Amelia Island combines appealing events with its outstanding dining and attractions to offer a memorable winter getaway this holiday season.
Northeast Florida’s Amelia Island allows visitors to get festive with a season of delightful events in November, December and January. Guests can enjoy unique sporting events and enchanting holiday experiences, such as historic home tours and snow at Santa’s workshop. The small barrier island combines appealing events with its outstanding dining and attractions to offer a memorable winter getaway this holiday season. Upcoming events on Amelia Island include:
Georgia vs. Florida Football Weekend (October 31-November 2)
Each year Amelia Island celebrates the longstanding rivalry between the University of Georgia Bulldogs and University of Florida Gators. On November 1, the Bulldogs and Gators will once again go head-to-head at Jacksonville Everbank Field, just 45 minutes from Amelia Island. The island has long been a popular home base for rival fans looking for a place to stay for the annual football match-up. The island’s numerous lodging partners are happy to house fans of both teams. CLICK HERE for a list of packages available for game weekend.
History of the American Soldier (November 8)
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fort Clinch on Amelia Island offers a full day of U.S. military history as they honor the United States Armed Forces. Guests can review military displays from the Revolutionary War to present day, and enjoy period music and firing demonstrations. Regular park admission applies. Admission to the fort for this event is one canned food item per person, to be donated to the Barnabas Food Pantry. Additional information is available at www.floridastateparks.org/fortclinch or by calling (904) 277-7274.
Petanque America Open (November 14-16)
At the largest petanque (“pay-tonk”) tournament in the USA, visitors can join 320 petanque players from 25 states on Amelia Island as they compete in this simplified version of an older outdoor bowling game. The goal is to toss or roll a number of hollow steel balls as close as possible to a small wooden target ball. Players take turns and the team that ends up nearest to the target ball when all balls are played, wins. This year, internationally recognized French chef Jacques Pepin will be attending the tournament. He will hold a book signing and books will be available for purchase. For more information, visit www.petanque-america-open.net.
Holiday Cookie Tour of Inns (November 22)
The Amelia Island Bed and Breakfast Association invites the public to enjoy its annual open-house and self-guided walking tour of inns, just in time for the 2014 holiday season. Inspiring guests with seasonal decorating ideas, all the bed and breakfast inns will be decked out in holiday finery. On Saturday, November 22 from noon to 5 p.m., visitors will tour some of the most impressive buildings on the island, sample a holiday cookie from each inn, and be entertained with history, complimentary carriage rides between stops, and collect heirloom recipes along the way. In keeping with tradition, a portion of ticket and cookbook sales from the tour will benefit Micah’s Place. Inquire about special weekend packages available at your favorite inn. For more information, call (904) 277-2328 or visit ameliaislandinns.com.
The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island Holiday Events (November 26 – January 1)
Each year The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island kicks off the holiday magic with the arrival of the S.S. Amelia Gingerbread Pirate Ship on Wednesday, November 26, continuing through December 29. The holiday season at the resort includes the Christmas Tree Lighting and Santa’s Wonderland Dinner (Nov. 26), Santa’s Storybook Tea (Nov. 29, Dec 6, 13 and 20), Santa Tuck-ins (Dec. 5 & 6, 12 & 13, 19 & 20), and New Year’s Eve Black and White Masquerade Ball. Additionally, guests can choose from a delectable selection of on-property dining options during Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Visit www.ritzcarlton.com/ameliaisland or call (904) 277-1087 for additional information about any of the holiday events.
Holiday Celebration at Omni Amelia Island Plantation (November 26 – January 1)
The holiday season at Omni Amelia Island Plantation will begin with a Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving. On November 28, the Omni will hold their Tree Lighting Celebration, which features stilt walkers, train and hay rides, bounce houses, crafts, food and, of course, Santa Claus. The Festival of trees will be on display through the end of December. Starting November 29, Santa’s Workshop will relocate to the Shops of Amelia Island Plantation. Daily entertainment will include crafts, cupcake decorating, hot cocoa bar, and more. On weekends, guests can enjoy live entertainment, gingerbread decorating, and even snow. Additionally, visitors can take advantage of a number of Thanksgiving and Christmas dining options available on property. Visit www.omniameliaislandplantation.com for more information.
Annual Pajama Party Sale & Contest (November 28)
Proving that some people will do anything for a special discount, the Annual Pajama Party Sale & Contest is snuggling back into the holiday shopping season once again in historic downtown Fernandina Beach. Held on “Black Friday” from 8 to 11 a.m., the Pajama Party Sale invites shoppers to slip into their footed pajamas, bunny slippers, and other assorted sleepwear to enjoy special deals and discounts, along with refreshments to fuel their shopping spirit. Shoppers can enjoy live entertainment in front of the Visitor Depot on Centre Street starting at 9 a.m. Also, 2nd St. North will be offering a Block Party featuring live music, face painting and other family-friendly activities. A photo backdrop will be available for Facebook posting and prizes will be awarded “Best Dressed” (group and individual) and “Most Outrageous.” Visit www.downtownfernandinabeach.com for more information.
Fernandina Beach Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration (November 29)
At the foot of Centre Street in Fernandina Beach from noon to 7 p.m., guests can enjoy music and dance performances, bounce houses, tasty treats, and much more. The tree lighting will take place at 6:15 p.m. The event is hosted by the City of Fernandina Beach. Visit www.fbfl.org for more information.
Caroling at Clinch (December 6)
Fort Clinch State Park will host Caroling at Clinch on the evening of Saturday, December 6. The program will allow visitors to step back in time and celebrate a Civil War holiday complete with crackling fires, carolers, popcorn-garland strung trees and candlelight. The Friends of Fort Clinch State Park will offer hot coffee, hot chocolate and cookies to make it the perfect night of festivity. Park entrance fees are waived for this special celebration. Event admission is one canned food item per visitor to be donated to the community through the Barnabas Food Pantry. Additional information is available at www.floridastateparks.org/fortclinch or by calling (904) 277-7274.
Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol (December 4-20)
The Amelia Community Theatre (ACT) is featuring Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol performances at 8 p.m. on December 4-6, 11-13, 18-20 and at 2 p.m. on December 14. The play presents Sherlock Holmes suffering from “coldness” in his heart as Christmas draws near. It takes visitations from the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future for Holmes to welcome the season of hope, charity, and forgiveness. Additionally, ACT is hosting several holiday events including a Festival of Trees from December 4 through 20 and “A Visit with Santa” on December 6. For ticket pricing and details on all events, please contact visit www.ameliacommunitytheatre.org or call the box office at (904) 261-6749.
Holiday Home Tour in Historic Fernandina Beach (December 5-6)
Tour several of Amelia Island’s loveliest private homes in Fernandina Beach’s historic district during the Amelia Island Museum of History’s eighth annual holiday celebration. The Holiday Home Tour will showcase five homes decorated by professional florists and designers. Free trolley service will transport guests to each of the homes while costumed carolers recall the days of Charles Dickens. For more information, visit www.ameliahometours.com.
Union Holiday Encampment (December 6-7)
The Fort Clinch State Park Holiday Encampment is a gathering of volunteers in Civil War era costumes as they decorate the fort for Christmas. Volunteers place fresh greenery on the mantle, put up and decorate a period Christmas tree, and portray daily life as it was in the winter of 1864. The ladies string berries and popcorn on the tree while cheerful fires burn in the fireplaces and soldiers answer questions about what it is like to be stationed at Fort Clinch. For details call (904) 277-7274, or visit www.floridastateparks.org/fortclinch.
7th Annual Amelia Island Restaurant Week (January 16-25)
The 7th Annual Amelia Island Restaurant Week will feature three-course, price-fixed menus at participating restaurants, where visitors can enjoy a favorite dish, try something new or both. Additional information is available at www.ameliaisland.com/yummy.