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50+ Best Things to Do in Orlando at Christmas 2023 (with Calendar)

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Orlando is known as The City Beautiful and for being a place to have fun. It makes sense then that there are lots of fun things to do in Orlando at Christmas. From ice skating in shorts to gingerbread houses big enough you could walk inside, Christmas in Orlando is a great place to experience the holiday spirit.

You’ll find there are things to do in Orlando for Christmas for every budget, from free to Disney. In this guide from an Orlando local (I’ve lived here my entire life), I’ve included the dates, times, prices, and addresses for the best things to do in Orlando at Christmas in 2023.

Also included are a few day trip options in case you want to see some of the best things to do in Florida at Christmas and not just in the Orlando area.

New this year is a link to my calendar for the best things to do in Orlando at Christmas! This will help you have a quick view of what is going on in Orlando each day instead of having to scroll through this whole list.

If you’re looking for more Orlando Christmas tips, don’t miss our guide to the best Orlando Christmas lights! It even includes a Christmas light scavenger hunt you can use anywhere!

50+ best things to do in orlando at christmas pin with clemwood street christmas lights

Table of Contents

MAP OF THE BEST THINGS TO DO AT CHRISTMAS IN ORLANDO & SURROUNDING AREAS

Feel free to click the star at the top of this map to save it to your maps for later. This map helps you see which of the Christmas activities are located close together to make your planning a little easier. Please note that some of these events take place only on certain days. Check the listings below to see when each event takes place.

ORLANDO CHRISTMAS EVENTS CALENDAR

This year I’ve added a calendar for events to celebrate Christmas in Orlando. You can print this calendar or click the + in the bottom corner to add it to your Google Calendar.

WEATHER IN ORLANDO IN DECEMBER

December is one of my favorite months to live in Orlando. Not only do we have plenty of outdoor things to do in Orlando in December, but the weather is near perfect.

The average high for Orlando in December is 75F with the average low at 55F. Our rainy season and hurricane season are over, so the chance of rain is much lower than in the summer.

Floridians will tell you it can get cold, but most people from cooler climates are still comfortable in shorts or short-sleeved shirts. Bring a light jacket just in case.

Check just before you arrive to make sure we are not getting a cold front. Even if we do get a cold front, the cold weather only lasts a day or two before it warms back up.

THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT VISITING ORLANDO AT CHRISTMAS

Is Orlando busy at Christmas?

If you plan to visit Orlando in December, know that you are visiting in our high season. Because hurricane season is over and the weather is beautiful, we tend to get a lot more visitors in the winter.

While the theme parks will be extra busy during school holidays and on weekends, visiting some of the lesser-known events on the list or visiting during the weekdays when school is in session makes it possible to experience Christmas in Orlando without all the crowds.

How to Get Around Orlando at Christmas

If you are flying in to visit Orlando in December, plan to rent a car. We do not have a good public transportation system, and using Uber or Lyft the entire time can get expensive.

Unless you are staying on Disney property and not leaving Disney the entire time, a rental car is your best option to get around.

Is Orlando a Good Place to Go for Christmas?

As an Orlando local, of course I’m going to say that Orlando is a good place to visit at Christmas. Given the number of people who visit Orlando at Christmas though, I’m not alone in feeling this way.

Orlando is the perfect warm winter destination to escape the cold and snow. With lower humidity and cooler temperatures, you’ll be able to enjoy outdoor Christmas events without needing to bundle up. Plus, with all of the special events for Christmas, you’ll find things to do for adults and kids.

THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN ORLANDO AT CHRISTMAS (& NEARBY)

Oftentimes, places are labeled as being in Orlando but are actually in one of the surrounding towns and cities. Orlando and these surrounding cities host quite a few holiday events in November and December leading up to Christmas.

Many of these events include food, music, and fun activities for all ages and are more of local things to do versus theme park things to do. Check out the best Christmas events Orlando and the surrounding cities have to offer this year.

FUN THINGS TO DO IN ORLANDO IN DECEMBER OUTSIDE OF THE THEME PARKS

Some of these Orlando holiday events include free entry but have things you can pay for as well. Others require a ticket to enter. Overall, these are some of the fun things to do in Orlando at Christmas for the whole family.

OH, WHAT FUN IN LAKE NONA

Dates & Times: December 7 – December 23 (check calendar for times)
Cost: FREE but bring money for ice skating, food, and drinks
Location: Lake Nona Town Center

Oh, What Fun in Lake Nona is a more recent holiday event in Orlando featuring an ice skating rink, live entertainment, holiday movies, Santa Claus, and a mailbox for letters headed to the North Pole. Snow makes an appearance as well every hour on the hour.

In 2023, there is a theme for each night of the weekend. Fridays feature acrobatics, Saturdays feature snow, and Sundays are family fun days. There are a variety of other special events and fun activities planned, so check out their site for the full details.

Santa makes an appearance at Santa’s Cottage on special days for photos. While you can purchase a package to get photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, you can also take your own Insta-worthy photos or film your next TikTok there on certain days without them.

Get more details here.

NOW SNOWING IN CELEBRATION

Dates & Times: November 25 – December 31 with nightly snowfall hourly from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Cost: FREE ENTRY
Location: Celebration Town Center in Celebration, Florida

Celebration is located just minutes from Disney World making it convenient for those visiting the theme parks for the holidays. This free event celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Plus, on December 16, you can enjoy the Celebration Art Walk art festival too.

Every night in December, snow falls in Celebration Town Center on the hour from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. It may be 70 degrees and you may be wearing flip flops, but you can still play in the Florida “snow” as Christmas music plays. Celebration also goes over the top with Christmas lights and decorations, but more about that later.

While entry into the area is free, some of the activities do have costs associated with them. The ice skating rink is open from 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. and costs $15 for 30 minutes including skate rentals. Carriage and sleigh rides are also available for $75 for up to four riders ($10 for each additional rider), and wagon rides are only $7 per person.

The celebration in Celebration is so popular that even Santa and Mrs. Claus stop by for pictures. The prices depend on the packages purchased, but Santa and Mrs. Claus stop by every day from 6 – 9 p.m. until December 24 (5:30 on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). They even pose with your pets on Wednesdays starting at 5 p.m. until close.

Parking is free in open lots in Celebration, but parking laws are enforced during the event. If you park illegally, your car may be towed at your own expense, so make sure to check signs before parking.

WINTER PARK OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS CRUISE

Dates: Select evenings in December
Cost: $32 each for most tickets
Location: 312 East Morse Boulevard, Winter Park, FL

On select nights in December, you can enjoy a nighttime cruise on the Winter Park chain of lakes to enjoy the lakeside Christmas lights. The tours last about 80 minutes and leave at 6:15 p.m.

Because they know that 2023 has been a tough year for many financially, they have discounted the Winter Park Christmas Cruise to only $32 a person this year (usually it is $65!).

While cruising through some of the prettiest lakes in central Florida, enjoy Christmas music and holiday trivia along with readings of T’Was the Night Before Christmas and The Christmas Story. You’ll also leave with a gift bag full of holiday treats. You can purchase tickets here.

Home you see on the Winter Park Old Fashioned Christmas Cruise decorated for Christmas
Home on the Winter Park Chain of Lakes

OVIEDO WINTER FEST

Date & Time: December 9, 2023 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $20 in advance or $25 at the gate
Location: Center Lake Park, 299 Center Lake Lane, Oviedo

The cost of Winter Fest covers the activities inside the event, but there is also a cash bar and food available for purchase.

Your ticket to Winter Fest includes the bounce house, trampoline, slides, face painting, holiday train ride, hot cocoa station, pictures with Santa and other activities.

LIGHTS OVER ALOMA

Dates & Times: December 8 – 10, 2023 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.
Cost: FREE
Location: 1815 Semoran Blvd, Winter Park

Lights over Aloma is a new event in 2023. It is a drive thru Christmas light show with audio that can be heard here on any device as you drive through the lights.

This is a family-friendly free way to see Christmas lights in Orlando without having to get out of your car.

CHRISTMAS AT GAYLORD PALMS ORLANDO

Dates: November 17, 2023 – January 3, 2024
Cost: Varies per activity (discounts for Florida residents and others; bundled tickets also available)
Location: Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, 6000 West Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee

Each year, Gaylord Palms Resort presents ICE!, a winter wonderland made of more than two million pounds of ice that is hand-carved into sculptures of all shapes and sizes. ICE! is back in 2023 featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas.

ICE! was actually one of our dates when we were dating all the way back in 2008, so it holds a special place in our hearts. It’s fun for couples, but it is also one of the best things to do in Orlando at Christmas with kids thanks to the variety of events.

Make sure to walk through the St. Augustine atrium to take in the 60-foot tall Christmas tree. The Shine light show features over 2 million choreographed lights that make the tree and atrium even more beautiful at 9:15 p.m. each evening. Check out the Christmas Tree Trail too for eight more Christmas trees, each with a different theme.

You can go ice tubing indoors and race down one of eight lanes in a single or double rider tube. Still not ready to leave the snow for the Florida sunshine? Grab a bucket of snowballs and test your aim at interactive targets Snowball Build & Blast.

Once you are snowed out, test your skills in the Naughty or Nice Escape Room where Jack Frost has added your name to the Naughty List. This is your one chance to erase your name from the Naughty List before Santa returns.

Make gingerbread cookies or a gingerbread house and take pictures with Cinnamon and Nutmeg, the Gaylord Palms’ gingerbread couple. Then join Santa’s elves in the Elf Training Academy to make creative keepsakes for your loved ones and earn your toy maker elf name on your elf hat before you go.

Mrs. Claus’ Christmas Traditions gives Mrs. Claus a chance to retell the classic “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” along with a sing-along filled with holiday songs. A freshly baked cookie and glass of cold milk are included.

The Gaylord Palms also presents a special Christmas show called Cirque: Spirit of Christmas. Watch breathlessly as stunning feats are performed high in the air and on the stage below in a 25-minute show about a Christmas dream. Tickets can be purchased here.

The Gaylord Palms also has a complimentary Christmas show. The Greatest Story Stage Show brings together six storytellers from around the world to share the story of Christmas and Jesus Christ. The show is free, but guaranteed seats can be purchased.

Get updated details on all of the events at Christmas at Gaylord Palms here.

Ice slides at ICE! at Gaylord Palms in Orlando
ICE! slides at Gaylor Palms – Photo courtesy of Marriott Hotels media photos (Doug Scaletta, photographer)

SANTA’S TREE FARM

Dates & Times: November 18 – December 17, 2023, closed on Mondays (click here for more)
Cost: $5 – $8 entry fee per person depending on day but additional activities cost extra

Location: Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest

There are lots of places to buy Christmas trees in Orlando, but Santa’s Tree Farm is more than just a lot with Christmas trees. This Christmas tree forest makes the list of the best things to do in Orlando for the holidays because it offers so many fun activities for the family.

Not only can you can come pick out a Christmas tree and see trees in all stages of growth, but you can also choose and cut down your own Christmas tree from the farm to take home with you (pre-cut trees are also available for less).

For an additional fee, Jolly Acres allows kids to play on Buddy’s Bounce Pillow, test their skills in the Elf Maze and Crazy Maze, enjoy barrel train rides, slide down Comet’s Chase double barrel slide, try out the Shark Tooth Dig, race a rubber ducky in the duck race and more.

Adults enter for just the general admission price with a paying child. Add on a horse or pony ride and unlimited zip line rides for more fun. Single horse or pony rides can also be purchased.

If you are wanting to take family photos here (it makes for a great backdrop), be aware that no props, outfit changes, tripods, or professional equipment (such as reflectors or camera bags) are allowed on the weekends during general admission hours.

However, on weekdays, families can purchase a family photography pass. Professional photographers who are taking photos of one or multiple families must buy a professional photographer pass (each family still needs the family pass too).

Santa's Tree Farm is just one of the top things to do at Christmas in Orlando
Santa’s Tree Farm

COLORFUL CHRISTMAS AT CRAYOLA EXPERIENCE

Dates & Times: November 18, 2023 – January 7, 2024
Cost: Varies

Location: Crayola Experience at Florida Mall

The Crayola Experience is hosting Colorful Christmas in 2023 with a light show hosted by Scarlet and her singing reindeer friends at Café Crayola, life-sized holiday animatronic characters sharing stories from the North Pole, and a holiday scavenger hunt.

Create a Christmas card, your own snowman ornament, or a reindeer you mold yourself. Need a refreshment after creating a holiday gift? Enjoy seasonal refreshments available only during this event.

More details here.

DAZZLING NIGHTS AT HARRY P. LEU GARDENS

Dates & Times: November 24, 2023 – January 6, 2024 (Closed on Christmas)
Cost: $25 for adults, $22 for children (ages 2 and under are free)

Location: Harry P. Leu Gardens

Harry P. Leu Gardens is transforming into a winter wonderland in 2023 with a million lights for a new family-friendly adventure that takes you on a three-quarter mile walk through an interactive holiday experience.

Start with a photo opportunity in front of a 30′ Christmas tree before taking a stroll through a forest of lights and fog. The entire event has been remade this year to feature new surprises. Enjoy an 8,000 square foot light maze and 185 candle-lit hanging Moroccan lanterns as part of the new features.

Parking is available at Harry P. Leu Gardens for a fee. Otherwise, you can park at Blue Jacket park (2501 General Rees Avenue) and take a free shuttle to Leu Gardens.

GIVE KIDS THE WORLD VILLAGE: NIGHT OF A MILLION LIGHTS

MOVED FOR 2023 TO ISLAND H20

Give Kids the World Village hosted Night of a Million Lights during the pandemic years, but now that families are back at the village, they are no longer hosting this event. Instead, it has been moved to Island H20 with a portion of the proceeds going to Give Kids the World Village.

You can see current events at Give Kids the World including VIP holiday tours here.

HOLIDAY NIGHTS AT ISLAND H20

Dates & Times: Select nights from November 8 – December 10 and nightly from December 13 – 31
Cost: $34.99 for adults and $29.99 for children
Location: Island H20 Water Park

Island H20 hosted the Christmas in Color Drive Thru Light Show before but shifted to focus on their own event to give back to Give Kids the World in 2023.

Featuring photo areas, a train ride through the island, a chance to write a letter to Santa Claus, dry slides for kids, a scavenger hunt, and a blizzard bash foam party, families will love this new Orlando Christmas event.

Find more information and get tickets here.

DINOS IN LIGHTS AT ORLANDO SCIENCE CENTER

Dates & Times: November 17, 2023 through January 9, 2024
Location: Orlando Science Center

The Orlando Science Center gets a makeover with a music and lights show running every 30 minutes from 11:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. It is included in the price of admission, and you’ll want to see it from a variety of angles since the music changes each show.

Come see Stan the T-Rex and his friends in DinoDigs all lit up for the holidays!

THE SANTA WORKSHOP EXPERIENCE AT ICON PARK

Dates & Times: November 10 – December 24
Cost: $20 – $60
Location: ICON Park

Stop in to visit Santa at ICON Park in Orlando where he will even give your child a personalized gift if you plan ahead.

You’ll also get to take a ride on The Wheel (formerly The Orlando Eye). Kids ride free with a Santa photo package and get a discount for additional riders.

Find out more here.

OTHER ORLANDO HOLIDAY EVENTS IN NOVEMBER

The holiday events in Orlando get started early with several taking place in November. Here are some of the best things to do in November to celebrate Christmas in Orlando.

LIGHT UP WINDERMERE ON MAIN STREET

Date & Time: November 17, 2023 from 5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Cost: FREE
Location: Windermere Town Hall, 520 Main Street

Held annually on the last Friday before Thanksgiving, Light Up Windermere takes place during the monthly Windermere food truck event. The lights turn on at 7 p.m., and there will be blacklight bubbles from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Live entertainment and over 100,000 white lights add to the holiday feel while dining on local food truck cuisine. The choirs from Foundation Academy and First Baptist Church at Windermere perform along with other local groups.

The entrance to the Grand Floridian at Christmas at Walt Disney
Entrance to the Grand Floridian

FESTIVAL OF TREES AT ORLANDO MUSEUM OF ART

Date & Time: November 11 – 19, 2023 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Cost: $20 for adults, $12 for children ages 3 – 11, $12 for senior citizens (65+), military and first responders (with valid ID); parking is $7
Location: Orlando Museum of Art

Celebrating its 37th year, the Festival of Trees transforms the Orlando Museum of Art into a wonderland with sparkling trees and beautiful Christmas decor. The theme for 2023 is Enchanted Holidays and kicks off with a glamorous gala night.

After the kickoff, each day includes musical performances and family-friendly entertainment. Come check out designer Christmas tress in all shapes and sizes, hand designed wreaths, a gingerbread village, and more.

This is an Orlando holiday event that I go to every year. It’s a girls day out where I always got to spend time with my mom and my grandma before she passed. We will continue the tradition and treasure the memories.

If you are interested, each piece is available for purchase. Tickets also include admission to the Orlando Museum of Art. Click here for more information.

IVANHOE VILLAGE JINGLE EVE

Date & Time: November 18, 2023 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Cost: FREE but bring money for purchases
Location: Ivanhoe Village

Ivanhoe Village represents Orlando’s indie side, and their Jingle Eve event is the kickoff to the Orlando Christmas season.

The event spans Orange Avenue and Virginia Drive as well as Gaston Edwards Park. Experience live music, arts and crafts vendors, food trucks, beer gardens, a children’s holiday village where kids can create cards for hospitalized children, and more.

At th end of the evening, don’t miss the fireworks display over Lake Ivanhoe.

The event is free except for the 12 Wines of Christmas walk, but you’ll want to bring money to spend on food, drinks, and gifts for others or yourself.

FREE THINGS TO DO IN ORLANDO AT CHRISTMAS OTHER THAN THE THEME PARKS

The best things in life are free, or so they say. Orlando offers some pretty amazing free Christmas events throughout November and December and even into the first week of January. A few of these have upcharges but the majority are completely free.

CITY OF ORLANDO TREE LIGHTING CELEBRATION & LIGHT SHOW

Date & Time for Celebration: December 1, 2023, from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Dates & Times for Light Show: On display until the first weekend in January with synchronized music and light shows hourly starting at 5:45 and running until 9:45 p.m. each evening
Cost: FREE
Location: Lake Eola Park, 512 East Washington Street, Orlando, FL 32801

Every year, Downtown Orlando celebrates the start of the Christmas season with the annual Tree Lighting Celebration. In 2023, this free event takes place on December 1. The event typically features the 72-foot Christmas tree covered in lights, live music and performances, The Daily City’s Food Truck Bazaar, and other vendor booths.

If you can’t make it to the tree lighting, that’s okay because the tree is on display until early January. Every night, there is an hourly light show with synchronized music. The first light show each night is at 5:45 p.m., and the last one each night is at 9:45 p.m.

Don’t just see the Christmas tree and leave though. Walk around Lake Eola and see the other Christmas decorations. Follow the nearly one mile path (.9 mi/1.4 km) around the lake to enjoy the rest of the decorations as well.

Santa also visits on weekends in December leading up to Christmas most years for photo ops at the Eola House. If you or someone in your family needs a sensory-friendly event, December 17 from 5:30 – 7:30 is their sensory night this year.

Get the full list of the City of Orlando Christmas events here.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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CITY OF ORLANDO HOLIDAY DRONE SHOW

Date & Time: December 23, 2023 at 8 p.m.
Cost: FREE
Location: Lake Eola Park, 512 East Washington Street, Orlando, FL 32801

Orlando will also host a holiday drone show this year. Bring a blanket or chair and spread out in Lake Eola Park. The show only lasts 12 minutes, so it’s a great time to stroll through the Christmas decorations as well.

71ST ANNUAL WINTER PARK CHRISTMAS PARADE

Date & Time: December 2, 2023 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Cost: FREE
Location: Park Avenue in Winter Park between Cole Avenue and Lyman Avenue

Central Florida’s oldest continual holiday parade happens each year in Winter Park, Florida. The Winter Park Ye Olde Hometown Christmas parade goes down Park Avenue in the heart of Winter Park, starting at Canton Avenue and Park Avenue, continuing down Park Avenue to the south, and ending at Hannibal Square. The parade includes marching bands, local fire and police, and Santa.

The annual Pancake Breakfast by Leadership Winter Park takes place before and during the parade from 7 – 10 a.m. The Pancake Breakfast requires a ticket but includes pancakes, toppings, sausage, coffee, milk, and juice. The proceeds from the tickets go to leadership development programs for adults and youth.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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WINTER PARK BOAT PARADE

Date & Time: December 9, 2023 at 6 p.m.
Cost: FREE
Location: Rollins College, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, and Dinky Dock

While the Ski Extravaganza part of the Winter Park Boat Parade is not happening again this year, nothing says Christmas in Orlando like a celebration on the water. The event is free but donations benefit local food pantries including the food pantry at Winter Park High School, my alma mater.

In the boat parade, locals decorate their boats with Christmas lights and other decorations. Many go all out as there are prizes involved for best boat, best Winter Park boat, and best Santa boat.

The best areas to view the parade include the lake side of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum where the judges watch, the beach areas at Rollins College, and Dinky Dock Park.

THE NUTCRACKER BALLET BY THE RUSSIAN BALLET OF ORLANDO

Dates & Times: December 16, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. (seats must be claimed by 6:30 p.m. or they will be released to the general public)
Cost: FREE
Location: Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park in Orlando

Each year the Russian Academy of Ballet gives a free performance of The Nutcracker in Downtown Orlando at the Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola. Because this event is free, make sure to arrive early if you want to get one of the limited number of seats available. You can prepurchase VIP tickets here.

This is a free Orlando Christmas event you don’t want to miss! Other shows also take place around Orlando throughout the month of December. Click here for dates and locations.

THE CITY OF OVIEDO CHRISTMAS PARADE

Date & Time: December 2, 2023 starting at 6 p.m.
Cost: FREE
Location: Oviedo on the Park, 321 E Mitchell Hammock Rd

This Christmas event starts with a parade through Oviedo. Line up along Center Lake Lane and Oviedo Boulevard to watch the parade. The parade starts from Oviedo Gym & Aquatics Center at 7 p.m.

There are vendors and food and drinks (including alcohol) available for purchase starting at 6 p.m. at Center Lake Park.

COLLEGE PARK HOLIDAY ON THE DRIVE

Date & Time: December 7, 2023 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Cost: FREE
Location: College Park’s Main Street

Each year, Edgewater Drive in College Park transforms into a winter wonderland. Santa comes with snow to welcome the holiday season and the parade starts at 5 p.m.

Shops, restaurants and businesses along Edgewater Drive are also open for holiday dining and shopping. You can get more details here.

LIGHT UP WINTER GARDEN & WINTER GARDEN CHRISTMAS EVENTS

Dates & Times: December 1 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., but lights are on through the first weekend in January
Cost: FREE (some purchases available)

Location: Downtown Winter Garden

Light Up Winter Garden kicks off the season with the lights turning on at 6:15 p.m. on December 1 on Plant Street, but the event goes from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Stop by the Main Street Wonderland where you will find 22 tons of snow and a snow slide.

The next day on December 2, the Christmas Parade takes place starting at 10 a.m. This is followed by the Christmas Market on Plant Street when the road becomes pedestrian-only. Later in the evening, the day is capped off with the Winter Garden Christmas Golf Cart Parade at 6 p.m.

LIGHT UP MOUNT DORA & MOUNT DORA CHRISTMAS EVENTS

Dates & Times: November 25 – end of December
Cost: FREE (some purchases available)

Location: Downtown Mount DoraSunset Park and Elizabeth Evans Park

Mount Dora makes the list of best things to do in Orlando at Christmas even though it is located about 45 minutes outside the city. Covered in over two million twinkling lights and known for its Polar Express train (canceled for 2023), Mount Dora knows how to do Christmas right.

While these are what Mount Dora is best known for at Christmas, there are plenty of other holiday activities that take place in Mount Dora throughout the season.

Christmas really gets into full swing on November 25 with the lighting of the Main Street Christmas tree. Light Up Mount Dora takes place from 4:30 to 9 p.m. with a firework display after dark and Santa Claus making an appearance.

The two million Christmas lights in Mount Dora will still be on for all to enjoy throughout the rest of November and all of December.

There is also the Mount Dora Christmas Parade on the first Saturday of December, the Mount Dora Lighted Boat Parade on December 2, and Snow in the Park on December 9. You can get the full lineup of events here for Mount Dora and Tavares.

LIGHT UP THE HOLIDAYS AT CRANES ROOST PARK IN ALTAMONTE SPRINGS

Date & Time: December 2 – first weekend in January starting at dusk
Cost: FREE
Location: Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs

Celebrate the season with the City of Altamonte Springs at the annual Light Up the Holidays event at Cranes Roost Park. Along with live music and entertainment, train rides, kids activities and Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy one of the only Christmas fireworks displays in Orlando.

Don’t miss out on the 200,000 Christmas lights and the 60-foot tree that remain on display throughout the season. The main event takes place on December 2 from 5 – 9 p.m.

The Holiday Fountain Show happens hourly from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. each night with the water and lights synchronized with holiday music. There will also be live music on select dates.

More details on the events here.

CHRISTMAS IN CHRISTMAS, FLORIDA

Dates & Times: All Year
Cost: FREE
Location: Christmas, Florida

Yes, Christmas, Florida, is a real place where it is Christmas all year long. The town outside of Orlando has a Christmas tree up all year long at the intersection of State Road 50 and Fort Christmas Road.

It gets more popular at Christmas as some people like to mail their Christmas cards at the post office there to have their envelopes stamped with Christmas, Florida. The post office has holiday-related stamps you can use too. There is also a box for letters making their way to Santa in the post office.

If you make the drive out to Christmas, don’t miss Swampy, the world’s largest alligator. When you drive down SR 50 to Christmas from Orlando, you can’t miss him on the side of the road.

Visiting the Grand Floridian at Christmas is one of the best things to do in Orlando at Christmas
The Christmas tree in the Grand Floridian lobby

SANTA SOCIAL AT WATERFORD LAKES

Dates & Times: December 16 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Cost: FREE

Location: Waterford Lakes (Behind Brass Tap between Regal Cinemas and LA Fitness)

Santa’s Winter Wonderland Village at Waterford Lakes no longer happens, but Waterford Lakes does still host a free holiday event each year.

On December 16, they will host the Santa Social where Santa will share a story time in both Spanish and English. You’ll also get a chance to mail Santa your wish list this year.

WINTER ON THE AVENUE IN WINTER PARK

Date & Time: December 1, 2023 from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Cost: FREE
Location: Central Park at the intersection of Garfield Avenue and Park Avenue

Winter Park kicks off their Christmas decorations with the annual tree lighting in Central Park. This street party includes the Christmas tree, a symbolic Menorah lighting, Santa Claus, snow slides, s’mores and more.

SANTA’S WONDERLAND AT BASS PRO SHOPS

Dates & Times: November 15 – December 24, 2023
Cost: FREE
Location: Bass Pro Shop in Orlando

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shop gives you a chance to get FREE pictures with Santa. In addition, Bass Pro Shops offer free crafts as well as games and other activities. They even offer a free stuffed animal on certain days for the first 100 kids to take a picture with Santa.

Make sure to make your free reservation in advance as it is required in 2023. Show your confirmation at check-in and you are good to go. For hours and more information about special events at Santa’s Wonderland at Orlando’s Bass Pro Shop, click here.

Standing among the Christmas trees at Santa's Tree Farm near Orlando, Florida.
Santa’s Tree Farm

DRIVE THRU NATIVITY AT FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF PINE CASTLE

Dates & Times: December 22 – 23, 2022, from 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Cost: FREE
Location: First Baptist Church of Pine Castle

Enjoy live actors and animals presenting the story of the birth of Jesus as you follow the route through the church parking lot.

Instead of going inside the church for a Christmas performance, this unique Christmas activity near Downtown Orlando gives you a chance to experience the Christmas story from the comfort of your car.

FREE HOLIDAY MOVIES IN ORLANDO (OR NEARBY)

Dates & Times: Thursdays and Fridays in December
Cost: FREE
Location: Various locations

Several places in and around Orlando offer free holiday movies for families to enjoy. Most of the time these events take place outdoors in parks, so you may want to bring your own blankets or chairs. Snacks are typically available for purchase, but you may want to bring your own snacks as well.

Throughout the holiday season, Downtown Orlando offers free movies at the Walt Disney Amphitheater each week on Fridays in December at 7 p.m. The 2023 holiday lineup includes The Polar Express (December 8), Elf (December 15), and The Nightmare Before Christmas (December 22).

Winter Park will also host Popcorn Flicks in the Park on December 1 at 7:00 p.m. Bring a blanket or chairs and snacks to enjoy while watching Frosty’s Winter Wonderland and The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Cranes Roost in Altamonte is hosting movie nights on December 7 (Yogi’s First Christmas), December 14 (Unaccompanied Minors), and December 21 (Fred Claus). Gates open at 6:15 and the movies start at 7:00 p.m. in the Cranes Roost Plaza.

Looking at the Christmas tree in the Grand Floridian lobby
The Grand Floridian Christmas tree

THINGS TO DO IN ORLANDO ON CHRISTMAS DAY

When it comes to things to do in Orlando on Christmas Day, you’ll find there are several options. Many of the Orlando Christmas events shut down for the day of Christmas to allow employees to celebrate with their families.

However, if you are looking for things to do in Orlando on Christmas, you can always check out some of the many Orlando Christmas lights. These include homes that go all out for Christmas as well as city displays like Orlando, Lake Nona, Winter Park, Oviedo, and Mount Dora.

Working off your Christmas dinner with a walk around Lake Eola is a great place to start. If Altamonte Springs is closer, you can walk around Cranes Roost Park instead. Then check out some of the Great Christmas Light Fight Houses for more Christmas lights.

THE BEST CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN ORLANDO

Christmas in Orlando is not complete without seeing some of the over-the-top Christmas light displays. From personal homes to parks to businesses, Orlando knows how to decorate for Christmas.

Many of the activities mentioned above offer beautiful Christmas displays with thousands or even millions of sparkling lights. Because those events have already been covered, this list focuses on parks and properties not yet mentioned in this list that are known just for their Christmas light display.

For even more options, head to our full post on the best Christmas lights in Orlando. It even includes a scavenger hunt you can download and print to take with you in Orlando or elsewhere.

THE GREAT CHRISTMAS LIGHT FIGHT HOUSE – JOHANESSEN LIGHTS

Dates & Times: Open December 7 – 9, 14 – 16, 21 – 23, and 26 – 31
Cost: FREE (donations are appreciated though)

Location: 7849 Georgeann St., Winter Park, Florida

Also known as the Johanessen Lights, this house became famous when it was featured on the TV show, “The Great Christmas Light Fight.” Each year, this family takes months to decorate their home (and weeks to take everything back down).

While the backyard has been closed for the last two years, it is open again in 2023. While the front yard is free, they put a donation box out each year with a suggested donation for the backyard. This helps with the electricity costs and costs of materials to decorate.

This year the road is closed to all vehicle traffic. You must park at the office center at the end of Georgeann or at the Publix Plaza across Goldenrod. There is a special crosswalk set up by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to cross Goldenrod and get to the display.

In 2023, they are open from December 7 – 9, 14 – 16, 21 – 23, and 26 – 31. They are always closed on Christmas and Christmas Eve.

Looking at the Great Christmas Light Fight house in Orlando, Florida
The house from The Great Christmas Light Fight

GARDEN GROVE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Dates & Times: Evenings in December
Cost: FREE (but donations are welcome)
Location: Garden Grove Circle, Winter Park, Florida

This neighborhood has been one of my favorite Christmas light displays for years. It started out with just a couple of houses going all out for Christmas, but now quite a few homes in the neighborhood get into it.

The main house was one of the first ones you see when you drive in, but it is not participating as of 2023. Several other houses in the neighborhood still have over the top decorations though, making it worth a quick circle if you are in the area.

Again, remember that this is a private neighborhood and private residences. Please be respectful of their property and the work they put into these displays.

Seeing Christmas lights in Orlando are one of the fun things to do at Christmas in Orlando
One of the houses in Garden Grove

CHRISTMAS WONDERS HOUSE IN KISSIMMEE

Dates & Times: Evenings in December (6:30 – 9:30 p.m. on Sundays – Thursdays and 6:30 – 11:00 p.m. on Fridays & Saturdays)
Cost: FREE
Location: 1642 Sunburst Way, Kissimmee, Florida

This house in Kissimmee earned a spot on the 2009 national top five list of holiday light displays from Reader’s Digest. Christmas music plays as you take in the thousands and thousands of lights covering the home. The lights stay up through New Year’s Day.

CLEMWOOD STREET & CONWAY CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Dates & Times: Evenings in December
Address: 2811 Clemwood Street

I grew up looking at Christmas lights in this area of Orlando, and it holds a special place in my heart. My grandparents live in this area, and every Christmas they would load us up and take us around to look at the best lights. I still go each year.

Some of my favorites are on Cullen Lake Shore Drive (near Gramont Ave especially) and on Oak Island Road.

One of the best in the area started in 2020 by putting up a Christmas light to represent each person in the US who died that year from the pandemic. 2811 Clemwood Street has over 200,000 lights on a single family home. It was featured in 2022 on The Great Christmas Light Fight, and it is well deserved.

This one is located in a neighborhood and was already popular before it became nationally known. Please respect the homeowners and the neighborhood if you park, walk or drive through this area. Please also drive carefully as it stays busy.

While you are in the area, drive down Hoffner Avenue from Conway Road to Orange Avenue. Take a side trip down Cullen Lake Shore Drive and Summerwood Avenue for even more stunning displays.

If you want an interactive map of the area Christmas lights or even more specific addresses in the Conway area of Orlando for Christmas lights, check out my full post on the best Christmas lights in Orlando.

LAKE NONA LIGHTS

Dates & Times: Thanksgiving until New Year’s starting at 6:00 p.m.
Address: 9800 Old Patina Way

The Lake Nona Lights are the perfect display to add on to Oh, What Fun! in Lake Nona. They turn on Thanksgiving night and stay on through New Year’s.

Enjoy thousands of dancing lights accompanied by festive music while you take in this Christmas light show in Lake Nona. The neighbors across the street have chairs set out so you can stay and enjoy the light show.

I found myself staying longer than expected to watch the mesmerizing show with some other Orlando locals who came to check it out. Parking is limited and the roads are narrow, so you may want to park a little ways away and walk over to see it.

Lake Nona Lights is one of the best things to do at Christmas in Orlando
Lake Nona Light Show is one of the best things to do in Orlando at Christmas

CROSS CHRISTMAS

Dates & Times: December 3 through New Year’s starting at 6 p.m.
Address: 4241 N Econlockhatchee Trail

Santa is known to make an appearance close to Christmas at the top-ranking Cross Christmas that even has snow flurries. This one is right across from where I grew up, and every inch of the yard is covered in decorations and inflatables.

If you love Disney, they have lots of Disney inflatables as well. This has become my favorite of the East Orlando Christmas lights, and the neighborhood has some other good displays while you are in the area. It’s also near the Johanessen Lights, so you can check out both of them at the same time if you plan your visit correctly.

Don’t miss driving by this East Orlando Christmas light display near UCF on your holiday rounds.

Cross Christmas Lights in Orlando

CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Dates & Times: Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve from 6:00 – 9:30 p.m.
Cost: FREE
Location: Throughout Celebration, Florida, near Disney

The Jeater Bend Christmas Lights no longer take place as of 2023, but Celebration still has some great displays to see. Many of the houses that used to be a part of the Jeater Bend Christmas show are still decorated, they just do not have the synchronized light show anymore.

But don’t worry – the homes along Celebration Avenue picked up the torch this year and put on a great display for you to park and walk by to enjoy.

The best display now is on Celebration Avenue from 1100 Celebration Avenue down to 1108 Celebration Avenue with lights on both sides of the street. Santa and Mrs. Claus were even in the yard at 1104 Celebration Avenue on a Friday evening in December when I stopped by, so keep an eye out for other appearances.

Maiden Terrace is another great street for lights. If you have a Frozen fan with you, drive by 1026 Maiden Terrace where they display scenes from Frozen on the side of the house.

Spring Park Loop is another good loop to drive in Celebration. You’ll find the 12 Days of Christmas Trees at 821 Spring Park Loop. Drive slowly all the way along the loop to take in all of the decorations in this part of Celebration.

Jeater Bend Christmas Lights

ORLANDO THEME PARK HOLIDAY EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

No list of the top things to do in Orlando at Christmas is complete without mentioning the theme parks. While the goal of this list is to provide you with other options as well, the theme parks cannot be ignored.

Believe it or not, there are some free holiday activities at the theme parks that do not require tickets. If you are looking to spend Christmas in one of Orlando’s many parks, here are the best things to do in Orlando at Christmas at the theme parks.

GRAND FLORIDIAN CHRISTMAS TREE & OTHER DISNEY RESORTS CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

Dates & Times: Mid to late November through New Year’s
Cost: FREE
Location: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Christmas at Disney is a special treat, and some things are even free. At the holidays, Walt Disney World hotels and resorts go over the top in their decorations, and the Grand Floridian is no exception.

The entire resort is gorgeous, but at Christmas, the lobby takes on a whole new look. A massive Christmas tree fills the center of the lobby along with a 14-foot tall edible gingerbread house. The gingerbread house usually is up the second week of November while the tree usually goes up a week later. The gingerbread house is open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., but expect a line in peak hours.

Be aware that parking at the resorts is extremely limited at the holidays. In order to park at the resort, you must be staying at the resort or have a reservation at the resort for a meal. Otherwise, you have to find another way to get to the resorts.

We decided to get a reservation for breakfast to visit Grand Floridian early in the morning. It gets much more crowded later in the day, especially when Santa is in front of the tree for pictures.

In addition to the Grand Floridian, other popular Disney resorts also feature massive trees and impressive gingerbread creations. For more massive trees, check out Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort.

For more incredible gingerbread creations, stop by Disney’s Contemporary Resort for its giant 18-foot tall Cinderella gingerbread castle, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn for its gingerbread academy allowing you to work alongside the experts, and Disney’s Beach Club Resort for its moving gingerbread carousel.

Grand Floridian Christmas Tree - a highlight of Disney at Christmas
Lobby of Grand Floridian at Christmas
The 14-foot tall gingerbread house in the lobby of the Grand Floridian at Christmas
Gingerbread house in Grand Floridian at Christmas

CANDLELIGHT PROCESSIONAL AT EPCOT

Dates & Times: November 24 – December 30, 2023
Cost: Park admission required
Location: Epcot

Epcot’s Candlelight Processional presents the story of Christmas through celebrity narrators accompanied by a massed choir and 50-piece live orchestra. The celebrity narrators are only there for a few nights, so book it in plenty of time if your narrator is likely to be one of the more popular ones.

For the full narrator schedule and to purchase tickets, visit the official website for the Candlelight Processional.

MICKEY’S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY AT DISNEY’S MAGIC KINGDOM

Dates & Times: Select nights from November 9 – December 23, 2023 from 7 p.m. until 12 a.m. (but you can enter as early as 4 p.m.)
Cost: $179+
Location: Magic Kingdom

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is back in 2023 with entry as early as 4 p.m. for the event that runs on select nights in December from 7 p.m. until 12 a.m.

During the Disney Very Merry Christmas Party, there is a special parade and fireworks show. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade brings snow to Main Street and features impressive lights and of course, Disney characters known and loved by all.

The parade does go on during the daytime during the week of Christmas and New Year’s, so it is possible to see the parade without a special ticket. However, during the daylight hours, the lights are not as impressive.

The Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks show includes the perimeter bursts during the Christmas party but again shows without the perimeter bursts during the week of Christmas to regular park guests.

Other special shows, events, and meet-and-greets are also available during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. You’ll also find special food and drinks for sale as well as complimentary hot cocoa. For more information, visit the official event page.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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SEAWORLD ORLANDO CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION

Dates & Times: Select days from November 11, 2023 to January 2, 2024
Cost: Park admission required, but additional upgrades are also available
Location: SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration features special shows and meet-and-greets with Santa and Rudolph. The shows are what set apart Christmas at SeaWorld with several special Christmas themed shows. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the office event website.

The most popular show is O Wondrous Night (and it’s my favorite by far). If you plan to see this show, arrive early as it does fill up quickly and has a limit to how many can fit in the room (reserved seating available for a fee). The live nativity and 30 Christmas carols take viewers through the story of Jesus’ birth as told by the animals who witnessed the birth.

Once the sun sets, the Sea of Trees light show brings 100 trees to life with dancing lights reflecting on the water beneath them. Other holiday shows at SeaWorld include Winter Wonderland on Ice featuring talented singers and skaters, Mrs. Claus’ Magic Kitchen, Holiday Reflections Fireworks Finale, Christmas Movies at Seafire Grill, the Sesame Street Christmas Parade, and Big Bird’s Christmas Storytime.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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CHRISTMAS TREE STROLL AT DISNEY SPRINGS

Dates & Times: November 10 – December 30, 2023
Cost: FREE
Location: Disney Springs

Formerly the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs, Disney changed it to a “stroll” in 2020 to allow for more social distancing. The stroll returns in 2023.

One of the few free holiday theme park activities in Orlando is the Christmas Tree Stroll. Unlike some of the theme park holiday activities, this one is still fairly new and improving each year.

The trail features 20 Christmas trees, each with their own theme. While some feature a character, others feature an entire movie. If you are going to be out at Disney Springs, take a walk through and see what themes were chosen for 2023.

GRINCHMAS & CHRISTMAS AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA

Dates & Times: November 17, 2023 – December 31, 2023
Cost: Included in your theme park admission
Location: Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Universal Orlando Resort brings out some Christmas magic at each of their parks. From Harry Potter to the Grinch, the parks have something for everyone including special performances on select days by the Mannheim Steamrollers. Daigon Alley and Hogsmeade get a Christmas makeover and seasonal food and drinks including hot Butterbeer.

Outside of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Grinch takes over Universal’s Islands of Adventure for the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular. Grinchmas includes a live, musical stage show and a chance to meat the Grinch himself.

If you can’t get enough of the Grinch, enjoy The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast. This special breakfast does require reservations in addition to the regular park admission. Meanwhile, over at Universal Studios Florida, Santa, the Minions, and other Universal characters join together in Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s.

Get complete details and purchase tickets here.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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LEGOLAND CHRISTMAS BRICKTACULAR

Dates & Times: Nov 24 – 26 & Dec 2 – 3, 9 – 10, 16 – 17, 22 – 31
Cost: Included in park admission
Location: Legoland Florida Resort

The next place on our list of the best Orlando Christmas events is actually about an hour outside of Orlando. Legoland’s Christmas Bricktacular takes place on select days in November and December. Unlike some other theme parks, Legoland Christmas activities are included in park admission.

The centerpiece of the special holiday event is a 30-foot Christmas tree made up entirely of LEGO and DUPLO blocks. Kids can also take part in a holiday-themed scavenger hunt complete with prizes, meet LEGO characters, and enjoy building activities with Master Model Builders.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER HOLIDAYS IN SPACE

Dates & Times: December 15 – December 30, 2023
Cost: Included in admission
Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

The event features a projected show on the exterior of Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex. You’ll follow Starflake as she flies through the stars, Earth, and beyond.

Get pictures in front of the 50-foot Christmas tree covered in more than 61,000 pixels of light. There is also a new Christmas tree trail, the Rocket Tree Trail.

Experience the Pepsi Zero Sugar Holiday Village featuring a DJ and a chance to send a postcard to space. There are also live street performances throughout the day to enjoy.

Pick up a limited edition cup for the event and a complimentary pin for the event while supplies last.

For more information, click here.

CHRISTMAS CONCERTS IN ORLANDO

Christmas carols are a big part of Christmas celebrations, and a few places in Orlando celebrate with special musical events. While many churches feature Christmas specials, these are the main annual concert events put on by Orlando groups. This list does not include concerts that travel through Orlando at Christmas.

CENTRAL FLORIDA COMMUNITY ARTS CONCERTS & SHOWS

Dates & Times: Various dates in December (see below)
Cost: Tickets range from $5 – $50 depending on the show (see below)
Location: Different venue for each show (see below)

Orlando is blessed to have Central Florida Community Arts as a part of our community. CFCArts features four different holiday shows with CFCArts Theater, CFCArts Youth Theater Companies, and CFCArts Community Choir and Symphony Orchestra.

Each show takes place on different nights and in different venues around Orlando. Click here for the latest updates on shows and to purchase tickets.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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HOLIDAY-RELATED SPORTING EVENTS IN ORLANDO

While many people may not start their New Year’s Resolutions until New Year’s, there is no reason not to start now. Fortunately, Orlando is full of Christmas and holiday-themed 5Ks. In addition to getting involved in the sporting events, you can also enjoy them from the sidelines.

Every year Orlando hosts a couple of bowl games near the holidays. Before the games even start, the Citrus Bowl Parade takes center stage. Whether you want to watch from the sidelines or get involved, here are the best sporting events in Orlando at Christmas.

CURE BOWL

Date & Time: December 16, 2023
Cost: Start at $20
Location: Camping World Stadium

The Avocados from Mexico Cure Bowl features teams from the American Athletic Conference and the Sun Belt Conference. However, this bowl game is more than a game because funds raised benefit breast cancer research. For more information, visit the official website.

POP-TARTS BOWL

Dates & Times: December 28, 2023 at 5:45 p.m.
Cost: Start at $50
Location: Camping World Stadium

Each year, this bowl game features a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the Big 12. While teams won’t be decided for a while, tickets are available now.

The pep rally with coaches, players, bands, and cheerleaders from both teams takes place the day before at Pointe Orlando. The band and cheerleaders from both schools make appearances to pep up the crowd before the game with the ACC at 4:00 p.m. and the Big 12 at 4:45 p.m.

The next day, December 28, at 11:00 a.m., the Parade of Bands takes place on Park Avenue in Winter Park.

Starting at 1:45 p.m. on game day, the pregame tailgate party takes place on Tinker Field. This event features live entertainment, interactive games, inflatables, face painters, and more with free admission. Food and beverages are available for purchase.

Get the full list of events here.

CITRUS BOWL

Dates & Times: January 1, 2024
Cost: Game tickets start at $51
Location: Camping World Stadium

Orlando’s biggest bowl game, the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl, features teams from the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and the Big Ten Conference. In addition to the game, the pep rally takes place at Pointe Orlando. The SEC team usually starts the pep rally at 4:00 p.m. with the Big Ten team pep rally following at 4:45 p.m.

The next day before the game is the official bowl game tailgate party starting at 9:00 a.m. Admission is free, but food and drinks are available for purchase. The tailgate party includes music, interactive games, inflatables, face painters, and more.

Get the full list of events here.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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GREG WARMOTH REINDEER RUN

Date & Time: December 9, 2023 at 7:15 a.m.
Cost: $36 and up
Location: SeaWorld Orlando

Run 3 miles through SeaWorld Orlando with the Greg Warmoth Reindeer Run. While the first part of the race is in the parking lot, after that you run all through the SeaWorld park before it opens. I love running this race to get into the holiday spirit.

In addition to running through the park, each participant gets a long-sleeve tech shirt and a cookie cutter medal. On top of the medal and t-shirt, participants can purchase a single-day SeaWorld tickets for a discount. Register for the race or find out more here.

OTHER HOLIDAY-THEMED RACES

The day before Christmas, release some stress with the Holiday Stress Buster 5K in Lake Helen and burn off those Christmas cookies before you eat them all the next day. You can also run in the Santa’s Twilight 5K in Clermont on December 16.

A Christmas tree at SeaWorld Orlando at Christmas
SeaWorld Christmas tree

BEST CHRISTMAS EVENTS IN FLORIDA – DAY TRIPS FROM ORLANDO

With so many great options in the greater Orlando area, this list features only a few of the major holiday events near Orlando. These holiday events are popular day trips for Orlando locals during the holidays. While you may be content staying in Orlando for the holidays, if you choose to venture out, here are the best events you will find nearby.

ST. AUGUSTINE NIGHTS OF LIGHTS

Dates & Times: November 18, 2023 through January 28, 2024
Cost: FREE (unless you do a tour)

Location: St. Augustine, Florida

With over 3 million lights covering the city, St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights is a Florida must for Christmas. Located less than 2 hours from Orlando, it consistently ranks among the top ten holiday light displays in the world by National Geographic.

Take time to walk around the old city or take a tour to enjoy the lights covering the city for a couple of months each year. The nice thing about this event is that it goes for over a month after Christmas, so you can save it for a fun event in January after the holiday hustle and bustle is over. For more information and tour information, click here.

St Augustine Nights of Lights
A house decorated for the Nights of Lights celebration

BOK TOWER GARDENS

Dates & Times: November 25, 2023 – January 7, 2024
Cost: Starts at $14
Location: Bok Tower Gardens

Each year at Bok Tower Gardens, the Pinewood Estate is decorated differently for Christmas. Located just over an hour from Orlando, making it to Bok Tower Gardens and back in a day is easily doable.

During the Holiday Home Tour, visitors will tour Pinewood Estate, a 20 room, 1932 Mediterranean-style mansion that’s decorated differently every year. Children will be entertained as well as they search for a family of Pinewood Christmas Squirrels hiding throughout the estate.

One night each year, the Bok Tower Gardens presents the annual Sunset & Symphony Concert featuring the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra on December 8, 2023. Tickets are required and start at $30 for adults. For more information on this event as the holidays get closer, check the official website.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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STETSON MANSION CHRISTMAS TOURS IN DELAND

Dates & Times: November 1, 2023 through January 20, 2024
Cost: $29.50 for adults and $15 for youth (plus tax)
Location: Stetson Mansion

Located less than an hour from Orlando, the Stetson Mansion Christmas Tour takes place from November to January several times a day. Reservations are required, and tours last 75 minutes. No high heels can be worn and no photography is allowed inside the house.

In 2019, the Stetson Mansion ranked #1 in Florida and #5 in the nation for holiday home tours by USA Today. Built in 1886, the mansion had one of the first Christmas trees with electric lights. The home is still privately owned and lived in but open to tours all year.

For reservations and more information, click here for the official website.

SURFING SANTAS IN COCOA BEACH

Date & Time: December 24, 2023 at 8:00 a.m.
Cost: FREE!
Location:
End of Minutement Causeway in front of Coconuts on the Beach

Cocoa Beach used to have the Skydiving Santas, but now they feature the Surfing Santas on Christmas Eve. This annual Cocoa Beach tradition brings out hundreds of people dressed as Santa and riding the waves in Cocoa Beach.

Skydiving Santas in Cocoa Beach Florida

WHY SPEND CHRISTMAS IN ORLANDO

From this list, you can see that Christmas in Orlando is full of holiday-themed events. Because there are so many events throughout Orlando, there is something for everyone. Whether you love theme parks or would rather avoid them, you can find plenty to fill your holiday calendar.

As an Orlando local born and raised, some of these events have been part of my Christmas traditions for years. Hopefully they will give you lasting family memories like they have for me.

For even more Christmas fun, don’t miss out on even more options with the best holiday lights in Orlando.

While we may not have white Christmases here in Orlando (unless you spend it at one of our nearby white sand beaches), you may find you like spending Christmas in flip-flops.

Looking for a hotel in Orlando to explore the Christmas activities? Check current deals on Agoda and Booking.com.

If you are looking for other Florida vacation ideas, check out our reviews of Westgate River Ranch and Westgate Cocoa Beach Resort and Pier and the top things to do in Fort Myers Beach.

Looking for more Christmas inspiration? Check out this post on the best Christmas lights in London.

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The Best places to spend Christmas in the USA {2020} – Dreams In Heels

Sunday 2nd of February 2020

[…] Florida, may not have white Christmases, but there are still plenty of things to do in Orlando at Christmas to make it feel like Christmas. While the theme parks all have big Christmas events, there are lots […]

Alli C.

Tuesday 10th of December 2019

Wow, I wouldn't have known about most of these things! Thanks for sharing - and especially for the downloadable map- I LOVE knowing where I'm going and avoiding driving in circles :) Great list!

Christine Wheeler

Sunday 15th of December 2019

Thank you! I'm glad the map helps!

Tiffany

Sunday 8th of December 2019

I love Christmas ????it is my favorite holiday! I love all the Christmas events and would be super excited if I lived down there. Now I need to think about traveling during the Christmas season next year. And I’ve been wanting to go to Disney world as well

Christine Wheeler

Sunday 22nd of December 2019

Christmas at Disney World is extra special with the decorations and the different events. Plus, the weather in Orlando in December is some of the best weather of the year. Hope you can make it down sometime!

Aswani Kurra

Saturday 7th of December 2019

So many things to do!! Loved the detailed list!!

Christine Wheeler

Saturday 7th of December 2019

Thank you so much!

Sam

Saturday 7th of December 2019

Wow so much to do! It’s my fav time of year ???? I’m also experiencing a hot Christmas in Australia, being fro the uk it’s very strange That it’s not cold !!

Christine Wheeler

Saturday 7th of December 2019

I'm only used to hot Christmas in Orlando, but sometimes it is cool enough to wear a light jacket. I would love to have a white Christmas somewhere one year!