During the holidays, Orlando transforms into a winter wonderful… even if the thermostat says otherwise. The Sunshine State’s most joyous city perfectly presents holiday merriment like none other. In honor of the “12 Days of Christmas,” here are twelve can’t-miss Orlando traditions to embrace and enjoy!
1. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Disney’s Magic Kingdom | November 8 – December 22, 2019, select nights | Tickets: $99-139
Only in Orlando can you spend the most wonderful time of the year at the happiest place on Earth! This specialty-ticketed celebration is held on several nights per week during the holiday season. It features Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, Holiday Wishes fireworks spectacular and “A Frozen Holiday Wish” stage show where Queen Elsa transforms Cinderella’s Castle into glistening ice.
Also at Disney:
- Candlelight Processional at Epcot: Hear the story of Christmas retold by celebrity narrators, along with a choir and 50-piece orchestra. Cost: park admission + dining package options
- Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Holiday Dessert Party at Hollywood Studios: The season’s sweetest event goes way beyond basic Christmas cookies, with Yule logs, cheese fondue and pretzel bread, Gingerbread martinis and every other goodie your heart desires. Cost: park admission + $53-99
2. Festival of Trees
Orlando Museum of Art, 2416 N. Mills Ave., Orlando | November 16-24, 2019 | Tickets: $15 adult/$12 senior/$7 child
The 33rd annual holiday celebration showcases designer-curated Christmas trees, vignettes, wreaths, table top displays and a gingerbread village. Appropriately housed in one of The City Beautiful’s most stunning spaces, these works of art are all available for purchase. Yes, you can impress Santa with a dazzling masterpiece tree without the hassle of stringing lights and ornaments.
3. Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure | November 16, 2019 – January 5, 2020 | Tickets: standard park admission
Sip hot Butterbeer as you wander the elaborately-decorated streets of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley and hear Muggle Christmas carols sang by the Frog Choir (Hogwarts students and their giant croaking frogs).
Also at Universal:
- Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s at Universal Studios Florida: Beloved characters – like Minions and Shrek – lead larger-than-life festivities with grand balloons and floats.
- Grinchmas at Universal’s Islands of Adventure: The live “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular” features merry Whos from Who-ville throughout Seuss Landing.
4. The Polar Express Train Ride
Royal Palm Railway Experience, 305 E. Ruby St., Tavares | November 15 – December 30, 2019 | Tickets: $48-88
All aboard the Polar Express! After the conductor punches your golden ticket, settle in and interact with characters from the book The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, plus Santa Claus and his elves. It may take you an hour to get to the Tavares train station from downtown Orlando, but it’ll be worth it! Your round trip to the North Pole includes hot cocoa, cookies and a present.
5. Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest
Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest, 35317 Huff Road, Eustis | November 23 – December 22, 2019 | Tickets: $4 general admission + additional for activities
If you love the smell of fresh pine trees, travel to Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest, a 17-acre working farm with over 17,000 trees. You can even test your lumberjack skills by cutting down your own tree (any tree 2-20 feet is $45). Plus, children of all ages (or, as the Christmas carol goes, kids from one to ninety-two) can enjoy the Reindeer Haystack, Santa’s Flight Zip Line, The Crazy Elf Christmas Maze, hayrides, petting zoo and giant jumping pillow. Onsite concessions include sausages, tacos, craft beers, mimosas and s’mores kits so you can roast gooey goodness at the bonfire.
6. Gingerbread House Class
The Marketplace at Dr. Phillips, 7601 Della Dr., Orlando | multiple dates in November & December 2019 | Tickets: $60
The baking of gingerbread houses has long been a Christmas tradition and, now thanks to Publix Aprons Cooking School, you won’t have to sweep powdered sugar off your kitchen floor. This Gingerbread House Class is designed for families of four to construct edible architecture using cookies, candy and other confections. Materials and inspiration are provided.
Publix Aprons Cooking School is scheduled to host additional holiday-themed classes too, including Holiday Cookies, German Holiday Baking Classes and others.
7. Holiday Movie Night at Leu Gardens
Harry P. Leu Gardens, 1920 N. Forest Ave., Orlando | December 6, 2019 | Tickets: $6 adult/$3child
Get a dose of holly jolly humor with an outdoor showing of National Lampoons’ Christmas Vacation. It may be winter but the weather on point for entertainment in a beautiful garden. You may bring a picnic basket full of yummies (alcohol is permitted), and blankets or chairs. Plus, Curbie’s Sidewalk Cafe and Peak Season Pops operate onsite concessions. You can roam the lush grounds (starting at 6pm) before the movie (rated PG-13) which begins at 7:30pm.
8. The Singing Christmas Trees
First Baptist Orlando, 3000 S. John Young Pkwy, Orlando | December 6-7 & 12-15, 2019 | Tickets: $8-19 + $49 optional dinner package
For over three decades, the Singing Christmas Trees has been one of Orlando’s most unique holiday spectaculars. It showcases Christmas classics with the pageantry of two 40-foot-tall Christmas trees presented through a large-scale choir, full orchestra, worshipful dance and a display of 250,000 lights. Also, stroll First Baptist’s Bethlehem Village to see the nativity and petting zoo animals.
9. 3rd Annual Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl
Wall Street Plaza, 25 Wall St. Plaza, Orlando | December 7, 2019 | Tickets: $12-15
Wear your holiday best… well, worst… and cheers the holiday season at participating bars in Downtown Orlando. Your ticket includes an Ugly Sweater Crawl Koozie to keep your beverage of choice ice cool, a decorative Santa hat to compliment your spirited gear and more.
You know it’ll be a late night, so why not just make it a weekend? Book a room at Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando Downtown overlooking the iconic Lake Eola Park. Seated comfortably on your private balcony, you can catch the nightly Eola Wonderland Christmas Tree Show.
10. Orlando Ballet Presents “The Nutcracker”
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando | December 13-23, 2019 | Tickets: $24-$490
The original story of The Nutcracker was written in 1816 and, nearly 50 years later in 1892, the holiday tale took form in a choreographed ballet. Today, The Nutcracker is one of the world’s most popular ballets and, in Orlando, The Orlando Ballet astounds as young Clara journeys with waltzing snowflakes, mischievous mice and the iconic Sugar Plum Fairy. The company also offers a condensed, one-hour version for tiny dancers and their families.
11. Greg Warmoth Reindeer Run Presented by AdventHealth for Children
SeaWorld Orlando, 7007 SeaWorld Dr., Orlando | December 14, 2019 | Tickets: $32-38
It can be tricky to squeeze in a workout during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. But exercise can help curb holiday weight gain and stress, among other benefits. The Reindeer Run is a lively way to burn off some steam and calories (especially since the average person eats more than 7,000 calories on Christmas day). In addition to a cookie cutter medal, enjoy a holiday costume contest and the Rudolph Run for kids.
12. Snow Fest
RDV Ice Den, 8701 Maitland Summit Blvd., Orlando | December 14, 2019 | Tickets: $20
You won’t find ice on the ground in Orlando… unless you stay indoors. Throughout the year, RDV Ice Den facilitates various programming, including hockey, figure skating and daily public skating. And, on just one day a year, the coolest indoor recreation center in town hosts a winter celebration with real snow, a snow slide, bounce houses, face painting and curling. Lace up and take a spin around the rink from 2-6pm!
More Holiday Entertainment
Fill up your holiday calendar with plays, concerts and other seasonal performances.
- SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration | SeaWorld Orlando | November 23 – December 31, 2019 | standard park admission, starting at $84.99
- Heart of Christmas at HolyLand | HolyLand Experience | November 26 – January 4, 2020 | $35-50
- Holidays Bok Tower Gardens | Bok Tower Gardens | November 29 – January 5, 2010 | $12-25
- Holidays at LEGOLAND | LEGOLAND Florida | select dates in November & December | standard park admission, starting at $84.99
- 31st Annual Sanford Holiday Tour of Homes | Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center | December 7, 2019 | $30
- Salsa Heat Christmas Party | Hilton Orlando | December 21, 2019 | $25-50
- A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas | Garden Theatre | November 22 – December 22, 2019 | $25-37
- Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley | Orlando Shakespeare Theatre | December 4 – 29, 2019 | $20 and up
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical | Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts | December 21, 2019 | $19 and up
- Il Divo: A Holiday Song Celebration | Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts | December 7, 2019 | $59.50 and up
- Sunset & Symphony Holiday Concert | Bok Tower Gardens | December 7, 2019 | $30 adult/$10 child
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra Presents Christmas Eve and Other Stories | Amway Center | December 14, 2019 | $26-86
- Cirque Musica presents Holiday Wishes | Amway Center | December 17, 2019 | $35-125