What’s Good in Gainesville and Alachua County, December 17-23, 2020

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The final weekend before Christmas brings holiday traditions and joyful celebrations. Create memorable moments this season with What’s Good. Experience holiday enchantment with Dance Alive National Ballet’s The Nutcracker, take a picturesque stroll through the Holiday Shop and Art Walk in historic High Springs, join the family-friendly Christmas festival at CountryWay Town Square in Newberry and much more.

Creating holiday magic can be time-consuming, but don’t worry, the What’s Good team has your back! Take the stress out of Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner with our What’s Open for Christmas Eve and Christmas Restaurant Guide.

Wear your mask and stay at safe physical distances while you enjoy the most of each day. Please adhere to public safety guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Wishing you the happiest of holidays,
– Your partners at Visit Gainesville, Alachua County 

The below information was accurate at the time of publishing. Due to the current fluctuating environment, please contact organizers directly to double-check details.

Safety First. Be Informed About COVID19

In Alachua County, certain types of businesses require masks. Masks or face coverings are also required when social distancing is not possible. For additional details on the requirement as well as any exemption information please read the latest Alachua County Emergency Order.

For additional Coronavirus (COVID-19) information, visit the Alachua County COVID19 Community Resource Portal, the Alachua County Facebook page, call the Coronavirus Information Line at 866-779-6121, visit the Florida Department of Health website, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

the nutcracker

Experience Holiday Magic with Dancing Toy Soldiers and the Sugar Plum Fairy with Dance Alive National Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Thursday, December 17 – Sunday, December 20 | UF Phillips Center
3201 Hull Rd., Gainesville, FL 32611

Find tradition, beauty, grace, a terrific story and sheer magic at the annual Nutcracker performance by Dance Alive National Ballet. The Nutcracker delights audiences with iconic music, imagery and technical dance skills of the highest caliber. Masks are required. Please review the safety procedures of the UF Phillips Center here.

On Saturday and Sunday, sign up for dance classes with Clara and take a ballet class on stage. Register here.

Dance the Night Away with High-Energy Latin Dance Music with LPT Performing Outdoors at Heartwood Soundstage
Saturday, December 19, 8 p.m. | Heartwood Soundstage
619 S Main St., Gainesville, FL 32601

The 10-piece ambassadors of Salsa music deliver an energetic evening of dancing to the lawn of Heartwood Soundstage. LPT’s music is rooted in Afro-Cuban sounds while bridging the gap between cultures.

high springs art walk holiday shop

Take a Holiday Stroll and Find the Perfect Gift at Holiday Shop and Art Walk in High Springs
Saturday, December 19, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. | High Springs

Support local artisans and unique small businesses while exploring the shops and restaurants of historic High Springs. See live painting and real-time crafting in front of storefronts, as you stroll downtown.

safestay logo

Find the county’s most comprehensive and searchable list of area hotels and restaurants at

Learn about our lodging partner’s commitment to a safe stay for all who visit, work and live in Alachua County at Safe Stay Pledge.

playlist at the pointe

Rock into the Weekend at Playlist at the Pointe with Whiskey Jones
Friday, December 18, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. | Celebration Pointe
4949 Celebration Pointe Ave., Gainesville, FL 32608

Whiskey Jones offers an eclectic mix of music from a variety of genres – country, rock, soul and more. Pull up a chair or throw down a blanket and enjoy the music as the sun sets. Food and beverages available from Celebration Pointe restaurants.

Christmas decorations. What's Good.

Don’t Stress for Christmas Dinner, Find Our List of Restaurants Open for the Holiday

Enjoy a holiday meal at a local restaurant, grab an order to-go, or reserve family meals in advance. Take the stress out of Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner. From BBQ to fine dining, browse our list of restaurants open for in Gainesville and Alachua County.

a tuna christmas

Take a Hilarious Holiday Trip to Texas as High Springs Playhouse Presents A Tuna Christmas
Now through Sunday, December 20 | High Springs Playhouse
23416 W US Hwy. 27, High Springs, FL 32643

Join the holiday fun with this hilarious sequel to Greater Tuna. It’s Christmas in the third-smallest town in Texas – Tuna, TX. Radio station personalities Thurston Wheelis and Arles Struvie report on various Yuletide activities, including the hot competition in the annual lawn-display contest. In other news, unpaid electric bills jeopardize a production of A Christmas Carol. Get a snapshot of the many eccentric Tuna denizens, some you will recognize from Greater Tuna and some appearing here for the first time.

alabama and florida football helmets

Cheer on Gators Football in the SEC Championship Game

Watch the culmination of the football season as Florida takes on Alabama for the SEC title. Celebration Pointe hosts Gameday at the Pointe. First Magnitude Brewing Company has the game on Two Big Screens. 

florida vintage market

Find a Throwback Gift and Enjoy Craft Beer at the Florida Vintage Market
Sunday, December 20, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. | Cypress & Grove Brewing Company1001 NW 4th St., Gainesville, FL 32601

Find vintage garments, handmade goods, art, food and more. This family-friendly outdoor pop-up market is free and open to the public. Returning vendors include Ritual Tree Soy Candles, empanadas from Deli Fresh Blessing, jewelry from Michelle’s Uniques and more.

ebony scrooge

Watch a Modern-Day Christmas Carol at Ebony Scrooge
Now through Sunday, December 20 | Star Center Theatre
11 NE 23rd Ave., Gainesville, FL 32609

Ebony Scrooge is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in town. But there is a problem — she has a cold heart, nasty attitude and lacks a great deal of holiday cheer until she is visited by three spirits. Although the story is set in modern-day America, the themes of this story are the same as the classic, with Ebony looking back at what she missed and learning what’s truly important in life.

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PJs art night

Wear Your Favorite Christmas PJs for a Night of Art Making at Holiday Pajama Party Art Night
Friday, December 18, 6:30 p.m. | Island Grove Wine Tasting Company
21848 S County Rd. 325, Hawthorne, FL

Enjoy a fun night of wine sipping and sign making as Island Grove Wine Tasting Company hosts art night with DIY Signs with Kim. Art projects include a Merry and Bright Porch Sign, Wooden Snowman, Grinchmas Porch Sign, Holiday Door Hangers and Lighted Wooden Trees. Sign up and choose your project here.

christmas on the square

See a Christmas Parade and Join the Holiday Fun at the 4th Annual Christmas on the Square
Saturday, December 19, 6 p.m. | Countryway Town Square
1739 SW 248th Dr., Newberry, FL 32669

Countryway Town Square hosts a parade and festival full of holiday spirit. After the parade, enjoy the family-friendly festival with carolers, bounce houses, Santa Claus, Christmas crafts, carriage rides, hot chocolate and more. 

friday night lights at butler town center

Enjoy the Season’s Final Tree Lighting with a Cinderella Dance Performance from Danscompany of Gainesville, Letter to Santa and More While You Shop One of Gainesville’s Premier Shopping Venues at Butler Town Center
Friday, December 18, 6 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. | Butler Town Center
2851 SW 35th Dr., Gainesville, FL 32608

Join Butler Town Center on Friday night for the annual tree lighting. The celebration takes place in the heart of Butler Town Center, next to Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s, Whole Foods, REI Co-op and Kilwins. Enjoy street entertainment, giveaways and the lighting of the tree. The tree lighting also may also be viewed online from the Shop at Butler Facebook page.

winter reading challenge

Curling Up With a Great Book this Winter Could Help You Enjoy A Night Out This Spring
January 1 through February 14 | Alachua County Library District

Take the Alachua County Library District’s Winter Reading Challenge for a chance to win local prizes and help us compete against libraries across the country. Nine readers will win $20 gift cards to restaurants including Mi Apá Latin Café, Gator’s Dockside, and Gator BTW. Register now at

veterans for peace concert

Grab the Best Seat in Your House for the Veterans for Peace Virtual Concert
Saturday, December 19, 8 p.m. | Online Event with Veterans For Peace

The show features a Cherokee Peace Chant, with performances by John Chambers, Lauren Robinson, Bob McPeek, Faye Baird, Bill Hutchinson & Jennifer Johnson, David Beede, Nancy Luca, Cathy DeWitt & Janet Rucker, Mark Billman, Ron Thomas, and Other Voices along with readings by this year’s Peace Poetry Contest winners. The Master of Ceremonies is Bob Treadwater. Proceeds benefit Veterans for Peace. Secure your tickets here.

depot park holiday lights

Enjoy Scenery Speckled with Decorative Holiday Lights with an Evening at Depot Park
Now through December 31, 6 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. | Depot Park
200 SE Depot Ave., Gainesville, FL 32601

The magic of the holidays radiates from Depot Park as 200,000 lights create a festive glow at “Light up ‘D Holidays.” Depot Park is a hub for the community with plenty of room to spread out, playground for the kids, waterside walking paths and connections to several biking trails. Enjoy food and drinks from Parkside Convenience and Boxcar Wine and Beer Garden.

holiday nights in alachua

Take in the Gorgeous Downtown Scene as You Shop, Dine and Stroll on Main Street Alachua
Friday, December 18, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. | Alachua
Main St., Alachua, FL 32615

Enjoy shopping, dining, and a relaxing evening stroll in Alachua’s beautiful downtown district. Holiday nights on Main Street Alachua feature live music, horse and carriage rides, twinkling lights and local dining.

auk market mini market

Find Handmade and Vintage Holiday Gifts at the Mini Market Holiday Series
Saturday, December 19, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. | The AUK Market
2031 NW 6th St., Gainesville, FL 32609

Each Saturday at The AUK Market features 4-5 local artists, makers and vendors for an open-air shopping experience. The Mini Market Series is an indie retail experience showcasing local handmade vintage goods, art, apothecary and plants. Stop in to find specialty gift items for the holiday season. Masks are required.

The AUK Mini Market is located next to Curia on the Drag on 2.5 acres, where patrons can safely socialize. Grab a hot coffee or chocolate and your favorite vegan pastries while you browse the open-air pop-up shops. While you’re there, snap an Instagram pic in front of the new Solar Paneled Pergola. See the video here.

matthew fowler and pierce pettis

Songs from the Heart with Pierce Pettis & Matthew Fowler – Streaming and In-Person
Friday, December 18, 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. | Heartwood Soundstage
619 S Main St., Gainesville, FL 32601

Florida-based artist, Matthew Fowler was hailed by American Songwriter Magazine: “Fowler shows the same mastery of earnest, strummy, songcraft as established artists like Damien Rice and Ben Howard.” Acclaimed Americana songwriter Pierce Pettis shares some brand new songs along with material he only performs for the holidays.

“Songs from the Heart” is dedicated to celebrating the songs and songwriters that connect every person to others. Beginning at 8 p.m. most Fridays, the artists will talk about the process of writing a great song, share an intimate experience and offer new tunes. Airing online at, the venue will pair two diverse songwriters as they tell the stories that inspired their music. Heartwood Soundstage is a state-of-the-art recording studio, video production facility, and intimate performance venue – built by musicians for music lovers and music makers.

sounds of the season concert

Revel in Holiday Music with the Premiere of the Annual Sounds of the Season Concert, Broadcast on WUFT
Monday, December 21, 8 p.m., Tuesday, December 22, 10 p.m., Thursday, December 24, Midnight | Broadcast on WUFT-TV and WUFT-FM

Led by Dr. Will Kesling, this year’s traditional live concert was reimagined as a collaborative and well-produced holiday studio album. University of Florida Symphony Orchestra, University of Florida Concert Choir and Gainesville Master Chorale recorded their sessions safely across multiple venues including University Auditorium, North Florida Regional Medical Center, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church and more. View interactive behind-the-scenes images from the recording sessions here. Listen to or watch the livestreaming concert online at

(Photo taken from previous concert)

whats good holidays

Plan Ahead and Create Memorable Moments with What’s Good Home for the Holidays Guide – Updated Weekly

The month of December is filled with holiday events ranging from tree lightings, gift markets and New Year’s Eve celebrations. As you begin to make holiday plans with your family, the What’s Good guide has got you covered with the most up-to-date and complete directory of events and fun for the entire family. View the complete guide to Alachua County’s Holiday Events here.

Arts & Theatre

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, Inspired by the Children’s Book, Streaming with Actors’ Warehouse
Now through Friday, December 18

a christmas carol

A Christmas Carol Archival Streaming Production from the Hippodrome Theatre
Now through Sunday, January 3

in search of

“In Search of…” Dance Performance at Black C Art Gallery
Now through Saturday, December 19
A short movement investigation by Ani Collier and Tzveta Kassabova, presented for an audience of four. Tzveta Kassabova, named one of ’25 to watch’ by Dance Magazine, explores live performance possibilities with fellow dancer/choreographer Ani Collier with an observance of public health safety protocols. Masks are required and distanced seating is provided.

Music & Performance

Live Music Thursdays at Mother’s Pub & Grill North
Thursday, December 17, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Comedy Night Thursday with New Talent Night at High Dive
Thursday, December 17, 9 p.m.

Rock, Pop Covers with Treble Hook at The Great Outdoors Restaurant
Friday, December 18, 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Swamp Queens Christmas Special at Fox Lounge Gainesville
Friday, December 18, 7:30 p.m.

bill forness johnny cash tribute

Tribute to Johnny Cash with Bill Forness at High Dive
Friday, December 18, 9 p.m.

Classic Rock with Crooked Counsel at The Great Outdoors Restaurant
Saturday, December 19, 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Dylan LeBlanc (solo), Kyle Keller at High Dive
Saturday, December 19, 9 p.m.

Metal Rock with PUPAL and Purely Red at Swamp City Gallery Lounge
Saturday, December 19, 7 p.m.

Southern Rock Houston Keen at Creek’s 19th
Sunday, December 20, 11 a.m.

Keg of Laughs Stand Up Comedy Hour at World of Beer
Tuesday, December 22, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

musician cliff dorsey performing

Country Music with Cliff Dorsey at The Great Outdoors Restaurant
Wednesday, December 23, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Country Music with Jamie Davis at Woodyard Grill
Wednesday, December 23, 6 p.m.

A Bohemian Christmas Online Event with Bohemian Sunshine
Wednesday, December 23, 8 p.m.

Renaissance Funk with Frank Kolosky at Swamp Boil
Wednesday, December 23, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Craft Breweries

this the season at the source

‘Tis the Season at The Source at First Magnitude Brewing Company
Now through December 31

Sound of the Holidays Christmas Concert & Giveaway at High Springs Brewing Company
Thursday, December 17, 6 p.m.

Fourth Annual Ugly Sweater Contest at Blackadder Brewing Company
Thursday, December 17, 7 p.m.

Rock, Pop Covers with Treble Hook at The Great Outdoors Restaurant
Friday, December 18, 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Rock Cover Songs with Miguel at High Springs Brewing Company
Saturday, December 19, 7 p.m.

Tribute to Metallica with Hardwired at Munegins on 13th
Friday, December 18, 9 p.m.

SEC Championship Game on Two Big Screens at First Magnitude Brewing Company
Saturday, December 19, 8 p.m.

Beer Bingo Tuesday at Big Top Brewing Company Gainesville
Tuesday, December 22, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Cornhole Tourney at High Springs Brewing Company
Wednesday, December 23, 6 p.m.

U-Picks & Farmer’s Markets

produce at farmers market

Cypress & Grove Farmer’s Market
Mondays, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Union Street Farmer’s Market at Celebration Pointe
Wednesdays, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

GNV Market at Heartwood Soundstage
Thursdays, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

High Springs Farmer’s Market
Friday, December 18, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Holiday Market: Wednesday, December 23, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Alachua County Farmer’s Market
Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Haile Farmer’s Market
Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Waldo Farmer’s Market
Saturdays and Sundays, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Bites & Brunch

swamp boil ugly sweater party

Ugly Sweater Party and Toy Drive at Swamp Boil
Sunday, December 20, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Pastelon Thursdays with Old San Juan Latin Bakery
Thursday, December 17, 11 a.m.

Dine at Local Restaurants and Enjoy New Outside Seating Options
Some restaurants are welcoming diners back into their dining rooms. You may also notice additional outdoor seating expanded onto sidewalks, into parking lots or into the street.
Did you know that our dining scene regularly makes national headlines? Find out why We Chomp with the best of them!

Find a searchable list of Alachua County restaurants here.


archery targets

Aim for the Bullseye at Funtastic Fridays
Friday, December 19, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. | Easton Newberry Archery Center
24880 NW 16th Ave., Newberry, FL 32669

Join the most fun you can have with a bow for open shooting and archery games including tic-tac-toe, battle ship, bowling with bows and more. Free orientation required and offered at 5 p.m.

If you worked up an appetite after all that fun, you may wish to visit nearby restaurants like Arepas Milko, Villaggio Pizzeria and Woodyard Grill or neaby Tioga Town Center.

Gators Men’s Basketball vs FAU
Saturday, December 19, 12 p.m.

Mountain Bike Rides with Goodbike
Thursday, December 17, 7 p.m., Medium Pace for the Intermediate/Advanced Rider
Tuesday, December 23, 7 p.m., Brisk Pace for the Advanced Rider

Parks & Trails

trail at san felasco state park

Trek Through Trails: Top 5 Family-Friendly and Dog-Friendly Hikes
Spending time in nature has been proven to benefit the mind, body and spirit, so round up the kids, find the dog, or go solo and reacquaint yourself with the outdoors on Alachua County’s nature trails.

River & Springs

people swimming in blue springs

Swim Into the Freshwater Springs and Experience Nature Near Gainesville
The springs are a perfect way to get outside and explore the untouched natural side of Florida. Did you know North Florida is home to over 1,000 freshwater springs? The water flows crystal clear at 72 degrees all year round so make a splash on your Gainesville and Alachua County itinerary.

Museums & Galleries

Beat the Clock: Gift Shop Sale at The Cade Museum
Saturday, December 19, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Social Justice in the Distance (none as of then) with Lizzie PRB Jenkins and the Matheson History Museum on Zoom
Saturday, December 19, 3 p.m.

Explore Florida’s History and Walk With Flying Butterflies at the Florida Museum
Open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Browse Galleries Featuring Over 600 Works at the Harn Museum of Art
Open Friday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Spark Dialog with the “Lights of Conversation” Outdoor Illuminated Poetry Verse Exhibit at the Matheson History Museum
On Display Daily

Spark Wonder at the Cade Museum and Discover Science of Music with the New Theme “Wires and Waves”
Fridays – Saturdays, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Save The Date

Christmas Safari Tours at Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation, December 25-27

Spark Wonder NYE Virtual Celebration with the Cade Museum, December 31

New Year’s Eve Party at Celebration Pointe, December 31

For a complete list of events please visit

Thank you for your continued partnership! Please keep in communication with us by sharing your events, updates and news with our team by emailing

Your participation, communication, and sharing of events and programs is a key way for us to market our community to visitors and to enhance the engagement of residents in all of the incredible programs you create.

Put simply, the more you share with us, the more we have to promote. Please read the attached PDF document for additional ways in which your organization can participate.

Visit Gainesville, Alachua County | (352) 374-5260 | 33 North Main Street, Gainesville 32601 Never miss an event: Follow Visit Gainesville, Alachua County on social media.

This publication contains information about events, venues and activities in Alachua County, Florida. Reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the information is accurate. We are not responsible for errors or omissions in the information provided. For complete details, contact the host directly. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing paragraph, we do not represent, warrant, undertake or guarantee that the information is correct, accurate, complete or non-misleading. We will not be liable to you in respect of any special, indirect or consequential loss or damage. If a section of this disclaimer is determined by any court or other competent authority to be unlawful and/or unenforceable, the other sections of this disclaimer continue in effect.  

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