By By Kelly Smith

Hallelujah! Finally, it is the inspired holiday music you have been longing for. And it is all local, from your Florida Orchestra in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater. Here are three ways to spend the holidays with the orchestra:

Handel’s Messiah (Friday to Sunday, December 4-6): The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay joins the orchestra for the most powerful holiday concert of the season, Handel’s Messiah and its triumphant “Hallelujah” chorus. Make it a holiday memory for the whole family, with free Classical Kids tickets for ages 5-18 for this and all Tampa Bay Times Masterworks concerts. David Lockington conducts.

Holiday Pops (Friday to Sunday, December 11-13): The ultimate family tradition with Sleigh Ride, sing-along carols and a jolly rendition of Twas the Night Before Christmas, with a matinee that won’t spoil anyone’s bedtime. It’s what childhood memories are made of. Conductor Bob Bernhardt will be your merry host for this Raymond James Pops concert.

CDs and gift certificates: TFO’s Holiday Pops Live CD is the perfect soundtrack for your party, as well as a great stocking stuffer, for only $10. Or buy gift certificates for blockbuster shows like the Gala concert with Michael Feinstein on Sunday, January 30 and Distant Worlds: music from Final Fantasy video game concert Saturday, February 6. Get it all at

The Florida Orchestra: Masterworks and Pops tickets are $15, $30 and $45 at or 727-892-3337 and 800-662-7286. The orchestra regularly performs at the Straz Center in Tampa, Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.

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