Holiday events planned throughout area

UF student Vanessa Esposito leads the university's concert choir in a rendition of Hallelujah.
UF student Vanessa Esposito leads the university's concert choir in a rendition of "Hallelujah" at the UF's "Lighting of the Holiday Gator" on Thursday.
Photo by Megan V. Winslow

Several community holiday events are scheduled throughout the area starting Friday.

On Thursday, the University of Florida held its “Lighting of the Holiday Gator” on the lawn of the University Auditorium.

Here is a list of local festivities slated:

Friday

Alachua Tree Lighting

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The city of Alachua will hold its annual tree lighting from 6-8 p.m. on Friday behind Skinner Park next to Bev’s Burgers.

Children from the audience help UF President Ken Fuchs count down to the lighting of the holiday gator.
Photo by Megan V. Winslow Children from the audience help UF President Ken Fuchs count down to the lighting of the holiday gator on Thursday.

The free community event will feature kids’ photos with Santa Claus, ornament decorating, popcorn, and hot chocolate.  

Saturday

Festival of Trees

The Gainesville Woman’s Club will host its Festival of Trees event on Saturday at 2809 W. University Ave.

The Clubhouse will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to view the trees that will be raffled off and for kids to get a picture with Santa. The cost is $5 for adults and children are free.

At 4 p.m., the Clubhouse re-opens with the Winter Wine and Dine until 7 p.m. The cost is $25 per person and the tree raffle winner will be announced. The funds go to the Pace Center for Girls and Family Promise.

Click here to purchase tickets online.

Town of Bell Christmas Parade

Bell will celebrate its 42nd annual Christmas parade with this year’s theme, “Characters of Christmas.” The event starts at 2 p.m. at the Bell City Hall at 3240 W. Railroad Ln.

Gainesville Kids Holiday Dance Party

Gainesville will host a Kids Holiday Dance Party at Bo Diddley Plaza from 4-5 p.m. on Saturday with DJ E-LO. Bo Diddley Plaza is located at 111 E. University Ave.

Gainesville Holiday Lights Celebration

The annual Holiday Lights Celebration at the Historic Thomas Center is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. in the center’s gardens located at 302 NE 6th Ave. in Gainesville.

The free event will feature a tree lighting and a program that includes a light show on the front of the Thomas Center, carolers and holiday characters.

There will be horse and wagon rides provided by the Duckpond Neighborhood Association for a $5 donation per person. 

High Springs Tree Lighting Ceremony

The Holiday Gator will remain on display beside the University Auditorium through Dec. 17.
Photo by Megan V. Winslow The Holiday Gator will remain on display beside the University Auditorium through Dec. 17.

The High Springs Chamber of Commerce will host the annual High Springs Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Main Street shops will be open and the event will feature music, games, crafts and a meeting with Santa and his elves.

Lake Butler Christmas Parade

Lake Butler will host its Christmas on the Railroad Parade at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The event will be held in downtown Lake Butler.

Newberry Christmas Tree Lighting
The City of Newberry will host its annual Christmas Tree Lighting in the Gingerbread Village from 6-8 p.m. on Saturday at the Newberry City Hall (25440 W. Newberry Rd.).

Festivities will include complimentary holiday cookies, hot cocoa, Christmas carolers and photos with Santa. Bring your own camera for your photo with Santa.

Williston Christmas Parade and Wonderland

The Williston Christmas Parade is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday starting on W. Noble Avenue and will be followed by the Williston Wonderland in Heritage Park, featuring Light Up Williston, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Heritage Park is located at NW 1st Avenue.  

The Williston Wonderland free event will include games, animals, crafts, goodies, snow and features Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Archer Christmas Celebration

Archer will host its Christmas celebration starting at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at Wilson-Robinson Park (13975 SW 174th St.). The event will feature free chili, hot dogs, caroling and a toy giveaway.

A young attendee marvels at the lights on the gator statue, which was constructed by Gainesville artist and blacksmith Leslie Tharp, a UF alumna.
Photo by Megan V. Winslow A young attendee marvels at the lights on the gator statue, which was constructed by Gainesville artist and blacksmith Leslie Tharp, a UF alumna.
A conductor leads the UF marching band as they perform holiday carols for onlookers.
Photo by Megan V. Winslow A conductor leads the UF marching band as they perform holiday carols for onlookers.

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