Farmers Market Lakewood Ranch Christmas Santa Stroll
Santa Strolling at the Farmers' Market, courtesy of Waterside Place

Outdoor Holiday Events In & Around Sarasota

Savor the fresh air and holiday cheer this holiday season in Sarasota and the surrounding areas

November 28, 2022

Make this holiday season in Sarasota one to remember with these amazing outdoor family-fun events – from captivating boat parades, movie nights and a 5K "glow run" to wreath-making workshops and strolling with Santa at the farmers' market. 'Tis the season for bright lights and festivities – and there's no better place to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year than where you can wear a light jacket in Florida's "winter" weather.

Holiday Night of Lights on St. Armand’s Circle

Holiday Night  of Lights, courtesy of St. Armand's Circle Association

Start the month’s celebrations off right with a stroll through dazzling displays as Lido Key's iconic St. Armands Circle magically comes to life with lights and festivities. Watch Christmas carolers perform your favorite holiday tunes, then keep an eye out for Santa’s grand arrival. He’ll be available to hear about every item on your little one’s wish list. Once you've witness the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony of the 56 ft-tall Christmas tree, shop the Circle to find fun in-store promotions, seasonal refreshments and more at many of the shops and restaurants. Photos with Santa are available throughout the evening from 6:30pm – 8:00pm. Learn more about Holiday Night of Lights

Saturday, December 3, 5:30pm, St. Armand’s Circle, free to the public. If you miss this event, no need to worry, Christmas tree lights remain on and dazzling all season long.

Holidays at The Bay: Double Feature Movie Night

Take in the joy of the holidays and the beauty of newly-renovated The Bay Park, when you catch a family-friendly double feature showing of two holiday movie fan favorites – The Polar Express and Elf.  Wear your matching holiday jammies, as well as blankets and chairs to set up on the lawn for the projector feature of some of your favorite holiday flicks! This event is free, but registration is strongly recommended. Learn more and reserve your spot for Holidays at The Bay Movie Night.

Friday, December 9, 6pm–9:45pm, The Oval at The Bay Park, registration is free to the public

Annual Venice Christmas Boat Parade

Courtesy photo of Venice Christmas Boat Parade

Pull up a chair and watch festive boats float by along the Intracoastal Waterway at this cherished local event of Venice. Lauded for how up-close landlubbing spectators can get to the action, it's a can't-miss holiday spectacle that'll surely get you in the holiday spirit, Florida-style. The parade starts morth of the Albee Bridge and heads south toward the Circus Bridge. .  Visit Venice Christmas Boat Parade for a route map and more information. 

Saturday, December 3, boats set sail at 6pm, starting just north of Albee Rd Bridge and traveling south, ending just before the Circus Bridge in Venice at 9 pm, Venice Waterfront

Downtown Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade

Courtesy photo of Holiday Boat Parade of Lights

This mesmerizing Florida holiday tradition brings decked-out vessels of every size to downtown Sarasota's bayfront for a night of all-ages fun and festivities. Watch intricately bedecked boats glide across the water, blasting your favorite Christmas tunes along the wake. The route goes from City Island across Sarasota Bay to Centennial Park, then heads south to Bayfront Park. Bring folding chairs and find your spot along the water for a most fabulous evening by the water. Guests are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy or book which will be distributed by local nonprofits. 

Saturday, December 10, 6pm–8pm, Sarasota Bayfront Park

Lights in Bloom at Selby Gardens

Lights in Bloom, courtesy of Selby Gardens

Experience the enchanting sight of over two million twinkling lights covering trees and lighting up pathways in a tropical garden setting. There’ll be illuminating entertainment, children’s activities, plenty of photo ops and delectable food from the Michael’s on East grill, available for purchase. Learn more and purchase your tickets, now on sale, for Lights in Bloom

Select nights December 10–January 5, 6:30pm – 9pm, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Downtown Sarasota Campus, $30/non-member, $25/member, $15 child (5-17), free for children 4 and under 

Santa Strolling at the Farmers Market

Courtesy photo of Waterside Place

'Tis the season for Santa appearances – and where better to hang out with the man of the hour than strolling with him at the new location of Farmers' Market at Lakewood Ranch. Start your Sunday morning by snapping a photo with him at the waterfront Christmas Tree or at one of the other selfie-worthy holiday backdrops – including Lakefront Drive to admire the lit-up Christmas tree or a decorative Hanukkah area. Learn more about Santa Strolling at the Farmers Market and Pictures With Santa at Waterside Place. 

Every Sunday for the month of December, 10am–12pm, Waterside Place in Lakewood Ranch; Pictures With Santa on select nights throughout December, 6pm-9pm 

Sarasota Holiday Arts and Crafts Festival

Come shop for beautiful arts and crafts at the premiere of the Sarasota Holiday Arts & Crafts Festival. The event will be held in beautiful JD Hamel Park in downtown Sarasota. Whether gifts for family and friends or to beautify your home or office, find locally made items not found in the big box stores! Showcasing original works by artisans from throughout Florida and across the United States, these artisans create an outdoor gallery of original, handmade art in painting, photography, sculpture, candles, metalwork, digital art, jewelry, glass, ceramics, woodworking, mixed-media, fiber art, metalwork and much more.

Saturday, December 10 & Sunday, December 11, 10am–5pm, J.D. Hamel Park at Sarasota Bayfront, free public event

Sarasota Christmas Glow Run 5K

Glowrun5k
Christmas Glow Run 5K, courtesy of Elite Events

This family-friendly, festive event features miles of Christmas decorations and music that creates a fun and active atmosphere that will get you feeling merry and bright! This professionally chip-timed night glow run will be a memorable experience like no other. Athletes can run or walk the lakeside Christmas-themed course of Nathan Benderson Park with thousands of lights and lighted characters at night.  Runners are welcomed to add to the atmosphere with their complimentary glow products that are included with registration and there is a 100% chance of pretty "snowfall" at the finish! Sign up to participate for the Christmas Flow Run Run 5K.

Saturday, December 17, start time 5am, Nathan Benderson Park, 5K entry pricing from $45-48

Holiday MEGA Market at The UTC

university town center mall
Courtesy photo of Christmas display at The Mall at UTC

Florida Penguin Productions is introducing its largest Holiday Gift Market yet this season – located in the parking lot of The Mall at University Town Center (on the east side). Featuring 140+ vendors over one weekend, come to shop local for handmade, retail, resale, upcycled items and more, all the while enjoying the incredible holiday decor and light display of The UTC, as well as winter dance performances from local dance studios, food trucks and more! Learn more and reserve your spot for Holiday Mega Market. For many other holiday events happening at The UTC, explore here

Saturday, December 3 & Sunday, December 4. 10am – 5pm. The Mall at University Town Center, free for the public (reservations highly recommended)

Create a Living Wreath

Up your holiday décor game with a vibrant wreath you’ll make by hand with help from Selby Botanical Gardens. Part creative art project, part lesson in botany, this workshop will have you arranging spider plants and other gorgeous succulents in a way that’s just your style. This is one holiday wreath you won’t want to store in a closet after New Year’s Day.  Learn more about the Living Wreath Workshop.

Sunday, December 18, 10 am–1 pm, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Downtown Sarasota Campus, $175 non-members/$150 members

Wintergreen Weekend at the Point

The holiday spirit takes over at this two-day, Victorian-inspired celebration of timeless holiday activities among the moss-draped oaks of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens' Historic Spanish Point campus in Osprey. Expect hours of cheerful songs, Asolo Repertory yuletide readings, festive treats and beverages and carriage rides; all that’s missing are the snow flurries! Learn more about Wintergreen Weekend

Saturday, December 3 and Sunday, December 4, 10am–5pm, Historic Spanish Point Campus, $15/adult, $10/child, $7/member

Holiday Splendor at The Ringling 

Celebrate the holiday season and help support the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots, serving Sarasota and Manatee counties. Local schools will provide musical entertainment on the Bolger Campiello. Food and beverage will be available for purchase. All venues will be open for self-touring – including the Museum of Art, Ca' d'Zan and the Circus Museum. Admission to this event is free with one unwrapped toy per person (Tip: a large selection of toys under $20 are available for purchase at the Museum gift shop!). Check out the performance schedule for Holiday Splendor.

Thursdays, December 1, 8, 15, 5pm–8pm, The Ringling, regular admission will apply without a toy donation- $15 adult / $5 child

Back to the Holiday Guide

The Ultimate Holiday Guide to Sarasota County

The most wonderful time of the year lives up to the motto near the glistening gulf coast beaches of Sarasota County. The daily sunshine will make you feel warm on the outside, but there are plenty of local traditions for winter visitors that can make you feel cozy on the inside too.