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Amelia Islander

An Amelia Island Christmas 2016

Dec 09, 2016 11:58AM
Each December, Amelia Island is transformed into a magical wonderland, beckoning visitors and locals to join together for the holidays. With sun, sea, and indigo skies as its backdrop, Christmas comes to life unlike any other place on earth. Do Amelia Islanders miss the snow? How could we, when we have white, sandy beaches to dip our toes into this time of the year? The holidays begin early here on Amelia Island, starting in mid-November with Christmas craft shows, musical events, and theatre performances. And not long after the Thanksgiving turkey has been eaten, tree-lighting ceremonies are held, and the downtown merchants have kicked off the shopping season with their annual Pajama Party sale. Look around the island and you will see Amelia’s historic bed-and-breakfast inns decorated with garlands and greenery. The Salvation Army volunteers are ringing their bells, children are trying their best to be good, and local businesses are bustling with cheerful shoppers. Churches are preparing for their pageants and special services, and Amelia Islanders are doing what they do best—enjoying their beautiful island paradise. At the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, the fun has already begun with their annual Holiday Tree Lighting at The Shops, held during Thanksgiving week. Enjoy the magic and twinkling lights while you shop and dine there throughout the holiday season. For more information about holiday events, call (904) 261-6161. If you’re staying at the hotel and need more information about local events and activities, call the concierge at (904) 432-1467. A sailing vessel the likes of which you have never seen, the S. S. Amelia, the world’s largest gingerbread pirate ship, arrived at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, just in time for their tree lighting ceremony, which was held during Thanksgiving week. 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 (904) 277-1100. One of the island’s most treasured holiday events is the Amelia Island Holiday Home Tour, held the first weekend in December. This tour, hosted by the Amelia Island Museum of History, offers the public a rare opportunity to go inside some of Fernandina Beach’s loveliest historic homes, private residences that are decked out for the season and graciously opened to visitors. This year’s tour features five Victorian-era homes located in the downtown Historic District. The self-paced tour allows guests to leisurely stroll through the downtown on Friday, December 2, and Saturday, December 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. while visiting each home. Step onto the front porches and through historic thresholds to glimpse these beautiful homes in their holiday attire, all decorated by professional designers. Guests will also hear the history of these special homes of Fernandina, narrated by museum staff and volunteers. Victorian-dressed carolers will add to the holiday spirit by serenading visitors at each stop. For more information, call (904) 261-7378 or visit On the evening of December 2, witness a two-mile long glow from luminaries lining sidewalks on both sides of Atlantic Avenue from S. 14th Street to Jean LaFitte Blvd. and the GFWC Woman’s Club of Fernandina Beach. Christmas Glow is an annual holiday tradition held on the first Friday evening of December each year, and it includes free punch and cookies, visits with Santa Claus, face painting, entertainment, and Chick-Fil-A sandwiches available for purchase. The Woman’s Club is located at 201 Jean LaFitte Boulevard. For more information, call (904) 261-6088. And while you’re downtown the first weekend in December, be sure to bring your little ones to the second annual Friends of the Library Children’s Holiday Party on Saturday, December 3, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fernandina Beach Library, located at 24 North 4th Street. There will be readings of several holiday books and an arts and crafts station that coincides with the themes of the featured books. Also planned are guest appearances from local firemen, who will let the children tour one of their trucks, and other fun surprises for the kids! For more information, call (904) 277-7365. On December 3 and 4, join Living History re-enactors at Fort Clinch for their annual Union Holiday Encampment. Ladies in their holiday finery will be trimming a Christmas tree and decorating the mantles for the holiday season. Sutlers display their wares, and drummer boys provide the sounds of the Civil War era. For more information, call the Fort at (904) 277-7274. It’s time to travel back to Victorian days from December 8-11 during the second annual Dickens on Centre Festival in historic downtown Fernandina Beach. Free to the public, this Victorian-inspired holiday festival is as fun as the dickens for the entire family. Enjoy 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 Beach into a classic English village, sure to enliven your Christmas spirit with chestnuts roasting, carolers strolling, and readings of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” On Thursday, December 8, America’s Youth lights up the downtown with the annual Lighted Christmas Parade, celebrating “A Musical Christmas,” at 6 p.m. Then, throughout the Dickens weekend, visitors will be treated to numerous events, including Candlelight Victorian Evensong at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, concerts on the main stage from Nassau Community Band, the Fernandina Beach High School Band and Chorus, the Song Spinners, and Crescendo Amelia, as well as Amelia Island Museum of History Walking Tours, activities for the children, and so much more. For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit 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 10, 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-breakfasts dress up in festive holiday finery and open their doors. At each of these Historic District inns, you can sample a signature cookie, collect some great decorating ideas, and take home a beautifully printed recipe card just in time for holiday baking. You’ll even learn a historical tidbit or two from Amelia Island Museum of History docent guides as you peek inside Amelia Island’s prettiest “ornaments.” Complimentary horse-drawn carriage and trolley rides will be available from inn to inn, or enjoy the view on foot with the short walk between houses. In the spirit of the season, a portion of the proceeds from ticket and cookbook sales from the Holiday Cookie Tour will benefit Micah’s Place, Nassau County’s domestic violence center. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Before you head out to the Cookie Tour on December 10, you might want to take the young ones (and the young at heart) to Santa’s Breakfast Express at the GFWC Women’s Club of Fernandina Beach, located at 201 Jean LaFitte Boulevard behind the Atlantic Recreation Center. Enjoy breakfast with Santa and see his magical Christmas village and train displays. There are two seatings for breakfast, one at 9 a.m. and one at 10:30 a.m. To purchase tickets, call Sue Dwyer at (904) 277-3245 or email her at [email protected]. Our fuzzy, four legged friends love the holidays as much as we do, and they love getting dressed of for the Nassau Humane Society’s annual Parade of Paws, held this year on December 10. The lineup begins at 10 a.m. on Centre Street, and the parade itself begins at 11 a.m. from the downtown train depot. Humans are encouraged to dress up, too, and prizes will be awarded. For more information, visit If live theatre is your preference, there are numerous Christmas and holiday performances throughout the season on Amelia Island. From December 1 through December 17, “Ebenezer—A Christmas Carol,” will make its northeast Florida premiere at Amelia Community Theatre. An original production, Ebenezer is a lighthearted interpretation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that features music from all genres, including gospel, country, rock, and jazz. For more information and tickets, visit On December 9 and 10, step back in time at Amelia Musical Playhouse and tune in to staged readings from legendary comedians of the past like George Burns, Gracie Allen, Fred Allen, and more. In between the skits, there will be holiday musical numbers in which audience members can sing along. For tickets, visit This year marks the 20th anniversary of “An Evening in December,” presented Friday and Sunday, December 9 and 11 at Amelia Baptist Church in Fernandina Beach. The community is invited to enjoy this annual celebration of the Christmas Story, which is presented in a unique blend of music and drama. Each year, the church offers this special presentation as its gift to the community. Childcare through age four is available with reservations. To inquire about childcare, call the church office (904) 261-9527. Admission is free. Les DeMerle and Bonnie Eisele are spending the holidays on Amelia Island this year, jazzin’ up Christmas with four shows at Horizons Restaurant. The Jazz Spirit of Christmas Holiday Dinner and Show will be held on December 9 and 10, with seatings at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Join Les and Bonnie performing holiday classics from their award-winning CD on Origin Records, “The Jazz Spirit of Christmas”, in an intimate setting with Chef Courtney Thompson’s three-course gourmet dinner and wine. To make reservations, call Horizons at (904) 321-2430. This year, the Jewish Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah, is observed beginning on December 24 at sundown and continues for eight nights. It is a joyous holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean revolt some 2,200 years ago. The Jewish Community of Amelia Island (JCAI) is holding its Hanukkah party at the Property Owners Clubhouse at Amelia Island Plantation, and it is open to all those who wish to celebrate on the first night of Hanukkah, December 24 at 6 p.m. In addition to a latke cooking contest, everyone brings an appetizer, entrée, or dessert to share. Bring your family menorah and join in the fun! Join the City of Fernandina Beach and Light Up Amelia for a unique, family-friendly New Year’s Celebration at the downtown waterfront. Celebrate the ringing in of 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 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!