Holiday Festivities in Alachua County

Holiday Highlights December 2018

Gainesville, Florida– Famed home of the University of Florida Gators is much more than your typical southern college town. Community events abound especially during the holiday season. Here are just a few activities to help you plan your holiday festivities around Gainesville & Alachua County.

Holiday Lighting Events:

  • Grand Chanukah Celebration

Join the lighting of a giant Menorah in Downtown Gainesville! Enjoy live performances, hot latkes, dancing and special greeting from the Mayor, and Commissioners from the City of Gainesville and Alachua County.
Wednesday, December 5, 5-6:30pm | Bo Diddley Plaza 111 E University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601

  • Light up Tioga- A Holiday Celebration

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Tioga Town Center in Newberry. Enjoy a magical evening of holiday cheer for the whole family complete with 15 Food Trucks, bounce houses, face painting, pony rides, pictures with Mr. and Mrs. Claus and of course the lighting of the Christmas Tree. Sunday, November 25th, 4-8pm | Tioga Town Center 133 SW 130th Way, Newberry, Florida 32669

  • Light the Village: Celebrate the holiday season in dazzling color at this annual village lighting event. The whole family can celebrate the holidays at this event with plenty of festivities including photos with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, horse-drawn carriage rides around the village center, train rides for kids, food trucks, crafts and more fun. November 30th 5-9pm | 5213 SW 91st Ter, Ste A, Gainesville, Florida 32608

  • Alachua Christmas Tree Lighting and Santa Visit: Another wonderful holiday tradition, join the City of Alachua at their tree lighting ceremony followed by the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus at City Hall. Santa and Mrs. Claus will then ride down to the Alan Hitchcock Theatre Park on Main Street where area youth can have their picture taken and receive a treat bag. Friday, November 30, 6-8pm | Downtown Alachua Main Street Park and Theatre Park

  • Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration at the Historic Thomas Center: Join Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe as the Thomas Center lights there Giant Christmas Tree! With a picturesque setting surround by luminaries, children and families can take pictures with Santa, enjoy falling snow, light refreshments and a live chorus of holiday carols. Saturday, December 1st 6-8pm | Historic Thomas Center 302 NE 6th Avenue, 6-8pm

  • 29th Annual Pond Lighting at North Florida Regional: A beloved Gainesville holiday tradition, join North Florida Regional Hospital at this year’s 29th annual Pond lighting celebration. This free night benefiting Toys for Tots is full of holiday joy for all ages! Guest can enjoy live music, food trucks, a real snow sledding hill, crafts, horse-drawn carriage rides, photos with Santa, cookies and cocoa and much more! Don’t forget your toy donation! Saturday, December 1st 5-8pm | North Florida Regional Medical Center 6500 W Newberry Rd, Gainesville, Florida 32605

  • A Children’s Holiday at Santa Fe: A holiday tradition for the whole family! Bring your children to enjoy a fun-filled day at the Fine Arts Hall with kid-friendly crafts and refreshments in the lobby, holiday music in the theatre, and a chance to meet Santa Claus after a bit of winter wonderland magic! Admission: Adults $15, Kids $9. Saturday, December 1st: 2 and 6 p.m | Santa Fe College Fine Arts Hall: 3000 NW 83rd St E-127, Gainesville, FL 32606

  • 1st Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony at Butler Plaza: Take part in the first annual Tree Lighting at Butler Plaza! Children will have the opportunity to meet Sant and enjoy activities including face painting and live music. This event is held in partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Central Florida. Saturday, December 8th 2:30-6pm | Shops at Butler 3217 SW 35th Blvd, Gainesville, Florida 32608 

Local Holiday Celebrations

  • Holiday Open House at Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park: Visit the historic farmhouse and orange grove at twilight and share some holiday cheer with music and refreshments. Admission is free. Saturday, December 15, 2018 5pm-7pm | 111 E University Ave, Gainesville, Florida 32601

  • 37th Annual Downtown Festival and Art Show: The historic downtown streets of Gainesville are transformed into an art lover’s paradise. This celebration of all things art fills the streets every year with over 10,000 art lovers. The event features live local bands on four stages, 240 artists, performing arts demonstrations and an array of food. One-of-a-kind artwork fills the streets with vibrant colors, original oils and acrylics, unique sculptures, dazzling jewelry, hand-made ceramics, breath-taking photography and much more. Children can enjoy a hands-on imagination station with interactive art and entertainment. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1st and 2nd, 10am-5pm | 111 E University Ave, Gainesville, Florida 32601

  • A Christmas Carol: Join the Hippodrome Theatre as they celebrate the 41st year of Gainesville’s holiday tradition: “A Christmas Carol”! Treat your family to the gift of theatre for the Hippodrome’s tradition of celebrating Charles Dickens’ classic tale “A Christmas Carol.” Share in the wonderment and joy of this delightful tale for all ages, come on out to celebrate! Performances on the mainstage run until Dec. 23rd at 2pm. 

  • Annual Homestead Holidays at the Haile Homestead at Kanapaha Plantation: Enjoy this free event as you stroll through the 1856 plantation home decked out in traditional holiday greenery and Victorian finery. See the homestead’s historic “Talking Walls”, enjoy live music, docent’s in costume, free horse and carriage rides, hot cider, baked goodies, and ornaments. Sunday, Dec. 2nd 12-4pm | Historic Haile Homestead  8500 SW Archer Rd, Gainesville, Florida 32608

  • Candlelight Visits at Historic Haile Homestead: A rare chance to see the Historic Haile Homestead at night! Enjoy the homestead decked out for the holidays, aglow with candlelight, docents in period dress, live music, and refreshments. $10 at the door, Under 12 Free, $7 in advance online. Friday, December 7th, 2018 6-9pm | Historic Haile Homestead at Kanapaha Plantation 8500 SW Archer Rd, Gainesville, Florida 32608

  • 36th Annual Christmas Festival & Parade: Join in this holiday tradition in the town of Hathorne for tons of Family Fun! There will be arts & craft vendors, retail vendors, food, live music, a great parade & more! Pictures with Santa will follow the parade at 4PM! You won’t want to miss it! Saturday, December 8th, 11am.

  • City of Alachua Christmas Parade 2018: Enjoy small town Alachua as we celebrate the annual Christmas Parade! Bring the family for this wonderful Holiday event. Get there early and shop on Main Street. Saturday, Dec. 8th 2pm

  • The Nutcracker by Dance Alive National Ballet: A Gainesville holiday tradition! This all-time family favorite full of beautiful dancing, sets and costumes will leave every audience member in awe. Sheer holiday magic is complete with The Nutcracker! Onstage at the Phillips Center 3201 Hull Rd, Gainesville, FL 32611, December 12th-16th.

  • Santa is Coming to Skate Station and Splitz Bowling Alley: Join the Funworks team as they welcome Santa for his annual visit! Santa will be at Splitz Bowling Alley for bowling, ornament decorating and photo opportunities from 12-1pm. He will then head over to Skate Station for holiday games, candy canes and more photos from 1-2pm. Admission Splitz: $10 in advance, $12 At Door. Skate Station: $9. Saturday, December 15th 12-2pm | Skate Station and Splitz Bowling Alley 1301 NW 76th Blvd.
  • Donuts with Santa: The first annual Donuts with Santa presented by Gainesville FL Moms Blog. Enjoy holiday cheer as you spend the morning visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus, having your photo taken with Santa, and of course holiday activities and donuts! Admission: $10 per person. Sunday, December 16, 2018, from 10am-12pm | The Depot Event Space, 201 SE Depot Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601 


  • Blackadder’s Christkindlmarkt: The 2nd annual holiday market with crafts, food vendors, music and holiday fun! Do a little holiday shopping while enjoying a hot mug of Gluhwein. Friday and Saturday, December 7th & 8th 12-9pm  | Blackadder Brewing Company 618 NW 60th St Ste A, Gainesville, Florida 32607

  • One Love Holiday Gift Show: Shop small this holiday season by supporting local vendors at this outdoor holiday market. Live entertainment and delicious food will available as well. Saturday, December 8th 11am-4pm | One Love Cafe 4989 NW 40th Pl, Gainesville, Florida 32606 

  • The Gathering of the Artists: One of the most prestigious holiday art shows in North Central Florida features the work of 30 award-winning artists. Musicians fill the air while you browse and shop from local artists. Admission is free.
    December 8 10am-6pm, December 9 11am-5pm
    Thelma Boltin Center 516 NE 2nd Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32601