Sarasota County Offers Travelers the Perfect Florida Holiday Getaway

From Thanksgiving meals to Christmas parades, Sarasota County serves up exciting holiday options for travelers

SARASOTA, Fla. –– Travelers looking for an exciting holiday getaway should head straight to Sarasota County. From Thanksgiving feasts and fun runs, to street (and boat) parades and a Chanukah festival, there is something for everyone. With 35 miles of coastline, Florida’s great weather and a host of fun holiday-themed activities to enjoy, this Southwest Florida excursion is the perfect option for the “nice list” this year. Best of all, no coats or mittens are required!

This holiday season, local favorite events return – some for the first time in a few years – and new ones make their debut.

Gingerbread Workshop & Gingerbread House Contest

Visitors can try their hand at building a house out of gingerbread and candy during the Gingerbread Workshop sponsored by the City of North Port Parks & Recreation Department. The workshop lasts from 10 a.m. to noon on November 19. The cost to participate is $15 for the first house kit and $10 for every additional house, plus participants will enjoy games, music, and a fully loaded hot cocoa bar to help spur creativity. Those interested in submitting a completed gingerbread house, either one built during the workshop or one created at home, for the Gingerbread House People's Choice Contest can do so on November 21. Entries can be admired (and voted for) at North Port City Hall from November 21 through December 3, when the winners will receive their awards at the Poinsettia Festival. Nov. 19; 10 a.m. – 12 p.m

Florida Turkey Trot

Before the Thanksgiving feast, participants can run or walk 5 kilometers with about 4,000 others at Nathan Benderson Park. The fourth annual Florida Turkey Trot presented by Publix starts at 8 a.m. for walkers and runners. The Kids’ Dash takes place at 7:15 a.m. The “floating final mile” gives participants the unique experience of crossing the competition lake on a floating concrete wave attenuator. Everyone who participates leaves with a medal and a T-shirt – and there are post-event snacks and drinks. 

Nov. 24; 7:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Mattison’s Thanksgiving Dinner

Vacationing in Sarasota on Thanksgiving? Visitors can enjoy a traditional meal with the help of Mattison’s. Dine al fresco at Mattison’s City Grille in downtown Sarasota or Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille in Bradenton and enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner of oven-roasted turkey, sweet potatoes, truffle mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, apple-walnut stuffing, maple ginger roasted vegetables, and cranberry relish. Mattison’s 41 is offering a Thanksgiving buffet including multiple stations featuring a chef carving station with oven roasted turkey and slow roasted prime rib plus a variety of starters, sides, specialty salads, fresh seafood and house made pastries and desserts. Take-out for up to eight people is also available for pre-order through November 18 at Mattison’s 41 and Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille.

Small Business Saturday at the Bazaar on Apricot & Lime

Discover unique gifts at the Bazaar on Apricot & Lime, a shopping destination with more than 440 local artists, crafters, and curators. From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Small Business Saturday, take advantage of special deals, surprises, and live music. Nov. 26; 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Light Up Siesta Key and Village Holiday Parade

The 37th annual Light Up Siesta Key features a holiday parade that begins at Avenida del Mare and Beach Road and ends in Siesta Key Village, where Santa Claus will pose for pictures with children following the parade, Village Christmas tree at the gazebo, goody bags for the first 250 kids to visit Santa, and kids activities and entertainment at Siesta Center Plaza. Nov. 26; 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Atomic Holiday Bazaar

The 15th annual Atomic Holiday Bazaar is not the average arts and crafts fair. Visitors will find slightly edgy, off-beat and wildly creative merchandise from vendors throughout the state of Florida. In 2022, the bazaar moves to a new location at Robarts Arena at the Sarasota Fairgrounds. Nov. 26; 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.; Nov. 27; 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Ringling Museum’s Holiday Splendor

Celebrate the holiday season and help support the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots at Ringling Museum’s Holiday Splendor. Admission to the event is free with one unwrapped toy as a donation for Toy for Tots. 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. Regular admission without a toy is $15 for adults and $5 for children. Dec. 1, 8, 15; 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Venice Christmas Boat Parade

Setting sail at 6 p.m. near the Albee Road Bridge in Nokomis, the Venice Christmas Boat Parade may be viewed anywhere from South Nokomis Beach to North Venice Beach as well as throughout downtown Venice and along the waterfront. Spectators will be dazzled by the parade’s brightly lit boats reflecting off the water. In the event of rain, the parade will take place on December 4. Dec. 3; 6 p.m.

Sarasota Holiday Parade

It might never snow in Sarasota, but the 26th annual Sarasota Holiday Parade will feature a Winter Wonderland with floats decorated with snow, snowflakes, snowmen, ice, and icicles. Musical bands will also march in the parade. The procession starts on Main Street and U.S. 301 in downtown Sarasota and end at J.D. Hamel Park. Dec. 3; 7 p.m.

Wintergreen Weekend at the Point

Historic Spanish Point is hosting classic holiday activities and entertainment on its 30-acre waterfront preserver during Wintergreen Weekend at the Point. Seasonal food and beverages are available to purchase. This event is free for Selby Gardens’ Members and included with general admission. Dec. 3-4; 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Southside Village Holiday Stroll

The charming neighborhood of Southside Village, south of downtown Sarasota, welcomes visitors to their annual Southside Village Holiday Stroll. Meet and greet with Santa, listen to a holiday concert, and enjoy hot cocoa and a snow slide. Plus, kids can reach new heights on a climbing wall and trampoline. Dec. 10; 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Discover Sarasota Tours Christmas Carol Trolley Tour

Hop aboard Dolly the Trolley to enjoy a fun-filled holiday musical light tour on the new Christmas Carol Trolley Tour. Enjoy a 75-minute holiday tour with Christmas Carol sing-along, holiday stories, jokes and trivia, and a charming tour of Sarasota’s downtown neighborhood lights. Tickets for adults are $49.99 and children are $29.99. Dec. 9-11, 13-19, 21-23, 29-30; 7:30 p.m.

Selby Gardens Lights in Bloom

Lights in Bloom: An Open-Air Holiday Light Show at Selby Gardens features more than two million lights illuminating the gardens and walkways. Besides the illuminating array, visitors can expect holiday photo opportunities, children’s arts and crafts activities, and live entertainment. Dec. 10-23, 26-30, Jan. 1-5; 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Taste of Chanukah Food & Music Festival

Sponsored by the Jewish Federation Campus, the Chabad of Sarasota’s 11th annual Taste of Chanukah Food & Music Festival will serve up kosher delicacies, a helicopter drop of gelt and a balloon Menorah at Phillippi Estate Park. Activities include a snow slide, arts and crafts, and trackless train rides. Annaliese Nock, Guinness World Record holder and the youngest daughter of circus superstar Bello Nock, will also make an appearance. Dec. 18; 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Whether it’s a hotel, resort, condo, vacation home or RV park, Sarasota County provides a variety of options to suit any travel preference. Visitors can  book their holiday getaway at and check out even more to do on the destination’s events calendar.

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About Sarasota County

Situated on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Sarasota County welcomes more than 2.7 million visitors annually. Within its 725 square miles, the county serves up a diverse menu of cultural and recreational activities and attractions, including award-winning dining, world-class fine arts and performing arts, professional and amateur sports and the area’s circus heritage. Vacationers can enjoy city life in downtown Sarasota, revisit old Florida in Englewood and Venice, enjoy some of the best beaches in the U.S. on Siesta Key and Longboat Key, or play in North Port’s many parks and waterways. Sarasota County is perhaps best known for its 35 miles of pristine coastline in addition to 6 barrier islands, delivering options for beach getaways that are unrivaled almost anywhere else in the U.S., including Siesta Beach, named the No. 1 beach in the country and No. 11 in the world in TripAdvisor’s 2020 Travelers’ Choice Awards – the third time it has held the national title. To learn more, visit Connect via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.



Joel Kaiman, [email protected]

Katie Neumann Weeks, [email protected]

(407) 977-5004