A guide to our favorite monthly happenings and can’t-miss events
CHRISTMAS LIGHT SPECTACULAR
Florida Horse Park
December 1 – December 30
Th dazzling drive-thru event sponsored by St. John Lutheran Church will include kids’ activities, a walk-through light labyrinth, music, ice skating, bounce houses, slides and inflatables, and a visit with Santa. Food trucks will be onsite for a snack or meal. Tickets are $25-$40 per carload. (Closed December 24 and 25.) For more information, go to ocalachristmas.com
A ROCKIN’ LITTLE CHRISTMAS
Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale
December 1- December 22 (Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays)
The house band will play Christmas favorites in a magical holiday show that also will feature classic country and Southern rock holiday tunes. Tickets are $24-$39 from obopry.com
World Equestrian Center
December 1- December 23 (Thursdays-Sunday)
The outdoor celebration offers more than 1 million lights, spectacular holiday décor, photo ops, carolers, balloon artists, face painting and live entertainment. And, of course, a chance to meet Santa. There is a fee for parking and some experiences require purchase. See wecwinterwonderland.com for details.
FIRST FRIDAY ART WALK
Enjoy the holiday lights and decorations as you stroll around the square. Artists, performers and craftspeople will offer wares, with live music onstage and buskers on the streets. Enjoy the ambience of a small-town festival and support local businesses and artists. For more info, ocalafl.gov
SYMPHONY UNDER THE LIGHTS
The Ocala Symphony Orchestra will continue its annual tradition of a free holiday concert in the park, surrounded by grandfather oaks and fabulous sculptures. Bring chairs, a picnic basket and hot chocolate for a fall evening under the stars. The performance will include holiday favorites and the Ocala Youth Symphony. See reillyartscenter.com for more information.
HOLIDAY COMMUNITY DAY
Appleton Museum of Art
Sponsored by Dr. Paul and Joyce Urban, visitors can enjoy free admission all day to see A Dickens Christmas: The Urban Family’s Holiday Exhibition and other holiday displays, make festive crafts in the Artspace and take photos with Santa. Enjoy face painting by Tonya and a performance of There’s No Business Like Snow Business by Community Stages. All activities are free. Food trucks will be onsite, including The Donut Express and Sweet Baby Cheeses. Learn more at appletonmuseum.org
LEGENDS OF YULE
Fort King National Historic Landmark
Step back into history as you meet the legends of winter’s past. Enjoy a cozy lantern-lit experience as the Community Stages Teen Troupe shares stories of the early 19th century traditions brought to Fort King during the Seminole War. $10 per person. For details, visit communitystages.org
Licciardello Farms, Summerfield
The fourth annual gala will raise money for the Landon Yerk Foundation Memorial Scholarship. The casual indoor/outdoor party will feature raffles, live auctions, tapas, drinks and more. RSVPs are encouraged. For more info, contact Madison Licciardello at (352) 653-7397 or email@example.com
POPS! GOES THE HOLIDAYS
Reilly Arts Center
December 2 & 3
The Ocala Symphony Orchestra’s holiday concert is an Ocala tradition. Led by Maestro Matthew Wardell, the orchestra will branch out with inventive takes on holiday classic songs and symphonies. The music and touching tributes make this a night to remember. Tickets are $15-$40. Visit reillyartscenter.com for more information.
THE JOY OF CHRISTMAS CONCERT
Marion Technical Institute Auditorium
December 2 & 3
The Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band will present free Christmas concerts, featuring holiday tunes along with Joyance and Dreidel Dance. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there for pictures. A Saturday preconcert will feature the Meadowbrook Academy Elementary Worship Choir under the direction of Angie Quidley. The Sunday preconcert will feature the band’s brass quintet. Learn more at kingdomofthesunband.org
LIGHT UP LAKE LILLIAN
Lake Lillian, Belleview
The annual lighting ceremony will offer vendor booths, arts and crafts, kids’ activities, bounce houses, face painting and a visit with Santa. Food options will be available. Bring chairs and blankets to watch the lake light up in this annual holiday tradition. For more details, check out belleviewfl.org
CANDLELIGHT CONCERT SERIES: VIVALDI’S FOUR SEASONS
Ocala Civic Theatre
This multi-sensory concert experience will be set among hundreds of flameless candles, giving the venue an intriguing holiday glow. The Listeso String Quartet performs, with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons as the anchor piece and Libertango and Thais: Meditation are also on the program. Tickets are $42-$68 from feverup.com/m/137966
KIWANIS PANCAKE DAY
Eighth Street Elementary School
If flapjacks are on your list of favorite foods, then check out this fundraiser for the Kiwanis Club and Camp Kiwanis. The meal includes pancakes, sausage and a drink for $6. There will be raffle prizes and organizers have invited a special guest from the North Pole. See bit.ly/kiwanispancakeday to purchase tickets.
OCALA CHRISTMAS PARADE
Silver Springs Boulevard to Tuscawilla Park
This year’s theme is Christmas Around the World. The 66th annual event, which is one of the largest lighted nighttime parades in the nation, will start at the McPherson Governmental Campus and turn west along Silver Springs Boulevard, then go north on Eighth Avenue to end at Tuscawilla Park. Limited bleacher seating is available to buy online. For details, visit ocalachristmasparade.org
THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE SNOW BUSINESS
Mary Sue Rich Community Center
Community Stages invites you and your family to join the Merry Misfits on this fun-filled 60-minute family-friendly holiday revue. Enjoy beloved wintertime songs and stories of the winter season. For more information, visit communitystages.org
PARK AFTER DARK: DETROIT
The All-American Music Tour will feature bassist Eddie Watkins Jr. and his five-piece band. A food truck will offer lamb or chicken gyros, chips and baklava, or you’re welcome to bring your own food and non-alcoholic drink, along with chairs and blankets. Tickets are $15 and $25 from sholompark.org/events/park-after-dark-detroit
Chelsea Art Center
Community Stages invites you to their first community holiday sing-along to celebrate the season and make memories with songs you love to sing, musicians, a gift basket raffle, ugly sweater contest and snacks. Chelsea Square Shops will be open late for holiday browsing. Reservations are recommended. For details, visit communitystages.org
PHANTASMAGORIA: A MOST HAUNTED VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS
Reilly Arts Center
This unique holiday performance will celebrate the ghostly side of Christmas with haunting tales and performances from storytellers, singers, dancers and more. Enjoy tales from Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, folklore and ghost stories for the holidays. Tickets are $25. See reillyartscenter.com for more info.
AFTER DARK IN THE PARK MOVIE SERIES
The city of Ocala’s free movie night event will show Home Alone, the now-classic holiday movie about bumbling burglars and a clever kid who fends them off. Popcorn, drinks and other refreshments will be available for purchase. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. For more information, visit ocalafl.gov/recpark
2023 JAMBOREE FINALE!
Morgan’s Music Junction, Summerfield
The final jam of the year will include a celebration party with drinks, finger foods, hot dogs, popcorn and more. Enjoy local talent playing Southern and country music in an intimate setting. Advance tickets are $15; $20 at the door. See morgansmusicjunction.com for more info.
SWING IN THE NEW YEAR DANCE SOCIAL
Reilly Arts Center
End the old year with a swing dance lesson, then listen to Becky Baby and Swing Theory to ring in the new year. The evening will include specialty cocktails, photo ops and dance performances. Tickets are $20-$25. See reillyartscenter.com for more info.