Fun Christmas Activities on & off the Island

Santa Clause makes a visit to Anna Maria Island in his sleigh

Christmas always feels a bit magical when it comes around each year. Beautiful, colorful, twinkling lights line homes and businesses on every street, and Christmas music plays from every radio station. Anna Maria Island may not be able to offer a white Christmas with snow angels, but we certainly can offer a fun tropical Christmas that will make all your family and friends up north jealous. The Island goes all out for Christmas time with a fabulous parade, a tree lighting ceremony, and more!

Check out the different events taking place during the holiday below!


Privateer’s Christmas Parade:
The Anna Maria Island Privateer’s Parade is a wonderful experience and brings joy to everyone viewing and participating in the event. The parade travels the entire length of the island, beginning at Bay Front Park in Anna Maria, and ending at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach. Once the parade is over, the man in red (also known as Santa) will be handing out gifts to the kiddos. Come out to watch or apply to be in the parade itself. If you want to be a part of the Anna Maria Island Privateer’s Parade you can visit this link,, and print out a Parade application to send in!
When: The second Saturday of December
Where: Entire length of Island
Time: 10am – 12:30pm



Holmes Beach Open House & Tree Lighting:
An evening to stroll the downtown Holmes Beach shopping and art district and a festive tree lighting celebration is a great way to get in the holiday spirit if you ask me. The Holmes Beach Holiday Open House & Tree Lighting event starts off the evening with a beautiful tree lighting celebration in the Anna Maria Chamber of Commerce parking lot, and then it’s time to explore and shop. Crosspointe Fellowship carolers along with Santa and his slay will truly bring out the Christmas spirit.
Where: Tree Lighting will take place at:  5313 Gulf Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217
When: First Friday of December
Time: 5pm – 9pm, Tree lighting will be at 6pm



Christmas on Bridge Street:
Yet another awesome family-friendly event on the Island during Christmas time is the annual event Christmas on Bridge Street. With an abundance of free entertainment, it’s sure to be a blast for every age. Live music, face painting, a visit from Santa, and so much more! Did I mention a variety of food, wine, and beer? Because there will also be plenty of that.
You’ll definitely want to take the whole family to enjoy this fun filled day on Bridge Street.
Where:  Bridge St, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
When: Third Saturday of December
Time: Noon – 10pm



If you’re free the second weekend of December, head over to Winterfest, a Festival of Fine Arts & Crafts Show taking place at City Hall Field in Holmes Beach. This event is sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Art League and features food, drinks, live music, and of course some arts and crafts you can purchase from local artists.
Plus, admission and parking are free!
Where: 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, FL, 34217
When: Second weekend of December (Saturday and Sunday)
Time: 10am – 4:30pm


The AMI Privateers aboard their ship for the Christmas Parade




Restaurants open for Christmas and New Year 2014

Anna Maria Island – While the holidays may bring everybody together, it doesn’t mean you want to cook for everybody, so Here is our list of Restaurants open Christmas on and around Anna Maria Island. The list shows openings for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day.

Restaurants open Christmas and New Years

Restaurants Open Christmas and New Year 2014christmas new years key

Choose causal or a more fine dining atmosphere while visiting Anna Maria Island during the holidays. Some of the restaurants open can be found on Anna Maria Island, and some are in Longboat Key, Bradenton and St. Armands Circle near Sarasota. From the graph above you’ll notice most places are closed on Christmas Day, so you’ll want to make reservations ahead of time.

Enjoy the holidays on Anna Maria Island!

Privateers Christmas Parade on Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island – The beautiful island beach weather may be making it difficult for some to get into the Holiday spirit this season, but the Christmas Parade will help. What better way to spread festive cheer than celebrating with the annual Anna Maria Island Privateers Christmas Parade! This Saturday Dec. 13th residents and visitors will gather beginning at 10am at Bayfront Park in Anna Maria and ending at Coquina Beach.

Local businesses and the general public will trim vehicles and floats with holiday decorations. Festive music also adds cheer for all those witness to the magic. Bring a chair and a hot chocolate thermos. The road will remain closed until the parade concludes.

Upon parade conclusion, the Privateers pirate ship will dock at the Coquina Beach parking lot to continue the celebration with Santa himself! Children are welcome to whisper their wishes to the big man directly who will have an early gift for each child.  Free sodas and hot dogs are also available for all children on Santa’s nice list. Get in the Holiday spirit and come join the fun!


Christmas Parade

Everybody Loves an Anna Maria Island Parade

Anna Maria Island – A small town Anna Maria Island parade is just what is needed to bring together the locals and vacationers.   When you forget your cares for a few hours, and become friends with anyone who sits next to you.   You strike up a conversation about the pristine Anna Maria Island beaches, or even about the vacation rental they are staying in for their beach holiday while you wait for the first sounds of fanfare to hit your ears.

There is a simple thrill you get when you see the colorful floats, hear the music, to grab as many beads/candy as possible and also seeing the joy of children’s faces when someone in the parade looks their way before tossing something just for them!  Even seeing someone on one of the floats you recognize will make you stand up and cheer.  If you are a local or frequent visitor to Anna Maria Island you will see many businesses you know or have used in these parades.  Maybe even one year you yourself will be on one of the floats handing out joy!

It seems Anna Maria Island has a parade for just about everything.  Here is a list of some of the bigger parades you will see for different times throughout the year:

  1. Christmas Parade – usually the 2nd week of December
  2. Lighted Boat Christmas Parade – also usually the 2nd week of December
  3. St. Patrick’s Day Parade – usually the Sunday right before or after March 17th
  4. July 4th Parade – always on July 4th no matter what day of the week that is

The parade route usually runs north from Coquina Beach on south Anna Maria Island, to the Anna Maria City Pier at the end of Pine Avenue using Marina Drive.  Depending on how many floats participate will make the difference of where the parade starts.   Island Real Estate always makes sure we have a presence, and everyone on the float is someone who works in the office and/or their families.  We love the chance to get out in the community, and bring our beach guests a little extra happiness during their Anna Maria vacation.

Next time you plan your beach vacation on Anna Maria Island with Island Real Estate make sure to ask your Reservationist if there may be a parade during your stay!  If there is make sure to set that day aside to come join in the festivities on Anna Maria Island.  Look forward to seeing you soon with your lawn chair next to mine, and I may even share the goodies I collect.

Anna Maria Island Restaurants’ Christmas and New Years hours 2013

Just because it’s the holidays, doesn’t mean you have to cook. Anna Maria Island has plenty of options for your consumption pleasures. Here’s our list of restaurants that are open and closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day and Eve.

Santa on Anna Maria Island

Restaurant Phone Number Christmas Eve Christmas Day New Years Eve New Years Day
Beach Bistro 941-778-6444 5:30-10PM Closed 5-10PM Closed
Eat Here 941-778-0411 5-10PM Closed 5-10PM Closed
Sign of the Mermaid 941-778-9399 5-9PM Closed 5-11PM 5-9PM
The Waterfront 941-778-1515 11:30-9PM Closed 11:30-10PM 11:30-10PM
The Sandbar 941-778-0444 12-9PM Closed 11AM-9PM 11AM-9PM
The Beachhouse 941-779-2222 12-10PM Closed 11AM-9PM 11AM-9PM
Bridge Street Bistro 941-782-1122 1-9PM Closed 1-9PM Closed
The Feast 941-778-5092 Closed Closed 12-9PM 12-9PM
Bridge Tender Inn 941-778-4849 12-9PM Closed 4-10PM 4-10PM
Havana Cabana 941-254-4999 7AM-9PM 7AM-9PM 7AM-9PM 7AM-9PM
Hurricane Hanks 941-778-5788 11AM-2:30AM Closed 11AM-2:30AM 11AM-2:30AM
Ocean Star Sushi 941-778-1236 5-10PM Closed 5-10PM Closed
AMI City Pier 941-779-1667 11AM-7PM Closed 12-9PM 12-9PM
Rod and Reel Pier 941-778-1885 Closed Closed Closed Closed
Gulf Drive Café 941-778-1919 6AM-4PM Closed 7AM-9PM 7AM-9PM
Oma’s Pizza 941-778-0771 12-9PM Closed 11AM-12PM 11AM-12PM
Banana Cabana 941-779-1930 4-9PM 4-9PM 12PM-2AM Closed
Old Hamburg 941-778-1320 Closed 4-8PM Closed 4-8PM
Lobastah’s 941-779-1000 4-10PM Closed 4-10PM 4-10PM
Moore’s Stone Crab 941-383-1748 11:30AM-8PM Closed 12-9PM 12-9PM
Café on the Beach 941-778-0784 7AM-5PM Closed 7AM-6PM 7AM-?
Harry’s Continential Kitchen 941-383-0777 9AM-9PM Closed 9AM-9PM 9AM-9PM
Euphemia Hay 941-383-3633 4-9PM 3-9PM 5-10:30PM 6-10PM
The Chart House 941-383-5593 5-9PM 11AM-9PM 5-9PM 5-9PM
Mar Vista 941-383-2391 12-8PM Closed 11AM-9PM 11AM-9PM
The Columbia 941-388-3987 11AM-8PM 12-10PM 11AM-9PM 11AM-10PM
Crab and Fin 941-388-3964 11:30AM-10PM Closed 11:30AM-10:30PM 11:30AM-?
Cha Cha Coconuts 941-388-3300 11AM-6PM 5PM-12AM 11AM-12AM 11AM-12AM
Tommy Bahamas 941-388-2888 11AM-10PM Closed 11AM-5PM 11AM-11PM
Bonefish Grill 941-795-8020 4-9PM Closed 4-11PM 4-10PM
Carabbas 941-755-7712 3-10PM Closed 3-11PM 12-9PM
Outback Steakhouse 941-792-1898 Closed Closed 4-11PM 4-11PM

Christmas Eve Candlelight Celebration Service at Roser Memorial Community Church

Anna Maria Island – On Christmas Eve Roser Memorial Community Church is inviting you to it’s Nativity Pageant. Telling the Christmas Story for all ages, music will be provided by the Joyful Noise Children’s Choir.

Roser Memorial Community Church on Anna Maria IslandFor more information call the church office at 941-778-0414, email, go to or find us on Facebook at www.facebook/roserchurch.

Enjoy a Christmas Day Breakfast and Dinner at Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe

If you’re looking for Anna Maria Island restaurants open Christmas Day, we’ve got the perfect place for you – Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe is hoping to be a part of your holiday tradition with their own Christmas Day Breakfast and dinner.

Starting at 7:30 am, AMI Beach Cafe will be serving their own Christmas breakfast starting at 7:30am. In addition, Santa will be hanging out for a bite to eat from 9:30am-11:30am. The food continues all day with their Christmas Day Dinner being available from 12:00pm-5:00pm. Turkey, ham and more will be available for an All You Can Eat price of $14.95.

Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe is located at 4000 Gulf Drive on Holmes Beach where Manatee Avenue meets the Gulf. You can contact them by phone at 941-778-0784. Merry Christmas!

Anna Maria Island restaurants open Christmas Day

This Weekend on Anna Maria Island – December 13th-15th

Uh oh! Looks like these events are just fun memories now.

But don’t worry! There are tons of exciting activities and events taking place on Anna Maria Island all year long, every year!

Take a look at some of my favorites below:
Cortez Fishing Festival Blog
Halloween Events Blog
Local Art Events
Local Festivals 



Anna Maria Island’s Roser Church Annual Bethlehem Walk on Dec 14th

roser walk

Keep the reason for the season in mind and join us for the Roser Memorial Community Church Bethlehem Walk.  This year the celebration is on December 14th beginning at 6:30pm at 512 Pine Ave, Anna Maria. Imagine dozens of islanders and visitors alike dressed in garb draw a crowd with their live llamas, sheep, goats and even a donkey!

The walk consists of a journey to Bethlehem (a block in Anna Maria) with Mary, Joseph, and the animals in search of shelter. Traveling from “inn” to “inn” participants will sing Christmas carols. At the end of the journey, baby Jesus is in the manger and participants will hear Scripture readings followed by hot chocolate and cookies in Fellowship Hall.

If you don’t have your own period-garb, costumes are available in the Fellowship Hall to borrow on a first-come, first-serve basis, or create even your own to make an even merrier night. We suggest you bring a flashlight for yourself. Don’t miss this annual reenactment and narration of the first Christmas, it’s a special way to release the stress of the “material” Christmas we so diligently prepare for.

For more information, you may call 941-778-0414 or visit

bethlehem walkroser animals


20th Annual Lawton Chiles Christmas for Kids Party on Dec 10th!

santa on beachWe invite you to warm your holiday spirits! On Tuesday, December 10th from 10:30am-12:30pm, the Sandbar Restaurant will host their 20th annual Lawton Chiles Christmas for Kids Party!

Let’s share in the true meaning of the season and bring holiday joy to the children who are little less fortunate than most. For those interested in contributing to this wonderful cause, cash donations are being accepted. This year, they are planning for at least 120 children from the Head Start program, Healthy Families Manatee and the Children’s Academy. The children will receive a pair of shoes, an outfit of clothing, an age appropriate toy and the family of the child will receive a complete turkey dinner. Each of these children and their families can celebrate with Christmas spirit!

The 2013 Kids Christmas Party will be located at the Sandbar Restaurant in the pavilion. This fun-filled lunchtime party will feature characters in costumes, games and of course, Santa Claus.  You are invited to come by to participate in bringing joy to the hearts of these children. The Sandbar is located at 100 Spring Ave, and their mailing address for contributions is P.O. Box 1478, Anna Maria, FL, 34216.