Thanksgiving Week – What’s Happening in Jacksonville

Thanksgiving JacksonvilleThe start of the holiday season is always an exciting time on the First Coast and in Jacksonville. Thanksgiving week offers many opportunities for Jacksonville holiday events. There are plenty of Thanksgiving and holiday events to entertain kids while school is out Thanksgiving week! From restaurants offering a full Thanksgiving meal to turkey trots and 5ks before the turkey, be sure to get out and enjoy the start of the holiday season this year!


Thanksgiving Meals

Don’t feel like cooking this year for Thanksgiving? Many Jacksonville restaurants are open on Thanksgiving Day. Open Table has a full list of venues around Jacksonville for family meals of all flavors and sizes for Thanksgiving Day. Restaurants include Moxie, Azure at One Ocean, Ruth’s Chris, Seasons 52 and TPC Sawgrass. The Ritz Carlton at Amelia Island offers a Thanksgiving Grand Feast from 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a buffet, an endless array of desserts, child-friendly activities and holiday-inspired games. Savor a traditional Thanksgiving meal while listening to the crash of the waves with either brunch or dinner at One Ocean’s Thanksgiving Along the Coast.


Thanksgiving Week Events

The S. S. Amelia Gingerbread Pirate Ship Arrives

November 21, 2018: 5:30 p.m.

Our Gingerbread Ship returns to the Lobby with pirate characters sculpted from chocolate. A holiday icon, the Gingerbread Pirate Ship provides the perfect backdrop for your holiday picture.


Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island

November 21, 2018: 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Enjoy the kickoff to the holiday season with thousands of sparkling lights, music and refreshments at the annual Amelia Island Christmas Tree Lighting. The evening includes a benefit raffle for the McArthur Family YMCA and concludes with Santa’s arrival and a spectacular fireworks show.. Festivities conclude with Santa’s arrival and fireworks.


Santa’s Magical Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton

November 21, 2018: 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Join Santa along with his elves after the Tree Lighting for a new Wonderland experience, including appearances from a few special guests. Santa’s Wonderland menu includes citrus shrimp, honey glazed ham, flank steak, chicken and a children’s buffet. Also included is a picture with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Reservations requested.


Christmas Made in the South

November 23 – 25, 2018

Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas Made in the South brings a wide variety of over 300 artists and craftsmen into one location so shoppers can find anything that they can imagine. Thousands of one-of-a-kind items, including jewelry, ornaments, glass-blown decorations, textiles, clothing, gourmet food, and clay sculptures.

This is the 30th year in Jacksonville and this show is rated in the top 100 fine art and craft shows by Sunshine Artists, which rates more than 100,000 shows in the country.

Everything is unique! The artists and craftsmen will be there to talk with you about their craft, share their stories, and many will be demonstrating their work.


Deck the Chairs

November 25, 2018 – January 1, 2019

Deck the Chairs, Beaches Winter Lights Festival is an annual lighted sculpture exhibit using the iconic red chairs of the American Red Cross Life Saving Corps. Sponsored by local businesses and decorated by regional artists, the exhibit will be on display in downtown Jacksonville Beach throughout the month of December.


Santa Express Train Rides

November 24, 2018

The magic of Christmas comes alive at Santa Land where Jolly Old St. Nick himself boards the train for the return ride with gifts for all the good little boys and girls. Entertainment all along the way. The perfect old-fashioned holiday celebration.


Santa’s Magical Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton

November 25, 2018: 6:30 p.m.

Join Santa Claus and his elves following the community tree lighting for a holiday wonderland experience at Santa’s Magical Dinner. The menu includes holiday favorites, children’s buffet, a delectable dessert buffet as well as a commemorative picture with Mr. & Mrs. Claus.

Reservations requested.


Fernandina Beach Christmas Tree Lighting

November 24, 2018: 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

The City of Fernandina Beach is celebrating the lighting of its Christmas tree on Saturday at the foot of Centre Street with a full day of entertainment proceeding it. Vendors, Nassau Community Band, activities for kids, Fernandina Beach Pirates, photos with Santa and Mermaid Jenna.


TPC Sawgrass Tree Lighting Ceremony

November 23, 2018: 4:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Celebrate the holidays at TPC Sawgrass! Enjoy the Christmas carols and hot cocoa in this fun, complimentary family event.


St. Augustine Night of Lights

November 17, 2018: 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

This award-winning holiday lights display runs from November 17, 2018, to Feb. 3, 2019, in historic St. Augustine. During Nights of Lights, businesses downtown stay open later, letting you dine in view of the lights and shop amongst the lit buildings. The trains and trolleys offer special seasonal tours that take you through the best areas of Nights of Lights, and there are also a variety of specialty tours — everything from walking to horse-and-carriage tours, and even tours to see the lights from the water and from the air.


Jax Illuminations

November 16, 2018

Join Jax Illuminations in celebrating its 6th year as Jacksonville’s Best Drive-Thru Holiday Light Show. Nov 16, 2018 – Dec 30, 2018. Load up the family and tune your car radio to our special radio station. Listen to your favorite holiday tunes as you drive through over Half a Million lights that dance, twinkle and sparkle to the music. The one-mile drive-thru features two mega trees, a 300 ft tunnel of lights, custom Christmas scenes and much more.


32nd Annual Christmas on the St. Johns Tree Lighting Ceremony

November 23, 2018: 7:00 p.m.

The 56-foot-tall energy-efficient tree features over 78,000 L.E.D. lights and more than 100 ornaments. The tree is also programmed to perform a 10-minute, synchronized light show set to various selections of holiday music. The light shows begin the night of the Tree Lighting Ceremony and continue daily until New Year’s Eve.

Music for the Lighting Ceremony will begin at 7:00 p.m. and include local performances. The evening will conclude with a fireworks display on the St. Johns River.


Downtown Dazzle: An Illumination Celebration

November 23, 2018: 5:30 p.m. – 9:30pm

Downtown offices of the JCC will be illuminated with a holiday light display synchronized to recorded songs of the season broadcast on 94.5FM


32nd Annual Christmas on the St. Johns Tree Lighting Ceremony

November 23, 2018: 7:00 p.m.

The 56-foot-tall energy-efficient tree features over 78,000 L.E.D. lights and more than 100 ornaments. The tree is also programmed to perform a 10-minute, synchronized light show set to various selections of holiday music. The light shows begin the night of the Tree Lighting Ceremony and continue daily until New Year’s Eve.

Music for the Lighting Ceremony will begin at 7:00 p.m. and include local performances. The evening will conclude with a fireworks display on the St. Johns River.

Downtown offices of the JCC will be illuminated with a holiday light display synchronized to recorded songs of the season broadcast on 94.5FM


Winterfest at Adventure Landing

November 16, 2018: 2:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

You don’t need to leave Jacksonville to enjoy a true winter experience so zip up those parkas and get ready for the frosty chill as Adventure Landing transports you to this charming Alpine event you won’t want to miss!

WinterFEST is open on select days during select times, so be sure to check our calendar for more details.  Also, certain activities and attractions are only available on a select basis and are subject to change.

Thanksgiving Week Runs

McKenzie’s Run

November 17, 2018: 9:30 am – 12pm

The 9th Annual McKenzie’s Run will take place at EverBank Field on November 18th, 2018. 1 mile fun run begins at 9:30 and the 5k begins at 10am.

McKenzie’s Run began in 2010, in memory of McKenzie Wilson. The run has been a tremendous success with over 3,800 participants in 2015. All funds raised support The McKenzie Noelle Wilson Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps young people recognize their full potential through programs that encourage caring for others, giving to those in need, and growing in their own spirituality.


Tony’s Turkey Trot Run

November 22, 2018: 8:00am

RUN. WALK. or WOBBLE!  Join us for our 4th Annual Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning, November 22, 2018, in the beautiful, scenic area of Atlantic Beach, Florida. This year promises to be our best course yet with a scenic run through the most beautiful areas of Atlantic Beach, including the halfway turn in front of Atlantic Beach Country Club.  The 5k beings at 8:00 am and the route will start at the intersection of Atlantic and Ocean Blvd, close to shops and the beach!


Run Turkey Run 5k

November 22, 2018: 7:30am

Start a new family tradition this Thanksgiving with the Run Turkey Run 5k in beautiful World Golf Village with Ultimate Racing.

The 4th Annual Run Turkey Run will be loaded with tradition and fun for the whole family. Great prizes and awards and you’ll be heading out in plenty of time to get home for turkey. So plan to get that turkey in the oven early and come kick out a quick 5k run or walk to start off your day in a healthy way.


 Community First Thanksgiving Distance Classic

November 23, 2018: 6:30 a.m.

Start your Thanksgiving off the right way with either a 5K or half marathon. The Community First Thanksgiving Distance Classic will take you through Pickwick Park in Mandarin for a beautiful start to your holiday weekend. Online registration closes early but you can still register at any 1st Place Sports Store or the day of the race.

Half Marathon @ 7:00 am | 5K @ 6:50 am | Turkey Trot 1 Mile @ 6:50 am


14th Annual Turkey Trot 5K – Vida Race Series

November 22, 2018: 6:30 a.m.

The 14th Annual Vida Race Series Turkey Trot 5K on Amelia Island offers an event for racers, runners, and walkers. Race, Run or Walk the 5K, which meanders through the Historic American Beach Community, starting and ending at the Wellness Center at Osprey Village. The course runs through the Historic American Beach Community. A portion of the proceeds will stock the shelves of The Barnabas Food Pantry of Nassau County. A one-mile fun run for kids begins at 9 a.m.


Omni Turkey Trot 5k

November 22, 2018: 6:30 a.m.

Start and finish at Omni Amelia Island Plantation’s Racquet Park, located next to the Verandah restaurant. Enjoy a scenic run, meandering through the beautiful, tree-canopied resort. Located at 6800 First Coast Highway. Running or walking is acceptable. No animals and bicycles on course. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the McArthur Family YMCA. T-shirt for pre-registered participants, medals for top finishers.


Winter Break & Holiday Camps In Jacksonville

Just a few short weeks after Thanksgiving is Christmas break for students. If you’re looking for a winter camp to keep them busy, be sure to check out this guide of great holiday camps around town!

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