Jacksonville holiday calendar: Parades, light shows, festivals, concerts and Nutcrackers

A white Christmas seems unlikely but now that the clocks have changed and the temperatures have cooled, thoughts turn to the holidays in the Jacksonville area.

There are light shows, parades, circuses, festivals, concerts and movies on tap. Elvis is gonna do a holiday show, and so are Sarah Brightman, Dave Koz, Peter White, Mannheim Steamroller and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The Jacksonville Symphony has a full slate of holiday shows, and at least five Nutcrackers are coming.

Events

St. Johns Town Center Holiday Spectacular

Megan Danielle headlines the St. Johns Town Center Holiday Spectacular, one of the first big holiday events of the year.
Megan Danielle headlines the St. Johns Town Center Holiday Spectacular, one of the first big holiday events of the year.

Nov. 11 at the St. Johns Town Center 

The Big Guy makes his first holiday appearance at the giant outdoor mall, but first they have ornament decoration sessions, photo booths, games for kids and live music. Megan Danielle of "American Idol" headlines. Fireworks follow Santa’s appearance. Info: simon.com/st-johns-town-center

Colors of the Wild at Jacksonville Zoo

Nov. 17 through February at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

The zoo's longtime ZooLights holiday nighttime display is being transformed into an Asian lantern festival, with more than 70 displays around the zoo grounds, holiday markets and Santa's village. Info: jacksonvillezoo.org

Nights of Lights in St. Augustine

Nov. 18-Jan. 31 in St. Augustine 

Three million lights decorate St. Augustine’s historic district for the holiday celebration that has been described as one of the most dazzling in the world. There are dozens of tours and events connected with Nights of Lights, starting with LIght Up Night on Nov. 18. Info: visitstaugustine.com

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Cirque Dreams Holidaze

Nov. 19 at the Moran Theater 

Acrobats, aerialists, jugglers, dancers and contortionists perform a holiday-themed circus show. Info: fscjartistseries.org

Deck the Chairs at Jacksonville Beach

Deck the Chairs is branching out this year, with displays at Seawalk Pavilion and James Weldon Johnson Park.
Deck the Chairs is branching out this year, with displays at Seawalk Pavilion and James Weldon Johnson Park.

Nov. 22-Jan. 1 at Seawalk Pavilion, Jacksonville Beach 

The annual Beaches holiday festival features elaborately decorated lifeguard chairs, plus a nightly light show, local music and dance groups, appearances by Navy Band Southeast and the Civic Orchestra of Jacksonville and Gator Bowl pep rallies. New this year: Ten of the chairs will be on display at James Weldon Johnson Park in downtown Jacksonville. Info: deckthechairs.org

Christmas Made in the South

Nov. 24-26 at the Prime Osborn Convention Center 

Get a jump on your holiday shopping at the annual artisan’s fair. Info: jaxevents.com

Dazzling Nights at Jacksonville Arboretum

"Dazzling Nights" returns to the Jacksonville Arboretum and Botanical Gardens for 2023.
"Dazzling Nights" returns to the Jacksonville Arboretum and Botanical Gardens for 2023.

Nov. 24-Dec. 29 at the Jacksonville Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

More than a million holiday lights will twinkle in the forests of the arboretum for the third holiday season. They’ll also have a 40-foot snowglobe perfect for snowball fights, neon flowers, a laser-beam forest and a nightly “snowfall.” Info: dazzlingjax.com

Light Boat Parade

Jacksonville's Light Boat Parade is one of the traditional kickoffs for the holiday season.
Jacksonville's Light Boat Parade is one of the traditional kickoffs for the holiday season.

Nov. 25 on the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville 

Dozens of brightly lit vessels parade up and down the river to kick off the holiday season. But the big thrill is the “waterfall” fireworks show from the Main Street and Acosta bridges. Info: specialevents.coj.net

Walk Through Bethlehem

Dec. 1-2 and 8-9 at East Pointe Church 

Live animals, Roman soldiers, a marketplace and a manger help set the scene of Bethlehem on the night of Jesus’ birth. Info: epcjax.com

St. Augustine Christmas Parade

Dec. 2 in St. Augustine

The annual parade runs from the Mission of Nombre de Dios to the visitors’ center with floats, marching bands, antique cars, carriages and Santa. Info: visitstaugustine.com

Callahan Christmas Parade and Craft Fair

Dec. 2 at the Callahan Depot 

Craft fair runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Depot Park Pavilion. Fiftieth annual parade runs from the depot to downtown Callahan at 11 a.m. Info: wnhsfl.org

Palm Valley Boat Parade

Dec. 2 on the Intracoastal Waterway 

Lighted boats will parade north for seven miles, starting near the Palm Valley bridge. Info: palmvalleyboatparade.com

Christmas on Walnut Street

Green Cove Spring's Christmas on Walnut Street festival and holiday parade are planned for Dec. 2.
Green Cove Spring's Christmas on Walnut Street festival and holiday parade are planned for Dec. 2.

Dec. 2 at Spring Park, Green Cove Springs 

A daylong festival with vendors, food trucks and Santa’s workshop leads to nighttime parade and tree lighting. Info: exploreclay.com

Jacksonville Christmas Spectacular

Dec. 2-3 at the Ritz Theatre 

Jason Woods has been doing one-man Scrooge shows in Jacksonville for a couple of years, but he’s expanding this year. He’ll do more than 20 characters in the show and he’s welcoming the Jaguars’ drumline as special guests. Info: ritzjacksonville.com

Dickens on Centre

Dickens on Centre returns to Fernandina Beach in December.
Dickens on Centre returns to Fernandina Beach in December.

Dec. 7-10 in downtown Fernandina Beach 

The funky little shrimping town becomes a Victorian village for a long weekend that includes a lighted parade, a costume ball, a pet parade, photos with Santa and a drone show. Info: ameliaisland.com/dickens-on-centre

Jacksonville Tree Lighting

Dec. 6 at James Weldon Johnson Park

The city will flip the lights on its official holiday tree at 6:15 p.m., during the December Art Walk. Council President Ron Salem will serve as master of ceremonies and CAP Kids, Scott Jones School of Dance and Ronan School of Music will provide the entertainment. Info: jamesweldonjohnsonpark.org

Living Nativity

Dec. 7-10 at Westside Baptist Church

Expect long waits for the annual event, which features live animals, actors, Christmas lights and angelic heralds. You can see all of it from your car, but the line forms down the road at Ed White High School. Info: wbcjax.com

Gingerbread Extravaganza

Dec. 8-27 at the Jacksonville Historical Society

Check out the elaborate gingerbread constructions and gift shop. Kids' Day is scheduled for Dec. 10, with facepainting, games and a visit from Santa. Info: jaxhistory.networkforgood.com.

A Country Christmas

Dec. 8-9, Dec. 15-16 at Elrod Acres, Green Cove Springs

Holiday lights, live nativity, classic cars, food trucks and vendors. Info: acountrychristmas.org

Hometown Holiday in the Park

Dec. 8-9 at Clarke House Park, Orange Park 

Hay rides, pony rides, pictures with Santa, live music and a shopping village on the grounds of a historic home. Info: townoforangepark.com

Tuba Christmas

Tuba Christmas takes over the Seawalk Pavilion on Dec. 9.
Tuba Christmas takes over the Seawalk Pavilion on Dec. 9.

Dec. 9 at Seawalk Pavilion, Jacksonville Beach 

Dozens of tuba and euphonium players will oompah their way through holiday classics. Info: jaxtubaxmas.com

RAP Luminaria

Dec. 10 in Riverside and Avondale 

Residents and businesses will line the streets with more than 20,000 lighted luminaria in a tradition dating back to 1984. Info: riversideavondale.org

Totally Lit!

Dec. 11 at James Weldon Johnson Park

The Jacksonville Jewish Center celebrates Hanukkah with music, storytellers, dreidl games and a Menorah lighting ceremony. Info: jamesweldonjohnsonpark.org

‘Elf’

Dec. 15 at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre 

The Will Ferrell holiday classic will be shown for free, with hot chocolate, popcorn and a visit from Santa. Info: theamp.com

Amy Sedaris, James Caan and Will Ferrell star in "Elf." The holiday classic will be shown in December at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.
Amy Sedaris, James Caan and Will Ferrell star in "Elf." The holiday classic will be shown in December at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.

Cirque Musica Holiday Wonderland

Dec. 20 at the Florida Theatre 

Acrobats, aerialists, jugglers and other circus performers take an all-new holiday show on the road. Info: floridatheatre.com

Hellzapoppin Holiday Hullabaloo Circus Sideshow

Dec. 21 at Underbelly 

Hellzapoppin is more about circus freaks than traditional circus performers – a “half man,” a sword-swallower, an escape artist, a yo-yo master and the like. What does that have to do with the holiday? You’ll have to see for yourself. Info: underbellyjax.com

A Drag Queen Christmas

Dec. 28 at the Florida Theatre 

It’s three days after the big day, but Miz Cracker and a team of queens don’t mind one bit. 18 and over only. Info: floridatheatre.com

Concerts

Straight No Chaser

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the Florida Theatre. $39.50-$69.50. 

Too early for Christmas music? Nah. The nine-member a capella group launches its Sleighin’ It Tour before Halloween. Info: floridatheatre.com

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas

Mannheim Steamroller comes to Jacksonville in November.
Mannheim Steamroller comes to Jacksonville in November.

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21, at the Moran Theater. $44.50-$123.50.  

Chip Davis and Mannheim Steamroller pretty much invented the classical-meets-rock-meets-holiday music genre. Info: fscjartistseries.org

Dave Koz and Friends

8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, at the Florida Theatre. $45-$87.50. 

Saxman Koz, guitarist Jonathan Butler, singer Rebecca Jade, sax player Marcus Anderson and keyboardist Justin Lee Schultz play holiday favorites. Info: floridatheatre.com

Ultimate Elvis Christmas Concert

3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, at the Trasher-Horne Center. $25-$65. 

Cote Deonath and the Infinit-E Tribute Band play “White Christmas” and other Presley holiday hits. Info: thcenter.org

A Peter White Christmas

8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. $69-$121.50. 

White, Mindi Abair and Vincent Ingala team up for their annual holiday tour. Info: floridatheatre.com

Sarah Brightman "A Christmas Symphony"

Broadway star Sarah Brightman brings her holiday show to Jacksonville this season.
Broadway star Sarah Brightman brings her holiday show to Jacksonville this season.

8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, at the Moran Theater. $66-$1,300. 

The woman who first starred in “Phantom of the Opera” and sold more than 30 million records brings her own orchestra and choir for a holiday show. Info: fscjartistseries.org

Spirit of the Season

8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Ritz Theatre. $25.  

Jacksonville’s own Ritz Voices bring gospel and soul to holiday favorites. Info: jaxevents.com

Il Divo

8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18, at the Florida Theatre. $49.50-$250. 

Four singers from four countries bring an international holiday show to Jacksonville. Info: floridatheatre.com

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra plays a holiday show in Jacksonville less than a week before Christmas.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra plays a holiday show in Jacksonville less than a week before Christmas.

7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21, at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. $39-$109.75. 

The over-the-top touring rock outfit brings lasers, explosions and holiday cheer to town. Info: jaxevents.com

Classical music

‘Home Alone’ in concert

Nov. 17-18 at Jacoby Symphony Hall 

The Jacksonville Symphony plays John Williams’ score as the 1990 holiday hit plays on a big screen. Info: jaxsymphony.org

A Choral Christmas

Dec. 1 at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall 

Choirs from the University of North Florida – Chamber Singers, Osprey Treble and Coro Profundo – perform traditional carols. Info: pvconcerthall.com

Sounds of the Season

Dec. 2 at Riverside Presbyterian Church 

The First Coast Wind Symphony is joined by the Don Thompson Chorale. Info: fcwinds.org

Jacksonville Symphony Holiday Pops

Dec. 7-10 at Jacoby Symphony Hall 

Vocalist Ryan Silverman, the Jacksonville Symphony Chorus and dancers from the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts join the symphony for one of its most popular programs. Info: jaxsymphony.org

Civic Celebrates!

Dec. 9 at St. Paul’s By the Sea Episcopal Church, Jacksonville Beach 

Dec. 10 at the Ritz Theatre 

The Civic Orchestra of Jacksonville performs “Sleigh Ride,” “Winter Wonderland” and other seasonal favorites. Info: civicorchestrajax.org

Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestras Holiday Concert

Dec. 11 at Jacoby Symphony Hall 

More than 200 students learning classical music from the pros show what they can do. Info: jaxsymphony.org

Jacksonville Symphony ‘Messiah’

The Jacksonville Symphony Chorus joins the symphony for 'Messiah.'
The Jacksonville Symphony Chorus joins the symphony for 'Messiah.'

Dec. 16-17 at Jacoby Symphony Hall 

The Jacksonville Symphony Chorus joins the symphony for Handel’s classic. Info: jaxsymphony.org

Nutcrackers

Community Nutcracker

Dec. 8-9 at the Florida Theatre 

More than 200 local dancers, kids and adults alike, participate in the 32nd annual performance. Info: floridatheatre.com

Florida Ballet Nutcracker

Dec. 9-10 at the Thrasher-Horne Center, Orange Park 

Dec. 15-17 at UNF Fine Arts Center 

The Florida Ballet does “Nutcracker” two weekends in a row, at two different venues. Each also includes an abbreviated “Nutcracker in a Nutshell” performance. Info: floridaballet.org

First Coast Nutcracker

The First Coast Nutcracker is scheduled for Dec. 15-17.
The First Coast Nutcracker is scheduled for Dec. 15-17.

Dec. 15-17 at the Moran Theater 

The Jacksonville Symphony performs the music live while professional dancers recreate Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece. Info: jaxsymphony.org

The Nutcracker Ballet

Dec. 15-17 at Flagler College Lewis Auditorium, St. Augustine

The St. Augustine Ballet brings in professional dancers to supplement the locals performing five shows in three days. Info: staugustineballet.org

Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet

Dec. 27 at the Florida Theatre 

An international cast brings a touring version of “Nutcracker” to town. Info: floridatheatre.com

Theater

‘Miracle on 34th Street’

Nov. 16-Dec. 24 at Alhambra Theatre & Dining

It’s up to the courts to decide if the old man is the real Kris Kringle or just a department store Santa. Info: alhambrajax.com

‘Holiday Inn’

Nov. 24-Dec. 30 at the Spotlight Events Center, Fleming Island 

A hotel that’s only open for holidays sounds like a terrible business plan, but it worked for Bing Crosby in the 1942 movie (which was the original source for “White Christmas”). Info: spotlighteventscenter.com

‘Scrooge: The Musical’

Dec. 1-10 at Amelia Musical Playhouse, Fernandina Beach 

Just because they’re spirits doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy a little songs and dance. Info: ameliamusicalplayhouse.com

‘Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Radio Play’

Dec. 1-16 at Amelia Community Theatre, Fernandina Beach 

A play within a play about the hijinks that go on when a group of performers gather in a 1948 New York radio studio to perform a holiday play. Info: ameliacommunitytheatre.org

‘The Winter Wonderettes’

Dec. 1-17 at Players by the Sea, Jacksonville Beach 

Santa’s a no-show for the big hardware store holiday party, so it’s up to the Winter Wonderettes to save the day with holiday cheer. Info: playersbythesea.org

‘The Trouble with Traditions: A Holiday Detour’

Dec. 8-17 at the Limelight Theatre, St. Augustine 

Skip the traditional Christmas Eve family dinner so you can see a play? Not if Richard Novak has anything to say about it. Info: limelight-theatre.org

‘Christmas with C.S. Lewis’

'Christmas with C.S. Lewis' comes to Jacksonville on Dec. 10.
'Christmas with C.S. Lewis' comes to Jacksonville on Dec. 10.

Dec. 10 at the Moran Theater 

C.S. Lewis, author of the “Narnia” novels, wasn’t a big believer in the Biblical Christmas story until his mind was changed by the guy who wrote the “Lord of the Rings” tales. Info: fscjartistseries.org

‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

Dec. 12 at the Florida Theatre 

Good grief! The animated television classic is performed live on stage. Info: floridatheatre.com

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

Dec. 14-23 at the Island Theater, Fleming Island 

Clarence’s bell, Zuzu’s petals and the rest of the holiday classic brought to life on stage. Info: theislandtheater.com

‘The Scandal of Bethlehem’

Dec. 16 at the Ritz Theatre 

As Mary and Joseph prepare for the birth of their child, Joseph begins to have doubts. Info: jaxevents.com

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

Dec. 18 at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre Backyard Stage

The tale of George Bailey being erased from life is presented as a radio play by Apex Theatre Studio. Info: theamp.com

‘How the Big Band Stole Christmas’

Dec. 22-23 at Amelia Community Theatre, Fernandina Beach 

The Crescendo Amelia band and friends put on a full theatrical production, with actors, singers, dancers and Santa. Info: ameliacommunitytheatre.org

‘A Tuna Christmas’

Dec. 23-30 at the Spotlight Events Center, Fleming Island 

Things are always a little goofy in tiny Tuna, Texas, but especially during the holiday season. Info: spotlighteventscenter.com

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Jacksonville Christmas, holiday events 2023: Things to do, see