Holiday Happenings

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Here’s a look at some of the events being held this holiday season. Many events are free to attend; for those that are not, fees for admission or registration are noted.

29TH ANNUAL NIGHTS OF LIGHTS

When: Nightly through Jan. 31

Where: Downtown St. Augustine

More than 3 million lights brighten the historic district in a display National Geographic magazine called one of the 10 best places in the world to see holiday lights.

RITZ-CARLTON CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING

When: 5:30 p.m. Nov. 23

Where: Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, 4750 Amelia Island Parkway, Fernandina Beach

Admission: $15

This marquee tradition features the arrival of Santa Claus by Christmas train and the lighting of the 40-foot Christmas tree.

Go to ameliaisland.com/Calendar/The-Annual-Ritz-Carlton-Christmas-Tree-Lighting-an and follow the EventBrite link for tickets.

“WHITE CHRISTMAS”

When: Daily through Dec. 24 except for Mondays

Where: Alhambra Theatre & Dining, 12000 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville

Admission: Prices vary. See website.

The Christmas classic featuring music by Irving Berlin. When two WWII GIs discover the secret their general has been keeping from his family, they use their musical talents to help him out.

Go to alhambrajax.com.

DECK THE CHAIRS

When: 5-11:30 p.m. daily through Dec. 31

Where: Seawalk Pavilion, 75 1st St. North, Jacksonville Beach.

More than 40 American Red Cross lifeguard chairs will be decorated in coastal-themed designs and lights. Kickoff is Wednesday, Nov. 23.

CHRISTMAS ON THE FARM

When: 6-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 25-Dec. 17

Where: Sykes Family Farms, 5995 Brough Road, Elkton

Admission: $16 for ages 3 and older, $15 military with ID and seniors (65 and older), free for ages 2 and younger.

Enjoy a hayride through this ¾-mile Christmas light show while sipping hot apple cider, hot chocolate or coffee. There will be bounce pads, swings, tube slides, barnyard ball zone and more. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will visit, so bring your camera. Gather round a campfire and watch Christmas movies on the big screen while roasting marshmallows or decorate your own ornament.

Go to sycofarms.com/christmas-on-the-farm.

MUSIC ON MAIN: TREE LIGHTING AND HOLIDAY MARKET

When: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 25

Where: Sesquicentennial Park, 1527 N. Main St., Jacksonville

Kick off the holiday season in Historic Springfield! This will be quite a festive night with the tree lighting ceremony and local holiday market. Bring a blanket or chair and enjoy music by Michael Mason and Heather Thoemke as well as a preview of Bethel Baptist Church’s Christmas Cantata. 

CHRISTMAS MADE IN THE SOUTH

When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 25, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 26, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 27

Where: Prime Osborn Convention Center, 1000 Water St., Jacksonville

Admission: $9 at the door, free to children age 12 and younger. One admission good for all three days.

Event is focused on keeping the world of fine arts and crafts vibrant. Exhibitors will demonstrate and sell their handcrafted works.

DAZZLING NIGHTS

When: 5:30 p.m. Nov. 25-Jan. 1. No admittance after 9:10 p.m.

Where: Jacksonville Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, 1445 Millcoa Road, Jacksonville

Admission: $25 adult, $22 child. Free to children age 2 and younger. Tickets must be purchased for a specific time and date and are not available at the door.

Parking: For on-site parking, arrive 20-30 minutes before scheduled entry time. For off-site parking shuttle, arrive 30 minutes before ticketed entry time.

Highlights include: 30-foot Christmas tree, canopy of flickering Moroccan lanterns, a live show featuring moving lights and live singers, inflatable Yeti play area, 8,000-square-foot lighted maze, hazy forest of lasers, “snow,” holiday tunes and more. Light bites, hot chocolate, beer and wine are available for purchase. 

Go to dazzlingjax.com.

FERNANDINA BEACH CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY

When: Noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 26

Where: Downtown Fernandina Beach

Kick off the holiday season with the annual Christmas Tree Lightning. There will be a day of fun featuring food vendors, holiday merchandise for sale, performances by the Nassau Community Band and Royal Amelia Dance Academy, face painting, pictures with Santa and more.

Go to ameliaisland.com/Calendar/Annual-Christmas-Tree-Lighting-Ceremony.

JACKSONVILLE LIGHT BOAT PARADE

When: 6 p.m. Nov. 26

Where: Banks of St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville

Vessels of all shapes and sizes will adorn their hulls with festive decorations as they float along the river. Boats will start at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel and follow along the Northbank Riverwalk to the Fuller Warren Bridge. The parade will then cross to the south bank and follow along the Riverwalk to the Duval County School Board building. The parade will feature The 904 Pop Up Small Business Saturday event, 4-9 p.m. at Riverfront Plaza.

Go to JaxLightBoatParade.com.

CHRISTMAS IN THE CATHEDRAL DISTRICT

When: Nov. 27-Dec. 31

Where: The Jacksonville district bordered by Union Street on the north, Bay Street on the south, Main Street North on the west and North Liberty Street on the east.

A self-guided driving tour of the Cathedral District’s historic churches and landmark buildings, illuminated with thousands of lights. Enjoy audio narration as well as music by the Jacksonville Symphony. Opening night: The five churches ring bells simultaneously at 6 p.m. Nov. 27. There will be live music and tours of the historic churches.

For three weekends (Thursday-Sunday) between Dec. 10 and 26, there will be an incredible light art and sound installation at one of the churches, repeating every 15 minutes.

Go to cathedraldistrict-jax.org/christmas-2021.

CHRISTMAS TOURS AT THE VILLA ZORAYDA MUSEUM

When: 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 26 and Dec. 3, 9, 17, 21, 27; 5:30 p.m. Dec. 29, 30

Where: 83 King St., St. Augustine

Admission: $22.99 adults, $12.99 children ages 6-12. Not recommended for children age 5 and younger.

Decorated for the holidays, the museum features a spectacular Christmas tree, Victorian and traditional decorations, more than 100 candles and a state-of-the-art audio guided tour.

Tickets and information: villazorayda.com/candlelighttours.

“SCROOGE THE MUSICAL”

When: 7:30 Dec. 1, 2, 3, 9, 10; 2:30 p.m. Dec. 4, 11

Where: Amelia Musical Playhouse, 1955 Island Walkway, Fernandina Beach

Admission: $25 adults; $15 students

Ebenezer Scrooge is mean and miserly, but this Christmas season, he will learn the spirit of Christmas! 

Go to ameliamusicalplayhouse.com/performances/scrooge2022.

HOLIDAY SHOPPES

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 2, 3

Where: Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, 1050 A1A N., Ponte Vedra Beach

Admission to Holiday Shoppes only: $10.30.

Shop with one-of-a-kind vendors and experience Paula Veloso's “The Eyes are the Window to the Soul” international exhibit.

Also, there will be a Breakfast with Santa, 9-10 a.m. Dec. 3. Tickets for this event are $25 for adults and children will be admitted free.

Go to firstcoastculturalcenter.org/events/upcoming-events.

  1. AUGUSTINE CHRISTMAS PARADE

When: 9-11 a.m. Dec. 3

Where: The parade starts by the Mission Nombre de Dios off San Marco Avenue and continues through the downtown streets of historic St Augustine.

16TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY HOME TOUR

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 3

Where: Amelia Island Museum of History, 233 S. Third St., Fernandina Beach

Admission: $35 through 11/28; $40 after 11/28

Carefully curated historic family homes, decorated by local florists and interior designers.

Go to ameliamuseum.org/holiday-home-tour.

HOLIDAY HALLELUJAH

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3; 2 p.m. Dec. 4

Where: Flagler College’s Lewis Auditorium, 14 Granada St., St. Augustine.

Admission: Ticket prices vary

Limelight Theatre partners with Jeff Dodd to present a holiday concert that is sure to get you in the Holiday spirit!

Go to limelight-theatre.org/season-31/holiday-hallelujah.

PALM VALLEY BOAT PARADE

When: 6-8 p.m. Dec. 3

Where: Palm Valley Bridge, South Roscoe Boulevard, Ponte Vedra

Enjoy this annual tradition of lighted boats to celebrate the holiday season in Ponte Vedra Bach. The parade route is seven miles of the Intracoastal Waterway. It starts one mile south of the Palm Valley Bridge and travels north.

Go to palmvalleyboatparade.com.

GARDEN CLUB OF ST. AUGUSTINE HOLIDAY TOUR OF HOMES

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 4

Where: River House, 179 Marine St., St. Augustine

Admission: $40

Enjoy this walking tour featuring 5-6 homes in the historic district decorated for the holidays. There will be a tea and holiday boutique at River House.

Go to gardenclubofstaugustine.org.

LUMINARY NIGHT

When: 6-9 p.m. Dec. 7

Where: St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, 100 Red Cox Road, St. Augustine

More than 2,000 luminaries are displayed throughout the grounds and on the streets surrounding this historic landmark. Guests can climb the tower for views of Nights of Lights.

“ELF THE MUSICAL”

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6, 7, 8; 8 p.m. Dec. 9; 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 10; 1:30 and 7 p.m. Dec. 11

Where: Moran Theater, Jacksonville Center for the Performing Arts, 300 Water St., Jacksonville.

Admission: Ticket prices vary.

The hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to discover his true identity.

Go to jacksonvillecenterfortheperformingarts.com/events/2022/fscj-artist-series-elf-the-musical.

DICKENS ON CENTRE

When: 5-7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, 5-9 p.m. Dec. 9, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 10, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 11

Where: Downtown Fernandina Beach

A Victorian holiday festival offering fun for all. There will be Tiny Tim's Kids Zone, visits with St. Nick, holiday entertainment and shopping, festive food and drink, costumed characters, holiday movies and plenty of Christmas inspiration. Jason Woods Productions will once again perform his one-man “A Christmas Carol” on the Main Stage, and there will be performances of “The Legend of St. Nick” and “Alice in a Christmas Wonderland.” The festival will also feature Kristen Sparrow Circus’ stilt walkers and jugglers performing throughout the festival, Victorian-era Carolers, dance ensembles, musicians, chalk artists, mural artists and so much more!

Go to ameliaisland.com/landing-pages/Dickens-on-Centre.

THE LIVING NATIVITY

When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 8-11

Where: Westside Baptist Church, 7775 Herlong Road, Jacksonville.

Drive-through presentation of the first Christmas and the birth of Jesus.

HOLIDAY POPS

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8-10

Where: Jacoby Symphony Hall, 300 Water St. Suite 200, Jacksonville.

Admission: Ticket prices vary

The Jacksonville Symphony, dancers from Douglas Anderson School for the Arts and other shining talent bring you the gift of the holiday season's most festive classics.

Go to jaxsymphony.org.

RIVERSIDE AVONDALE LUMINARIA

When: Dec. 11, begins at dusk

Where: Riverside Avondale neighborhood

Luminaria brings neighbors together as they walk along candle-lit sidewalks to socialize with friends.

Go to riversideavondale.org/events.

20TH ANNUAL GINGERBREAD EXTRAVAGANZA

When: Dec. 8-27, times vary. Closed Mondays and on Dec. 18, 24 and 25.

Where: Old St. Andrew’s Church, 317 A. Philip Randolph Blvd., Jacksonville

Admission: $11 adults, $5 children (ages 4-11), free to children age 4 and younger; $7 for seniors (age 65 and older) and military.

The event includes the traditional gingerbread exhibit, as well as a holiday gift shop. New this year: Kids Day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 11, where there will be a photo op with Santa Claus, balloon art, face painting artists and more.

Go to jaxhistory.org/20th-annual-gingerbread-extravaganza.

“NUTCRACKER IN A NUTSHELL”

When: 10:30-11:30 a.m. Dec. 9

Where: Thrasher-Horne Center, St. Johns River State College, 283 College Drive, Orange Park

Admission: $19

Presented by The Florida Ballet, this is a family-friendly performance designed specifically with young children in mind. 

Go to floridaballet.myboxoffice.us.

“THE NUTCRACKER”

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 2 p.m. Dec. 11

Where: Thrasher-Horne Center, St. Johns River State College, 283 College Drive, Orange Park

Admission: Ticket prices vary

This classic holiday tradition featuring The Florida Ballet’s professional company and more than 100 local student dancers is sure to delight audience members of all ages.

Go to floridaballet.myboxoffice.us.

HOLIDAY REGATTA OF LIGHTS

When: 6-7:30 p.m. Dec. 10

Where: St. Augustine Bayfront, Avenida Menendez, St. Augustine

Gather on the Bayfront north of the Bridge of Lions for the annual boat parade. Watch the displays of brightly lit boats pass by decorated in everything from whimsical to patriotic themes.

HASTINGS HOMETOWN CHRISTMAS PARADE

When: 10 a.m. Dec. 10

Where: Main Street in Hastings, starting from the W.E. Harris Community Center and marching south to the library and Al Wilke Field.

MESSIAH BORN! CHRISTMAS CONCERT

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 2 p.m. Dec. 11

Where: Cathedral Basilica, 38 Cathedral Place, St. Augustine

Admission: $25

This traditional Christmas concert, presented by the St. Augustine Community Chorus features Part 1 of Handel’s “Messiah.” The presentation will also include some familiar carols and other holiday offerings.

For tickets, go to staugcc.ticketleap.com/messiah-born/dates.

HOLIDAY POPS CONCERT

When: 7:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 14

Where: Lewis Auditorium, 14 Granada St., St. Augustine

Admission: $60

Enjoy the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra – Holiday Pops Concert presented by the EMMA Concert Association.

Go to emmaconcerts.com/event/gainesville-symphony-orchestra-holiday-concert.

“NUTCRACKER IN A NUTSHELL”

When: 10:30-11:30 a.m. Dec. 16

Where: UNF Lazzara Theater, Fine Arts Center, 1 University of North Florida Drive, Jacksonville

Admission: $15

Presented by The Florida Ballet, this is a family-friendly performance designed specifically with young children in mind. 

Go to myboxoffice.us/program/nutcracker-in-a-nutshell-1084

CHRISTMAS ORCHESTRA CONCERT

When: 6 and 8 p.m. Dec. 16

Where: Deming Theatre Munnerlyn Center for Worship and Fine Arts at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, 4455 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville

Admission: Ticket prices vary.

Join the Heart of Music’s David Donica, Corina Donica, Ben Lountchenko, The Voice of Ukraine winner Anton Kopytin, a 50-piece orchestra and singers for an unforgettable night of Christmas celebration. Special guest Living Stream Orchestra and the Episcopal School of Jacksonville string program students will also perform. You’ll hear your favorite Christmas songs along with original instrumental pieces.

Go to heartofmusic.art/christmas-orchestra-concert.

“THE NUTCRACKER”

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17, 2 p.m. Dec. 18

Where: UNF Lazzara Theater, Fine Arts Center, 1 University of North Florida Drive, Jacksonville

Admission: Ticket prices vary

This classic holiday tradition featuring The Florida Ballet’s professional company and more than 100 local student dancers is sure to delight audience members of all ages.

Go to floridaballet.myboxoffice.us.

FIRST COAST NUTCRACKER

When: 8 p.m. Dec. 16; 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 17; 2 p.m. Dec. 18

Where: Jacksonville Center for the Performing Arts, 300 Water St., Suite 200, Jacksonville

Admission: Ticket prices vary.

This is the 50th anniversary of Jacksonville Symphony’s First Coast Nutcracker, which has become a community tradition. It is the only local performance with a full orchestra. Ballet dancers will bring the experience to life amid an enchanting set.

Go to jaxsymphony.org/concerts-tickets/22-23-season/#Holiday-Specials

“EB SCROOGE: A SOUTHERN FRIED CAROL”

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17, 2 p.m. Dec. 18

Where: Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, 1050 A1A North, Ponte Vedra Beach.

Admission: $25

Cast out your cockneys and leave the stale fruit cake at home, and enter a world of grits and gravy, red velvet cake and sweet tea. This modern spin on the Charles Dickens classic is presented by APEX Theatre Studios.

Go to pvconcerthall.com.

SAINT AUGUSTINE BALLET PRESENTS THE NUTCRACKER

When: 1:30 and 7 p.m. Dec. 17, and 1:30 p.m. Dec. 18

Where: Lewis Auditorium, 14 Granada St.

Admission: $35, $40 and $50

The Sugar Plum Fairy, the Mouse King, Clara, Uncle Drosselmeyer and all the Nutcracker characters return to St. Augustine this holiday season. This timeless classic features professional ballet dancers and dance students from the area.

Go to saintaugustineballet.org.

HANDEL’S MESSIAH

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17, 3 p.m. Dec. 18

Where: Jacksonville Center for the Performing Arts, 300 Water St. Suite 200, Jacksonville.

Admission: Ticket prices vary

Star guest soloists, the Jacksonville Symphony and more than 100 voices from the Jacksonville Symphony Chorus come together on stage to deliver the most powerful and inspirational message of faith this holiday season. 

Go to https://my.jaxsymphony.org/handels-messiah/3062

NUTCRACKER! MAGICAL CHRISTMAS BALLET

When: 4 and 8 p.m. Dec. 21

Where: The Florida Theatre, 128 E. Forsyth St., Suite 300, Jacksonville

Admission: Ticket prices vary

Re-live your fondest childhood dreams, overflowing with larger-than-life puppets, breathtaking acrobatics and dazzling costumes. Experience the exquisite artistry of the international cast, featuring stars of Ukraine ballet.

Go to floridatheatre.com/event/nutcracker.

TOTALLY LIT! A HANUKKAH CELEBRATION!

When: 4:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 20

Where: James Weldon Johnson Park, 135 W. Monroe St., Jacksonville

This annual celebration of Hanukkah will feature live music, storytelling and crafts, dreidel games and more. The Menorah lighting ceremony will be at approximately 6:30 p.m. Gili’s Kitchen will have food and sufganiyot available for purchase. Beer and Kosher wine available for purchase as well.

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT! NEW YEARS’S EVE FIREWORKS SHOW

When: 8:30-10 p.m. Dec. 31

Where: 350 A1A Beach Blvd., St. Augustine Beach

There will be multiple viewing areas, including the pier park, for this 20-minute fireworks show that starts at 8:30 p.m.

Go to staugbch.com/events/page/sab-events.

75TH ANNIVERSARY NEW YEAR’S EVE GALA AT LIGHTNER MUSEUM

When: Dinner 7-9:30 p.m. Dec. 31, countdown party 10 p.m.-12:30 a.m.

Where: Historic Alcazar Casino, 75 King St. St. Augustine

Admission: $100-$250

Ring in the new year with dinner catered by Chef’s Garden and live music by the Alberto Cebollero Trio, followed by the countdown party with an open bar, hors d’oeuvres from Chef’s Garden, dancing to live music by Ramona + The Riot and a midnight champagne toast with a balloon drop.

Go to lightnermuseum.org/event/75th-anniversary-new-years-eve-gala.

NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATION

When: Midnight Dec. 31/Jan. 1

Where: Downtown Jacksonville

A spectacular fireworks display over the St. Johns River will help usher in 2023. It begins at midnight.

— Compiled by Shaun Ryan

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