Photo by Valentin Petkov on Unsplash
It’s December, and as usual, a white Christmas is a complete longshot for Ocala. But we do know how to entertain ourselves! We spend a lot of time, as Floridians, pursuing the many leisure activities that are available to us year-round.
What if this year, we spent some time sharing our holidays with the people in our community?
Instead of planning a night in to watch your favorite rendition of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, imagine if we not only planned that, but also looked into local libraries who could use a story-time person to read A Christmas Carol to kids?
Granted, public speaking isn’t for everyone. Is baking your thing? What about making Christmas cookies for the local Boys and Girls Club? If you can make doggie treats, you could donate to The Human Society of Marion County? Or lacking baking skills, could you organize a Christmas party with friends for the kids at St. Jude’s Ocala?
This is the giving season, and sometimes it takes a significant act of giving before we can accept the gifts and kindness of others. Try reaching out early this year with small acts of service to organizations and people in need. Take the initiative to talk to your friends and your neighbors this week. Ask around. Who needs help this Christmas to feel cheerful and happy?
Maybe it will go nowhere and you’ll just make a small contribution somewhere. Or maybe it will snowball and you and others in the community will wind up doing something huge and unexpected for someone deserving. The only way to ever succeed is to try. This December, give yourself the gift of giving well to someone else and see where it takes you.
December 1st - January 2022
A Dickens Christmas: The Urban Family Holiday Exhibition
Appleton Museum of Art
Revel in the holiday spirit with “A Dickens Christmas: The Urban Family Holiday Exhibition.” This annual, beloved display adorns the first floor of the museum with themed trees and other holiday décor from the collection of Ocala cardiologist Dr. Paul Urban, his wife, Joyce, and daughters, Katie, Kristie, Kassie and Karlie. In addition to ornately decorated trees, the first floor will feature miniature villages, nutcracker soldiers, caroler dolls and more.
December 1st - 25th
Winter Wonderland at World Equestrian Center
World Equestrian Center
Enjoy the enchanted Winter Wonderland spectacular on the Grand Plaza in celebration of the holiday season. With more than a million twinkling lights, Winter Wonderland promises to bring merriment and good cheer to all. The halls of the Grand Plaza will be decked with all the traditional regalia of the season and additionally will feature mesmerizing larger-than-life ornaments, a glittering 40-foot tall Christmas tree and a giant polar bear. As a family-friendly gathering, children can line up daily to take commemorative photos with Santa and enjoy roving nightly entertainment including carolers, face painters, balloon artists, caricaturists and skipping elves. Santa’s reindeer will make a real-life appearance, and guests can also purchase tickets throughout the month to special holiday entertainment including a performance from the Atlantic City Boys, breakfast with Santa, a mystical equestrian show with horses at liberty and much more. Guests can marvel at all the lights as they glide around an expansive ice skating rink or watch a holiday movie while cozying up with a cup of hot cocoa from one of the festive pop-up food stations scattered around the plaza. Holiday treats on offer include all the nostalgic classics like sugar cookies, cocoa and cider, pretzels, and hot-crossed buns while cash bars serve up favorite holiday spirits. Find something for everyone on your list this year by shopping at the many storefronts and vendors. The month-long event will kick off on November 26 at 5pm, with a festive lighting ceremony at 6pm, and will run throughout the Christmas season.
December 2nd - 5th, 9th - 12th, and 16th - 19th
It's A Wonderful Life
Ocala Civic Theatre
The beloved Christmas classic is retold as a 1940s radio play! It’s the heartwarming holiday story you know and love, told “on the air” by a small cast of actors bringing dozens of characters to life through the magic of their versatile voices, special sound effects, and your imagination. Revisit the tale of George Bailey and what he discovers one Christmas Eve through the help of an angel named Clarence.
Symphony Under the Lights
Reilly Art Center
Join us in Tuscawilla Park at the Reilly’s outdoor stage, the Jenkins Open Air Theatre, for a free and open holiday concert event! Bring chairs, a blanket, some hot chocolate and enjoy the sounds of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra, joined by the Ocala Youth Symphony, for a holiday favorite! We hope you can join us for this family-favorite and a tradition here in Ocala.
Dunnellon's Small Town Christmas Parade
Dunnellon’s Small Town Christmas Parade will be on the evening of December 4. The theme will be “The 12 Days of Christmas.”
10th Annual Christmas Boat Parade
Location: Carney Island Recreation
ALL are invited! Decorate your boat and join the fun! Boats are judged on originality (more Carney Island Launch Ramp
December 4th & 5th
Festival at Fort King
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Step into the 1800s at the Festival at Fort King! This two day event will feature historic themed crafts, games, workshops, activities, living historians, vendors, food, drinks and much more. The pinnacle of the event is a re-enactment of the event that fueled the start of the Second Seminole War. Admission is $5 per person. Veterans and children 5 and under are free.
International Ninja Day
National Pearl Harbor Day of Remembrance
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Join Ocala Recreation & Parks at the Downtown Square for a wagging good time taking pet pictures with Santa! Adoptable pets, vendors and hot cocoa will be available. A $10 donation for pet photos with Santa benefits the Human Society of Marion County. Pet parents, please keep your pooch leashed at all times. For more information call 352-368-5517.
December 10th, 11th, and 12th
A Jolly Holiday
Snow: No. Cheer: Here! Performed by C.A.S.T. (Creative Arts Student Troupe), the holly-jolly youth cabaret A JOLLY HOLIDAY is live on the outdoor stage December 10-12. It's a one-of-a-kind production full of songs like "We Need a Little Christmas," "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," and of course, "Holly Jolly Christmas," as well as original stories, plays, and poems by our student cast. We're already feeling festive! Tickets go on sale November 8.
Christmas Jumper Day
National Cocoa Day
The Nutcracker presented by Dance Alive National Ballet
Reilly Arts Center
7:30 PM to 7:30 AM
It just isn’t the holidays without The Nutcracker! The all-time family favorite with beautiful dancing, sets and costumes is here again! Everyone needs a hero, and in this case she’s a girl! Clara saves the Nutcracker prince, and to thank her, he brings her on a magical journey to the Kingdom of the Sweets, where the exquisite Sugar Plum Fairy puts on a regal show for her. Tradition, beauty, grace, and a terrific story – what more can you ask for. Sheer Magic!
New Years Eve
Enjoy the best Ocala has to offer in the holiday season this year! Thanks for taking in our blog, and please be safe out there! If you have time to give, please consider helping out wherever your spirit of giving guides you to go this month! If you need work done on your car this month, visit Pals Ocala Auto Repair at 2821 SW College Road, Ocala, FL, 34474, and schedule an appointment online to keep your vehicle safe on the road! And be sure to Like our page on Facebook for updates and news!