Sarasota is, without a doubt, one of the most magical places to spend the holiday season. While we can’t offer a true White Christmas, we certainly know how to get in the spirit and create memorable experiences that will last a lifetime.

Whether you’re looking for things to do during a seasonal visit or for new traditions to share with your friends and loved ones, here are some of the best holiday events in the city!

Bright Lights
Kick the first weekend of December off by enjoying Holiday Night on St. Armands. This yearly “Holiday Night of Lights” is the place to see a grand tree lighting. Activities start around 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6. Live music, local food, and photos with Santa make this night a must. 

Each winter, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens transforms its tropical grounds into a galaxy of twinkling lights. From Dec. 14-Jan. 4, Lights in Bloom boasts sensory tunnels, kid-friendly arts and crafts, and food from both Michael’s on East and the Selby House Café. Tickets are $25 for non-members, $20 for members, $7 for kids ages 5-12, and children under 5-years-old get in free!

Unforgettable Experiences
Sarasota places enormous value on the arts in local culture and entertainment. The largest concert venue in the area, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall offers incredible programming each season. In addition to major Broadway hits like Les Misérables and The Book of Mormon, the Van Wezel offers multiple holiday-themed shows, many of which are friendly for the whole family.

Share an evening on the Bayfront with those you love—enjoy convenient parking, dinner and drinks by Mattison’s, a beautiful sunset over the water, and an unforgettable live show are all available under one big purple roof! 

Under the Streetlamp: Hip to the Holidays

Thu, Dec 12 at 8:00pm 

The Ten Tenors – Home for the Holidays

Sun, Dec 22 at 7pm

A Christmas Carol

Mon, Dec 23 at 7:30pm  

Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert

Thu, Jan 2 at 7:00pm 

For a full listing of upcoming events and some CYBER MONDAY DEALS, visit www.vanwezel.org.

Budget-Friendly Fun 
The annual Sarasota Holiday Parade is taking over downtown on Saturday, Dec. 7. This year’s theme, Holidays by the Sea, is sure to be a perfect blend of classic holiday imagery and beachy Suncoast vibes. Thousands of participants line up to celebrate the season in style, strolling down Main Street starting at Washington Avenue and ending on Gulfstream Avenue. Santa always makes a special appearance, making it an especially fun family outing.

The Robert L. Taylor Community Complex is hosting a free Winter Wonderland Holiday Party from 5:30-7:00 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 20. Cookie decorating, holiday games, and giveaways make this evening a wonderful place to share some joy with the whole family. Word has it that Santa will be making an appearance there, too!