Celebrating the Joys of the Season on Amelia Island

From musical concerts and Christmas plays to the festive “Dickens on Centre,” Amelia Island knows how to make the most of Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve.

From the sparkling shores of the Atlantic Ocean to its historic downtown, to Old Town in the north and the resort community in the south, Amelia Island shines during the holiday season! Who wouldn’t want to be here, celebrating the holidays with a walk on the beach or stroll through a Victorian Christmas village? Look around the island and you will see historic bed and breakfast inns decorated with garlands and greenery. The Salvation Army volunteers are ringing their bells, and children are trying their best to be as good as possible. Everywhere you go, you’ll see Amelia Islanders are doing what they do best – enjoying their beautiful island paradise!

SHARING CHRISTMAS JOY WITH MUSIC AND THEATER
Beginning on December 1, Amelia Musical Playhouse presents its annual Christmas musical, Scrooge! Come experience Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey with the Spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come, based on the book by Charles Dickens. For more information and tickets, visit www.ameliamusicalplayhouse.com.

Miracle on 34th Street, a Live Radio Play, begins on December 1 at Amelia Community Theatre. This performance is a live recreation of the 1948 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast. But broadcasting live often means what you hear on the radio is not necessarily what we see behind the microphones! Also at Amelia Community Theatre, on December 21, Eden and Frankie perform classic holiday songs with an island flare. Along with Eden’s violin, and Frankie’s ukulele, they will be joined by steel drums, bass, and vocalists. Join them for their first holiday concert that will be sure to get you in the spirit. Bring the family to start this tradition with them! For tickets, visit www.ameliacommunitytheatre.org.

Don’t miss the chance to attend Amelia Baptist Church’s memorable recreation of the Nativity in its popular An Evening in December. In this presentation, held December 1 and 2, you’ll become personally involved in the story as you take an experiential journey of the Biblical Nativity, presented on a series of five stages. Guests will also be greeted by shopkeepers with first-century wares, a petting zoo, and other unique sights. There is no admission charge, but all guests must have a ticket to attend. Register for An Evening in December by going to An Evening in December 2023 Tickets, Fernandina Beach | Eventbrite. For more information, visit www.ameliabaptist.org or call (904) 261-9527.

“The Jazz Spirit of Christmas” show, held at Story and Song Center for Arts & Culture on December 2 at 5 pm, is classic jazz through and through! Featuring the Dynamic Les DeMerle Band with Bonnie Eisele, vocals, Dr. Bill Prince, sax, clarinet and flute, and Doug Matthews, piano, the song selections include Bonnie’s heartfelt versions of The Christmas Song, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, plus her sassy interpretations of Santa Baby and Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Les’s dynamic drumming and vocals will also be featured on Little BeBop Drummer Boy and the New Orleans favorite, Santa Claus is Near. Tickets are available online at storyandsongarts.org or by calling (904) 601-2118.

PIRATE SHIPS, HOLIDAY HOME TOURS, AND LIGHTED PARADES
The holiday icon returns! The world’s largest gingerbread pirate ship, the SS Amelia, sets sail into the holiday hearts of visitors this season at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. The gingerbread masterwork, with its sugar-sculpted pirate crew and colorful fondant clothing, is a signature island experience and the picture-perfect backdrop to an exciting month of abundant holiday memories and experiences at the resort and throughout the island.

Don’t miss out on Fernandina Beach’s most iconic Christmas event—the Amelia Island Museum of History’s Holiday Home Tour. Carefully curated historic family homes are decorated by local florists and interior designers. Docents in each home give its history, highlight the period architectural elements, and guide visitors through the lavishly decorated homes. The tour will be held December 1 and 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For tickets and more information, call (904) 261-7378 or visit Holiday Home Tour at ameliamuseum.org.

Kick off your holiday season with the annual Lighted Christmas Parade on December 2 at 6 p.m. Come enjoy the magic of the holiday season, organized by America’s Youth. The parade, which begins at Central Park, consists of bands, dancers, lighted floats, and more. For information on becoming a participant, contact John Gilbert at (904) 624-5383.

DICKENS ON CENTRE RETURNS TO DOWNTOWN FERNANDINA BEACH
Travel back in time from December 7 to 10 during the annual “Dickens on Centre” festival in historic downtown Fernandina Beach. Free to the public, this Victorian holiday festival is sure to enliven your Christmas spirit! Throughout the weekend, feel the spirit of the holiday with Victorian-inspired entertainment on two stages. Families will enjoy loads of fun for the whole gang, including Tiny Tim’s Kids Zone, visits with St. Nick, holiday entertainment and shopping, festive food and drink, costumed characters, holiday movies, and plenty of Christmas inspiration.

This year’s Dickens on Centre entertainment includes many of your favorites including Victorian-era carolers, dance ensembles, musicians, and much more. For a complete schedule, visit www.ameliaisland.com/dickens-on-centre.

The Enchanted Village has been a huge success for the past two years! Spend a magical hour inside a festively decorated snow globe with friends or loved ones and enjoy your own luxury charcuterie grazing box from Luxe by Les. Be sure to reserve your snow globe experience early as this is sure to sell out.

Dickens After Dark at the Lesesne House is also back and offering a surprise or two. Be sure to dress-to-impress at this 21+ VIP party with food, drinks, complete with stilt walkers, jugglers, and the amazing Fire & Ice Show by Kristen Sparrow Circus. Tickets will go fast for this unique Dickens experience. For more information, visit Dickens After Dark – Amelia Island.

Animal lovers and fans of holiday cuteness won’t want to miss the Nassau Humane Society’s annual Parade of Paws on December 9 at 11 a.m., where beloved pets are decked out in their holiday best for a festive stroll up Centre Street from the Welcome Center. Prizes will be awarded for Best Victorian, Most Original, and Looks Most Like Owner, and top three overall. Prizes are provided by Redbones Dog Bakery and Willow Sky. Registration is $20 per animal, with proceeds going to NHS. Look for more information in the Events section of NHS Facebook page. Staging, check-in, and onsite registration begins at 9:30 a.m. For more information, contact Dionna Sowers at dsowers@nassauhumane.org or call (904) 321-0022

While you’re out and about on December 9, be sure to stop at the local galleries during Second Saturday Artrageous Artwalk, held 5 to 8 p.m. Participating galleries host art events and open houses during the second Saturday Artrageous Artwalk to showcase their resident artists. Locals and tourists alike can enjoy the various types of art that each gallery has to offer as well as meet the artists. Photography, pottery, copper, metal, fused, as well as stained glass, watercolors, acrylics, oils, and batik are just a few of the varied media folks can expect to see.

HOLIDAY CONCERTS, JOY TO THE CHILDREN, AND HANUKKAH
Join the Amelia Island Singers as they proudly present their annual holiday tribute, JOY for the Season! on Friday, December 15 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, December 17 at 3 p.m. Join Amelia Island Singers at Amelia Plantation Chapel for a joy- filled concert this holiday season and let their gift to you be their songs. Plan to purchase your tickets early, as Amelia Island Singers’ concerts sell out quickly. Details about parking and when the church doors will open will be sent to ticket buyers a week before the concert. For more information and tickets visit www.ameliaislandsingers.com.

“We are happy to announce we will bring Joy to the Children again this year!” says Dawn Grant, president of the organization. “Since 1995, Joy has been able to serve economically disadvantaged children and their families in the Nassau County community. In recent years, we have hosted over 150 children and their families each Christmas Day to provide a celebration that included Christmas dinner and gifts of clothing, bedding, books, school supplies, hygiene products, and toys.”

In addition, there will be live music, crafts, face painting, photo ops, pirates, clowns, and of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus. Your donation this year will greatly help in the continued success of this local program, and Joy to the Children is counting on your support. To make a donation or to volunteer, visit their website at www.joytothechildren.org.

On December 9 at 5 p.m., Nanette Autrey’s Traveling Revue of Motown (NATROM) Band will rock the house at Story and Song Center for Arts & Culture. The instrumental combo will be performing mostly traditional Christmas music from a familiar perspective, and the singers will present a flavor of musical styles ranging from spirituals to gospel, with an R&B Soul flair. For tickets ($25) visit, “NATROM” Holiday Revue (www.storyandsongarts.org)

On December 10, the Jewish Community of Amelia Island is celebrating Hanukkah with a Hanukkah Party! Often called the Festival of Lights, the holiday is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, traditional foods, games and gifts. For location, time, and more information, call Debbie Price at (203) 313-3925 or email her at Deb203@aol.com.

On December 16 at 5 p.m. in a special holiday show, An Evening of Story and Song with Queen of Hearts will dazzle you with their lush harmonies, meaningful lyrics, comic banter, and instrumental talent. Long live the Queens! Tickets are $55 and available by calling (904) 601-2118 or visiting “An Evening of Story & Song” with Queen of Hearts (www.storyandsongarts.org) Story and Song Center for Arts & Culture is located at 1430 Park Ave.

On December 22 and 23, Crescendo Amelia Big Band presents “How the Big Band Stole Christmas,” featuring world class performers in a classic18-piece big band setting including professional singers, entertainers, dancers, and actors. This full theatre production will include all your favorite holiday songs, local celebrity singers, dancing, acting and a few surprises! “How the Big Band Stole Christmas” will be held at Amelia Community Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on December 22 and 23, with an additional matinee performance on December 23 at 3:30 p.m. ACT is located at 207 Cedar Street. For more information and tickets, visit www.crescendoamelia.com.

DOWNTOWN SHRIMP DROP AND NEW YEAR’S EVE
On December 31, the New Year’s Eve Shrimp Drop celebration and fireworks will begin at 5 p.m. with vendors, music, and food. Shrimp drops at 7pm, followed by a breathtaking fireworks display. Presented by “Light Up Amelia,” a non-profit community organization, the New Year’s Eve Shrimp Drop is not to be missed! For more information and updates on the event, visit their Facebook page or their website at www.lightupamelia.com.

Swing in 2024 at the “New Year’s Eve in Venice Show” with a champagne toast at 6 pm when the clock strikes midnight in Venice, Italy. Exciting music will include jazz arrangements on classics such as Sorrento, Buona Sera, Thats’ Amore, Just a Gigolo, and more when the Dynamic Les DeMerle Band featuring vocalist Bonnie Eisele puts on a spectacular New Year’s Eve show with heavy hors d’oeuvres. New Year’s Eve in Venice will be held on Sunday, December 31 from 5 pm to 7 pm at Story and Song Center for Arts & Culture. For tickets, visit www.storyandsongarts.org or call (904) 601-2118.

Welcome in 2024 at the ninth annual New Year’s Eve Black & White Gala at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island on December 31 beginning at 9pm. This adults-only event offers luxurious food buffets including a seafood and sushi station, living salad station, antipasti, and appetizers. Dance all night with live music, enjoy an open bar, and fireworks with a champagne toast. Black and white attire is encouraged. Masquerade masks are provided, or you can bring your own. For more information or to make reservations, visit www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/florida/amelia-island.

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. The Barnabas Center, Micah’s Place, 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!