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The best things to do in Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat for Dec. 28 to Jan. 3

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  • | 10:00 a.m. December 26, 2023
Bryan Dudnick rides the mechanical bull at the New Year's Eve Pineapple Drop on Dec. 31, 2021.
Bryan Dudnick rides the mechanical bull at the New Year's Eve Pineapple Drop on Dec. 31, 2021.
Photo by Harry Sayer
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Thursday, Dec. 28

'A Brave New Wonderland' featuring Nik Wallenda
2:30 and 6:30 p.m. under the Big Top, East of University Town Center
From $30

Sarasota hometown hero Nik Wallenda and the Circus Arts Conservatory present "A Brave New Wonderland,”  an immersive holiday spectacular of circus acts, aerial performances and holiday storytelling. Runs Thursdays through Saturdays through Jan. 7.

Al Romas
7 p.m. at McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre, 1923 Ringling Blvd.

A McCurdy’s favorite, Al Romas has appeared on TV on "Standup Spotlight, "Evening at the Improv" and Comedy Central, to name a just few shows and networks. Runs through Dec. 30.

7 p.m. at The Sailor Circus Arena, 2075 Bahia Vista St.

This year’s Sailor Circus holiday show is a sweet treat that brings the classic children’s game, “Candyland,” to life. Each act will represent part of the game, including the heroes – King Candy, Princess Frostine and Princess Lolly – and the villain, the evil Lord Licorice. Runs through Dec. 31. 

‘Pictures From Home’
8 p.m. at FST’s Keating Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave.

Sharr White draws inspiration from Larry Sultan’s acclaimed photo memoir, “Pictures From Home,” in this play that explores the changing nature of family ties. Runs through Feb. 18.

Sara Esty wows the crowd with her dancing in "Crazy For You."
Image courtesy of Sorcha Augustine

‘Crazy for You’
8 p.m. at Asolo Repertory Theatre, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail

Chorus girls meet cowboys in this crowd-pleasing musical comedy directed and choreographed by Denis Jones. Set in the Roaring Twenties, the Tony Award winner features iconic Gershwin songs “As Someone to Watch Over Me,” “I Got Rhythm” and “Embraceable You.” Who could ask for anything more? Runs through Jan. 4.

‘Little Shop of Horrors’
8 p.m. at Florida Studio Theatre’s Gompertz Theatre, 1265 First St.

An unsuspecting flower shop assistant is manipulated by an out-of-this-world plant he dubs “Audrey II” after his co-worker crush. He soon falls prey to its plans for world domination and its appetite for human blood. Runs through Jan. 21.

Friday, Dec. 29

Jazz @ Two 
2 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota, 3975 Fruitville Road

Six winners of Jazz Club of Sarasota scholarships perform with a local rhythm in both concert and jam formats. Donations to the club’s scholarship fund make the awards possible. 

The Perlman Music Program's winter residency runs from Dec. 29 to Jan. 5 at USF Sarasota-Manatee.
Image courtesy of Rod Millington

Perlman Music Program Winter Residency
6 p.m. at USF Sarasota-Manatee, 8350 N Tamiami Trail

Gather under the tent at USF Sarasota-Manatee campus to attend free master classes and works-in-progress recitals featuring students and fellows in the Perlman Music Program’s winter residency, which is celebrating its 20th year. Participants include 28 young classical music prodigies, alumni fellows who mentor the students and a faculty led by renowned violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman and his wife, Toby Perlman. Runs through Jan. 5.

"Joyful! Joyful!" runs at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe through Dec. 30.
Image courtesy of Sorcha Augustine Photography

‘Joyful! Joyful!’
7:30 p.m. at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, 1012 N. Orange Ave.
$50; students and active military with valid ID $25

Created, adapted and directed by WBTT founder/artistic director Nate Jacobs in 2021, “Joyful, Joyful” features twists on traditional holiday songs, gospel-infused classics and pop favorites. Final performances are 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Saturday, Dec. 30

FST Improv Presents Resolution Rewind
7:30 p.m. at FST’s Bowne’s Lab Theatre, 1265 First St.

Before going to watch the Pineapple Drop, get some comedic reflection on the year that’s just wrapping up. Watch the cast of FST Improv perform the audience’s favorite games, sketches and more of 2023. Runs through Dec. 31 

Sunday, Dec. 31

Downtown Sarasota welcomes the new year with a pineapple drop.
File image

NYE Pineapple Drop Party
1 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Lemon Avenue and Main Street

Welcome the new year in downtown Sarasota with entertainment, live music, food, drinks fireworks and more. Carnival rides will be at 5 Points Park. Ride tickets and all-access wristbnds are available for purchase. Live music begins at 8:30 p.m.

Sarasota Polo Opening Day Celebration
1 p.m. at the Sarasota Polo Club, 8201 Polo Club Lane, Lakewood Ranch
$15; children 12 and under are free

The Sarasota Polo Club opens the new season, which runs every Sunday through April 7. Gates open at 10 a.m. Besides the polo action, enjoy the opening parade, halftime wagon rides, and food and drinks. Enjoy the traditional divot stomping at halftime.

New Year's Eve at Christmas in the Garden
4:30-6:30 p.m. the Longboat Island Chapel, 6200 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key

Join Longboat Island Chapel on Dec. 31 for a special New Year’s Eve celebration with complimentary appetizers and a special performance by John Rinell.

New Year's Eve at Waterside Place
6 p.m. to midnight at Waterside Place, 1560 Lakefront Drive, Lakewood Ranch

Celebrate the New Year at Waterside Place with music by DJ Truth, food and beverage trucks, games, and a special Drone Light Show presented by Waterside Place and Capstan Financial Consulting Group. The party is a Lakewood Ranch Community Activities event. 

Celebrate New Year's, Vienna style, on Dec. 31 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Courtesy image

Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert
7 p.m. at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail

Welcome 2024 with a European-inspired New Year's celebration modeled on the world-famous New Year's Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic, known for its lively music and time-honored traditions.

New Year’s Eve at UTC
7-9 p.m. at The Green in the West District at UTC, located behind Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar

Those who like an earlier New Year's Eve Party can enjoy a DJ, face painting, games for the kids, other entertainment and a 9 p.m. fireworks show.

New Year's Eve Sarasota Bayfront Fireworks Spectacular
11:30 p.m. on the Sarasota Bayfront

Ring in the new year with a fireworks display over Sarasota Bay. Advance reservations for Marina Jack are required. The best viewing of the fireworks show, organized by Suncoast Charities for Children and Marina Jack, is from Bayfront Park, 5 Bayfront Drive, Sarasota, and Marina Jack, 2 Marina Plaza, Sarasota. Advance reservations for Marina Jack are required. 

Monday, Jan. 1

First Day Hike and Scavenger Hunt
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Oscar Scherer State Park, 1843 S. Tamiami Trail
Free with park entry

Start the new year with a half-mile or 1.75-mile hike and a scavenger hunt. Hints will be issued at the Ranger Station or on the Friends of Oscar Scherer Park Facebook page. Send photos of all six hidden clues to the Facebook page for approval, and receive a prize at the nature center hunt table.

Wednesday, Jan. 3

¡Bailando! at The Bay
6:30 p.m. at The Nest, 1055 Boulevard of the Arts

Instructors from Fred Astaire Dance Studios provide a dance lesson, followed by a Latino-inspired party to practice your new moves. The lesson is suitable for beginners and advanced dancers. The Bay Park's Dance at The Bay series continues every Wednesday.


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