This Weekend

Holiday lights bloom at Selby Gardens, Sarah Brightman sings Christmas at the Van Wezel, Sarasota Orchestra concerts and more.

By Kay Kipling December 9, 2021

A view of Selby Gardens' downtown campus alight for the holidays.

Editor’s note: In-person events are subject to change. Please check before venturing out.

Lights in Bloom

Opening Dec. 11

Selby Gardens’ big, beautiful annual open-air holiday light show returns to the downtown campus, with more than 2 million of the sparklers in place for your delight. Plus, there’s face painting, balloon artistry and photo ops for the kids and you. Advance tickets recommended; food and beverages available for purchase. Open dates are Dec. 11-23, 26 to 30, and Jan. 1 and 2. Enjoy!

Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade of Lights

Dec. 11

More twinkling lights to enjoy courtesy this annual parade across Sarasota Bay, presented by Suncoast Charities for Children. Best spots for viewing the procession, which starts at 6 p.m., are around Marina Jack, Bayfront Park and Centennial Park. Visit to learn more.

Sarah Brightman: A Christmas Symphony

Dec. 14

Keep the Christmas spirit flowing with this concert featuring top-selling soprano Brightman, accompanied by orchestra and choir on some holiday classics you’ll want to sing along with. A Sarasota premiere at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, at 8 p.m. Check it out at or call (941) 263-6799.

Sarasota Orchestra Masterworks

Dec. 10-12

Conductor Teddy Abrams makes his Sarasota debut (and leads his own composition, Overture in Sonata Form) at these concerts at the Van Wezel. He’s joined by pianist Conrad Tao, who’ll play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Also on the program: Ellen Reid’s Petrichior and Copland’s Appalachian Spring. For tickets, head to or call (941) 953-3434.

A Christmas Carol

Dec. 10-20

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a production of Dickens’ famous tale of transformation, and Venice Theatre obliges with the 20th year of its own original musical adaptation, filled with the characters you remember, and maybe a few more besides! Brad Wages plays the miserly Scrooge, about to get his comeuppance in memorable style. Call (941) 488-1115 or go to for more.

Southside Village Holiday Stroll

Dec. 10

Get your picture taken with Santa, enjoy the Music Compound’s holiday concert, sip hot cocoa, and maybe even try a climbing wall at this fun get-together in Southside. From 5 to 9 p.m., and parking will be available in Sarasota Memorial’s South Parking Garage at U.S. 41 and Hillview. Find out more at

The Showfolks of Sarasota Holiday Circus Festival

Dec. 10-12

The Showfolks have been presenting circus entertainment here for decades, and this fest, at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds, promises family-friendly fun with live performances, a kids’ fun zone, pictures with Santa, and even the Flying Wallendas! Did we mention the fireworks Saturday night? For info and tickets, call (941) 870-7444.

Art Center Sarasota

Dec. 9-Jan. 15

The community art center’s season continues with four new exhibitions: Bassmi Ibrahim: A Meditative Experience; Untitled Cup Shop; George Pappas: Selected Works; and Modes of Abstraction, a juried show of abstract works in all media. Opening reception is from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight, Thursday. Visit for more details.

Hermitage at the Bay: Muse(ic) and Poetry

Dec. 12

Spend your Sunday afternoon discovering the works of Francine J. Harris, sharing excerpts from Here Is the Sweet Hand, and poet Mae Yway (from Myanmar), who presents work both in her native tongue and in translation. A partnership between the Hermitage Artist Retreat and The Bay Park, at 2 p.m. at the Bay’s Civic Green, 801 N. Tamiami Trail. Free, but $5 per person registration required at

Ring in the Holidays

Dec. 12 and 13

The Pops Orchestra and the 17 musicians of handbell ensemble Ring Sarasota combine talents for a holiday concert, at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Riverview Performing Arts Center and 7:30 p.m. Monday at Neel Performing Arts Center in Bradenton. Book your tickets at


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