Your Guide to Sarasota's Best Holiday Events 2016
Nov. 30- Dec. 23 Black Nativity. A holiday tradition, Black Nativity celebrates the Nativity story with gospel, blues, spiritual and Christmas music and combines with Langston Hughes' poetry to create an exciting and creative performance. Tickets are $40-42 for adults and $22-30 for students. Westcoastblacktheatre.org or 941-366-1505.
Dec.1-31 Holly Days and Mangrove Lights. Experience the beautiful museum and grounds of Historic Spanish Point, decorated for the holidays. The museum extends hours to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday nights in December. Regular admission applies; $12 for adults and $5 for children. 941-966-5214 or historicspanishpoint.org.
Dec. 15, 22, 29. Holiday Nights at Ca’ d’Zan. As part of the Art After 5 event, the Ca’ d’Zan is decorated for the holidays with festive fireplace mantels, balconies and doors, and features a massive 10-foot Christmas tree. Hours are extended to 8 p.m. Tickets are $5-10. 941-358-3180 or ringling.org.
Dec. 19-23 Dickens at the Powel Crosley Estate. Enjoy classic holiday performance works from Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and Clement Moore at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets range from $15-25. Bradentongulfislands.com. 941-722-3244
Dec. 16-18 Holiday favorites with The Venice Chorale. The chorale joins forces with Venice Symphony to present a medley of holiday favorites. Tickets are $22-$37. Thevenicesymphony.org.
Dec. 16-18, 22-24 Live Nativity Scene. Big Cat Habitat is hosting a live nativity scene from noon-4 p.m. complete with live animals and actors. Tickets are $18. Bigcathabitat.org
Dec. 16-17, 21-24, 26-30 Holiday Lights Spectacular at Jungle Gardens. Take a walk down Candy Cane Lane to admire thousands of lights decorating the pathways and gardens from 6-9 p.m. with an appearance from Santa Claus. Tickets are $11 for adults and $6 for children. Sarasotajunglegardens.com
Dec.16-18 Snow Fest. This holiday celebration at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch allows visitors to experience snow in Florida with human snow globes, music, Santa’s Workshop and more. Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for ages 4-12. Snowfestsarasota.com
Dec. 16-21 A Christmas Carol. Venice Theater keeps with its festive annual tradition, celebrating the 17th year of a musical version of Charles Dickens' famous novel, A Christmas Carol. There will be both matinee and evening performances. Tickets are $22 for adults, $14 for college students, and $11 for children. Venicestage.com or 941-488-1115.
Dec. 17 Movie in the Park. Nathan Benderson and the Sarasota Film Festival present a screening of Frozen at Regatta Island at Nathan Benderson Park. The movie starts at sunset; drinks and snacks are available for purchase. People are asked to bring food donations for All Faiths Food Bank. Nathanbendersonpark.org
Dec. 17 Santa Jaws. Mote Marine Mascot Gilly the Shark will be dressed for the holidays to help children get into the spirit of the holiday SEAson. Visiting Santa Jaws is included with admission: $19.75 for adults, $18.75 for seniors, and $14.75 for children 4-12 years old. Noon-2 p.m. Mote.org
Dec 17. Christmas on Bridge Street. From 4:30-8:30 p.m. on Anna Maria Island, there will be Dickens carolers, live entertainment, a hot chocolate bar, artisan vendors, a silent auction and more. Benefits go towards Turning Points to help the homeless. Visitbridgestreet.com
Dec. 17 & 18 A Christmas Carole and A New Years Yves – Pops III. Cabaret singers Carole J. Bufford and Eric Yves Garcia along with pianist Matt Baker perform classic holiday songs. 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $45. Artistseriesconcerts.org
Dec. 17 Frosty 5K Race. Twin Lakes Park hosts this holiday run through the loop around the lake and adjacent neighborhoods. Post-race, there will be medals, costume contests, awards and food. Activesuncoast.org
Dec. 17 & 23 Deck the Halls! FST gets into the holiday Florida-style with palm trees and sandy beaches as they present these interactive children’s shows with sketches, carols and fun at both 11 a.m. and 1 .pm. 941-366-9000 or floridastudiotheatre.org.
Dec. 16-31 Lights In Bloom at Selby Gardens. The gardens are transformed into a tropical wonderland where more than half a million lights decorate the foliage and fauna. Open 6-9 p.m. daily. Closed on Christmas. Admission is $25 for adults and $7.50 for children 4-16. Selby.org/events or 941-366-5731
Dec. 18 25th Annual Christmas Concert and Community Carol Sing at First United Methodist Church. In this holiday tradition, the First Church Singers present an evening of festive music starting at 7 p.m.
Dec. 19 Cortez Yacht Club Boat Parade. Starting at the Seafood Shack, the lighted boat parade proceeds down to Longboat Bridge and back for judging. 6-9 p.m.
Dec. 21 South County Jazz Christmas Concert at Centennial Park. The Tony Boffa Quartet presents this holiday themed jazz concert from 3-5 p.m. in downtown Venice.
Dec.21 A Christmas Carol. Featuring 23 performers, A Christmas Carol brings Charles Dickens’ famous novel to life on the Van Wezel stage starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $36-56. Vanwezel.org
Dec. 22 5th Annual Jingle 5K Run/Walk at Lakewood Ranch. Get active this holiday season; tie jingle bells to your shoelaces and run to holiday music, culminating in a post-race party. Registration fees vary from $11-$35. Registration begins at 4 p.m. Kids' races begin at 6 p.m. and the 5K begins at 7 p.m. active.com/Lakewood-ranch-fl/running
Dec. 22-23. A Christmas Celebration with the Ditchfields presents the traditional carols of Victorian England as well as popular contemporary Christmas classics, starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $27. Venicestage.com or 941-488-1115.
Dec. 23 Christmas on Main. Get into the holiday spirit with food, games, elves and Santa along Main Street in Lakewood Ranch from 6-8:30 p.m. with a Christmas Candlelight Service hosted by Grace Community Church. Lakewoodranch.com/mainstreet/events
Dec. 23-24 Live Nativity Scene at Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. Featuring live animals, this nativity scene includes camels, donkeys, goats and more, which you can experience from noon-4 p,m. Adults $15 and children are $7. Active Military are always free. Bigcathabitat.org. 941-371-6377
Dec. 24 Celebrate Christmas at Five Points Park. Embrace the Christmas atmosphere starting at 6:30 p.m. with a Christmas Eve Service, Lights, Music, and a Christmas Story. Be sure to arrive early to secure enough seats at this popular event.
Dec. 25 Annual Pinecraft Christmas Parade. Celebrate with the Amish and Mennonite Community Christmas Day with this popular parade that starts at 2 p.m. and winds through the neighborhood.
Dec. 26 A Taste of Chanukah at the Sarasota Fairgrounds. Celebrate with scrumptious kosher food and goods along with live music, activities, a magic show, arts and craft vendors and more from 4-6 p.m. atasteofchanukah.com
Dec. 26-29 The Sailor Circus Holiday Spectacular debuts their High Flying Holiday performance at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. to end the holiday season. Admission is $20 for adults and $15 for children. Circusarts.org. 941-366-0156
Dec. 29 Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker. Raved about by the New York Times and coming direct from Russia, Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker graces the stage this holiday season at the Van Wezel with both a matinee and evening performance. Tickets are $36-$193. Vanwezel.org.