Season's Greetings

Our Big List of Sarasota Holiday Events

Yes, things will be different this year—but there's still lots of fun to be had. Here's your guide to the festivities.

By Allison Forsyth December 3, 2020

Annual Christmas Walk in Historic Downtown Venice

Thursday, Dec. 3 at 5 p.m., along Venice Ave.,

Walk down historic Venice Avenue while enjoying live music and entertainment, food and drinks and holiday decor lining the street. Many Venice Avenue restaurants and boutiques will be open to enjoy holiday treats and gifts. The event is from 5 p.m.-8 p.m.; admission is free.

Holiday Splendor at The Ringling

Thursday, Dec. 3 at 6 p.m., 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota,

Drive through holiday lights and decorations at the Ringling Museum. Cars will drive through the Central Campus Gate and complete the loop around the museum of art. Donate unwrapped toys to help support the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots. The event will showcase life-size Christmas cards that children have created for the event. Free cocoa and cookies will be served. The event runs 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; admission is free.

Palmetto's Christmas in the Park

Thursday, Dec. 3-Saturday, Dec. 5, 515 10th Ave. W., Palmetto, 

Enjoy an afternoon or evening in Palmetto Historical Park, where children can visit with Santa, families can enjoy reindeer games and visit decorated buildings, and everyone can enjoy delicious food from local vendors. Thursday, 1 p.m.-4 p.m.; Friday, 4 p.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday from 12 p.m.-3 p.m. Admission is free.

Ellenton Holiday Village

Dec. 3-Jan. 3

Ellenton’s Prime Outlets is the setting for this seasonal event, offering midway rides, games, fair food, entertainment and socially distanced visits with Santa. Hours vary; for more info call (866) 666-3247 or click here.

42nd Annual Holiday Night of Lights on St. Armand's Circle

Friday, Dec. 4 at 5:30 p.m., St. Armand's Circle, Lido Key,

Bring family and friends to an evening on the Circle, which will be chock-full of Christmas decor and holiday lights. Catch a glimpse of Santa strolling around the circle, too. Enjoy a live nativity scene at St. Armands Lutheran Church. Stores will be open with promotions. 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m.

Village of the Arts December First Friday Art Walk

Friday, Dec. 4-Saturday, Dec. 5, 1113 12th St. W., Bradenton,

Explore art galleries in downtown Bradenton decorated for the holiday and displaying artwork. Live music, entertainment and holiday shopping will be available. Treat yourself to a holiday delight at one of the restaurants open in the village. Friday from 6-9:30 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free. 

23rd Annual Jingle & Jog 5K Run

Friday, Dec. 4-Sunday, Dec. 6, 4405 DeSoto Rd., Sarasota,

Participate in a virtual 5K run or mile walk in support of The Haven Sarasota. The run is virtual this year, so you can join in anytime, anywhere. Post your race results on The Haven's website and you can pick up a free T-shirt and medal for participating. Registration is $25

Venice Christmas Boat Parade

Saturday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m., Venice Intracoastal Waterway,

Join in this annual tradition and watch decorated boats float by as they reach the parade judging area near the South Circus Bridge. The event starts at the Albee Road Bridge in Nokomis at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

UTC Festival of Trees

Monday, Dec. 7-Sunday, Dec. 20, 125 N. Cattlemen Rd., Sarasota,

Enjoy University Town Center's first festival of trees, where 50 brightly decorated Christmas trees will be on display, designed by local charities. The display is also a silent auction, where guests can bid on trees and take home their prizes on Monday, Dec. 21. Explore the winter wonderland space, with 100 percent of the profits benefiting participating charities. Admission is free, raffle tickets are $1. 

The Living Nativity at The Tabernacle Church

Thursday, Dec. 10-Sunday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m., 4141 DeSoto Rd, Sarasota,

Experience the wonder of Christmas with this live nativity reenactment at The Tabernacle Church. Featuring live animals and flying angels, this event is held outside and offers a traditional holiday experience. Admission and parking is free. Performances happen nightly at 7:30 p.m. 

12th Annual Gingerbread Festival

Friday, Dec. 11-Sunday, Dec. 20, 119 N. Cattlemen Rd., Sarasota,

Come see 150 beautifully decorated gingerbread houses located in the West District at University Town Center. Houses will be crafted by various youth groups, schools and local businesses. The event is presented by the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. Vote online for your favorite gingerbread house; a winner will be announced Dec. 20.

Venice MainStreet's "Sounds of Christmas" 

Friday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m., 200 W. Venice Ave., Venice,

Enjoy a live concert in Centennial Park as part of Venice Main Street's Friday night concerts. Gather around the gazebo with your blankets and chairs and listen to the sounds of a local string quartet followed by four cellos. The event is free, but preregistration is required. Sign up on the event's website

44th Annual Sandy Claws Beach Run

Saturday, Dec. 12, 948 Beach Rd., Siesta Key,

This fun run and mile walk has gone virtual this year, meaning you can run at any time and keep track of your results. Run at any of the listed parks on the county website and find the Sandy the Crab photo op. Join a drive-thru to pick up your race packet on Dec. 12 at Siesta Beach Park from 8 a.m.-11 a.m. Registration is $30 for adults and $20 for kids, with proceeds benefiting Sarasota County's summer camp scholarship fund.

Chabad of Venice's Chanukah Light Live

Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m., online,

Join an online, interactive menorah lighting ceremony with the Chabad of Venice and North Port. Enjoy songs and music from the comfort of your home, and hear from lecturer Rabbi YY Jacobson. The event is free and will be held via Zoom at 7 p.m. Sign up on Chabad of Venice's website. 

The Annual Show Folks Circus

Saturday, Dec. 12-Sunday, Dec. 13 at 10 a.m., 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota,

This year, the Showfolks of Sarasota are offering a unique, walk-thru circus experience for the whole family to enjoy. The holiday circus festival will include food vendors, arts and crafts, pony rides and special performances from Bello and Annaliese Nock, Circus Sarasota, the flying Wallenda's and more. Tickets are $10 per person, and free for kids 3 and under. Purchase tickets online. 

Selby Gardens "Lights in Bloom"

Saturday, Dec. 12-Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 6 p.m., 1534 Mound St., Sarasota,

This open-air holiday light show will feature more than two million lights strung across the grounds, turning Selby Botanical Gardens into a holiday wonderland. Stroll through the gardens, and stop for a snack and hot beverage at the Selby House Cafe. A free photo opportunity will be available for attendees and their guests. General admission is $20 for members and $25 for non-members. Children ages 5-17 is $7; children 4 and under is free. 

10th Annual Taste of Chanukah Food and Music Festival

Sunday, Dec. 13 at 4 p.m., 5500 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 

Chabad of Sarasota is also hosting a free drive-in event at Philippi Estate Park. Enjoy delicious kosher food and latkes and live entertainment, including a BMX trick show and music performance and a helicopter that will rain down gelt. The event is from 4-5:30 p.m.; admission is $5 and free for kids $13 and under. Parking is also free.

Discover Sarasota's Holly Jolly Trolley Tour

Wednesday, Dec. 16-Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 11 a..m., 1826 4th St., Sarasota,

Take a tour with guide Jenny Jingle to all the festive Sarasota locations, where you'll hear about local holiday traditions and sing along to Christmas carols. Enjoy free cocoa before the tour at the Trolley Cottage. Tours depart Wednesday, Dec. 16 and Dec. 23 at 11 a.m.; Sunday, Dec. 20 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $34.99 per person; $18.99 for kids 6-11. Book your tour online

Asolo Repertory's Holiday Concert under the Stars

Thursday, Dec. 17-Sunday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m., 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota,

Asolo Repertory Theatre's "We Need a Little Christmas" performance will be held outside on the theatre's new Terrace Stage, located in front of the theatre building. The show will be a fun, sentimental holiday concert featuring your favorite holiday and musical theatre songs, perfect for the whole family. Tickets start at $25 for blanket seating and $40 for chair seating. Patrons must bring their own blankets. Order tickets online. 

String Orchestra at University Town Center

Thursday, Dec. 17 at 6 p.m., 200 N. Cattlemen Rd., Sarasota,

Community orchestra Strings Con Brio will be performing live in front of Barnes & Noble at University Town Center. Listen to holiday classics performed by a 40-piece string orchestra, and vocals by soprano Samone Hicks. Admission is free and open to the public. 

Ringling's "Christmas Carol" Online Presentation

Friday, Dec. 18-Sunday, Dec. 20 on Ringling's streaming service,

Enjoy the retelling of Christmas Carol presented by Manuel Cinema, a Chicago-based interdisciplinary performance collective. This world premiere online event will be available for streaming at four different dates and times. The show will feature puppets, miniatures, silhouettes and a live original score, performed live at the Manuel Cinema's Chicago studio. Tickets are $18 per household, and $16.20 per household for members. Purchase tickets on the Ringling's website. 

The Frosty 5K Virtual Race

Saturday, Dec. 19-Sunday, Dec. 27,

While the in-person race on Dec. 19 at Twin Lakes Park is full, the virtual 5K race is open for all participants. Register online and run anytime and anywhere, with family and friends. Log your results on the race's website and earn a race day t-shirt and plaque with the Frosty 5K logo on it. Registration is $39, and registration proceeds will go toward the Active Suncoast Foundation nonprofit. 

Sarasota Christmas Glow Run 5K

Saturday, Dec. 19 at 6 p.m., 5851 Nathan Benderson Cir., Sarasota,

This 5K race held at Nathan Benderson park will be filled with holiday lights and decorations from start to finish. Music will be playing throughout the park, and complimentary glow in the dark products will be handed out prior to the race. Spectators can enjoy live, free runner tracking from Elite Events tracker app. Be prepared for "snowfall" at the end of the race. Registration is $39 and prizes will be awarded to participants. Packet pick-up and race day instructions are available on the race's website. 

The Children's Garden Elf Workshop

Saturday, Dec. 19 at 10 a.m., 1670 10th Way, Sarasota,

Santa's elves will be at the Children's Garden to greet your kids and take them through a festive workshop. Kids will receive their elf name, write a letter to Santa and use elf money to buy a treat at the Woodland Cafe. Decorate crafts at Santa's workshop. Reserve your spot online; tickets are $5 plus general admission. 

Choral Artists of Sarasota Holiday Lights!

Sunday, Dec. 20 at 5 p.m., 222 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, 

Join the Choral Artists of Sarasota for their first in-person concert of the season. Holiday Lights! will be held in the courtyard of the Church of the Redeemer in downtown Sarasota and will be limited to 50 attendees. Enjoy live music celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah. Tickets are $50 per person. Purchase tickets online. 

Holiday Happenings at Mote Aquarium

Monday, Dec. 21-Wednesday, Dec. 30 at 10 a.m., 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy., Sarasota,

Spend the holiday season at Mote Aquarium learning about our ocean's marine life. Kids will enjoy various stations like squid dissection, coral health and eco-friendly crafts. Children ages 3-5 will enjoy a special program with ocean-themed yoga. Programs will be held in the open-air courtyard from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets are $7 plus aquarium admission; $6 for Mote members. Purchase tickets online

Siesta Beach Christmas Service

Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 5 p.m., 948 Beach Rd., Sarasota,

Join Church of the Palms at its contemporary Christmas service on Siesta Key beach. The service will meet near the volleyball courts, sing carols and listen to the Christmas story. Bring a chair or blankets and enjoy the sun setting over the water. Admission is free; parking is free. 

Pinecraft Christmas Day Parade

Friday, Dec. 25 at 3 p.m., 3713 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota

The 25th annual Pinecraft neighborhood Christmas Day parade will start at 3 p.m. and wind through the Amish and Mennonite neighborhood. Participants will meet at Der Dutchman restaurant on Bahia Vista and parade through to Birky Street, with decorated floats, costumes and more. Bring a chair and arrive an hour ahead of time. Admission and parking is free.  

Sailor Circus' "Season's Greetings"

Saturday, Dec. 26-Thursday, Dec. 31, 2075 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota,

The Sailor Circus Academy presents "Season's Greetings," a high-flying, acrobatic performance that is an annual tradition. Students ages 8-18 will perform aerial artistry, roller skating and juggling. Performances take place daily at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Thursday at 1 p.m. Tickets are $20-$30 per person; $25 for a digital copy of the show. Purchase online.  






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