What’s Good in Gainesville and Alachua County, December 24-30, 2020

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From twinkling lights to the sounds and tastes of the season, add a little local sparkle to your holiday plans with What’s Good. Get outside for a wild adventure at the Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Christmas Safari tour. Take a leisurely stroll at Depot Park enjoying the decorations, open-air and nearby restaurants and breweries, or behold the beautiful winter blooms at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. Find musical inspiration at midnight on December 24, with the final broadcast of WUFT’s Sounds of Season.

We’ve made it easy for you to finalize your plans with a list of restaurants open for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and a list of upcoming New Year’s Eve activities.

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).

carson springs Christmas tours poster

See Exotic Animals on a Walking or Drive-Thru Christmas Safari Tour
Friday, December 25, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., Saturday, December 26 – Sunday, December 27, 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. | Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation
8528 E, County Rd 225, Gainesville, FL 32609

Add a fun-filled, family-friendly adventure to your holiday weekend. Go on a safari and see big cats, lemurs, and more. Meet Henry, the oldest Indian Rhino in captivity, and his friends on 275 acres of lush Florida woods and farmland. Tours offered all weekend with walking tours on Friday, and drive-thru tours on Saturday and Sunday. Reservations are required, book online here.

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

Ring in 2021 with a live DJ, midnight countdown and ball drop. Expect an action-packed night with fun, and lively old-time rock-n-roll and top 40 from The Showtime Band and a festive photo booth. The purchase of a Party at the Pointe ticket includes a champagne toast, two drink tickets and party favors. Click here to purchase tickets.

Avoid finding a ride at the end of the night. Hotel Indigo at Celebration Pointe is offering $72 per night on December 31 and January 1 with promo code NYE. Click here to book at room at Hotel Indigo.

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.

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 or grab an order to-go. Take the stress out of dinner on Christmas Eve or Christmas+. From BBQ to fine dining, browse our list of restaurants open in Gainesville and Alachua County.

drag racing school car image

Rev Up the End of the Year at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School
Tuesday, December 29 – Wednesday, December 30, 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. | Gainesville Raceway
11211 N County Rd. 225, Gainesville, FL 32609

Earn your competition license, improve your skills, check one off your bucket list or upgrade your current license. Learn so much more than how to drag race! No experience necessary. Pre-registration required. 

picture of goat and a women

Naaa-maaa-ste! Unwind and Find Your Happy Place at the Brewery with Yoga with Little Goats
Saturday, December 26, 11 a.m. | High Springs Brewing Company
18562 NW 237th St., High Springs, FL 32643

Join Downward Goat as outrageously cute baby goats add to the flow at High Springs Brewing Company. Enjoy an extra fun yoga session as little goats join the session to provide some laughs. RSVP online 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.

For more of the timely entertainment information you love, follow us on Instagram and Facebook for daily updates and re-shares of your inspiring photos. Tag us at #whatsgoodalachuacounty.

the fest Christmas virtual concert flyer

Celebrate FESTMAS with Bands from The FEST Streaming on Facebook and Twitch
Thursday, December 24, 7 p.m. | Online Event with The FEST

FESTMAS is a safe way to hang out with your friends and family you might not be able to see this time of year. The lineup includes awesome bands and buds hanging out to wrap up this year on a positive note. Tune in live on Facebook and Social Distance Party on Twitch. The list of FESTMAS bands include: Broadway Calls, Chris Gethard, Two Minutes to Latenight, War on Women, Woolbright, Little Teeth, Catbite, Eradicator, Timeshares, MakeWar, Get Married, Billy Liar, Slingshot Dakota, Cold Wrecks, We Are the Union, Mikey Erg, Jon Snodgrass, Sarchasm, Dead Bars, Answering, Machine and Dikembe.

A Cedar Key Christmas poster for the play

Hunker Down with Gainesville Community Playhouse and the Streaming Stage Production of A Cedar Key Christmas
Saturday, December 26 – Sunday, December 27 | Online Event with Gainesville Community Playhouse

Discover Michael Presley Bobbitt’s: A Cedar Key Christmas. When an unprecedented December hurricane threatens to destroy a tiny island community of Cedar Key, FL and ruin Christmas, an unlikely superhero intervenes. From the playwright that brought you the smash hits “Florida Man” and “Sunset Village” comes an untraditional holiday tale that challenges us to confront the storms in our own lives head-on, even as it affirms the Christmas spirit in us all. Reserve tickets online here.

sounds of the season concert

Revel in Holiday Music with the Premiere of the Annual Sounds of the Season Concert, Broadcast on WUFT
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

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

Music & Performance

Justin Lee Partin playing guitar

Classic Rock and Country Covers with Doc Adams at Great Outdoors Restaurant
Saturday, December 26, 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Keg of Laughs Stand Up Comedy Hour at World of Beer
Tuesday, December 29, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Country Music with Justin Lee Partin at The Great Outdoors Restaurant (pictured above)
Wednesday, December 30, 6 p.m. – 9 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
First Magnitude is open on Tuesdays – Thursdays, 3 p.m. – 9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. – 10 p.m., Sunday, 2 p.m. – 8 p.m. Closed on Mondays.

Classic Rock to Blues with the Exotic Breed Band at High Springs Brewing Company
Saturday, December 26, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Beer Bingo Tuesday at Big Top Brewing Company Gainesville
Tuesday, December 29, 6 p.m. – 8 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.

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

Cintron's Mango-Mustard Glazed Salmon

Find our list of restaurants open for Christmas. (Pictured above: Cintron’s Mango-Mustard Glazed Salmon)

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.


Mountain Bike Rides with Goodbike
Tuesday, December 29, 7 p.m., Brisk Pace for the Advanced Rider

Parks & Trails

flower at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Visit Kanapaha Botanical Gardens for Winter Blooms and Last-Minute Gifts
Gardens and gift shop are open during the holidays, closed December 25.

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

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. Closed December 24-25. Butterfly Rainforest closed December 24-26 due to severe weather conditions.

Spark Wonder at the Cade Museum and Discover Science of Music with the New Theme “Wires and Waves”
Saturday, December 26 and Sunday, December 27, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Browse Galleries Featuring Over 600 Works at the Harn Museum of Art
“Dreaming Alice” closes January 3
Open Friday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed December 24-27

Prose and Shop the Winter Showcase Exhibit (online) at the Gainesville Fine Art Association
Now through January 2

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

Save The Date

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

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

Ringing in the New Year with One Love Cafe, 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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