Holiday hotspots in Sarasota
UTC celebrating the holiday season. (Taken by Aria Lockmann.)

Holiday hotspots in Sarasota

Earlier this semester, the Catalyst covered a trifecta of locally-owned businesses where one could get a good cup of coffee. Assuming the campus has been caffeinated—coupled with so many students being cooped up during the dreaded finals week—the best course of action would be to find somewhere local to cool off this winter break, with a focus on affordability and accessibility.

Holidays at UTC

An important staple of Sarasota social life, the University Town Center (UTC) is a veritable advent calendar of publicly-available holiday events gatekept only by a short bus trip. For those unfamiliar, the UTC has been in operation since 1998 and is a sprawling outdoor mall home to well over 300 establishments, including a wide variety of restaurants and retailers.

From Nov. 12 to Jan. 2, the UTC will host a wide range of events, including fireworks every Saturday at 9 p.m., nightly light shows from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., screenings of classical holiday films every Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., a dedicated “Ugly Sweater Avenue,” and horse-drawn carriage rides on Thursday through Sunday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

A flier for the Rink at UTC. (Courtesy of The Mall at UTC website.)

In spite of Florida’s heat even in winter, one of the most distinctive attractions available in the UTC during the holiday season is The Rink—a fully-functional ice rink located in the East District, open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. every day. 75 minutes in the ice rink—skate rentals included—will run one back about $17. For more information and reservations, the UTC has provided an online form.

Additionally, every Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. offers an opportunity for those with their finger on the pulse of New College’s latest craze to do yoga under an aurora of holiday lights.

In spite of the lights indicative primarily of Christmas, the UTC also hosts a Hanukkah Celebration in collaboration with the Sarasota reform synagogue Temple Emanu-El.

For more information on what the UTC has to offer during the holiday season, the UTC regularly posts updates on their website, dates included.

Holiday Art Mart

For those who aren’t interested in the dense crowds and outdoor activities of the UTC, Overture Restaurant and Gallery Lounge’s Holiday Art Mart is a more low-key alternative to commemorate the coming of the holiday season.

On Saturday, December 17—from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Art Ovation Hotel—one is able to freely walk across a variety of vendors and appreciate the craftsmanship of Sarasota’s artistic community. Befitting the name—for the right price—one can even walk away with one of these creative curios. The Gallery Lounge’s halls are set to be adorned with holiday decorations, and a suite of festive beverages are provided.

The journey to the Holiday Art Mart can be taken by car or by a 20-minute bus ride. Admission to the Holiday Art Mart is free of charge, but it’s within one’s best interest to reserve a spot in advance.

Ringling Museum’s Holiday Splendor

On the topic of art, Ringling Museum’s Holiday Splendor is not only an opportunity to visit a museum with a close relationship with New College through its Ringling Underground events and free museum admission with a student ID, but an opportunity to give back to those in need.

Thursday, December 15 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. marks a series of musical performances on the Bolger Campiello from Sarasota’s local schools. While admission is usually free for New College students with an ID, all venues are made available for self-touring by donating an unwrapped toy for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots.

Ringling Museum is the closest of the three holiday locales to New College—as any student who makes the commute to Caples would be able to testify. The low price of entry—a toy donation—makes the Ringling Museum’s Holiday Splendor a perfect opportunity to spend time with family and/or friends visiting Sarasota for the holiday season.

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