As the final weekend before Christmas approaches, many residents are about town, wrapping up their holiday shopping and decorating. It may be a good time to take a break and enjoy some of the festivities that are happening in Pasco County. From Christmas concerts and shows to fun-filled festivals, light displays and visits with Santa, there are still plenty of holiday celebrations for folks of all ages:
Wilderness Wonderland Celebration of Lights: 6 to 9 p.m. through Dec. 18, J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park, 10500 Wilderness Park Blvd., New Port Richey. The cabin camping area at the park will feature a display of dancing lights coordinated with holiday music (the music can be heard by tuning the car radio to 89.5 FM). Visitors should also keep their eyes open for snow flurries and visitors from the North Pole. This is a drive-through event, and visitors must remain in their vehicles — so bring the pets. $2 per vehicle. (813) 929-2760. pascocountyfl.net/parks.
Holiday Express Train to Santa's Cabin: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 17 and 18, Crews Lake Wilderness Park, 16739 Crews Lake Drive, Shady Hills. Take an old-fashioned train ride, then visit with Santa. $6, includes unlimited train rides. (727) 639-7639. pascocountyfl.net.
Santa Claus to visit Hospice stores: Santa will make an appearance at several Gulfside Hospice Thrift Shoppes throughout the county. Visitors can have their photos taken and hand-deliver letters to Santa at no cost. Locations include: 2 to 5 p.m. Dec. 16 and 17, 6117 State Road 54, New Port Richey; noon to 3 p.m., Dec. 17, 37925 Sky Ridge Circle, Dade City; 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 19, 1930 Land O'Lakes Blvd., Land O'Lakes; 2 to 5 p.m. Dec. 23 and noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 24, 12154 U.S. 19, Hudson. 1-800-561-4883.
Holiday Garden Festival: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 17, Grand Gardens, 5721 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey. Hosted by Friendship Farms and Fare, Ecology Florida and the gardeners of Grand Gardens. The event will feature fall and winter plants, as well as gardening materials available for purchase. Tours of the gardens will be offered, and a program about New Port Richey's growing agriculture project will be presented. (407) 232-2125.
Holiday Pet Adoptions: Noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 17, Pasco County Animal Services, 19640 Dogpatch Lane, Land O'Lakes. There will be pictures with Santa, and visitors can meet the Grinch. Also, those who adopt a pet (excluding dogs under 25 pounds and younger than 8 months) can "name your own" adoption fee. Adopters may pick their own price on this day only, including after the event until the shelter closes at 6:30 p.m. (813) 929-1212. pascocountyfl.net/PAS.
Symphony in Lights: Shows at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. daily through Dec. 31, Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel. The holiday light show features more than 250,000 LED lights choreographed to holiday favorites chosen by mall guests. This year, it even snows. Free. (813) 994-2242.
Port Richey Holiday Celebration: 7 p.m. Dec. 16, Port Richey Waterfront Park, 8119 Old Post Road, Port Richey. Santa Claus and his helpers will visit the park to hand out toys and candy to Port Richey children, who can also have their pictures taken with Santa (bring a camera). Also, prior to the event, city fire trucks and police vehicles will be driving around Port Richey spreading holiday cheer and handing out candy to children. The holiday caravan will depart from the fire station on Grand Boulevard at 5:30 p.m. and will travel to various neighborhoods within the city limits. Free. (727) 835-1267. cityofportrichey.com/
'Jingle Jam': 8 p.m. Dec. 16, Dreamhouse Theatre, 1840 Oak Grove Blvd., Lutz. Presented by Nine and Numb, an improv comedy troupe based in Tampa. Tickets are $10 at the door. (813) 997-7146. dreamhousetheatre.com.
Winter Waterland: 6 to 10 p.m. Dec. 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.
'The Nutcracker': 7 p.m. Dec. 17 and 2 p.m. Dec. 18, Center for the Arts at River Ridge, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey. Tickets are $15, general admission. To purchase online with credit card, visit pascocfa.seatyourself.biz. (727)774-7381.
Winter Fest: 4 to 6 p.m. Dec. 17, New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center, 6630 Van Buren St., New Port Richey. Youth ages 14 and younger are invited to enjoy three snow slides, crafts, carnival games and prizes. There will also be appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus, as well as Elsa and Olaf from Disney's Frozen, provided by GEM Princess Parties. Following the festival, the movie Frozen will be shown at 6 p.m. in the gymnasium. Free. (727) 841-4560.
Holiday Movie on the Beach: 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 17, SunWest Park, 17362 Old Dixie Highway, Hudson. There will be a photo opportunity with Santa, crafts and bingo, as well as the screening of the movie Elf. Free admission; $5 for parking. (727) 569-6472. sunwestpark.com.
Dade City Symphony's 'Home for the Holidays' Christmas concert: 7 p.m. Dec. 17, Pasco Middle School Auditorium, 13925 14th Ave., Dade City. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.
Tin Pan Alley Christmas Spectacular: 2 p.m. Dec. 18, King of Kings Lutheran Church, 10337 U.S. 19, Port Richey. Tickets are $15 and include dessert and coffee. (727) 207-8496. tinpanalleyprod.com.
Church Street Christmas: 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 21 to 23 in Dade City. The city's historic Church Avenue comes alive as carolers, choirs, dancers and musicians perform along luminary-lit sidewalks and decorated homes.