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24 Oct 2023
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Things to Do

There’s nothing quite like a coastal Christmas, and if you’re planning on spending your holiday season on Anna Maria Island, there are some holiday traditions you need to know about so you can make the most of your seasonal visit! From tree lighting ceremonies to lighted boat parades, a Christmas on the coast is sure to be one you’ll never forget. So, shake off those cold weather blues, trade the sweaters for flip-flops, and let’s explore these five must-do holiday activities on Anna Maria Island.

Lights Up! At Bridge Street Town Centre

Mark your calendars for November 17th because Lights Up is making its grand return! Come celebrate the start of the holiday season on Bridge Street from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The event will be jam-packed with entertainment, including live performances from Big Daddy Kingfish and various local choirs. There will also be giveaways and appearances by your favorite holiday characters. To cap off the evening, Santa himself will make a special appearance to illuminate the towering 45-foot Christmas tree for the first time this year. Plus, he’ll kick off the recurring holiday light show, which will sizzle audiences every Friday and Saturday night until Christmas. 

Annual Anna Maria Island Christmas Tree Lighting

Experience a true taste of an “Old Florida Christmas” when you attend the Chamber of Commerce’s tree lighting ceremony on Bradenton Beach, Saturday, November 18th. The beloved community event brings locals and visitors out for a night of festive celebration as the enormous evergreen is illuminated for all to see. 

Anna Maria Island Christmas Parade

Hosted by the Privateers, the Anna Maria Island Christmas Parade will be held in early December. Typically starting at Coquina Beach and ending at City Pier Park, the parade is an excellent activity for families visiting with small children. After the parade, the fun keeps going with lights, holiday music, and a visit from Santa! Food vendors are likely to be set up so you can make a day out of the festivities. Be sure to check the Privateer’s website for details on the parade’s 2023 dates.

Manatee River Holiday Boat Parade

This uniquely coastal event is the highlight of the county’s holiday season. A dazzling array of boats, adorned from bow to stern, will sail up the Manatee River in a spirited competition for cash prizes and bragging rights. As they do, thousands of locals and visitors gather along the riverbank to gaze at the festive sight.

Projected viewing schedule based on previous years:

  • 6:00 PM: Boats start assembling at Shaw Point
  • 6:30-7:30 PM: Passing by the Bradenton Yacht Club (Exclusive to Members)
  • 7:15-8:15 PM: Cruising by the Riverhouse Waterfront Restaurant
  • 7:30-8:30 PM: Sailing past Pier 22 Restaurant and Twin Dolphin

After the parade, head to the Bradenton Yacht Club for prize announcements and an after-party full of food, live music, and much more!

Pet Photos with Santa

Christmas isn’t Christmas unless the whole family is there, and that means the four-legged members, too! Don’t miss the chance to get your beloved pet’s picture taken with Santa and Mrs. Clause on December 2nd from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Bridge Street Town Centre’s Christmas tree! To take advantage of this adorable holiday event, be sure to bring a donation to the Luna Farms Rescue. All proceeds go toward saving the lives of countless animals.

Book Your Holiday Getaway with Anna Maria Island Accommodations

A holiday season on Anna Maria Island promises to be as magical as it is unique. From twinkling lights to festive parades, this coastal paradise offers a holiday experience unlike any other. But to truly make the most of it, you need the perfect place to stay. That’s where Anna Maria Island Accommodations comes in.

With exceptional vacation rentals that range from pet-friendly properties to waterfront escapes and large private homes, there’s something to suit everyone. Browse our vacation rentals, and when you’re ready to book, you can do it right here on this site. Let us help you make your holiday on Anna Maria Island one you’ll cherish forever.