Let’s face it, the look on our children and grandchildren’s faces when they see Santa is priceless. Even as adults we re-connect with our childhood memories and the smells, tastes and visuals of everything that Christmas and Chanukah gave us throughout the years that are forever memories.

Here in Sarasota, we’re blessed to have an 800,000 sf mall, UTC mall (on University) that comes alive with over 12 fantastic events, festivities and all things wonderful during the holiday, including their ongoing Festival of Lights, Festival of Trees, a nightly light shows choreographed to music, dazzling décor and festive fun. Spend a family evening outdoors to see holiday movies, or enjoy Saturday night fireworks, or horse-drawn carriage rides (small fee). A highlight at UTC is the Festival of Trees featuring over 50 charity-trimmed trees, a Gingerbread Festival sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Gulf coast Florida’s, and lively entertainment and more.

Nov. 10 Santa kicks off the season with his arrival at the mall in his 22-foot sleigh and will be spending his time gathering wish-lists from children through Dec. 23. Santa’s Flight Academy provides a safe holiday experience while delivering the magic and tradition of the holiday season. Children will be invited to step into his sleigh to experience the magical snowfall and meet Santa in this one-of-a-kind interactive experience. Reservations, however, are strongly recommended for all photo sessions as there are thousands of Sarasota kids who want to experience this. Get details, photo package information and make your reservations
Reserve your spot: https://mallatutc.com/pages/sfa

Sarasota Events Calendar compiled the most festive fun for everyone at UTC mall, and will follow up in another article festive fun throughout other areas of Sarasota. Enjoy seasonal experiences, including:


Nightly from 6:30 – 9:30 PM, light shows run every 30 minutes


Thursdays-Sundays from 6-10 PM | Pick up/drop off at the Stable on Cattlemen Dr. *$10 per passenger


Every Saturday at 9 PM

Holiday Movies under the Stars

Fridays & Saturdays | 7:00 PM | West District UTC

Watch holiday movies under the stars Fridays and Saturdays starting at 7:00 PM. Presented by First Watch, families and friends of all ages are welcome to watch holiday classics in an open-air setting in the West District at UTC, in the lot across from DSW.


Festival of Trees

December 1-19 | 6:30 – 9:00 PM | West District UTC

A showcase and silent auction of more than 50 whimsical trees decorated by local charities.

Gingerbread Festival

December 1-19th | 6:30 PM | West District UTC

Celebrate another magical holiday season and marvel at a display of over 150 gingerbread houses crafted by local schools, youth groups, businesses, and other non-profit organizations. Held at 119 N Cattlemen Road, Sarasota, Florida 34243 (retail space adjacent to Old Navy at UTC). Presented by Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida.

Mall at UTC Outdoor Holiday Markets

December 4-5 & December 11-12 | Sat 1:00 – 9:00 PM & Sun 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM | The Mall at UTC

Shop for holiday gifts from 70+ crafters artisans & entrepreneurs from all over Florida, and feast from some delicious local food trucks. Bring out the whole family for tree lightings and more festive fun.

Holiday Magic On East Grand

Every Weekend in December | The Mall at UTC East Grand Entrance

Head to The Mall at UTC every weekend in December (December 3 – 5, December 10 – 12 & December 17 – 19) for holiday festivities for the whole family. Friday and Saturday evenings will feature nightly snowfall, cocktails & candy canes, festive holiday performances and entertainment, Santa’s Workshop craft series, jingle bell dance parties with holiday characters and more.

UTC Holiday Night Market

December 16 | 5:00 – 9:00 PM | West District UTC

This month’s outdoor market event is bringing all the festive feels with an electric live music performance by No Filter Band, seasonal sips and sweets, and 40+ local vendors offering fresh produce, handcrafted goods, jewelry and more.

Ugly Sweater Crawl

December 18 | 6:30 PM | West District UTC

Slip into your most hideous holiday sweater on Saturday, December 18 and join us for our Ugly Sweater Crawl with iHeart Radio. The crawl starts at 6:30 pm at Ugly Sweater Ave., located between BurgerFi and Ethan Allen, and includes fun and festive stops at eateries along Cattlemen.

Strings Con Brio Concert

December 19 | 5:30-6:20 PM | The Green at UTC

Enjoy the sights and sounds of the season at a special outdoor concert by Strings Con Brio. The nearly 40-piece string orchestra will perform a selection of seasonal favorites, conducted by Kenneth Bowermeister. The free, festive concert will be performed in the open air under the holiday lights on The Green at UTC. Limited seating available. Guests are encouraged to bring chairs.

Christmas Glow Run 5K

December 18 | 6:00 PM | Nathan Benderson Park

Enjoy some family-friendly fun at the Christmas Glow Run 5K. Featuring dozens of Christmas decorations at the start and finish line and music for the perfect holly jolly atmosphere.