Here’s a look at our picks for the most anticipated events of the season.
We don't want to assume this year will be the best yet, but based on the number of impressive events on our calendar, we think there’s a great deal to look forward to. From create-your-own luncheons to star-studded gala performances, here’s a look at what 2017 has to offer.
Sarasota Opera Gala: “A Japanese Affair”
Benefiting: Sarasota Opera
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21
Where: The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota
Chairwomen: Edie Chaifetz and Sandra Lindqvist
Call: 366-8450 Ext. 402
Opera supporters will delight in this year’s gala and its theme, inspired by the 2017 Winter Festival production of “Madama Butterfly.” Guests will be transported to early 20th-century Japan with a special performance by Sarasota Opera principal artists and live music by the Scott Blum Band. The evening will begin with a cocktail hour and include a four-course dinner and silent auction before the show goes on.
10th Anniversary Palm Ball: “A Land Remembered”
Benefiting: Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4
Where: Bay Preserve at Osprey
Chairwomen: Honorary Chair Cornelia Matson and Co-Chairs Jamie Becker, Mickey Davis, Donna Koffman and Bianca Lawrence
Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast is celebrating its 10th Anniversary at this year’s Palm Ball, and it looks to be one of the most elegant events of the season. Themed “A Land Remembered: Emerald Waters Under Sapphire Skies,” guests dressed in their finest emerald and sapphire apparel will enjoy an evening of drinks, dinner and dancing “under the stars” while helping support the addition of 10,000 acres of protected land along the Gulf Coast.
8th Annual Tidewell Signature Luncheon Featuring Ann Curry
Benefiting: Tidewell Hospice
When: 11:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 10
Where: The Ritz Carlton, Sarasota
Chairwomen: Cindy Stuhley
Most people know Ann Curry as an Emmy Award-winning journalist and former co-host of the TODAY show, but few know that one of her other pivotal life roles was caregiver for her late mother and sister-in-law. Tidewell Hospice will feature Curry as the keynote speaker at its annual luncheon this February, which is the main fundraiser for the organization that helps more than 8,000 patients annually.
16th Annual Van Wezel Foundation Gala Featuring Steve Martin & Martin Short
When: 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10
Where: Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Chairwomen: Brenda Maraman and Wendy Merriman
The Van Wezel Foundation Gala always spotlights a household-name performer, and this year's duo does not disappoint. The 16th-annual event will feature beloved comics Steve Martin and Martin Short in “An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Life,” a dynamic show that will include plenty of laughs and even some banjo playing alongside Grammy-winning Steep Canyon Rangers bluegrass band. The event benefits the foundation’s award-winning Schooltime Performance Program, community outreach programming and various other needs of the Hall.
Orchid Ball: une soirée en fleurs
Benefiting: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11
Where: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens — Great Lawn
Chairwomen: Liebe Gamble, Katie Hollingsworth, Ashley Kozel and Emily Stroud
Info: Call 366-5731, Ext. 251.
A stroll through Selby is one of the most enchanting experiences that Sarasota has to offer, but what if that stroll transported you to la Côte d’Azur? This French Riviera-inspired event will be the perfect accompaniment to the gardens’ upcoming new exhibit; “Marc Chagall, Flowers, and the French Riviera: The Color of Dreams.” Proceeds from the event benefit the gardens’ international research, horticulture displays, community education programs and conservation efforts.
Annual Gala 2017: La Fête de Monte Carlo
Benefiting: Asolo Repertory Theatre
When: 6 p.m. Saturday, March 4
Where: The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota
Chairwomen: Ann Charters, Caroline Ellerson, Susan Malloy Jones and Jill Ramsey
Call: 351-9010 Ext. 4712
Who doesn’t love a good soirée? This evening of French Riviera-style luxury will transport guests to the beaches of the Mediterranean. Listen to music of the 1960s and pretend to be in a James Bond film in your most 007-esque ensemble while you enjoy dinner, a live auction and dancing. Proceeds go toward the artists in the Asolo Rep’s 2016/2017 season, as well as its renowned education and outreach programs that help local children learn life skills through the arts.
Benefiting: Forty Carrots Family Center
When: 6 p.m. Saturday, April 1
Where: The Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club
Chairwomen: Ariane Dart
Tickets: $400 for open concert seating
One of the most anticipated events every year is the Firefly Gala, which gives Sarasotans the chance not only to give back to one of their favorite philanthropies, but to see one of the most popular artists on the radio perform live. This year, guests will be treated to a special performance by Miami native and award-winning hip-hop artist Flo Rida.
Blue Ties and Butterflies
Benefiting: Child Protection Center
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 19
Where: Michael’s On East
Chairwomen: Donna Koffman, Tammy Karp and Diana Buchanan
Call: 365-1277, Ext. 120.
Child Protection Center is celebrating its fifth year of this signature fundraising event, and organizers are hoping to surpass the more than $370,000 that was raised last year. The evening is known for always featuring some of the best live auction items of any event, including everything from artwork to Useppa Island getaways. Most importantly, Child Protection Center Special Events Associate Mya Widmyer says that the event committee’s goal is for every guest to leave the event with a full understanding of the mission of CPC.
Dishes for Wishes
Benefiting: Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 28
Where: Polo Grill
Chairwomen: Barbie Nilsen and Lisa Olan
Last year marked the first installment of what Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida planned to make a new annual event, Dishes for Wishes. The interactive four-course dinner party is a Manatee County spinoff of the popular Cooking for Wishes event in Sarasota. The evening will offer guests the chance to cook their own meal and help grant wishes for deserving local children.