It's the ho-ho-holidays, and there's nowhere more jolly to spend them than Central Florida! With a myriad of festive events, plus lots of other things to do, you'll want to make your list—and check it twice—so you don't miss a moment of the fun!
Through Dec. 22: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Mickey Mouse has invited all his pals over to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World for a party filled with magical merriment and enchanting entertainment. Enjoy all the pomp of an exclusive parade and fireworks show, complete with a snowfall on Main Street. Socialize with all your favorite Disney Characters reveling in the dazzling festivities. Event tickets start at $99 for select nights in December.
Through Dec. 30: Epcot’s Candlelight Processional.
Experience the spectacular pageantry of the Candlelight Processional at Epcot. Hear the story of Christmas as told by a celebrity narrator accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and a mass choir. Regular park admission is required and performance seating is on a first-come-first-serve basis, so queue up early. Or, you can get guaranteed seating with a Candlelight Processional Dining Package.
Through December 30: The Polar Express Train Ride.
Take a ride to the North Pole on board an actual train that recreates The Polar Express™ movie. Riders have their golden ticket punched by the conductor, experience the dancing chefs who serve cocoa and a tasty treat, interact with characters from the movie, along with a reading of the classic children’s book. There’s even a special visit by Santa Claus and his elves once the train arrives at the North Pole. Tickets start at $48.00 per person. The ride departs and returns to the train station in Tavares, FL, located just north west of Orlando.
All December: Holidays at Universal Orlando.
Calling all merry muggles, here’s your chance to celebrate Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ as Hogsmeade™ and Diagon Alley™ are transformed with wondrous spirit. Treat yourself to Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s and carve the roast-beast with the grouchy Grinch and all the warm-hearted Whos in the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular. It’s all at Universal Orlando Resort.
All December: ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort.
ICE! returns to Gaylord Palms with the premiere of the popular Christmastime tale, THE POLAR EXPRESS™. Visitors can relive this story through hand-carved sculptures and displays made from more than 2 million pounds of ice. In addition, the resort is decked with glorious decorations and a variety of family activities and events. ICE! tickets start at $14.99 per child and $28.99 per adult.
All December: SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration.
Make a splash for the holidays at SeaWorld Orlando which is transformed into a snowy wonderland with over 3 million twinkling lights. Enjoy special shows featuring live animals including the Tale of the Three Kings featuring a live nativity scene. The celebration continues into the new year with a special New Year’s Eve musical and fireworks display and the Three Kings Celebration (Fiesta De Los Reyes), Jan. 1-6. Little ones can also meet characters from the beloved animated classic, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." All events are included with regular park admission.
Weekends in December: Holidays at LEGOLAND Florida.
LEGO lovers can celebrate the season with special shows, treats and twinkling lights, included with regular park admission. Get your family photo around a 30 foot LEGO Christmas tree with a LEGO Santa and LEGO Toy Soldier, select weekends in December. On Dec. 31, ring in the new year with a kid-friendly New Year’s Eve party.
Through December (except Christmas Day): The Holy Land Experience, The Heart of Christmas.
The spirit of the season comes alive with The Heart of Christmas, a Broadway-style production that follows two families, living in radically different times, as they search for the true meaning behind the merriment.
Fairwinds Broadway in Orlando presents this hilarious comedy, a catastrophic opening night at “The Murder at Haversham Manor,” a play that goes disastrously wrong. The leading lady is unconscious, the corpse won’t play dead, and anything that can go wrong, does. “Tons of fun for all ages,” reported the Huffington Post of this award-winning Broadway play.
“Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” begins two years after Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” ends. Middle sister Mary hopes for her own perfect romance. www.orlandoshakes.org
Dec. 5: All Rise.
Humorist Nick Offerman, best known as Ron Swanson on hit comedy “Parks & Recreation,” brings his wry humor to his new “All Rise” tour, a show replete with political barbs, songs and laughs.
Dec. 5-7: Christmas in Winter Park.
There's a full schedule of ways to celebrate the season in Winter Park. On Thursday, Dec. 5, bring your picnic and gather for Christmas in the Park, presented by The Morse Museum of American Art, when nine Tiffany leaded glass windows are lit and Central Park is transformed into a concert hall for the 160-voice Bach Festival Society Choir. The free outdoor concert takes place at 6:15 p.m., but those attending should arrive early to get a good seat. On Dec. 6, the city hosts 67th annual Winter Park “Ye Olde Hometown” Christmas Parade, and then stick around for Winter on the Avenue from 5-10 p.m., which will include Friday Night at the Morse (offering free admission), a holiday tree lighting, entertainment, visits from Santa and more.
Snoopy and the gang deal with universal issues on a pint-sized scale in the classic Broadway musical, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
Dec. 13-15, 20-23: The Nutcracker.
A delight for young and old, Orlando Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” complete with Tchaikovsky’s beautiful score, filmy costumes and colorful sets, guarantees sweet dreams of sugarplums.