Weekend Planner

Your Top 7 Things to Do: Dec. 21-27

Selby Gardens Lights in Bloom, Historic Spanish Point’s Holly Days and Mangrove Lights, and more.

By Ilene Denton December 20, 2017

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A scene from a past Lights in Bloom.

Selby Gardens Lights in Bloom

Dec. 21-23 and 26-30

The dazzling nighttime holiday party that is Lights in Bloom illuminates Selby Gardens with more than a million multicolored lights depicting larger-than-life botanical scenes, plus live entertainment from SoulRCoaster, children’s activities and, through the 23rd, a visit from old Saint Nick. Open eight evenings through Dec. 30.

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Sailor Circus

Image: Rick Purdue

Sailor Circus “High Flying Holidays”

Dec. 27-30

Not until after Christmas, but it’s so much fun we’re touting it here anyway. More than a hundred talented youngsters of Sailor Circus will wow you with their juggling, clowning, trapeze and gymnastic skills. A decades-long tradition; there’s a reason it’s called “the Greatest Little Show on Earth.”

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Itzhak Perlman

Perlman Music Program Suncoast Winter Residency

Dec. 24-Jan. 6

Itzhak and Toby Perlman are back with a stellar faculty and 54 of the most talented young string musicians in the world for this annual 17-day teaching festival—open orchestra and choral rehearsals, master classes and recitals, all of them free or at a very low cost. The residency culminates in a celebration concert and dinner on Jan. 4. Get the complete schedule of events here.

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Cirque Dreams Holidaze

Van Wezel presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze

Dec. 21

A family-friendly holiday spectacle with more than 30 acrobats, illusionists, singers and other amazing acts from around the world.

Millennial Fresh

Dec. 26

The five-member sketch comedy troupe is back at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe theater with its hilarious holiday-themed show.

Holly Days and Mangrove Lights at Historic Spanish Point

Dec. 21-22 and 29

The 30-acre living museum on Little Sarasota Bay is all lit up for the holidays, with special evening hours to enjoy it. Included with your regular admission. And mark your calendar for the family-friendly Starlight and Fire Party at the White Cottage on New Year’s Eve, with marshmallow roasting over a bonfire, hot cider, crafts and more. 

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Big Cat Habitat's live Nativity scene.

Image: Richard Czina

Big Cat Habitat Live Nativity

Dec. 22-24

Camels, goats and other animals will bring the Nativity scene to life at Big Cat Habitat and Animal Sanctuary on the three days before Christmas. And for your visiting relatives after Christmas, on Dec. 26-Jan. 7, the animal sanctuary will have extended hours every day from noon to 4 p.m. Check here for admission rates, directions and more.

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Special Events

Lights in Bloom at Selby Gardens

Editor’s Pick Adults $25, Member Adults $20, Children 5-12 $7.50, Children 0-4 free Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens lights up the holiday season with Lights In Bloom.


Sailor Circus "High Flying Holidays"

Editor’s Pick Sailor Circus Arena

A family-friendly show starring the talented youngsters of Sailor Circus.


Cirque Dreams Holidaze

Editor’s Pick $36-$105 Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

A family-friendly theatrical production at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.


Millennial Fresh "Home for the Holidays"

Editor’s Pick $15/adults, $5/students (with valid ID) Westcoast Black Theatre

The sketch comedy troupe returns to the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe theater with its holiday-inspired show.