There is always something exciting to see and do in Sarasota and Manatee County and the holidays are no exception! If you’re looking for fun, family-friendly and festive events this holiday season look no further than our Guide to Holiday Events in Sarasota and Manatee County 2018. Here you will find all of the best tree lighting ceremonies, Santa visits, Gingerbread House making events, light displays, boat parades, holiday shows and everything you need for a holly jolly holiday season. Be sure to check back throughout the season for updated holiday events.
November 24, 2018: It’s the 34th annual Light Up Siesta Key and Village Holiday Parade. Enjoy the Christmas Tree at the Village Gazebo, Santa’s arrival, live music, and other entertainment. The Village Holiday Parade will begin at Avenida del Mare and Beach Road at 5:30 p.m. traveling north on Beach Road onto Ocean Blvd. into the Village. Many businesses and local groups will be participating in the parade and the welcoming of Santa to Siesta Village. Santa will arrive at the Siesta Center at approximately 6:15 PM to greet all children. The first 250 children to see him will receive gift bags donated by Beach Bazaar.
November 24, 2018: It’s The Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Bradenton Beach. The tree is expected to be placed in or near the large planter box in the roundabout at the east end of Bridge Street, near the pier. About 5:45 p.m. Bradenton Beach, Anna Maria Island, FL.
November 24, 2018: It’s the kickoff to the Sun Coast’s holiday season with The Venice Holiday Parade which traditionally takes place the Saturday evening after Thanksgiving. The 43-year tradition continues when the annual Parade steps off at 7 p.m. on the streets of Historic Downtown Venice. With over 3 thousand participants representing about 120 local companies, schools, churches, social organizations, and music groups, this is one of the biggest Holiday Parades along the Suncoast.
November 29, 2018: It’s your chance to enjoy “Deck the Halls at Ca’ d’Zan” on the grounds of the Ringling Museum. The mansion is all decked out for the holiday season including a 10′ tall tree during extended hours. 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Tickets: $15 Free for members and included with “Art After Five” admission. 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. 941-358-3180. Also on 12/14, 12/21, 12/28 & 01/04/18. Click here for tickets.
November 29, 2018: It’s the annual downtown Sarasota Christmas Tree lighting ceremony! Lights, music, carolers, refreshments. 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Tree lighting at 7 p.m. Five Points Park, N Pineapple Ave, downtown Sarasota, FL.
November 30 – December 9, 2018: Feast your eyes on more than 150 Gingerbread houses on display at the 10th Annual Gingerbread House Festival. Created by school kids, youth groups, local businesses and organizations, presented by the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. You can also pick up a great centerpiece to use for your own holiday decorations or enter your own gingerbread house. The gingerbread village will be open during mall hours. The Mall at UTC, 140 University Town Center Dr, Sarasota, FL.
December 1, 2018: There’s no better way to celebrate a tropical holiday season than with the Venice Christmas Boat Parade. Instead of shooting through the sky, Saint Nicholas and his reindeer will cruise along the waters just north of the Albee Road Bridge. Dozens of decorated boats will also compete in a competition for the best-decorated vessel. The Venice Christmas Boat Parade starts at 6 p.m. (rain date is the next day) along the Intracoastal Waterway in Venice starting at the Albee Road Bridge in Nokomis and moving south along the waterway to the Circus Bridge in Venice.
December 1, 2018: The 23rd Annual Sarasota Holiday Parade takes place in downtown Sarasota on the first Saturday evening of December. With thousands participating and even more thousands viewing, the parade kicks off at 7 p.m. with decorated floats, live marching bands and the guest of honor “rounding” out the parade, Santa Claus. The Parade route runs along Main Street.
December 7, 2018: It’s the 40th Annual Holiday Night of Lights on St. Armand’s Circle. The evening will start off with a special holiday performance from 5:30 pm to 6:00 p.m. followed by the annual Christmas Carol Sing-a-long beginning at 6:00 p.m. Following the Sing-a-long will be the arrival of Santa in his sleigh and then the tree lighting ceremony in St. Armand’s Circle Park. 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. Enjoy holiday entertainment for the young and young at heart.
December 7 – 8, 2018: Village of the Arts Presents its December First Friday Artwalk, “A Village Wonderland!” At this December tradition, you can enjoy the Christmas lights and all the galleries decorated for the holidays and celebrate the best of the season. Enjoy live music and unique galleries as well as unique holiday shopping in specialty shops along with food and special guests throughout the village. Free admission. Fri: 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., Sat: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Village of the Arts, 1113 12th ST. W., Bradenton, FL.
December 8, 2018: It’s the North Port Tree Lighting, Poinsettia Festival and Parade. The annual Poinsettia Parade, “Holiday Around the World,” kicks off at 5 p.m. The Festival will also include a tree lighting ceremony, a variety of food vendors, local organizations, entertainment and attractions. 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. North Port City Hall Campus, 4970 City Hall Blvd, North Port.
December 8, 2018: The Annual Sarasota Christmas Boat Parade of Lights. The crowd-pleasing parade was started in 1986 and usually takes place the second Saturday evening of December, starting around 6 p.m. The boat parade starts from City Island and will be just enough to help put you in the spirit of the season.
December 8, 2018: Enjoy the sights of the 21st Annual Manatee River Holiday Boat Parade. At dusk the lighted vessels will assemble near Snead Island and the parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. and proceed past the Bradenton Yacht Club to Riverhouse Reef and Grill / Regatta Pointe Marina and then turn south at the Green Bridge and proceed onward to Pier 22 / Twin Dolphin Marina.
December 13, 2018: It’s time to Celebrate the Christmas season with the sights and sounds of the season including carriage rides, carolers, lighting displays and Santa himself strolling the streets and bringing Christmas Cheer to all. Free. 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Main Street at Lakewood Ranch.
December 13 – 15, 2018: It’s their 2nd Annual outside guided tour “Walk through the Christmas Story” featuring 12 sets with 65 fully costumed actors. There’s also live Christmas music, hot chocolate/cookies, a gift for every child, live manger scene with animals and Shepherds scene with more animals. Free. 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Liberty Baptist Church, 4249 Bahia Vista St, Sarasota, FL
December 13 – 16, 2018: Step back in time and experience the story of the first Christmas as The Tabernacle Church presents The Living Nativity. Experience “Bethlehem” and enjoy this favorite holiday tradition. Featuring nearly 100 cast members, live animals, and flying angels. Attendees will be able to interact with costumed cast members and kids will be able to pet manger animals.
December 20 – 23, 2018: More than a million lights shine and twinkle brightly during the Selby Gardens 15th annual “Lights in Bloom” celebration where you can explore and view life-size garden-themed holiday lights that transform the gardens into a tropical wonderland. The tropical holiday paradise includes nightly visits from Santa and his elves (before Christmas Eve), children’s arts and crafts activities and games, plus live entertainment with SoulRCoaster and The Hydramatic.
December 25, 2018: The annual Pinecraft Christmas Parade usually draws over 1,000 spectators to this Sarasota Amish and Mennonite Community for the parade, traditionally held on Christmas afternoon, winding through the neighborhood streets. Started by local resident Mike Miller in 1999, it’s the biggest event of the year in the neighborhood. Assemble in the parking lot at Der Dutchman restaurant, 3713 Bahia Vista Street, beginning at 1:00 p.m. or right soon after lunch. The parade starts soon after that. Anyone is welcome to ride in the parade. Pinecraft is near the intersection of Bahia Vista Avenue and Beneva Road in Sarasota.