As you set out in pursuit of happy holiday experiences, you’ll probably want to bring a large map.
Holiday-related events abound in Northeast Florida.
For your viewing pleasure, the options include the tree lighting ceremony at The Jacksonville Landing, the Palm Valley Boat Parade and the Jacksonville Light Boat Parade — which takes place at the end of December, as it did last year, after ending a long tradition as a Thanksgiving weekend event.
Holiday-themed destinations include ZooLights at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, WinterFest at Adventure Landing in Jacksonville Beach and Enchanted Christmas Village in Ponte Vedra Beach.
The concerts designed to put you in the holiday spirit reflect a variety of musical genres, from big band (Brian Setzer Orchestra) and jazz (Dave Koz) to pop (98 Degrees) and progressive rock (Trans-Siberian Orchestra).
The Jacksonville Symphony’s varied holiday lineup ranges from Handel’s “Messiah” to live scores to “Home Alone” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” while the movies play on the big screen.
Theatrical productions include “Christmas Carole” at Alhambra Theatre &Dining, “The Santaland Diaries,” presented by Apex Theatre at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall and “A Garfield Christmas” at the Thrasher-Horne Center in Orange Park.
You can count on several different stagings of The Nutcracker ballet, including a hip-hop version.
There’s much more. Here’s a guide to the more notable holiday-related events in the area:
SATURDAY, NOV. 18
St. Augustine Nights of Lights: The 24th Annual Nights of Lights, with close to 3 million tiny white lights, illuminates the city’s historic district nightly through Jan. 31. Train, trolley, horse-and-carriage, boat and walking tours are available. visitstaugustine.com.
WinterFest at Adventure Landing in Jacksonville Beach: An outdoor ice skating rink, ice slide, Santa’s Workshop, a snow village, s’mores roasting and more. Free admission; tickets can be purchased for individual and multiple activities. Through Jan. 8. Hours vary, check the calendar at jaxwinterfest.com. (904) 493-4592.
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 22
“Christmas Carole” at Alhambra Theatre &Dining: The musical, with an original score by Bruce Allen Scudder, is adapted from Charles Dickens’ tale of a Christmas-hating miser whose attitude is transformed after a visit from several ghosts. The show is infused with humor. Nightly except Monday through Sunday, Dec. 24, with matinees each Saturday and Sunday. Adults, $49.95-$57; children 12 or under, $35. Tickets: (904) 641-1212 or alhambrajax.com.
FRIDAY, NOV. 24
Christmas Made in the South at the Prime Osborn Convention Center: Peruse and purchase ornaments, pottery, jewelry, toys, fine art, photos and much more from several hundred artists and craftsmen. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26. Adults, $7; children 12 and under, free. Paid admission is good for all three days with hand stamp. madeinthesouthshows.com.
Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at The Jacksonville Landing: The 31st annual event in the Landing courtyard features a 56-foot-tall artificial tree with 78,000 lights. The will be live musical entertainments. The tree lighting ceremony begins at 7 p.m. The fireworks over the St. Johns River are set to start at 9 p.m. Free. jacksonvillelanding.com.
SATURDAY, NOV. 25
“Home Alone“ with score performed by the Jacksonville Symphony at the Times-Union Center: The Jacksonville Symphony Chorus will also perform as the 1990 comedy-adventure plays on the big screen. Associate conductor Nathan Aspinall conducts. 7 p.m. $26-$83. (904) 354-5547 or jaxsymphony.org.
Dave Koz and Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas Tour at the Florida Theatre: The friends are David Benoit, Peter White, Rick Braun and Selena Albright, who join the notable jazz saxophonist for Christmas classics and a Hanukkah medley. 8 p.m. $35-$79. (904) 355-2787 or floridatheatre.com.
SUNDAY, NOV. 26
A Very Doggy Christmas at The Jacksonville Landing: The final Yappy Hour of 2017 offers live entertainment, an Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest (for your proud pooch, not you, just to be clear) and Santa photos with your dog (the $10 donation goes to Friends of Jacksonville Animals, Inc. which benefits the animal care protective services of Jacksonville). Free. 2-5 p.m. jacksonvillelanding.com.
Jacksonville Beach Deck the Chairs at SeaWalk Pavilion: The annual lighted and festively decorated lifeguard chair exhibit gets underway with an opening night ceremony from 4 to 8 p.m., with performances by The First Coast Wind Symphony. Lights for the free exhibit will be on nightly from 4:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. through Jan. 1. Special events and activities are scheduled periodically throughout December. deckthechairs.org.
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 29
The Brian Setzer Orchestra’s 14th Annual Christmas Rocks! Tour at the Florida Theatre: Setzer, who went from rockabilly and The Stray Cats to swing, puts a rockin’ big band spin on holiday tunes. The Texas Gentlemen, a country band from Dallas, is the opening act. 8 p.m. $49-$79. (904) 355-2787 or floridatheatre.com.
Tidings of Jazz and Joy at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall: Pianist Keiko Matsui and saxophonist Euge Groove are the headliners for a concert also featuring singer Lindsey Webster and guitarist Adam Hawley. The evening is a combination of holiday music and jazz hits. 8 p.m. $49-$69. pvconcerthall.com or (904) 309-0399.
THURSDAY, NOV. 30
98 Degrees at Christmas at the Florida Theatre: The pop quartet — consisting of Justin Jeffre, Jeff Timmons and brothers Nick Lachey and Drew Lachey — will perform Christmas classics along with some of the big hits they’ve had since forming in 1997. 8 p.m. $35-$75. (904) 355-2787 or floridatheatre.com.
Gingerbread House Extravaganza at Old St. Andrew’s: Presented by the Jacksonville Historical Society, the exhibit features dozens of gingerbread houses built by chefs, bakers, architects, engineers, culinary school students, families, young people and others. It’s at the historical society’s headquarters on A. Philip Randolph Boulevard, across the street from Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, through Saturday, Dec. 23. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Suggested donation: $5 for adults; $3 for children aged 3-16. www.jaxhistory.org.
FRIDAY, DEC. 1
Enchanted Christmas Village: 12 Days of Christmas at Hope Pavilion: The holiday-themed village, which debuted last year on the Westside, has moved this year to Palm Valley Road in Ponte Vedra Beach. It offers entertainment, shopping, hayrides, carolers, Santa Claus, a Christmas Tree light show and a million or more lights. The Hope Pavilion is located on the 46-acre grounds of St. Francis of the Field Episcopal Church. 5-10 p.m. Dec. 1-Dec. 3; Dec. 8-10, Dec. 15-17; and Dec. 21-23. General admission: adults, $19; children 17 or younger, $10; children younger than 3, free. (888) 486-6413 or jacksonvillechristmas.com.
SATURDAY, DEC. 2
Christmas in Avondale: From 4 to 9 p.m., the streets of the Avondale business district are closed to traffic so pedestrians can can make their way to shops and restaurants, listen to live music and take part in family-style activities. facebook.com/christmasinavondale.
Christmas Messiah with UNF Chamber Singers and Lawson Ensemble at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall: The two groups join to perform selections from Handel’s oratorio. 3 p.m. $25, adults; $15, students, seniors and veterans. (904) 209-0399 or pvconcerthall.com.
Palm Valley Boat Parade on the Intracoastal Waterway: The lighted parade covers more than seven miles of Intracoastal Waterway. The route begins one mile south of the Palm Valley Bridge (State Road 210) continues north to the last home in Marsh Landing. The parade starts at 6:30 p.m., reaching the final viewpoint by 9:30 p.m. palmvalleyboatparade.com.
St. Augustine Christmas Parade in downtown St. Augustine: The parade includes floats, marching bands, antique cars and horses and carriages. It begins at the Mission of Nombre de Dios on Ocean Avenue, proceeds south through downtown and finishes behind the Visitors Center on West Castillo Drive. The parade begins at 9 a.m. WEBSITE?
SUNDAY, DEC. 3
The Hip-Hop Nutcracker, with special guest emcee Kurtis Blow at the Florida Theatre: Think of this as Breakdancing Meets Tchaikovsky. Blow, the first rap artist to have a certified gold single (“The Breaks” in 1980) is the host for this re-imagined, contemporary telling of The Nutcracker. 7 p.m. $25-$49. (904) 355-2787 or floridatheatre.com.
THURSDAY, DEC. 7
Jacksonville Symphony Holiday Pops at the Times-Union Center: The concerts, which offer a selection of holiday favorites, also feature the Jacksonville Symphony Chorus and guest singers and dancers. Associated conductor Nathan Aspinall conducts. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7; 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. $21-$87. The Holiday Pops Coffee Concert begins at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 8. $19-$44. (904) 354-5547 or jaxsymphony.org.
FRIDAY, DEC. 8
Community Nutcracker at the Florida Theatre: It’s the 26th annual staging of the ballet production featuring more than 200 children, along with some adults, from Northeast Florida. 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. $30-$52.50. (904) 355-2787 or jaxnutcracker.org.
“A Garfield Christmas” at the Thrasher-Horne Center in Orange Park: A musical featuring the beloved comic-strip cat, who needs a little help getting into the holiday spirit. The show features many timeless holiday songs. 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. $13 to $33. (904) 276-6815 or thcenter.org.
Jacksonville ZooLights at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens: Thousands of LED lights help transform the zoo into a winter wonderland with moving sculptures, forests of lighted trees and animal silhouettes. There are extras not included in the price of general admission, such as a lighted train ride, carousel rides, marshmallow roasting and more. Dec. 8-10, and Dec. 15-Jan. 5. Closed Christmas Day. 6-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 6-9:30 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays. (The zoo closes at 5 p.m. and reopens for Zoolights at 6 p.m.) $10, non-members; $8, members. (904) 757-4463 or jacksonvillezoo.org.
Historic Springfield Holiday Homes Tour: 5-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, and Saturday, Dec. 9. It’s the 31st year for the home tour, which is sponsored by the Springfield Improvement Association and Archives. Tour seven homes in the historic district decorated for the holidays. $12 in advance, $15 day of tour. historicspringfield.org.
“The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged)” at Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre: A comedy featuring Three Wise Guys who send up and celebrate holiday traditions. 8 p.m. Dec. 8-9; 2 p.m. Dec. 10; 8 p.m. Dec. 15-16; 2 p.m. Dec. 17; and 8 p.m. Dec. 22-23. Adults, $20; 18 and under, $10 when accompanied by an adult. (904) 249-7177 or abettheatre.com.
SUNDAY, DEC. 10
3 Redneck Tenor Christmas Spec-Tac-Yule-Ar at the Thrasher-Horne Center in Orange Park: The classically trained singers (spoiler alert: Their mullets don’t appear to be real) perform with down-home humor in a show that captures the spirit of the holidays with some traditional songs as well as some spoofs. $3. $23-$63. (904) 276-6815 or thcenter.org.
THURSDAY, DEC. 14
Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena: The theme of the winter tour is “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” which promises “The best of TSO and more.” 7:30 p.m. $28.75-$62.75. ticketmaster.com
FRIDAY, DEC. 15
The First Coast Nutcracker, with the Jacksonville Symphony, at the Times-Union Center: The holiday classic, under the direction of choreographer and artistic director Rhonda Stampalia, is performed to live music. Deanna Tham, assistant conductor and JSYO principal conductor, conducts. 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17. Tickets $20-$54. (904) 354-5547 or jaxsymphony.org.
“The Santaland Diairies,” presented by Apex Theatre at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall: The David Sedaris comedy was inspired by his experiences working as an elf at Macy’s Santaland. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, and Saturday, Dec. 16. The band Duffy Bishop performs prior to each show, beginning at 8 p.m. $20. pvconcerthall.com or (904) 209-0399.
SATURDAY, DEC. 16
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” presented by Apex Theatre at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall: The play is based on Barbara Robinson’s story about a couple putting on a church Christmas pageant who are faced with casting a group of very badly behaved children. 1 and 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17. $15. pvconcerthall.com or (904) 209-0399.
“Elf” at the Florida Theatre: Watch the 2003 comedy-fantasy with Will Ferrell and help provide food for those in need. Admission to the movie is free with a food donation. The screening benefits Feeding Northeast Florida, a hunger relief organization and food bank. 2 p.m. (Arrive early — doors open at 12:30 p.m. — and have your picture taken with Santa.) (904) 355-2787 or floridatheatre.com.
The Florida Ballet presents The Nutcracker at the University of North Florida, Lazzara Performance Hall: The classical ballet, set to the music of Tchaikovsky, features guest artists from the Cincinnati Ballet and more than 100 local dancers. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17. $23-$43. (904) 353-7518 or floridaballet.org.
Jacksonville Symphony, Handel’s “Messiah,” at the Times-Union Center: The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra performs the celebrated oratorio with soprano Emily Birsan, mezzo-soprano Amanda Crider, tenor Jason Ferrante and tenor Craig Irvin. Associate conductor Nathan Aspinall conducts. 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17. $19-$79. (904) 354-5547 or jaxsymphony.org.
SUNDAY, DEC. 17
Luminaria in Riverside-Avondale: The traditional lighting of the lanterns begins at sundown. The evening also features neighborhood church festivities, block parties and more. riversideavondale.org.
MONDAY, DEC. 18
Celtic Christmas at the Beaches Museum Chapel in Jacksonville Beach: Ed Miller, Jil Chambless and Scooter Muse provide a family-friendly evening of Celtic tunes and tales. 5 and 7 p.m. $25 in advance, $30 day of show. (904) 241-5657 or beachesmuseum.org.
JSYO Holiday Concert at the Times-Union Center: The Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestras perform their holiday concert. Free. 7 p.m. (904) 354-5547 or jaxsymphony.org.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 20
The Ten Tenors: Home for the Holidays at the Florida Theatre: This music ensemble from Australia performs traditional and contemporary versions of holiday favorites. 8 p.m. $35-$65. (904) 355-2787 or floridatheatre.com.
THURSDAY, DEC. 21
“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” presented by the Apex Theatre, at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall: The story of idealist George Bailey, who finds himself wishing he had never been born, is staged as a radio play with an ensemble cast. 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21, Friday, Dec. 22, and Saturday, Dec. 23; and 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23. $25. (904) 209-0399 or pvconcerthall.com.
SATURDAY, DEC. 22
“A Charlie Brown Christmas Live!” at the Florida Theatre: The “Peanuts” gang stages a play, saves a forlorn little tree and uncovers the true meaning of Christmas in this live-action musical. 7 p.m. $25-$49.50. (904) 355-2787 or floridatheatre.com.
“It’s a Wonderful Life,” with score performed by the Jacksonville Symphony, at the Times-Union Center: The Jacksonville Symphony Chorus also performs as the classic 1946 film with James Stewart and Donna Reed plays on the big screen. 7 p.m. $26-$79. (904) 354-5547 or jaxsymphony.org.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 27
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker at the Florida Theatre: It’s the 25th anniversary tour for the production featuring top Russian dancers, larger-than-life puppets and striking costumes. 3 and 7 p.m. $31.50-$178.50. (904) 355-2787 or floridatheatre.com.
SATURDAY, DEC. 30
Jacksonville Light Boat Parade on the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville: Boats of all shapes and sizes, decked out in holidays lights and carrying costumed characters, cruise the river. The event ends with a fireworks display, featuring a waterfall of sparks off the Main Street bridge. Boat parade starts at 7:30 p.m. Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m. Free. jacksonvillelanding.com.
David Crumpler: (904) 359-4164