It’s the perfect season to spend time with the ones you love and what better way than to join your community in the wonderful holiday celebrations being offered at every corner? Sarasota, FL is buzzing with excitement and activities and although it’s getting close to the end of the year, there are still plenty of things to enjoy while you have some time off.
9am-5pm: Enjoy the twinkling world of the Holly Days and Mangrove Lights at Historic Spanish Point where the staff has decorated the homestead buildings and put lights on the gardens throughout its 30 acres. The beauty of the lighted natural ambience is complemented by musical performances. Get the full schedule here.
11am-2pm: Residents and members of The Founders Club are welcome to bring their friends and family to our annual Santa Brunch where the big guy himself (his beard is real!) will be there to take pictures. The clubhouse will also be open to serve some scrumptious fare so you can enjoy a delicious lunch and chat with your friends at the newly renovated Clubhouse. Earlier this month, The Founders Club also hosted a Russian Christmas Dinner, Holiday Shopping and Tree Lighting Ceremony, and an Ugly Christmas Sweater Happy Hour to collect Toys for Tots donations.
6-8:30pm: The Grace Community Christmas Festival on Main Street in Lakewood Ranch is in full force and everyone is coming out to enjoy the food, fun, games, rides, music, and an opportunity to take their picture with Santa and his elves!
12-4pm: There is nothing like seeing a live Nativity scene and the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary has the very best actors in its array of camels, donkeys, goats, and other fuzzy, furry, or fluffy friends.
6-9pm: Who says Santa takes a break after Christmas? The “Holiday Lights Spectacular” held at the Sarasota Jungle Gardens promises a visit with Santa, as well as a stroll down Candy Cane Lane and the magnificent view of thousands of twinkling lights down the pathways and surroundings of the gardens. There is also live entertainment at the bird pavilion at 7pm and 8pm.
6-9pm: The Selby Gardens’ annual “Lights in Bloom” celebration will be happening for five days at the gardens and everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the more than half a million twinkle lights and the life-size garden-themed holiday lights that make the gardens shine brighter than usual.
1:30pm-1:30am: Bring in the New Year with a pineapple at the annual Pineapple Drop in Downtown Sarasota FL. It may sound a little weird, but the New Year’s Eve celebration welcomes about 20,000 - 25,000 guests every year with each one enjoying live music, DJs, food and beer vendors, and the much-anticipated Pineapple Drop at midnight on Main Street and Lemon Avenue. There will be a carnival and midway starting at 1:30pm and the music and dancing begins at 3pm. Come join the rest of Sarasota, FL in this fun, lively, and lengthy event.
7:30pm-12am: The Founders Club is bringing back the ‘20s with A Great Gatsby New Year’s Eve event at the newly renovated Clubhouse. Arriving in themed attire is encouraged so pull out those black ties and flappy dresses for a night of live entertainment from a seven piece band and dancing. There will be a toast at midnight and an open bar serving well cocktails, beers, and wines. Reservations are required.
8pm-1am: If you start off at the downtown Sarasota celebration and want to head out after the carnival and midway, you can always end your evening at "Sarasota’s most sophisticated and diverse black tie New Year’s Eve experience” at Selby Gardens’ New Year’s Eve event. You can enjoy the beautiful lighted gardens before being treated to a seated dinner followed by music and dancing.
8pm-1am: Another event to consider for New Year’s Eve is the New Year’s Eve party at the Ca’d’Zan Room at the Ritz Carlton. This is a more relaxed celebration that occurs after dinner, but small bites and an exotic collection of spirits, beers, and wines will be offered in a “loungy” and electric environment. There will also be a champagne toast at midnight and party favors to ring in the New Year.
All Day: If you still haven’t come across a New Year’s Eve event for you, we suggest heading over to the 5th Annual Fireworks on the Bay hosted by Marina Jack. The event features special dinner and entertainment packages starting at 11:15am, as well as live music and entertainment and a dramatic Fireworks Show that goes off at midnight. The event benefits the Suncoast Charities for Children.
There is something for everyone in Sarasota, FL so take your pick, get ready, and celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year in style!