photo: Fran Ruchalski

Holiday Events


photo by Fran Ruchalski

Through Jan 1 NIGHTLY TREE LIGHT SHOWS With all new light synchronization and music for 2014, the Landing’s 56-foot-tree comes alive each evening, performing a 10-minute show each hour with more than 78,000 twinkling lights. Jacksonville Landing, 904-353-1188,

Through Jan 11 ADVENTURE LANDING WINTERFEST Adventure Landing hosts WinterFest with outdoor ice skating rink & skate rental, nightly snowfalls, ice slide, light display, s’more roasting, Crystal Creek Lodge with fine coffees, hot chocolate and hot cider, sweet treats like fudge, comfort foods & more, and Blizzard Bluff Village featuring Santa’s Workshop, cookie decorating, holiday carnival games & more. Santa will also be there during select times. Individual tickets and packages are available. Adventure Landing, Jacksonville Beach, 246-4386,

Through Jan 31 NIGHT OF LIGHTS St. Augustine glows with holiday magic – from the ground to the rooftops. St. Augustine’s Night of Lights feature millions of tiny white lights that create a magical atmosphere in the Nation’s oldest city. Tracing its origins to the Spanish tradition of displaying a white candle in the window during the Christmas holidays, the spectacular lighting reflects the city’s 449-year history and illuminates the beautiful setting for lasting holiday memories. City of St. Augustine,

photo by Fran Ruchalski

Through Jan 1 DECK THE CHAIRS Deck The Chairs is an annual, lighted, sculptural exhibit at Latham Plaza in Jacksonville Beach, using the iconic red chairs of the Volunteer Lifesaving Corp. More than 36 decorated lifeguard chairs including six large metal light sculptures are on display. The creatively adorned chairs are sponsored through public and private efforts. New this year is a whimsical 24-foot tall Tree adorned with 80 custom ornaments. The Tree sits atop a fabricated beach shorebreak with four large sand buckets that will serve as food collection points for Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry (BEAM). Free and open to the public, the light display aims to build community pride, foster private and public relationships, and provide a wholesome and festive downtown Jacksonville Beach during the holidays.

Through Dec 27 A DECEMBER TO REMEMBER DAYTONA BEACH Stroll down memory lane with a trip to Daytona Beach. Check out the Sand Blaster Roller Coaster, ferris wheel, go carts and iconic arcades. While you’re there, walk on  the Pier, visit Joe’s Crab Shack and check out the fishermen. Most importantly, experience “A December to Remember.” Grand Master sand sculptor Suzanne Altamare will create life-size displays at the Daytona Beach Bandshell. There will be 100% chance of snow at the Ocean Walk Shoppes throughout the month, with events like Sand Wonderland Weekend, Santa’s Pet Weekend, and Caribbean Holidays Weekends including live reindeer and a visit from the Grinch from Universal Studios. The 2nd Annual Chanukah Festival with Grammy Award-winning singer will feature Doug Cotler on Sunday, December 21. The event will feature a variety of Tribute Bands followed by a fireworks display every Saturday thru December 27. Other activities for the kids include choo-choo train rides on the Boardwalk Express, Reindeer Scavenger Hunt, radio remote control cars, face painting, and more. Find arts & craft vendors, food, unique gift items, adult beverages, and awesome entertainment. This event is free. Times are Fridays 4-8pm, Saturdays 12 noon-8:15pm and Sundays 12 noon-6 pm. The historic Daytona Beach Oceanfront Bandshell, The Boardwalk Merchants and Ocean Walk Shoppes will be the hub for this event with “Light Up Volusia” activities also being held at the Ocean Center, Daytona Beach. Go to for a complete schedule and more info.

Dec 1-21 HOLIDAY ON THE RIVER DANCE AND CONCERT SERIES Enjoy the holiday season as local schools, churches and dance groups perform in front of the 56-foot tall Christmas Tree in the Courtyard. Performances take place during lunch and in the evenings. Jacksonville Landing, 904-353-1188,

Dec 3-20 GINGERBREAD HOUSE EXTRAVAGANZA The Jacksonville Historical Society presents the annual Gingerbread House Extravaganza in the Old St. Andrews Church located across the street from the Veteran’s Memorial Arena. Gingerbread houses of every size and kind will be on display. Proceeds from the event will go towards children’s programs of the Jacksonville Historical Society.

Dec 12– Jan 3 ZOOLIGHTS Thousands of LED lights will transform the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens into a luminous winter wonderland filled with moving sculptures, forests of lighted trees and animal silhouettes. Guests will have the opportunity to view sculptures and performances by local artists including students at UNF and JU, yarn bombing by Yarn Bomb Jax, and a train display by the First Coast Model Railroad Society in our Discovery Center in Play Park. In addition to walking among the thousands of lights strung throughout the Zoo, guests can enjoy a unique view of ZOOLights by boarding the Zoo’s lighted train. Guests can also enjoy carousel rides, the 4-D Theater Ride featuring the Polar Express, marshmallow roasting,  warm weather “ice” skating and more! The Zoo closes at 5pm and will re-open for ZOOLights at 6pm. $10/Non-Members; $8/Members. Some extras not included in ticket. For specific dates and times.

Dec 5 HOLIDAY AT ST. JAMES Celebrate the holidays at the 3rd annual Holiday at St. James Celebration and Tree Lighting. The free event will feature live entertainment, holiday treats and more fun for the family! The celebration will culminate with the lighting of the St. James Holiday Tree. 4:30 – 7pm get your photo with Santa and take a ride on the Holiday Express train! Be sure to stop at City Hall at St. James and take a tour of the Mayor’s Office. Join Mayor Alvin Brown as he closes the evening with the lighting of the St. James Holiday Tree at Hemming Park. City Hall – St. James Building and Hemming Park,

Dec 6 HOLIDAY CELEBRATION & TREE LIGHTING The Cities of Atlantic and Neptune Beach, along with the Beaches Town Center Agency, are sponsoring a holiday kick-off celebration on Saturday, December 6, beginning at 3pm with a decorated bike parade through Town Center. There will be lots of activities throughout the day for all ages. The Mayors of both Cities will light the community tree, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive by sleigh at 6 pm for the tree lighting and to visit with the kids. For more information, contact the Recreation and Special Events Office at 904-247-5828. City of Atlantic Beach,

Dec 6 MIDDLEBURG LIGHTED CHRISTMAS PARADE The Middleburg Civic Association hosts the annual Lighted Christmas Parade on December 6 at 6:30pm. All groups and families are invited to participate in the parade, and all ages are invited to watch. The line-up starts at 4:30pm, and the parade starts at 6:30pm. Route is from Advanced Auto North on Blanding to Palmetto Street. Viewed from North-bound sidewalks only.

Dec 7 CARING SANTA Caring Santa is a special event dedicated to families that have children with special needs, providing a subdued environment to visit Santa. Many steps are taken to reduce sensory triggers, creating a more comforting environment for their magical visit with Santa. Avenues Mall, 904-363-3054,

Dec 7 REINDEER RUN HALF-MARATHON, 5K & KID’S FUN RUN The Reindeer Run features a half-marathon, 5K, and a kids 1-mile, ½-mile and 100-yd dash. Other features include musical Christmas entertainment on the route, Kids Zone with free arts and crafts and bounce houses, chocolate milk and holiday cookies, and treats for all participants, Christmas costume contest, special reindeer bib lottery, new hoofs drawing (shoes), and more. Amelia Island Runners,

Dec 8 NAVY BAND SOUTHEAST CHRISTMAS CONCERT Navy Band Southeast’s Wind Ensemble is a 35-piece group performing a variety of music ranging from traditional marches and patriotic fare to classical favorites, Broadway tunes, and traditional wind ensemble literature. Flagler Auditorium, Saint Augstine,

Dec 10 LITTLE LEARNERS: ALIEN WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS Bring your little ones to MOSH the second Wednesday of every month for exclusive programming for preschool-aged children and their caregivers. Doors open at 9am, and The Alien Who Stole Christmas is at 10am in the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium. Extreme Science! is at 11am. Admission is only $5 per person (ages 3 & up). Register online. The Museum of Science and History, 396-MOSH,

Dec 11-13 A LIVE NATIVITY: DRIVE-THRU Visit Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men and the Shepherds. There will also be live animals. Crown Point Baptist Church, 10153 Old St Augustine Rd, 262-9743

Dec 12 A NIGHT IN BETHLEHEM 6:30-8:30pm The Memorial Lutheran School presents a special, one-night, living history presentation titled “A Night in Bethlehem.” Visitors get counted in the census, explore the marketplace, taste authentic foods, visit a stable with live animals, and chat with Joseph & Mary as they hold their newborn child. Free. Memorial Lutheran Church, 797-8777,

Dec 12-13 28th ANNUAL HOLIDAY HOME TOUR This year the Springfield Holiday Home Tour is hosted by Springfield Improvement Association and Archives (SIAA). For more information visit or call 904-633-9308.

Dec 13 CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS PARTY OF JACKSONVILLE The Annual Children’s Christmas Party of Jacksonville will take place at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. As many as 8,000 children along with their parents stand in line to receive toys and a chance to win a bike. Each child chooses several toys among electronics, balls, games, musical instruments, preschool learning toys and infant toys. In addition, they receive novelty toys, books and rulers. Intended for children age 12 years and younger who otherwise might not receive toys for Christmas. The event will run from 9am-12:30pm or until all toys are distributed. 904-350-1616

Dec 13 SCIENCE WITH SANTA Science with Santa programs will take place in the JEA Science Theater at 11:30am and 1:30pm, The Alien Who Stole Christmas will play in the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium at 11am. The day will also include holiday crafts and visits with Santa at 10:30am and 1pm. Be sure to bring your camera. The Museum of Science and History, 396-MOSH,

Dec 13 HOLIDAZZLE! Holidazzle! at the Riverside Arts Market features extended holiday shopping hours until 9pm, holiday lights and short format Christmas classics on a 32’ big screen on the River Stage. There will also be hot chocolate and other treats available for the kids, and holiday themed activities. Riverside Arts Market,

Dec 13 FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS 5K & FUN RUN The Festival of Lights 5K will be held the same evening as San Marco’s Holiday Magic. The 5K and 1-Mile will both start and finish on San Marco Blvd in the Square. This event will feature Carolers, Bell Ringers, Pictures with Santa Claus, Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides,The Little Train That Could Rides, Children’s Bounce Games, Jugglers,Toy Soldier Stilt Walkers, Christmas Tree Lighting, Food and Drinks, Christmas Music, Jingle Bells for Your Shoes, and more. The race will be held at night, but the entire 5K course will be lined with luminaries. Medals to all children 13 and under in the one-mile fun run.

Dec 13 20th ANNUAL TUBA CHRISTMAS The Tuba Christmas event features over 100 tuba players as they join together to play some of your favorite holiday classics. The tunes coming from these beautiful instruments are sure to put you and your family in the holiday spirit. Jacksonville Landing, 353-1188,

Dec 14 & 21 SWEET PETE’S SANTA BRUNCH Sweet Pete’s hosts a Santa Brunch. The seated brunch will be prepared by The Candy Apple restaurant, and will also feature Candy Cane Pulls, Hot Chocolate Bar, and Pictures with Santa. Cost is $48 for adults and $25 for children. Seating is limited, and advance reservations are required. Sweet Pete’s, 904-376-7161,

Dec 14 YAPPY HOUR CHRISTMAS “PAW”TY This is the final Yappy Hour of 2014. The Landing Courtyard will be decorated for the holiday season with Christmas trees and ornaments. There will be live entertainment, prizes, and more. You can also decorate a doggy ornament for your pooch. Dress your pup in his/her best holiday outfit for a chance to win Santa’s Little Helper title. Email your pup’s best Christmas photo, and watch it rotate on the 14-ft jumbotron in the Courtyard during Yappy Hour. Email as a jpeg to [email protected]. Jacksonville Landing, 353-1188,

Dec 14 PET PHOTOS Bring your pet to have its picture taken with Santa from 6-8pm. This event takes place after mall hours, so please use the main entrance between JCPenney and Dillards. This will be the only entrance that you will be able to use. Avenues Mall 363-3054,

Dec 17 HOLIDAY POPS CONCERT The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra performs their annual holiday tradition, the Holiday Pops Concert, at the Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College. Emma Concert Series,

Dec 21 RIVERSIDE AVONDALE LUMINARIA The traditional lighting of the lanterns at sundown will occur Sunday, December 21st. Only kits that are sold at the Buckland House (2623 Herschel Street) contribute to Riverside Avondale Preservation. Every sale of a Luminaria kit helps the organization continue its mission of preserving community and quality of life. Riverside Avondale Preservation‎,

Dec 31 JACKSONVILLE ZOO AND GARDENS NEW YEARS EVE Join at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for Noon Year’s Eve, a family-friendly New Year’s Celebration with an apple juice toast at noon and Jacksonville’s own Dalton Cyr performing on stage. There will be entertainment throughout the Zoo, goody bags for the first 500 and party hats and noisemakers for everyone. Noon Year’s Eve is free with Zoo admission. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, 757-4463,


Through Dec 24 WHITE CHRISTMAS For more than 20 years, the Alhambra has been Jacksonville’s home-grown Christmas Tradition. The tradition continues with our production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas! Alhambra Dinner Theatre,, 641-1212

Dec 4-13 THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK CHRISTMAS MUSICAL You’ll be black and blue by Christmas Eve with this new sequel following the successful run of its predecessor, The Great American Trailer Park Musical. It’s holiday time down in Armadillo Acres; there are new neighbors, freak outbreaks of amnesia, a Scrooge, warmth and beer in this wild town that is too familiar! Players by the Sea,, 249-0289

Dec 4-20 SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE CHRISTMAS CAROL This is a blend of the works of two of English Literature’s masters: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens. After being presumed dead for three years following his battle with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls, a hardened Sherlock Holmes resurfaces, turning his back on the people who need him most. Four unexpected callers arrive on Christmas Eve, uncovering clues from the detective’s past, present and future that shed light on the trap the brilliant man’s mind has set for himself. Can they save Holmes and his world from a devastating conclusion all in one night? Amelia Community Theatre, Fernandina Beach,

Dec 5 – 21 T’WAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS This family comedy by Ken Ludwig, based on the holiday classic, takes you on the wild adventures of a mouse, an elf and a spunky little girl who just won’t take no for an answer. Don’t miss this joyful tribute to the holiday season! Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre, 249-7177,

Dec 5-Jan 4 MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET Miracle on 34th Street features a book and score by Meredith Wilson. The story takes place between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day in New York City, and focuses on the impact of a department store Santa Claus who claims to be the real Santa. The musical brings music and dancing to this perennial Christmas favorite. Directed by Shelli Long. Limelight Theater, 824-1164,

Dec 12-14 A CHRISTMAS CAROL This celebrated Charles Jones adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is rich with thrilling ensemble music, alive with color and movement, and is created to tell this great and enduring tale in a manner that people of all ages will enjoy. St. Mary’s Little Theatre,

Dec 12 YES, VIRGINIA Murray Middle School presents Yes, Virginia. Gates to Plaza open at 4pm with Santa Visits, Train Rides, Face Painting and Bounce House. Seating area opens at 6pm. Show at 7pm. St. Augustine Amphitheatre,

Dec 12 COMMUNITY NUTCRACKER More than 200 children from Northeast Florida audition and perform in the production. Additionally, The Community Nutcracker issues 2,000 free tickets to various Jacksonville agencies and organizations to attend a Community Service Night performance. Residents and clients from area nursing homes and nonprofit agencies are also able to attend the ballet. Tickets range from $19.50 to $30. Florida Theatre, 355-2787,

Dec 19-21 FIRST COAST NUTCRACKER The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra presents the First Coast Nutcracker, featuring music by Tchaikovsky. Performances held at the Moran Theater. Tickets range from $18 to $50. 354-5547,

Dec 22 RUDOPLH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL This beloved Christmas classic will be performed at the Florida Theatre. Tickets range from $25 to $49.50. Florida Theatre. 355-2787,

Dec 24 A CHRISTMAS CAROL This celebrated Charles Jones adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is rich with thrilling ensemble music, alive with color and movement, and is created to tell this great and enduring tale in a manner that people of all ages will enjoy. FSCJ Artist Series


Dec 14 MENORAH-BUILDING WORKSHOP Chabad of St. Johns is partnering with Lowe’s for a Pre-Chanukah Menorah-Building Workshop. Wearing mini Lowe’s aprons and goggles, kids will craft their very own unique Menorahs with a host of supplies available from Lowe’s. Chabad will provide hot latkes and fresh doughnuts. Reservations are appreciated to ensure enough supplies. RSVP to [email protected]. Chabad St. Johns, 701-4422,

Dec 15 CHANUKAH HOLIDAY BAKING Get ready for Chanukah, by making and enjoying traditional Israeli jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot) with Morah Karen. Ages 3-6 yrs. Cost is $10 for members and $15 for non-members. Jewish Community Alliance, 730-2100,

DEC 16 BEACHES 12TH ANNUAL CHANUKAH CELEBRATION Chabad is hosting a Chanukah celebration and fun fair on Tuesday, December 16th at the Ponte Vedra Library. The event will include family Chanukah fun and an Arts and Crafts Fair. Children will also have the opportunity to get their face painted and pose for photos in dreidel costume. The event will begin at the Ponte Vedra Library at 4:30pm. At 6pm, guests will be escorted across the street to Chabad via police escort for a Giant Menorah Lighting ceremony with hot latkes and fresh jelly donuts. At 7pm, following the ceremony, adults are invited to hear Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger give a talk titled “Against All Odds A Nazi’s Son Speaks.” Chanukah is the eight-day Jewish “Festival of Lights,” which begins this year at sundown, Tuesday, December 16th. Each evening at sunset an additional candle is lit to commemorate the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem some 2000 years ago. The holiday also celebrates the miracle of one day’s worth of pure ritual oil burning for eight days until a new supply could be obtained. Chabad Beaches, 543-9301,

Dec 16 JCA ANNUAL CHANUKAH PARTY The JCA’s annual Chanukah celebration will take place on Tuesday, December 16th and will begin at 5:45pm with the lighting of the giant Chanukiyah. The festivities will continue with kosher hotdogs, latkes and Chanukah songs and entertainment. The evening will conclude with crafts, activities and games for the entire family. This event is free for JCA members and is $15 to guests/non-members. All are welcome to attend. Jewish Community Alliance 730-2100,

Dec 16 NOCATEE’S ANNUAL MENORAH LIGHTING The Annual Menorah Lighting at Nocatee will take place at 6:30pm. Chabad St. Johns 904-701-4422

Dec 17 ANNUAL WORLD GOLF VILLAGE MENORAH LIGHTING The Annual Menorah Lighting at World Golf Village will take place on Wednesday, December 17, at 6:30pm. Chabad St. Johns 701-4

Dec 21 ANNUAL CHANUKAH AT THE LANDING This year’s event will feature musician Sha-ron Kushnir, a Grand Chanukah Family Carnival and Fair and, as always, the kindling of Jacksonville’s tallest Menorah. The afternoon will feature a variety of kiosks and exhibitions, including Judaica Gifts, books and more, Popcorn, Chanukah Donut Decorating, Carnival Games and Inflatables, Olive Press Demonstration, Free Latkes, Chanukah Arts ‘N’ Crafts, Candle Making, Face Painting, Burger, Hot Dogs, Deli and Falafel and more. The Annual Menorah Lighting and Fair is open to the public and free of charge. Food and other items will be sold. Kicking off the event is the annual Chanukah Car Parade – a beautiful demonstration of Jewish pride and solidarity. The convoy including Chabad of Southside, Beaches, St. Augustine, Clay County and St. Johns, will gather at 1:30pm and depart 1:50pm sharp from Chabad regional headquarters in Mandarin.  All locations will meet-up along the way and join a single procession towards the Jacksonville Landing, Hogan Street Entrance, where the Chanukah event will take place. Chabad Beaches, 543-9301,

Dec 22 ATLANTIC BEACH CHANUKAH Chabad at the Beaches hosts a Chanukah Celebration in Atlantic Beach. A fast paced hour of family Chanukah fun will begin at 5:30pm followed by the lighting of a seven-foot menorah at 6:30pm. This special event will be accompanied by warm latkes, free raffles and more. There will also be crafts, dreidels distributed for the children and Chanukah music. The entire community is invited to this event. Chabad Beaches 543-9301,



About Liza Mitchell