Since the 1970s, the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art has been proud of offering the chance to get a jump on holiday shopping in a low-stress environment.

“It’s festive. It’s fun. It’s Christmas-y. It’s everything you would want out of a shopping day with friends,” Albrecht-Kemper spokesperson Christy George said.

Being held today through Saturday, Nov. 7 through 9, at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, the annual Sugarplum Festival combines unique gifts, food and drinks to welcome the holidays and local vendors for a weekend of fun.

For three days, the museum takes down all of the art on its walls to turn into an emporium of more than 40 local and out-of-town vendors. At each, there’s holiday spirit on sale.

“The museum’s transformed into a holiday gift gallery that is just a beautiful place to gather and shop and have fun, while supporting the museum at the same time,” George said.

The tradition of the Sugarplum Festival comes down to people being offered a unique holiday shopping experience that removes the pressure and stress.

“I think we do a really good job of picking out one-of-a-kind, unique vendors that you won’t find anywhere else. So you’ll be sure to get yourself something and hopefully somebody on your Christmas list,” George said.

The two-level shopping experience will include a mixture of vendors, ranging from paper and gifts (Manic Snail) and boutique shops (Simply Posh Boutique, Blue Willow Boutique, Mod Podge Boutique & Designs Studio) to soap (Gunslinger Soap) and a variety of unique wares and food.

“We just look for the most unique items that we can and try to select really cool stuff from here. That’s what you’re looking for, especially with the museum associated,” George says.

Patrons will get a first opportunity to socialize at 5:30 p.m. today with an open house preview party. The one-night event will include preview admission and a weekend admission pass, with savory holiday food and sweets prepared by Ralph Filipelli, the museum’s chef, and his crew from Luna’s.

The festivities will continue starting at 10 a.m. Friday with the gift gallery, as well as the AKMA Cafe, which will open at 11 a.m. and feature unique entrees from Filipelli.

“He’s prepared some really good stuff,” George said.

The weekend also will feature a “Deck The Hall” silent auction, which will feature donated pieces of art for sale, with all proceeds benefiting the museum.

The event serves as one of the museum’s biggest fundraisers of the year, helping fund programs and outreach throughout the region.

“It helps us to continue all the extra things that we get to do, like the adult art classes, the kids art classes, or history lectures or temporary exhibitions and all the fun things that we do here,” George said.

Parking will be available across the street at ReStore, 3131 Frederick Ave. Security and a shuttle to the museum will be available throughout the event.

With the festival hitting right before the madness of the holidays, George said it’s the perfect jump into the season and a chance to get acquainted with the museum.

“It’s super fun to kick off the holiday season here,” George said.

— Andrew Gaug | St. Joe Live

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