The day after Thanksgiving, commonly known as Black Friday, officially kicks off the annual shopping frenzy that continues until Christmas. For most, those holiday memories are not met with smiles. But the Hernando County Fairgrounds in Brooksville has started a new tradition that kicks off the day after Thanksgiving — Candy Cane Acres.
Those who missed last week's opening of the fairgrounds' annual holiday event need not worry. It continues on weekends through Dec. 17.
Candy Cane Acres is a walk-through display, featuring a Christmas village with handmade decorations among about 100,000 glittering lights that dance to music by Mannheim Steamroller.
There will be new decorations this year, including six large holiday blow-ups, an 18-foot lighted tree, more lights and vendors selling crafts and holiday gifts.
Visitors will enjoy several returning favorites, such as Santa's workshop, Florida-style sleigh rides and an opportunity to play in the Florida "snow," provided by two bubble machines. There also will be a parade of trees, children's games and a model train display that features two trains that travel from the Brooksville depot to Dr. Seuss' Whoville. Santa will be available in the back of the building, where he will have plenty of room to visit with children and pose for pictures. Children can also decorate sugar cookies in Mrs. Claus' kitchen.
Also returning this year will be a petting zoo with "reindeer" rides (ponies with antlers). For a small fee, visitors may purchase feed for the animals. There will also be a petting zoo.
"Seeing the children — and adults — smile and having a good time makes it all worth it," said Shari Klimas, president of the Hernando County Fair Association. "That's what it's all about."
Candy Cane Acres will be open from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 17 at the fairgrounds, 6436 Broad St., Brooksville. Admission is $10 per carload, which includes 10 free tickets that may be used for food, drinks and games. Additional tickets are 50 cents each. For information, call the fairgrounds at (352) 796-4552.
Other holiday events include:
Light Up Ridge Manor: 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 2, Eastside Elementary School, 27151 Roper Road, east of Brooksville. The Christmas festival will feature a variety of entertainment, children's activities, vendors, a cakewalk, holiday auction and a visit from Santa Claus. Hosted by the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce's Eastside Business Networking Group. Admission is free. (352) 797-7045.
'Hernando Holidays': 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 to 3, with 2 p.m. matinees on Dec. 3 and 4, Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill. The holiday-themed variety show will feature nearly 30 performers and will include singing, dancing, comedy and skits. $15. (352) 683-5113. stagewestflorida.com.
Holiday in the Gardens: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 3, Nature Coast Botanical Gardens, 1489 Parker Ave., Spring Hill. Stroll through the gardens and watch local groups decorate trees, then vote for your favorite. There will be a children's Lit'l Red Wagon parade at 11 a.m. (line up by 10:30 a.m.), and angels from the former Angels on High event will be incorporated. Parade participants should be 8 years old or younger. Families may help decorate the wagon "float," using any holiday or Christmas theme. The tree display will remain at the gardens, and the public may cast votes for their favorites, through the first of the year. Free admission. (352) 683-9933.
Country Christmas at the Common: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 3, Brooksville Common, 109 S Broad St., Brooksville. Usher in the Christmas season with an old-fashioned potluck supper. Bring a dish and enjoy food and musical fun. There will be Christmas caroling, live entertainment and an appearance by Santa Claus. Free. (352) 540-3853. cityofbrooksville.us.
Christmas on the Florida Frontier: 3 to 8 p.m. Dec. 3, Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, 7200 County Road 603, Bushnell. Step back in time to a simpler era of celebrating Christmas on the Florida frontier. Make and play with homemade toys, create corn husk dolls, dip candles, listen to old-time music, sing carols, decorate a Christmas tree, make Christmas crafts and visit a soldier encampment. Refreshments will be available for purchase. The park entrance fee is $5 per vehicle, up to eight people. (352) 793-4781.
'A Christmas Carol': 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 to 10, Springstead Theatre, 3300 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill. A production of the classic Dickens tale. Tickets available at shstickets.com. $14 for adults; $10 for students. (352) 797-7010.
Merry Medieval Madrigal Feast: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10, and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 10, Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 200 Mount Fair Ave., Brooksville. Featuring traditional Christmas music by the church choir and Live Oak Theatre Company. The Justify Drama Team will present comedic and dramatic presentations featuring the king and queen, town crier, court jester, knights and other members of the royal court. A full dinner is included, as well as wassail punch, fruit and cheese hors d'oeuvres and figgy pudding. Period dress is welcome, but not required. $25 for adults; $10 for ages 13 and younger. (352) 593-0027. liveoaktheatre.org/.
Winter Waterland: 6 to 10 p.m. Dec. 9, 10, 16 and 17, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, 6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee. Santa and his elves will join the Weeki Wachee mermaids for performances. The event includes a live nativity, a light show and holiday activities. $6; $4 for ages 6 to 12, and free for ages 5 and younger. (352) 592-5656. weekiwachee.com.
Christmas on Main Street: 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 8, 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 9 and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 throughout downtown Brooksville. Dec. 8 activities: Vendors will be set up along Main Street; Santa will be at the House of Passage from 5:15 to 6:45 p.m.; the windows at Patricia's Boutique will "come to life" at 6 p.m.; city and county officials will speak at 7 p.m., followed by Brooksville's Merry Main Street Musical Light Spectacular from 7:05 to 7:25 p.m., and Live Oak Theatre will present musical entertainment from 7:25 to 8:30 p.m., along with the Bad Kitty Band and Weeki Wachee High School Chorus. Dec. 9 activities: Brooksville Merry Main Street Musical Light Spectacular Show from 6 to 8 p.m.; a live nativity with Hillside Community Baptist Church at 6 p.m. at Hernando Park, and an outdoor showing of the movie, Elf, at 6:30 p.m. on Main Street. Dec. 10 activities: Christmas Stroll on Main Street at 5:30 p.m.; live nativity at 5:30 p.m. at Hernando Park, and Brooksville Merry Main Street Musical Light Spectacular at 7 p.m.
Brooksville Christmas Parade: 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dec. 10, through downtown Brooksville. Nashville star Billy Dawson will serve as grand marshal for the 38th annual "Carols of Christmas" parade, with 120 units, including marching bands, horses, floats, vehicles and walkers. kiwanisclubofbrooksville.org/
Christkindl Festival: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 10, downtown Brooksville (Main Street from Lamar Avenue to Liberty Street, along with Hendricks Avenue from Lemon Avenue to Main Street, will be closed for the festival). Hosted by the GFWC Historic Brooksville Woman's Club, the festival will feature more than 100 vendors. Visitors can have their pictures taken with an Old World Santa and a Christmas angel. There will be German food, German pastries, hot mulled wine, local craft beer, handcrafts, artisans, music, dancing and other activities. All proceeds benefit the woman's club's community projects. (352) 279-7460.
Poinsettia Planting at the Waterfall: 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 10, Spring Hill waterfall entrance, Spring Hill Drive and Commercial Way, Spring Hill. Hosted by the Nature Coast Botanical Gardens, residents are invited to plant a poinsettia in memory of a loved one and help decorate the waterfall entrance. Bring plants and planting tools. (352) 683-9933.
Hernando Beach Christmas Boat Parade: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10, Hernando Beach Yacht Club, 4163 Shoal Line Blvd., Hernando Beach. Doors open at 5 p.m. Participants are invited to decorate their boats and enter from the yacht club. The parade starts from the boat dock and will travels through Marlin canal, Cheeks Creek canal and Tarpon canal, then return to the dock. Parade entry fee is one new unwrapped toy. Free for spectators. (206) 919-8921.
Night of Lights Tour: 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 10, May-Stringer Historical House, 601 Museum Court, Brooksville. Tour the 14-room Victorian home decorated by local businesses while enjoying Christmas carols, hot chocolate, cookies and appearances by Santa and Princess Anna (Snow Queen). $5 per person. (352) 799-0129. hernandohistoricalmuseumassoc.com.
Hernando Jazz Society presents Holiday Celebration: 2 p.m. Dec. 11, Wellington Clubhouse, 400 Wexford Blvd., Spring Hill. Listen to live sounds of seasonal tunes. Sioux City Grill will offer a cash bar and buffet. Admission is free for society members; nonmembers pay $10 each or $15 per couple. (352) 799-9690.
Hernando Symphony Orchestra presents 'Sounds of the Season' holiday concert: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16 and 17 and 2 p.m. Dec. 18, Central High School, 14075 Ken Austin Parkway, west of Brooksville. Listen to holiday favorites, such as the Canadian Brass Christmas, O Holy Night, Hanukkah Festival, Little Drummer Boy and a Christmas sing-along. The HSO Holiday Singers will perform with the orchestra. Doors open 90 minutes prior to each concert with an opportunity to meet and talk with the conductor and musicians. Tickets: $15; $5 for students through Grade 12. (352) 515-6993. hernandosymphony.com.
Arc Christmas Dance Party: 7 to 10 p.m. Dec. 16, Arc Nature Coast Education Center, 6495 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill. Includes refreshments, food and a gift from Santa. Admission is $5; free for volunteers, parents and children ages 10 and younger. (352) 544-2322, ext. 109.