What’s Good in Gainesville and Alachua County, December 19 – January 1, 2020

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This week’s What’s Good edition includes activities from Dec. 19 – Jan. 1.

Light up your evenings with the downtown Grand Chanukah celebration, the holiday lights tour bus, or NYE fireworks. Discover your wild side with a holiday safari adventure at Carson Springs. Find a little grace, grandeur and holiday magic at The Nutcracker ballet. Warm your heart with hot cocoa, carriage rides and the laughter of kids anticipating Santa at Newberry’s Christmas on the Square. It’s all here in Gainesville and Alachua County.

For your last minute shopping, we’ve made it easy to find unique seasonal best bets by highlighting them with the following gift emoji 🎁.

Warmest holiday greetings from your What’s Good event guide team
— Jessica, Liz, Sean, Jodi, Cheri, Kathy, and Joe.

Read on for What’s Good this weekend, and get out there and have some fun!

Dancers in costume for The Nutcracker

Wow Them with the Grace, Grandeur and Holiday Magic of The Nutcracker Ballet
Saturday, December 21, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, December 22, 2 p.m. | UF Phillips Center
3201 Hull Rd., Gainesville, FL 32611

Dance Alive National Ballet’s The Nutcracker is an unforgettable experience for audience members of all ages. The all-time family favorite is on stage all weekend with beautiful dancing, sets and costumes. Sheer magic brings toy soldiers, giant mice, swirling snowflakes and the exquisite Sugar Plum Fairy to life. 

Crowd enjoying themselves on Main Street Alachua

🎁 Stroll, Shop and Enjoy Live Music at Third Thursday on Main Street Alachua
Thursday, December 19, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. | Main Street Alachua
Downtown Alachua

Take in the sights and sounds, and savor delicious treats as you stroll the streets of downtown Alachua. Live music creates a festive atmosphere as you browse and shop from art and craft vendors with hand-made products; cool off with a treat from the snow cone booth; and take home beautiful produce from the Downtown Farmer’s Market.

Cast of A Christmas Carol on stage

Holiday Tradition or Holiday Hilarity? You Pick. Don’t Miss the Closing Weekend of A Christmas Carol and Scrooge in Rouge
Now through Sunday, December 22 | Hippodrome Theatre
25 SE 2nd Pl, Gainesville, FL 32601

A Christmas Carol is a delight for the entire family. Share wonderment and joy with your loved ones at the Hippodrome during this annual holiday performance.

Actors on stage in costume for Scrooge in Rouge at the Hippodrome Theatre

And for grown-up fun that breaks with convention don’t miss the hilarious and fast-paced Scrooge in Rouge, an English Music Hall version of A Christmas Carol. Deck the halls with bawdy humor, bad puns and witty songs.

Shamrock in background. Gainesville Dance Academy presents Christmas In Ireland. Live Music, NYC Guests, Festive and Fun

Revel in Fiery Footwork and Fiddle Tunes at Christmas in Ireland
Friday, December 20, 7:30 p.m. | The Historic Thomas Center
302 NE 6th Ave., Gainesville, 32601

World-class guest dancers join the Gainesville Dance Academy for a festive evening with authentic Irish music and dance in the Historic Thomas Center. This show resonates with audiences of all ages.

Crowd gathered at CountryWay Town Square with holiday lights and snow machine

Celebrate the Holidays with a Magical Evening in Newberry at Christmas on the Square
Saturday, December 21, 5:30 p.m. | CountryWay Town Square
1739 SW NW 248 Terrace, Suite 20, Newberry, FL 32669

Following the Newberry Christmas Parade, enjoy an evening at the square with Santa, Christmas music, hot cocoa, carriage rides, bounce house and food trucks. This evening is family friendly with free admission.

Lights at Tioga Town Center

Get Festive with Mr. and Mrs. Claus at Merry Christmas Holiday Night
Saturday, December 21, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. | Tioga Town Center
133 SW 130th Way, Newberry, FL 32669

Grab a bite from a Tioga Town Center restaurant or food vendor and dance to music from Wayne Perry under the holiday lights. This festive evening is free for all ages. 

Menorah with lit candles. Downtown Chanukah Family Festival Grand Chanukah Celebration

Light the Night at the Downtown Grand Chanukah Celebration
Sunday, December 22, 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. | Bo Diddley Plaza
Downtown Gainesville

Make your way downtown and celebrate the first night of Chanukah. The evening features live performances, hot latkes, sufganiyot, music and dancing, dreidels and gelt for everyone, plus the lighting of a giant menorah. Admission is free and all ages are welcome.

Images of exotic animals. Give the gift they will remember. Carson Springs Wildlife Christmas Tours.

Go on a Safari Adventure during Christmas and New Year Wildlife Tours
Christmas Tours: December 22-23 and December 25-28, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
New Year Tours: December 31 and January 1, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Carson Springs Wildlife
8528 E County Rd., 225, Gainesville, FL 32609

See over 100 animals on a 2-hour walking tour with a professional zoologist. Reservations are required, email

Layered Tiramisu dessert

(sold out) Create Your Own Italian Desserts Tiramisu & Cantucci Cooking Class
Saturday, December 28, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. | The Fat Tuscan
725 NE 1st St., Gainesville, FL 32601

Use layers of marscarpone and cookies to create your own Tiramisu.You’ll also receive instructions to make miniature biscotti known as Cantucci.

Traditional Kwanzaa table setting with Kinara with seven lit candles

Celebrate Kwanzaa with Community Involvement and Panel Discussion
Saturday, December 28, 1 p.m. 4 p.m. | Alachua County Library Headquarters
401 E University Ave., Gainesville, FL 32601

Celebrate parents, children, educators, activists, community organizers and grassroots groups. This celebration includes keynote speaker Turbado Murabou with topic Education Is A Human Right. A panel discussion focuses on education in Alachua County. Dinner will be served at 3 p.m. and there will be a special guest.

Gainesville Brew Bus Light Tour

Cruise the Best Holiday Lights Displays in Town Via a Guided Bus Tour Through January
Now through Sunday, January 12, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. | Pickup in Haile Village Center
9158 SW 51st Rd., Gainesville, FL 32608

The Brew Bus Company invites you to go on a 45-minute family-friendly tour and see the some of the best light displays around town. Hot chocolate and blankets are provided. Group rates and private reservations are available. 

Fireworks over a crowd at Depot Park on New Year's Eve

Set Off Your NYE Celebrations with Fireworks at ‘Sparks in the Park’
Tuesday, December 31, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. | Depot Park
874 SE 4 St., Gainesville, FL 32601

At 5 p.m., bring blankets and chairs and find a spot in the park to enjoy the last sunset of 2019 while a DJ hosts a family-friendly dance party on The Hill. At 6:30 p.m., the fun continues with Sparks in the Park, a musically choreographed fireworks show. Following the fireworks display, guests can follow a trail of lights to downtown to enjoy dinner, drinks, festivities and the Countdown to Midnight at Bo Diddley Plaza.

Illustration of fireworks. 2020 Spark Wonder @ The Cade

Spark Wonder at the Cade’s New Year’s Celebration
Tuesday, December 31, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. | The Cade Museum
811 S Main St., Gainesville, FL 32601

Enjoy everything the museum has to offer including exhibits and activities in the Creativity Lab and Fab Labs. Special party activities include face painting, glow party, carnival games, alternate time zone countdown, New Year’s Resolutions and more. After a sparkling cider toast, watch the Depot Park fireworks from the Museum. Advanced registration is required.

Ring in the New Year with Pizza, Cocktails and a Drag Show at New Years Eve 2020
Tuesday, December 31, 8 p.m. – 1 a.m. | MidiCi Neapolitan Pizza Company
4949 Celebration Pointe Ave., Suite 100, Gainesville, FL 32608

Tickets includes a buffet, full bar, an incredible drag show at 11:30 p.m., a champagne toast at midnight and free shuttle service to downtown after the show.

NYE 20/20 at Celebration Pointe

Play and Stay at Celebration Pointe’s New Year’s Eve Party
Tuesday, December 31, 8:30 p.m. – 1 a.m. | Celebration Pointe
4949 Celebration Pointe Ave, Gainesville, FL 32608

Ring in 2020 at an adults-only party complete with small plates from Prime & Pearl, live DJ, silent disco, midnight countdown and ball drop. Expect an action packed night at Celebration Point as Probeatz Entertainment Rocks in the New year with 3 DJs spinning Latin, Top 40 Dance, and Hip Hop under Glowing Headsets from 8:30-11:00 p.m. transitioning to Live DJ for the Final Countdown. For tickets and more information, www.celebrationpoint/

Avoid finding a ride at the end of the night Hotel Indigo offers a New Year’s Eve rate. Click here to reserve your room today!

Countdown to Midnight with Live Music from Heavy Petty and JazzDad at Downtown Countdown
Tuesday, December 31, 9 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. | Bo Diddley Plaza
Downtown Gainesville

Featuring two bands and a countdown to midnight to ring in 2020 with the sounds of noisemakers provided free to the audience. Local Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tribute band, Heavy Petty, headlines the event while Phillip “JazzDad” Thomas and The Forever Miles Band kick things off with popular cover songs. Revelers are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets for seating. Rock out the old and ring in the new in Downtown Gainesville!

New Year's Eve Block Party

Take Over Main Street at the NYE Block Party
Tuesday, December 31, 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. | Multiple Venues
Downtown Gainesville

Join the party at The Top, The Wooly, The Atlantic, The Alley and Arcade Bar. Bring your dance moves as DJs keep each venue fresh with music ranging from retro dance tunes to house/techno to hip hop and R&B. Ring in 2020 with free champagne. Ages 21+ only.


Rockin’ American with the The Wild Shiners at Lightnin’ Salvage
Thursday, December 19, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

A Night of Florida Indie with Driveaway, Take Lead, Starhouse and EJ Hervey at High Dive
Thursday, December 19, 9 p.m.

St. Augustine’s Remedy Tree playing Bluegrass at Lightnin’ Salvage
Friday, December 20, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Eclectic Mix of Music with Other Voices during Playlist at the Pointe at Celebration Pointe
Friday, December 20, 8 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Brooklyn’s Savage Folk Musician, Arthur Buezo at Lightnin’ Salvage
Saturday, December 21, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

33rd Annual Winter Solstice Celebration at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Saturday, December 21, 8 p.m.

Live GNV Punk with The Bitters, Parker Road, Suck Brick Kid, Mike Llerena & the Nerve at High Dive
Saturday, December 21, 9 p.m.

Where the Mountain Meets the Swamp with Mr. Aullie at Lightnin’ Salvage
Friday, December 27, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Americana with The Front Porch Backsteppers at Lightnin’ Salvage
Saturday, December 28, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Hard and Heavy Rock and Metal with Modern Alchemy, Purely Red, Prophets of Demise, We the Generation at High Dive
Saturday, December 28, 8:30 p.m.

Pop Punk with Glazed, Runner’s High and Sports Reference at Hardback Café
Saturday, December 28, 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.

NYE Bash with Live Music from Billy Reese Peters and Whiskey & Co. at Public & General
Tuesday, December 31, 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.

New Year’s Eve Gainesville Punk Night Party with DJ RoXX XXavage at High Dive
Tuesday, December 31, 8 p.m. – 1 a.m.


Scrooge MacBeth at High Springs Playhouse
Friday, December 20 – December 21, 8 p.m. and Sunday, December 22, 2 p.m.

Sally B.’S Dashing Holiday Revue Live Music Burlesque at High Dive
Friday, December 20, 9 p.m.

SAVE THE DATES, while you are making plans, take a look at these upcoming performances and shows:
The Book of Mormon, January 14-19, 2020
High Springs Music in the Park with Dean Johanesen, January 19, 2020
Shen Yun 2020, January 28-29, 2020


Christmas Express at Hawthorne Historical Museum and Cultural Center
Saturdays through December 28, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Polar Express at Winter Wonderland at High Springs Lions Club
Saturday, December 21 – Sunday, December 22, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

(sold out) Blacksmithing Workshop: Make and Take a Trivet with Leslie Tharp
Friday, December 20, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Live Music and Food Trucks at Night in the Garden at Green House Nursery
Friday, December 20, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

All Aboard the Holiday Train at Celebration Pointe
Saturday, December 21 – Sunday, December 22, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

33rd Annual Winter Solstice Celebration at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Saturday, December 21, 8 p.m.

2-Day Blacksmithing Knife Workshop with Crooked Path Forge
Saturday, December 21 – Sunday, December 22, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Rudolph Painting Class for Kids at Paint Sip Create at Lanza Gallery & Art Supplies
Monday, December 23, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Photos with Santa at Ultimate Santa Experience at Celebration Pointe
Monday, December 23, 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

NYE Party Flow with Kate at Searchlight Yoga
Tuesday, December 31, 5:45 p.m. – 7 p.m.

New Year’s Eve All Night Skate for ages 15 and under at Skate Station Funworks
Tuesday, December 31, 7:30 p.m. – Wednesday, January 1, 7 a.m.

NYE Masquerade Ball at the Backyard
Tuesday, December 31, 8 p.m. – 2 a.m.


Holiday lights

Get festive with light displays, decorations and themed beverages through New Year’s Eve.

Miracle at Madrina’s

Tis the Season at First Magnitude Brewing Company

Wonderland at the Wetlands 2019 at Swamp Head Brewery

3rd Annual Ugly Sweater Contest at Blackadder Brewing Company
Thursday, December 19, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Holiday Favorites with the Jazz Bandits at Cypress & Grove Brewing Company
Friday, December 20, 7 p.m.

Musical Illustration of Sound with Tristan Harvey at Big Top Brewing Company Gainesville
Friday, December 20, 8 p.m. – 11 p.m.

🎁 Hops & Shop Take 2! at High Springs Brewery
Saturday, December 21, 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Beer and Carols at High Springs Brewery
Saturday, December 21, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Naughty or Nice Party at Big Top Brewing Company Gainesville
Saturday, December 21, 7 p.m. – 11:59 p.m.

A Very Harry Christmas Trivia Night at Blackadder Brewing Company
Saturday, December 21, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Harry Potter Holiday Fun at The Yule Ball at First Magnitude Brewing Company
Saturday, December 21, 8 p.m. – 12 a.m.

Christmas Cookie Bake-off at Blackadder Brewing Company
Sunday, December 22, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

On tour through Florida, Outlaw Fancy at Big Top Brewing Company
Saturday, December 28, 7 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Kids Art Activities at Paint in Your Pajamas at Cypress & Grove Brewing Company
Sunday, December 29, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Craft Nite with Yaymaker at Cypress & Grove Brewing Co.
Monday, December 30, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

NYE at Cypress & Grove Brewing Company
Tuesday, December 31, 1 p.m. – 1 a.m.

New Year’s Eve Speakeasy Party at Blackadder Brewing Company
Tuesday, December 31, 9 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.

New Year’s Eve 90’s Party at Big Top Brewing Company
Tuesday, December 31, 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Cornhole Tourney at High Springs Brewing Company Wednesday, January 1, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.


🎁 Last Minute Shopper Wine Tasting at Downtown Wine and Cheese
Thursday, December 19, 6:15 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

(sold out) All About Tarts Cooking Class at The Fat Tuscan
Sunday, December 22, 3 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

🎄 Find restaurants open for Christmas and Christmas Eve in Gainesville and Alachua County

End of Year Celebration Wine Tasting at Dorn’s
Friday, December 27, 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Pre-Countdown NYE Dinner at Downtown Wine and Cheese
Tuesday, December 31, 7:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Spark @ Embers Annual NYE Cocktail Bash
Tuesday, December 31, 8 p.m. – 12 a.m.


Radishes onions and sweet potatoes at the farmers market

Main Street Alachua Farmers Market at Main Street Alachua
Thursdays, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

One Love Café Farmer’s Market
Thursdays, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Haile Farmers Market Fall Festival at Haile Village Center
Saturday, October 26, 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Alachua County Farmers Market
Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Newberry Farmers Market
Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.


Gators Mens Basketball vs. Long Beach State at Exactech Arena
Saturday, December 28, 12 p.m.

Gators Womens Basketball vs. Davidson at Exactech Arena
Sunday, December 29, 2 p.m.

5th Annual New Year’s Day Race at High Springs BMX
Wednesday, January 1, 2:30 p.m.


Zen Birding with Alachua Audubon Society at Possum Creek Park
Sunday, December 22, 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Guided Hike on Rim Ramble at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Saturday, December 28, 10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Historic Park Tour at Dudley Farm Historic State Park
Saturday, December 28, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Monday Night Ride at Goodbike Trailside Bike Shop
Monday, December 30, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m

Wednesday Birdwalk at Sweetwater Wetlands Park
Wednesday, January 1, 8:30 a.m.

First Day Hike at Paynes Prairie State Park
Wednesday, January 1, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

First Day Hike at O’Leno State Park
Wednesday, January 1, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

New Year’s Day Walk at Dudley Farms State Park
Wednesday, January 1, 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Meet and Greet Farm Animals with Barnyard Buddies Nature Program at Morningside Nature Center
Wednesday, January 1, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.


First Day Hike to Hidden Springs at Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park
Wednesday, January 1, 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. 


GFAA Winter Showcase November 26 - January 4

Winter Showcase at GFAA Gallery
Now through Saturday, January 4

Harlem Renaissance Exhibit at the Cotton Club Museum and Cultural Center
Sundays, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m., Wednesdays, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Thursdays 4 p.m. – 7 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

School of Art + Art History 53rd Studio Faculty Art Exhibition at Harn Museum of Art
Now through Sunday, January 5, 2020
This exhibition recognizes and applauds UF’s art faculty as individual artists and as a collective of exemplary art educators.

Synchronica :: Framing Time at the Galleries at the Historic Thomas Center
Now through Saturday, January 4, 2020.
This exhibition of 150 photo portraits featuring and created by young adults between the ages of 14 and 21 captures a moment in time and place — Gainesville in 2019.

Cuban Ingenuity: The Artistry of the Everyday Inventor at the Cade Museum
Now through Tuesday, December 31
Through videos, photographs, and objects collected for the Cade throughout Cuba, Cuban Ingenuity highlights the ingenious vision behind dozens of innovations and inventions of necessity.

Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World at the Florida Museum of Natural History
Now through Sunday, January 5, 2020
See the result of 200 million years of predatory evolution and learn about one of nature’s oldest and stealthiest hunters: crocodilians. This unique exhibition educates guests on the history and significance of these creatures using live reptiles, realistic models and interactive elements.

Gainesville’s Modern Landmarks at the Matheson History Museum
Tuesdays – Saturdays 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Every city has a period of time that defines its built environment and architectural character. For Gainesville, that moment was the mid-20th century.

SAVE THE DATES, while you are making plans, take a look at these upcoming crowd pleasers:

Collector’s Day at the Florida Museum of Natural History, January 11, 2020
Hoggetowne Medieval Faire, January 18-19, 25-26, 31 and February 1-2, 2020
Sunshine State Book Festival, January 24-26, 2020
Heartwood Music Festival IV, February 22, 2020
Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, March 12-15, 2020

For a complete list of events please visit

What's Good Alachua County

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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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