It’s easy to get into the holiday spirit on Amelia Island, everyone’s favorite “home for the holidays!” Christmas on our island paradise is full of warm hospitality, friendly shopkeepers, gourmet restaurants, and historic charm. Most of the island is decorated in holiday finery, with all the amenities for joyful holiday celebrations. And December weather is perfect for any occasion—whether it’s a picnic on the beach, a fishing excursion with the kids, or Christmas shopping with friends.
Amelia Island residents celebrate the season in so many ways. Some spend Christmas volunteering for our local charities. Others spend the day on the water. Others sing in the church choir. Many spend Christmas working at our fine resorts, our community hospital, and our local grocery stores. And no matter how busy our holidays are, we always find time for our families and friends. It is a joyous season, a time to reflect on everything that is good in the world, and to appreciate our many blessings.
The Historic District’s holiday season is already in full swing, kicked off in November with their annual Black Friday Pajama Party and Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. America’s Youth lights up downtown Fernandina Beach with the annual Lighted Christmas Parade on December 7 at 6 p.m., celebrating “A Musical Christmas,” the prelude to the third annual Dickens on Centre Festival. This Christmas, make memories as you travel back in time December 8-10, replete with costumed characters, themed entertainment and performances, visits from Saint Nick, and a variety of vendors selling seasonal gifts and wares.
Inspired by Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol, Dickens on Centre transforms downtown Fernandina into a classic English village, sure to enliven your Christmas spirit. Think chestnuts roasting, carolers strolling, and readings of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Shop for the perfect Christmas gift in the vendor marketplace on Centre Street, along Artist Alley on North 2nd Street, or with one of the wonderful local merchants in downtown Fernandina Beach. Save yourself time and energy by having your holiday gifts wrapped by the parishioners of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.
New to “Dickens” this year is the inaugural “Run Like the Dickens” 1-mile sprint on Main Beach. Held on December 9 at 8 a.m., the sprint is open to people of all ages, and it is a fundraiser for Fernandina Beach Middle School’s AVID program. Cost is $15 per runner. For more information or to register, contact Robin Lentz at (904) 206-0122 or email@example.com.
Other “Dickens” events include a Kid Zone, history tours presented by the Amelia Island Museum of History, adult beverage station at Fezziwig’s Courtyard, street theatre, and much more. While you’re out and about on December 9, be sure to visit stop at the local galleries during Second Saturday Artrageous Artwalk for local art and unique gifts. Visit www.ameliaisland.com for a complete schedule of events.
Coming to Amelia Community Theatre on December 9 at 11 a.m. is a family-friendly version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, presented by Hampstead Stage Company. The tale follows the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and his clerk, Bob Cratchit, during a particularly difficult Christmastime. Besides being a feel-good story about love and friendship, this adaptation educates the audience about the class system of Victorian England and encourages them to help others who are less fortunate. The show is hosted by Friends of the Fernandina Beach Library. Call them for more information at (904) 277-7365.
Another version of “A Christmas Carol” will performed at Amelia Musical Playhouse December 15, 16, and 17 as a live radio play directed by Jill Dillingham. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.ameliamusicalplayhouse.com.
If you can’t get enough of holiday live theatre shows, be sure to catch a performance of Amelia Community Theatre’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”, held December 1-16. This classic Christmas show tells the story of a man’s journey to find meaning in his life by doing the right thing. Visit www.ameliacommunitytheatre.org for tickets and show times.
Take your favorite four-legger out for a morning of holiday revelry, for Nassau Humane Society’s beloved Parade of Paws, held on Centre Street on December 9 at 11 a.m. Prizes are awarded in all sorts of categories for creative holiday costumes. Cost is $15 per dog and you may register your pet in advance by calling (904) 321-1647 or register the day of the event from 10 to 10:45 a.m.
For the young and the young-at-heart, have Breakfast with Santa in Candyland on December 9 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the GFWC Women’s Club of Fernandina Beach, 201 Jean Lafitte Boulevard. Cost is $15 per person; children under 2 are free when accompanied by an adult. For more information, contact Sue Dwyer at (904) 277-3245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, enjoy the magic of twinkling lights while you shop and dine there this season. A very special “Truffle Weekend” will be celebrated December 15-17, when adventurous foodies can indulge in a variety of dishes (and cocktails!) incorporating this flavorful fungi. Dine at one of The Sprouting Project dinners and enjoy an artfully crafted, four-course truffle focused dinner. Try the truffle beef burger at Falcon’s Nest, savor the truffle potato soup by the spoonful at Marché Burette, and much more with new discoveries at each restaurant. For more information, call (904) 261-6161.
A sailing vessel the likes of which you have never seen, the S.S. Amelia, the world’s largest gingerbread pirate ship, has arrived at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, just in time for their tree lighting ceremony, which was held on November 24. The pirate ship is made of over 600 pieces of gingerbread, and festooned with fondant sculpted seafarers. The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island is sparkling with holiday allure, enhancing the numerous events held there throughout the season, from Breakfast with Santa to fine holiday dining opportunities, and overall family fun. For more information, call
Join the Amelia Island Museum of History for their most anticipated event of the year. The 11th annual Holiday Home Tour will take place on Friday, December 1 and Saturday, December 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tour some of the loveliest Victorian homes located in the Historic District of Fernandina Beach, each decorated for the holidays by a local florist/decorator. Free trolley service will transport guests from a central parking area to the featured homes, while costumed carolers and musicians entertain them with seasonal selections. For more information or to purchase tickets ($30), call the Museum at (904) 261-7378.
Catch the spirit of the season at the annual Amelia Island Bed and Breakfast Holiday Cookie Tour hosted by the Amelia Island Bed and Breakfast Association on Saturday, December 9 from noon until 5 p.m. You are invited to experience a special afternoon of delicious sweet treats as six of Amelia Island’s classic inns and charming bed-and-breakfast inns dress up in festive holiday finery and open their doors to the public. As you stroll through the Historic District on the Cookie Tour, you will able to sample a signature cookie at each inn, take home a beautifully printed recipe card, and view some great decorating ideas just in time for the holidays. You’ll even learn a historical tidbit or two as you peek inside Amelia Island’s prettiest and most unique inns.
Horse-drawn carriage rides will be available in the Historic District for your enjoyment between downtown stops. A portion of the proceeds from ticket and cookbook sales will benefit Friends of the Fernandina Beach Library. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.ameliaislandinns.com/cookie-tour.
While you’re strolling through the downtown district on December 9, stop at BuyGO at 22 South 8th Street for an old-fashioned Holiday Bazaar featuring artisans, crafters, Santa photos, live music, “Elf of a Shelf” selfies, a hot chocolate bar and more. Call BuyGO for more information at (904) 310-9766.
On December 16, join members of the Jewish Community of Amelia Island for their annual Hanukkah Party. Participants are asked to bring their own menorahs and a dish to share. All ages and families are welcome to attend (last year 100 people attended!) and there will be judging on who makes the best potato pancakes! The Jewish Community of Amelia Island also meets monthly for Shabbat Services, and for high holidays. For more information or to make a reservation to attend the Hanukkah Party, contact Debbie Price at email@example.com or call (203)313-3925 or (904) 310-6060.
This year marks the 21st year of “An Evening in December”, which will be presented Friday December 8 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, December 10 at 4 and 7 p.m. at Amelia Baptist Church in Fernandina Beach. The community is invited to enjoy this annual celebration of the Christmas Story, which is presented each year in a unique blend of choral music, drama, and dance. The theme of this year’s presentation is “Be Born in Me.” Each year, the church offers an evening of music and drama as its gift to the community. No admission is charged. For more information, contact Pam Helton at (904) 261-9527 or Allen Lennon at (904) 261-8799.
If Jazz and Big Band are your pleasure, there are several performances to get your groove on this season. The Les DeMerle Trio featuring Bonnie Eisele will present a Jazz Party Weekend on December 1 and 2 at Horizons Restaurant, 5472 First Coast Highway, from 6 to 9 p.m. On December 8, 9, 22, and 23 the Trio will present a special dinner and show, “The Jazz Spirit of Christmas”, also from 6 to 9 p.m. Call Horizons to make your reservations at (904) 321-2430.
On December 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. Crescendo Amelia Big Band will be performing their annual holiday variety show, “How the Big Band Stole Christmas”. A full theater production, this show features twenty-five performers including Marah Lovequist, Reed Meyer, and an all-star cast of guest vocalists and musicians from the area performing favorite holiday tunes from the classics to contemporary favorites. For the first time ever, a special Crescendo Amelia holiday CD will also be available for purchase at the event. “How the Big Band Stole Christmas” will be held at Fernandina Beach Theatre at Fernandina Beach Middle School, 315 Citrona Drive. Tickets are available at www.crescendoamelia.com.
After the gifts have been opened and the Christmas ham has been consumed, ring in the New Year with the City of Fernandina Beach and Light Up Amelia for a unique, family-friendly New Year’s Celebration at the downtown waterfront, ringing in the New Year in conjunction with the Greenwich Mean Time stroke of midnight, which is at 7 p.m. The event will feature live music, a kids zone, vendors, holiday food and drink, all leading up to the dropping of the LED-lighted shrimp.
Visit www.ameliaisland.com for updates on these and other holiday events. Be sure to check with the local churches for the dates of their pageants and craft shows, and don’t forget our local charities. Micah’s Place, Joy to the Children, the Hope House, and many other charities need donations of time and gifts this season. Enjoy the season here on Amelia Island, and spread some holiday cheer of your own!