This week marks the beginning of a fun, busy holiday season full of awesome things to do with your family. The Ritz-Carlton’s beloved gingerbread pirate ship – the largest gingerbread ship in the entire world – makes its annual appearance in the hotel lobby, and your family can see it and take all the photos you want for free! This week is also the Amelia Island Bed & Breakfast Cookie Tour of Inns, a family-friendly festival at Sliders Seaside Grill and Pioneer Day at Okefenokee. AND the Ritz-Carlton will kick off the season with its annual FREE holiday concert that includes local kids’ performing, Santa’s arrival and a spectacular fireworks show.
These offerings and more are included in our “Top 10″ list of local family-friendly events coming in the week ahead, but don’t forget there are MANY more events for your family, which you can see in our Special Events Calendar. We also have a separate calendar for the events offered every week, such as library story times, and of course we still have our popular Kids Eat Free calendar. If you prefer to see all of these events in one place, we also have a Master Calendar.
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Mamamelia’s Top 10 Event Picks for the Week Ahead:
1) 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 26: Ritz-Carlton Christmas Tree Lighting / Amelia Island
See thousands of sparkling lights light up the Ritz-Carlton resort at its annual Christmas Tree Lighting. This FREE annual event is a YMCA fundraiser (raffle items benefit the Y). It includes refreshments and music by local community groups and the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival Brass Quintet. Festivities conclude with Santa’s arrival and a spectacular fireworks display. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets. Locals often park at Peter’s Point and take a free trolley or walk to the Ritz.
4) 4:30 p.m. nightly through Nov. 29: Kids Ride FREE! Family Friendly Sunset Cruise / Fernandina Beach
This special limited-time tour offers a relaxing way for the whole family to take in the sunset on the water in historic downtown Fernandina and hear an abbreviated history of the area. Kids ride FREE in November (usually $16)! Reservations are recommended. Call Amelia River Cruises & Charters at 904-261-9972, email info@ameliarivercruises or visit www.ameliarivercruises.com. The tours will be offered every day Nov. 11 through Nov. 29, except Thanksgiving Day. Pricing is as follows: Adults $22, Children (up to age 12) FREE. Details here.
5) Nov. 26-Dec. 29: SS Amelia Gingerbread Ship on Display at the Ritz / Amelia Island
The S.S. Amelia, a spectacular gingerbread pirate ship, is docked in the Ritz-Carlton lobby for the holiday season. The world’s largest Gingerbread Ship is made from more than 1,200 pounds of sugar, 3,000 eggs, the S.S. Amelia serves as a festive backdrop for countless holiday memories. FREE to visit and get photos with. Made by a team of eight pastry chefs logging more than 300 man hours to prepare more than 620 gingerbread pieces, about a dozen pirates carved from chocolate and 30 gallons of royal frosting. Ship departs December 29.
6) Nov. 21 and 23: FREE for Kids: All About Christmas Concert / Amelia Island
The Island Chamber Singers will usher in the holiday season with Rutter’s ʺMagnificatʺ and Christmas carols in their performance of ʺAll About Christmasʺ on November 21 and 23 at the Amelia Plantation Chapel. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23. Tickets are $15 for adults when purchased in advance of concert day. They can be purchased online at www.islandchambersingers.org; from a member of Island Chamber Singers; at the Amelia Island Welcome Center, 102 Centre Street, (800) 226-3542; at the AIFBY Chamber of Commerce, 961687 Gateway Blvd., Suite 101G (at A1A and Amelia Island Parkway), (904) 261-3248; and at Harrison’s Mercantile at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Spa and Shops, (904) 432-2218. Tickets may also be purchased at the door for $20. Tickets are always FREE for all students. Questions? Call Jane Lindberg at 904.225.0575. islandchambersingers.org.
7) 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday: Okefenokee Pioneer Day / Folkston
Visit the historic Chesser Island Homestead at Okefenokee National Wildlife Research Reserve to discover how people once lived in Southeast Georgia. Learn how settlers made soap, brooms, butter, quilts, baskets, and other everyday items. Watch a traditional sugar cane boil, and sample the sweet cane juice. Participate in fun for the whole family. For more information, contact the Visitor Center at 912-496-7836.
8) All month: Kids Get in Free Month / Various Jacksonville locations
Take advantage of “Kids get in FREE month” throughout November all over Jacksonville at locations including Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, MOSH, MOCA, World Golf Hall of Fame and Adventure Landing. Get all the details here.
9) 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday: “Glitter” Shopping and Kids’ Crafts 8 Flags Playscapes Benefit / Fernandina Beach
Come out to the Atlantic Rec Center, do some Christmas shopping, let the kids enjoy some FREE crafts and see a portion of the money you spend benefit 8 Flags Playscapes, the nonprofit that brought us Pirate Playground. Vendors include Arbonne, Origami Owl, Paparazzi Jewelry, Jamberry Nails, Scentsy and more. FREE entry.
10) 2 p.m. Saturday: Park ranger Talk: Astronomy / Little Talbot Island
Join a Park Ranger under the stars for an astronomy program by the ocean. Find interesting constellations and learn about stars, pulsars and more. The program will take place at the end of Boardwalk #1 located at the north beach area on Little Talbot Island. No reservations are necessary and the program is free with regular park admission.
Don’t forget this is just a roundup of our top 10 local family-friendly events. There are many more events listed in our special events calendar below. Thanks for reading! ~ Mamamelia
Do you know about an event that should be on Mamamelia’s calendar? Tell us about it! This website is managed by busy moms on a bare-bones budget, so it’s a huge help when folks drop us a note about an event when it’s not already on the calendar. If you hear about a great local family-friendly event, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, message us on Facebook or use the “Submit an Event” link on the website to make sure it gets added to the calendar.