Holiday Activities in Jacksonville, FL
Jacksonville’s Museum of Science and History, locally known as MOSH, offers holiday-harried moms a bit of a break each year. MOSH’s WinterCamp days entertain kids up through sixth grade while the folks finish up their Christmas and Hanukkah shopping. Campers learn to make toys and candy and learn how the New Year is celebrated in different cultures. When you’ve wrapped up your shopping, come back to MOSH and enjoy a holiday-themed Planetarium show. A perennial favorite is "Season of Light," which traces the development of a variety of holiday customs and explores a possible astronomical origin of the star over Bethlehem. Check dates for an annual MOSH After Dark: Holiday Music Under the Stars event featuring rooftop stargazing, live music and wine tasting.
Sunny St. Augustine gets a wintry makeover at the St. Augustine Ampitheatre each year from late November through New Years’ Day. Ice skating, sleigh and train rides, a huge ice slide, the Blizzard Bounce House offer you and the kids a fun romp through the snow. Visit the Elf Village featuring a variety of uniquely designed and decorated elf houses, test your skills at the winter carnival games and have a chat with Santa. When it gets a little chilly, or you’re simply worn out while your little ones are still wound up, find yourself a cozy spot in the Igloo Ski Lounge. Enjoy a fireside cocktail while you keep an eye on the kids via a live feed on the big screen TV.
One of just a handful of remaining dinner theatres nationwide, the Alhambra Dinner Theatre hosts a holiday-themed, Broadway-style show each season. Its signature show performed nearly every December since 1985 is the Charles Dickens classic, Christmas Carole, the tale of one crotchety old money grubber learning the true meaning of Christmas. But now and then they mix things up with something new (like 2010’s run of It’s a Wonderful Life). Almost as great as the performances is the menu, a salad, entrée and dessert selection designed by Executive Chef DeJuan Roy. Locals will remember Roy from the luxe 95 Cordova in St. Augustine. Dinner and matinee performances are scheduled for each show.
The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra strikes up the holiday music in a variety of seasonal performances each year. An annual symphony favorite since the 1970s is the First Coast Nutcracker featuring the JSO playing Tchaikovsky and 180 of the area’s best young dancers. Another long-time tradition the symphony’s performance of Messiah, 18th century composer George Frideric Handel’s oratorio that chronicles the birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. And the annual Holiday Pops concerts feature seasonal favorites performed by the symphony, chorus and dancers. The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra is a big supporter of the Salvation Army’s annual Angel Tree and Forgotten Angels programs, so bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to a local needy child.
Each December, numerous local homeowners invite the public into their homes for a look at how the other half lives, so to speak. A favorite is the Springfield Holiday Home Tour. Many of the homes featured are century-old Victorian, Queen Anne or Colonial Revival styled structures. One of Jacksonville’s oldest neighborhoods, Springfield saw a construction boom after a major blaze destroyed the adjoining Downtown core in 1901. Other holiday home tours happen each year in the San Marco district across town, and in nearby Amelia Island and St. Augustine. Proceeds typically benefit local charities or help further historic preservation efforts.