Marion On the Scene – A guide to our favorite monthly happenings and can’t-miss events

 1-19 It’s A Wonderful Life
Ocala Civic Theatre
The beloved Christmas classic is retold as a 1940s radio play through the magic of versatile voices, special sound effects and your imagination. Thursdays and Fridays 7:30pm, Saturdays 2pm and 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.
Purchase tickets at (352) 236-2274, the box office or

Holiday Events
Paddock Mall
1st-24th – Photos with Santa. While reservations are encouraged, walk-ins are welcome. 12th – Sensory Friendly Santa Experience in partnership with Autism Speaks: from 9-10:30am. 20th – Paws & Claus, 6-8pm. Bring your pet and mix and mingle while your furry friend takes a paw-satively adorable photo with Santa. 21st – Cookies & Claus, 10-11am. Enjoy cookie decorating and breakfast with Mrs. Claus. Learn more at

1-31 The Ocala Christmas Light Spectacular
Florida Horse Park | 6-10pm
Visit North Central Florida‘s largest drive-thru holiday light display. End the night in Santaland with local food trucks and pictures with Santa. Visit for details.

1-31 Light Up Ocala
Ocala Downtown Square
This luminous holiday favorite activity bedazzles downtown Ocala in a blanket of lights and attracts thousands of visitors for an evening stroll to wonder at the spectacle of it all. Visit

Cadence Robinson, 4, left, and her sister, Kendyl, 2, right, run excitedly around the Ocala Downtown Square together as they wait for Santa Claus to arrive on the first night of Santa On The Square on the Ocala Downtown Square in Ocala, Fla. on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Photograph by Bruce Ackerman.  

2  Santa on the Square
Ocala Downtown Square
December 2-21 | Tuesdays and Thursdays 6-8pm
Everyone’s favorite jolly old elf and Mrs. Claus will be available for free photos in the gazebo. Visitors should bring their own camera or phone. Visit 

3  Symphony Under the Lights
Reilly Arts Center | 7pm
Bring a blanket and some cocoa and set up your chairs at the outdoor stage for this free family-friendly holiday favorites concert by the Ocala Symphony Orchestra. Visit

4  Light Up Lake Lillian
Southeast Robinson Road, Belleview | 3-8pm
See Santa, enjoy arts and crafts and activities for children, browse vendors and more. For more information, email Amanda Valderrama at or call (352) 245-7021.

4  Gingerbread House Decorating
NOMA Gallery | 1-5pm
Kids and grown-ups can paint a premade gingerbread house in conjunction with artist Grace Netanya‘s exhibition, Fables. Kids decorate 1-3pm (parent or guardian must be present); adults decorate 3:30-5pm. Visit

3  Bring the Harvest Home
Ocala Downtown Square | 7:30am-1:30pm
This countywide collaborative food drive collects non-perishable food, baby items and toiletries for families in need served by Interfaith Emergency Services, Brother’s Keeper and the Salvation Army. Visit

4-5  Festival at Fort King
Fort King National Historic Landmark December 4-5 | 10am-4pm
The fort comes alive in 1800s style with living history demonstrators, cast iron cooking, axe throwing, bead crafting, live music, home-brewed beer and food. Visit 

4  21st Annual Toys for Kids Cruise In
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing 8am-5pm
Bring the kids to see the Ghostbusters car and the Hot Wheels Corvette, along with a Marion County Sheriff’s Office helicopter. Giveaways, dash plaques and more. Visit 

4-5 Pops! Goes the Holidays
Reilly Arts CenterDecember 4, 7:30pm | December 5, 3pm
The Ocala Symphony Orchestra’s holiday performance will include the score of the animated short film The Snowman along with the concert. Families can also expect sing-a-longs and a reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Visit

4  Christmas Boat Parade
Lake Weir Yacht Club | 4:30-9pm
Boats set sail from Carney Island Recreation & Conservation Area; event proceeds go to the Ocklawaha Food Pantry. Festivities include the “Down the Hatch” party at Eaton’s Beach at 7:30pm. For information, call (321) 432-1292.

5  The Embot Experience
Workspace Collective | 6-9pm
Local artist Emmeline Basulto, aka Embot, collaborates with The Gathering Cafe, The Grazing Haus and EL Puente Catering to show her art while supporting local businesses. Visit 

 8  Santa Paws
Ocala Downtown Square | 5-8pm
This photo opportunity with Santa is just for pets. Bring your leashed furry friend and meet adoptable pets from the Humane Society of Marion County. Visit

10  Thoroughbred Transformation Expo
Florida Horse Park December 10-12 | 7am-7pm
This equine competition includes dressage, working ranch, show jumper, show hunter, eventing, polo and freestyle; proceeds go to Run for the Ribbons. Visit

11  Ocala 200 Lions Club Flea Market
Bank OZK, SW Highway 2008am-1pm
Browse an array of goods and donate non-perishable items to the Lions’ food drive for Interfaith Emergency Services. Food and drinks for sale. Email

11  Urban Family Community Day
Appleton Museum of Art | 10am-5pm
Enjoy free admission on annual community day event celebrating A Dickens Christmas: The Urban Family Holiday Exhibition. Make holiday crafts in the Artspace and take photos with Santa from 1-4pm. Food trucks on site. Free admission includes permanent collection and special exhibitions such as Heart of the Horse and Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau. The Urban exhibit is on display through Jan. 6th. Visit 

11  Ocala Christmas Parade: A Heroes’ Christmas
Silver Springs Boulevard | 5:30pm
View festive floats, marching bands and other entries as they travel along Silver Springs Boulevard, leaving from the McPherson government complex on 25th Avenue and going west to Eighth Avenue. Ben Marciano is grand marshal. Visit 

11  Holiday Home Tour
Commences at the Matheson History Museum, Gainesville | 5pm
A festive tour of four notable Victorian homes, magnificently decorated for the holidays, in Gainesville’s Historic Bed and Breakfast District. Included are the 1867 Matheson House, Sweetwater Branch Inn, Laurel Oak Inn, Magnolia Plantation Bed & Breakfast, as well as the Matheson History Museum and Tison Tool Barn. The walking tour is less than a mile and begins at the Matheson. Refreshments, such as spiced cider and holiday cookies. $15. Visit

12  The Yearling Movie: 75 Years
Marion Theatre | 12:30pm
Showing of The Yearling followed by interview with Claude Jarman Jr., who starred as Jody. $15; RSVP at

14  The Nutcracker
Reilly Arts Center | 7:30pm
Dance Alive National Ballet presents the traditional, family-favorite ballet with all its holiday magic. Visit

18  Holiday Craft Bazaar
Silver Springs State Park | 10am-4pm
Beautiful surroundings, food vendors, handmade craft items, art and photography, and more. The Friends of Silver Springs present a “sleigh” tram ride along the Creek Trail and Santa will be there too. Glass-bottom boat tours, games and toy drop-off. Visit

18  Giving Gala
Licciardello Farms | 7pm
Second annual charitable holiday party will benefit The Rock programs in some public schools. Raffles, silent auctions, drinks and hors d’oeuvres. RSVP at

New Year’s Eve with Elvis. Photo courtesy of Cote Deonath.

21  SOSI | Science on Ice
Discovery Center | 7:30am-5pm Day-camp-style program activities include experiments and hands-on fun. Dropoff from 7:30-8am; pick up no later than 5:30pm. Visit

31  New Year’s Eve with Elvis
Turnpike Mike’s at SummerGlen Golf Club9:30pm
Ring in 2022 with music by the King performed by tribute artist Cote Deonath, dinner and a champagne toast at midnight. Doors open at 6pm. 

Posted in Insider, Social Scene

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