“Dashing through the sand, with a margarita in my hand! The beach life is so fun, we’re having Christmas in the sun….. “ Come on everybody, sing along! Who needs holiday songs where they’re dreaming of a white Christmas, and settling in by the fire? Not us. We’re Floridians and we’ll leave the need for cold, snow, ice, and rosy cheeks to the Northerners.
We’re perfectly content to cook our turkeys outside on grills and in fryers on Christmas morning. Our pink flamingo yard art has been donned with Santa caps, and elf ears so we are ready. Our fruitcakes have been replaced with key lime pies and pineapples, fashioned into vessels for our cocktails.
For those who weren’t born in Florida (most of you,) did you find it difficult to catch the holiday spirit when you first moved here? I remember thinking how odd the lights on houses looked without being able to cast their glow on snowbanks and hanging icicles. It seemed like an incomplete picture. Shopping seemed so mundane and even the festive malls with carolers out strolling couldn’t beat the Bah! Humbug! attitude. I felt a little sorry for poor Southern folks who were missing out on the ultimate holiday experience by living in such a warm climate. And then, I got over it! Year after year, you stop longing for the weather aspects to make the holidays whole and, instead, started relishing in the little perks gained by living here in December. For one, the sun makes an appearance almost every day, and the air has a pleasant coolness to it that smells fresh and makes you just a bit more energized to begin the day. You can still put up a tree, you just don’t need to trudge through the snow to find the perfect one. And perhaps the coolest thing you can do is go to the beach on Christmas. Open your gifts, pack the mimosas and sandwiches and spend your day right where millions of Northerners wish they could be. It’s fun!
December in Florida is full of the Christmas spirit and holiday magic, you just need to appreciate all that is happening. We’ve got your weekend lined up with a grand selection of festivities so you can slip on your flip flops, grab the shades, and soak up the holidays, Southern style.
December 9, 6:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M., Holidays Around the Ranch, Lakewood Ranch Main Street
The annual tree lighting, holiday crafts, music and dance groups, and Santa arriving on the Choo Choo Express will be sure to delight attendees of all ages. The beautiful setting of Downtown Lakewood Ranch will be reminiscent of holiday gatherings from yesteryear complete with ice skating, (skates provided) and festive decorations galore. Santa’s Workshop will be in full swing and holiday eats and treats will be available for purchase. Admission to the event is free.
December 9-10, Holiday Lights Spectacular, Sarasota Jungle Gardens
Be prepared to be dazzled as thousands of lights will create a spectacular surrounding for this fun event. Slightly wild and overly fun is what you’ll encounter as you enter this cherished Sarasota destination. Take a whimsical stroll down Candy Cane Lane, visit with Santa, and enjoy live entertainment from some of the favorite inhabitants of Sarasota Jungle Gardens. Admission is $11 for adults, $6 for kids ages 3 through 12.
December 10, 5:00 P.M., Poinsettia Parade, North Port
This South County event draws people from all over Southwest Florida so get there early to secure your spot. This year’s theme is Candy Canes and Carols. The parade route begins at Greenwood and North Port Boulevard and ends at Appomattox Boulevard. Santa will be the star of the show, along with dozens of groups in the area, spreading cheer and tossing out candy.
December 10, The Annual Sarasota Christmas Boat Parade of Lights, City Island
A long-standing Sarasota tradition, the Sarasota Christmas Boat Parade is celebrating its 30th year of on the water majesty. This is a quintessential Southern holiday treat, where the waters of Sarasota will shine with grandeur illuminating from yachts down to small fishing boats. You will not be disappointed and will need to get there early for the best viewing. The parade begins at approximately 6:00 P.M.
December 10, The 19th Annual Manatee River Holiday Boat Parade
All area waters will be lit up as Bradenton celebrates the holidays in cheery style with their Holiday Boat Parade. Another fan favorite, this parade begins at Snead Island, passing the Bradenton Yacht Club, past Regatta Point Marina, proceeding to Twin Dolphin Marina. Beginning at 6:30 P.M.
December 10-11, Atomic Holiday Bazaar, Sarasota Municipal Auditorium
Celebrating ten years of Indie-inspired arts and crafts, this event draws novice and experienced crafters who wait all year for this. Artisans from all over will displaying their wares in innovative ways, including in popup boutiques as the event spills into the streets this year. Food trucks will be on site, and swag bags will be given to the first 100 people through the door. Adults $5, children under 12 are free.
Photos: Boat Parade courtesy of Emilio Labrador on Flickr, commercial use allowed & lights photo from Pixabay